I started down the road of relaunch more than 18 months ago. At the time, I knew almost nothing about responsive design. I knew what it was, I suppose. I’d thumbed Luke Wroblewski’s book on mobile first. I’d looked at Foundation, and Bootstrap. But I learn by doing, not reading. If I was going to get responsive design, I’d have to build something responsive. So it was decided: my new website would be my classroom. Experience, and failure, my teacher.
I decided on Foundation for the build, it seemed to have more resources than Bootstrap did. Looking back, I know that’s wrong. I’d probably go with Bootstrap now given another chance. Not that Foundation is lacking anything, it’s a solid framework. But I’ve used it, and I’ve used Bootstrap, and I like Bootstrap a bit better.
I hacked my way through the design. I mean, it wasn’t that hard. There’s plenty of documentation out there. Templates too (never innovate when you can appropriate). In no time, I’d built the bones of what would be my new website. My plans were coming together, my next step was to build some buzz.
I had recently discovered 5ive Minute logos. For $5, you’d get a logo for your business, hand-drawn on an iPad by Von Glitschka.
I feel like I have to qualify my decision, here. It’s not that I didn’t have a logo (I do), or that I place a low value on design (I don’t) or that I think buying a $5 logo is a smart business move. It’s that the very idea of a $5 logo intrigues me.
As a content creator, I’m always looking for creative (read: non-traditional) ways to reach my customers. I was also curious just how many logos Von would do at $5 a pop.
I’m sure you’re curious now too. I’ll save you the time in asking. Apparently, he’ll do 10.
ME: So, theoretically, would you do 28 logos for $140?
VG: Probably not. I'd cap it around 10. So far I've only done that for a conference who wanted a funny new logo for each friday leading up to it. That is fine, but it isn't a concepting service for designers.
For $50, you can’t buy a column inch in a local rag.
My idea was this. I wouldn’t advertise. Instead, I’d take my 10 logos and release a new logo every week until my site was ready for launch. That would have meant a launch in or around the end of March, 2013.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
The site design quickly got away from me. Four pages became eight, became 24, became more.
My self-imposed deadline approached and passed me by. And a month after that. I continued to make excuses why it wasn’t done. I can’t count the number of times I’d said “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”, but knew in my heart that I just wasn’t into it, I was just putting it off.
I realized, I had done something I’d never done in the past. I’d given in to competition. I’d given in to fear. By that I mean, I’d let my competitors dictate what I should be doing. I was chasing them, instead of making them chase me.
I carried on for another six months. Projects came and went. Some good, some not so good. I got busy. Real busy, and my site got shuffled to the side. My excuse was that you don’t change the saddle on your horse in the middle of the Kentucky Derby.
Then December came. It was the end of a big contract with Blast Radius. Christmas was around the corner, but after that, nothing pressing. I’d already committed January to making meaningful progress on my site.
I looked at my development site. It was 30 pages, more or less. My stomach sank.
And I realized, maybe at that moment, maybe because I’m a bit lazy and writing 30 pages of copy seems like a lot of work, that having a 30 page site was for Google. Not for my visitors. Nobody was going to read a 30-page website. Seriously.
I was doing what I told people not to do. I was marketing for robots.
I tore it down to the beams and rafters. I thought about the difference between what people needed to know, and what they wanted to know. They’re two very different things, after all.
People need to know how to reach me, which is why the site is plastered in contact information. People also need to know that I can achieve a ranking for them.
That’s an interesting one. I can say that I can guarantee a top ranking, but why should anyone believe me? I can talk about the importance of optimization, but anyone coming to my site probably already knows.
In the end, I figure the proof is in the pudding. I rank very well for my target phrases. Probably first in organic. Does that, in and of itself, prove that I can achieve a number one rank? That I’m qualified to help a customer? I think it does.
So, that brings me to today. I never did get to do the 10 week logo run I was planning. What I got instead, was a lesson in keeping things simple.
My new website is built on Foundation 3. It uses Parallax.js for the moving city and robots. The text is Museo, the headlines are Press Gothic Pro (follow the colophon). The design is by Annika Sibert, art director for Eclipse Creative. Development is by me, Sean Enns, owner/operator for Harbour City SEO.