It’s been about 18 months since my last site refresh. In that time I’ve learned a lot—so it was time to put that into practice.
To get started I spoke with a local illustrator and designer, Blair Wightman, around 6 months ago looking to further the Dot Monster illustrations he done for me the first time around. I can’t draw to save myself. I wanted to bring in something a bit more special to the banner landscape, with elements from the landscape we have in Stirling. This is what I would then base the site’s design around.
leaving it a few days between revisions helped me to mull over what it was I wanted to achieve.
Once Blair delivered the illustrations it was down to me to get started. Already working full time I found it difficult sometimes to make the time. Whether that was just excuses or not, it was a slow burner. I was able to use this to my advantage however; letting things like typography really settle in—leaving it a few days between revisions helped me to mull over what it was I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want to rush something out, showing off some sort of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Instead I wanted to roll out something I was happy with, a Minimum Loveable Product (MLP), so I was happy to grind it out behind the scenes till I was ready—but leaving scope for some things I want to improve on.
Designing Without Constraints
One of the hardest parts I found was designing without constraints, for myself. I already had a rough brand to follow through the illustrations to bring slight relief, but it really took time for me to try and express what I wanted to achieve from it all. Right down to the page copy which was all rewritten, took some time to get it how I wanted it. I love the way Andy presents Stuff & Nonsense and Laura presents her site. I wanted to try and achieve something similar.
What really helped me push on was the inspiration I got from the Meat Conference up in Aberdeen with Ashley and helping out in Naomi’s Whosit & Whatsit. Being surrounded by talented people doing great things, and just “getting shit done” gave me the boost I needed to pull what I had over the finish line.
With the redesign, I’ve brought in a few new ideas, and not just features or technical aspects. I’ve changed how I price freelance projects. I no longer want to be working by the hour, quibbling over hourly rate and such. Now I’ll be using value based pricing. I’ll work for what value I bring to a project, and I’ll work with my client to do as much as we can for the good of the project rather than dropping in little addons here and there based on hourly rates. If it’s good for the project, it’s good for me.
What really matters is they get what they need, for the price they can afford. Right?
In moving to this way of pricing, I was afraid I would loose out on some smaller, local business work—stuff which I really enjoy. So with that in mind I’ve decided to create a Sprint pricing framework for smaller jobs. I’m not a fan of website “packages”, but I don’t think this is really the same. Basically both the client and I will set aside two days, and sprint through a WordPress setup for a fixed £500, putting in all we can in that time that they need. Sure, it might not be a fully bespoke WordPress theme, but it’ll be setup properly, customised for what they need and I’ll make sure they understand all the ins and outs of running a site and be there to answer questions. What really matters is they get what they need, for the price they can afford. Right? I’ll see how it goes anyway.
This was the ideal time for me to try some new things with the build. I installed CodeKit, MAMP and gave SASS and Perch a shot for the first time. I even put the source up on GitHub for the site, something I’ve not done before. It’s really changed how I will approach my projects going forward, and there is some aspects I’ll defiantly bring into the day-job’s workflow.