After 7 months, 1 baby (ha, not mine), 3 fantastic teams, and a lot of love (with a sprinkle of fear, as usual) the new design on the blog is LIVE.
Y’all this site was a beast of a project. And it turned out a beauty.
With almost a decade of blogging under my belt, an online membership, courses, one-off projects and a new book coming out, the amount of content that needed to be turned into a beautiful experience was overwhelming, to say the least.
Towards the end of last year, I contacted the brilliant minds behind Tonic Site Shop to see if they’d be up for helping me uplevel this site to showcase the existing content and give my new book a home where the concepts and content can grow and expand. Lucky for me, they were up for the challenge. I’m happy to say, they nailed it!
This site had the unique challenge of showcasing almost 10 years of recipes and blog posts in a way that makes the user experience function well and offer the reader more options to see what other recipes and education they might be interested in.
Jen and I had our initial design meeting in January where we sat together for an entire day on my rooftop, brainstorming how to layout a site with 300+ posts and recipes in a way that would be easy to navigate and fun to read. Jen was pregnant at the time and had her baby right before we finished the site, which impressed me even more to see a working mama of three deliver a big project like this.
Here are the pages you might want to check out first:
If you’re looking to uplevel your brand, or if you’re starting from scratch, today I want to offer you 5 tips and insights from creating this site that you can apply to your personal brand, too.
5 Personal Brand Tips for Better Design + More Fun
Tip 1: First things first, establish a mood board and theme.
“A designer can’t give you a brand, they can only give your brand something to wear.” —Tonic Site Shop
Instead of just showing a designer other sites to mimic, first, get really clear on how you want your reader/user to feel on your site. Pick 5 adjectives, 5 feelings and 5 images that show what you want your brand to exude.
For example, “street-style, strong, confident, masculine and dark” will have a completely different outcome than “serene, calming, water, light, and sacred.”
The longer you’ve been in business the easier this will be, so if you’re new don’t get stuck here, just pick something to start with. I knew right away that I wanted this site to be “bold, fun, fresh, intelligent and approachable with a hint of sophistication.” We went back and forth on a few design elements that felt too soft/romantic for my brand. If this was a wedding photography site, soft and romantic would be great. But that’s not my brand. Again, 5 adjectives, 5 feelings, and 5 images will get you started to a cohesive brand look and feel. From there…
Tip 2: Narrow down brand colors & fonts and always stick to them.
Your fonts and colors are the body language of your brand. Pick your pallets and stay consistent. We chose mostly black and white (which is great for a food site so the food images can pop) with minty-green accents. We also brought in a coral color for call-to-action buttons. We have established fonts and colors and always stick to them for a recognizable brand.
Tip 3: Organize content and stay on point.
Here’s the deal, we are all multi-passionate, multi-dimensional people.
I’m interested in many things outside of the topics on this site. However, this isn’t a news site and I don’t have a team of 60 to keep up with 107 different categories (and you probably don’t either). I love gardening, yoga, travel, barre workouts, hiking, photography, and long philosophical debates with friends, but you’ll notice this site has 5 categories: recipes, natural beauty, health, mindset, lifestyle, and business. (Which is still pretty wide, but I’ve been doing this for a while.) Your site should be specific about what you offer the reader. Just because you don’t offer it on your site doesn’t mean you’re not interested, or even good at it!
You don’t have to be—and really you can’t be—all things to all people.
Narrow in and stay on track. If you go too wide with your content concepts, you’ll get frustrated as a blogger, and your reader will be confused. A catch-all “lifestyle” category is nice where you can put random stuff, but keep your categories to five or fewer than five. Remember, you have to put things in these categories. If you’re not blogging often they’ll look empty. Start with three and go from there.
Tip 4: Invest in great photos, even on a tight budget.
I can’t emphasize this enough. When I was first starting out, I hired a wedding photographer who was just building her portfolio to take some outside shots for just a few hundred dollars. Outside photos typically have the best light and being outside is free so it saves you the studio fee. Find something in your price range and get some bright professional photos. Your reader needs to see who is talking to them.
I hadn’t had new blog photos done in almost three years—time flies when you’re having fun traveling the world, and I completely lost track of all time writing my book. My friend and make-up artist Kendra Springer (you might recognize her from America’s Next Beauty Star on Lifetime) introduced me to Nikki Closser and right away I knew we’d be a great fit—she is brilliant!
This was my first in-studio shoot ever. Nikki is a natural photo + lighting + posing magician. I asked for limited retouching and that’s how she already rolls. She KNOWS her lighting and posing and will make you look and feel fabulous and not retouch you to death. Awesome makeup helps, too. Kendra used all-natural makeup to get me ready for the shoots. She also taught me a new way to curl my hair and I don’t know what I’ve been doing with my life. Her makeup and hair tips are total game-changers. I highly recommend them both.
Tip 5: Use a stellar template.
This site is a custom design, but in case you’re new around here, please know that this is like the 19th iteration of this website! It started with a free Blogger blog 10 years ago and made improvements along the way. For the first 7 or so years, I worked off of WordPress templates. They were great, but let me tell you templates have come a looooong way since then.
Tonic used a new software called Showit to create the design of this site and I have to tell you, I love Showit! I just wish I would have started using it sooner. The blog is still WordPress (which is important for SEO) and Showit works in conjunction with WordPress to allow for a really easy and customizable design process. No coding is required and everything is super easy to change, which is a blogger/online business owner’s dream. If all of that is confusing don’t worry about the tech stuff—Showit is so easy that don’t even need to know the tech stuff.
Even better for anyone that needs a site, Tonic is known for their incredibly gorgeous Showit templates! Seriously, if you use one of their templates people will think you have a custom site. I considered a template but we had so much content here, and my business is at the point where I can do a custom site. Tonic only does a few custom sites each year, but you can grab one of their templates and fit it to your needs.
Tonic Discount Code: I scored you a savings offer! Tonic gave me a code to give you so you can get a discount (grab it here). Use code “ELIZABETHRIDER” at checkout. Honestly, if I was just starting out or was in need of a new site without a huge budget, a Tonic Template would be the first thing I would buy.
On a side personal note:
Right before this went live I was completely overcome with fear. Thoughts of everyone hating it (me, not the design) ran deep. But I’ve been doing this for long enough that I knew whenever you step it up and play bigger, fear shows up to keep you small. I called a few friends and got through it, and once it went live, the fear went away. I’m telling you this just in case you ever feel the same way and don’t think it’s normal. YOU ARE NOT YOUR FEELINGS. Feel them, but remember they will pass.
Take the new site for a spin and let us know what you think in the comments below.