The story of a website redesign

robyn harper, author of RHDblog You know the old saying “A woman’s work is never done”? And the one about “a painter’s house is never painted”? Combine those two and you get “A web designer woman’s website is never done”. My own website is the first one I ever published (not including the ones I created at uni, which weren’t made public). It just turned 5 years old. Which is really old in web years!

Introducing my new website

I’ve been working to redesign it all year. My first goal was to have it done back in January, when work was quiet. Then work got busy and the goal shifted to April 21, under the threat of Google penalising sites which weren’t mobile-friendly (a pseudo-deadline, in reality).

But what finally pushed me to finish was the combination of multiple time-based pressure points:

  1. I offered a new WordPress service in my last post, and mentioned it would be on my new site. And I refused to put it on the old one. Not to mention my blog from 2 months ago about “working on the business, not in it“. I know I should practice what I preach.
  2. Then there’s the upcoming Generate London conference, which is only 2 weeks away now. How could I show my my outdated website face to a bunch of worldly web designers? (Mind you, half of them are probably like that proverbial house-painter too…)
  3. And finally I saw this article on Flying Solo about completing your own projects by treating yourself like a client (ie. setting aside time to meet your own deadline).

Altogether they produced an unholy trinity of guilt – from self-imposed pressure, peer pressure, and a timely kick up the bum.

A year from now you will wish you had started today

And so I worked like a demon for a few hours every day to get it done. In the end I was fighting my internal perfectionist demon too – for my website will never be completely perfect. There is always room for more tweaks.

But I bit the bullet and published the new site, then threw in all the 301 redirects, followed through by submitting my new sitemap to Google,  and even asked the big G to remove my old pages.

So what’s new?

Just in case you never saw the old design – or can’t recall it – here is a screenshot that I kept for posterity. (Mind you, the blog design hasn’t been updated yet. It will be..!)

previous website design for Right Hand Design
The old Right Hand Design site, circa 2010

The new one keeps my brand colours, of course:

the new Right Hand Design site
The NEW Right Hand Design, published August 2015

It’s one page (mostly) and (a little) parallax

The new design is – mostly – a one-page scrolling site. This has been a fairly recent trend, and not everyone agrees that it’s a good one, mostly because Google doesn’t look kindly on one-page sites. (Google says: Oh, here’s a new site. What should I index it as? Hmm, what do you mean it’s only one page? Well, that’s not very comprehensive! It can’t be that good…)

So, no, it’s not great from an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) perspective. But I don’t really care (*gasp!*). I know that trying to rank for “Sydney Web Designer” means I’m competing with thousands of others, most who are also SEO-savvy and many who are large agencies with large budgets that I could never match.

I have, however, detailed my main services on separate pages, which should appease the Google gods somewhat as they try to classify what the site is about.

What it came really down to was this: I like scrolling sites. And so that’s what I built. (But if you ask me to build one for you, don’t be surprised if I try to talk you out of it…)

I also love the parallax effect (where the background moves at a different pace to the text elements). My implementation is quite simple. I didn’t make it integral to the ‘story’ because I want the ability to just turn it off again when the web world decides that it’s no longer on-trend (which is highly likely to be within a much shorter timeframe than 5 years…)

What happened to “Left-brain business”?

I was quite attached to my original tagline: “Right-hand web design for left-brain business”. And while some people ‘got’ it, and thought it was clever, it seems for most people it didn’t really click. (It also meant that Google sent me a lot of traffic from people searching  for left-brain, right-brain comparisons, which didn’t bring me any business!)

When I came up with the line 5 years ago, it was part of my Unique Selling Position. It differentiated me from the people I’d met in my university course – who were mostly much younger, and arty, and right-brained. What they produced was arty and funky. But their websites lacked good UI and UX principles and would not have worked for business websites.

I have kept the tagline on at least one page of the new site, but it’s no longer front and centre. Instead, I’m using “Web done Right”. (Oops, is that poor grammar?)

A new portrait for the new website

I also took the opportunity to update my photo, with the old one being close to 7 years old. This time I went to a pro. The lovely Karen Coulstock in Frenchs Forest had me feeling like a model for an hour, and I was really happy with the resulting headshots.

robyn harper photoshoot for right hand design

Not only have I used one on the new website, but I finally changed my Facebook page profile picture and stopped “hiding behind my logo”. Interestingly, that profile photo change brought about the highest engagement of anything I’ve done on Facebook.

So now that you’ve seen the “new me”, wouldn’t you love a new design for your own website? Let’s talk…

 

Author: RobynRHD

I’m a small business web design specialist with interests in social media and other online marketing methods. As my blog intro states: “Steering small businesses in the right direction with what I hope is practical, realistic advice and useful tips, amidst the constantly changing noise and hype. I’d like to help you sort out what you really need and how to go about it.”
I’m a proud Aussie, living in Sydney, and an avid fan of Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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