A Few Tweaks Oughta Do It
I redesigned and recoded the entire Bro Journey and I want to tell you about it. Everyone loves shouting on twitter about their amazing work and retweeting nice things people say, but I want to dive a little deeper into the entire process. More specifically, I want to show you where I went wrong while trying to “level up” and how you can avoid f%cking up along the way too. If you’re new to the site and what’s going on here, let’s just say the previous theme made your eyeballs want to kind of puke, but not in a completely barf-y way just like a “I-drank-three-gallons-of-gin-last-night” kind of way.
With our design in shambles, we were at a crossroads where we would either level up and go for broke or shut the site down and try to sell all our assets to a cash for blogs for gold store (those exist, right?). So last week I blocked out two days and completely changed our entire site. Now we’re turning it into something great and we have more momentum than ever before. Shit is getting real and I want to show you how we went from, “F%ck, this thing kind of sucks” to “Hey this is fun again, maybe we can make rent one day with this!”
I’m going to go through a few things that I screwed up on redesigning the previous theme AND this theme and how you can improve your own projects and learn where I messed up. This isn’t a blog about web design though, I don’t want to write a blog that will mean nothing to you if you’re not redesigning blogs for a living (like me). I really want to add value to your day and help you kill it so I’ll only share actionable advice that will be relatable to whatever you’re working on. Let’s get cracking and make some shit happen.
Full Disclosure: You might not have any idea of what you’re doing, all you know is that you’re ready to start. (Holy shit, I’m so excited for you!) If you’re in that world, put this blog down for now and go read this one that Max wrote about starting a blog. You don’t have to start a blog, but I challenge you to start something. And after you’ve gone through all of that and are ready to level up, come back to this blog.
Go Back To The Beginning
I listened to the Compound Effect in September 2011 and the point of the book is to do something EVERY DAY and you’ll reap the rewards down the line in gigantic chunks. At the same time Max and I wanted to work on a creative project together surrounding Movember. What a perfect combination for me to use the new blog to try out the lessons learned from the Compound Effect! I lost site of that a long time ago when I was learning to code and design sites and wanted to have a site that looked cool and show our Facebook fans in the sidebar. The whole point of this shit is to have fun and put something out every day. The last theme wasn’t ideal, but I wasn’t writing briefly or showing design work or having fun with it. I wanted people to KNOW that we had a Facebook page (since that’s so crucial to success, right? (jokes)).
With the entire “upgrading” process I wanted to stay true to form and make something that would be fun to post to like it was two years ago when I was just playing around with WordPress in Lookout Joes on a Sunday afternoon. If you’ve lost sight of the beginning along your path, take literally five minutes and read your first blog post. Or your first email asking for advice on your idea. Or the very first meal you made for friends that made you open up that taco truck. What’s going on deep down that pumps you up to work on your thing? For me, it was writing funny stuff and engaging with the world every day to reap big rewards down the line. Get back to that even for a minute.
You think these guys give a f%ck about traffic?
Move On, Quickly
Put a hurdle on your back and just walk to the finish line with it to examine what went wrong after the race. I started this redesign process in August. I was dicking around with navigation and how it would look on phones (CHECK THE VIEWPORTS ON THIS SHIT AND TRY TO TALK SHIT TO ME!! (Sorry I’ve been listening to A LOT of Macklemore lately)) and I got consumed by an idea that I couldn’t really figure out technically. I didn’t move past it until I had to completely ditch that feature to get the entire site done quickly and redid everything from scratch.
I once talked to a guy who told me he wouldn’t see what his work looked like in the real world for two years. I puked a little in my mouth and started crying for him because he can’t iterate and change. You can iterate and change and pivot all the time and people won’t fault you for it. Why not ditch that newsletter that’s not 100% perfect that’s holding up the entire sales cycle? Why don’t you post a tiny version of something and keep building on it over and over and over? You know who does that well? Everyone. Nothing is complete until you decide to NOT share it and iterate on it.
The last site required an entire re-write because I didn’t experiment with anything or change anything at all after we posted it. I just let it sit there and let myself get embarrassed more and more that I put out a shitty blog. It’s ok that it sucked, it was my first WordPress theme. That wasn’t where I failed, I failed because I didn’t keep iterating, trying things or putting more work out there out. After two days working on the new theme it was live and usable. I spent a considerable amount of time working afterward on tweaks and making things perfect after the fact. I could show the work I had done to my friends and ask for advice or feedback and people would tell me what I did was cool. That’s an amazing feeling and helps keep the machine fueled while you’re adding features and fun things to your project.
If you make work based on what gets likes or reblogs all roads lead to some hand-lettered bullshit inspirational quote.
— Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) November 21, 2013
I do this for a living so I give myself a hard time when I’m working, but this site is not going to be perfect even if I spent 100 hours on it. Turn the process into an adventure and make it fun. I really dread using MAMP and I didn’t want to even start using it for the project, but I thought to myself, “Slamming my fingers onto these buttons is all I have to do for it to work. Let’s try every option possible and see how it goes. Worst case, I’ll f%ck everything up and throw my computer out the window and then I’ll write a blog from my phone about how I tried to redesign the site, but went agro when I screwed up.” It’s important to take everything you do seriously and put all yourself into your work, but let’s be honest, people who are wrapped up in themselves are no fun. Work hard and hustle, but don’t forget to have fun.
Glad to be back in your loving embrace, the Internet.
Happy Friday to ya, you guys.
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) November 15, 2013