I’m often called upon to do Live Site transformations on websites… where we makeover a live website while it’s still up and everyone can see it. Since we’re doing it live, the challenge is to redesign the site quickly while making sure that the site never looks too horrible at any given time (because, you never know who’s looking over your shoulder).

I did one of these live overhauls with my own site last month, and here’s a case study on how it went, so you can see the steps, the stopping points throughout the project, and what’s involved:

Why I did it: I’m repositioning my company in a few ways. Away from being a brand training company to being a done-for-you brand design firm. Away from a celebrity-heavy brand with my headshot primarily featured in the header graphics (not entirely celebrity, mind you, because I’ve got a company name that’s different than my own) to one where my headshot is treated as more of a secondary brand asset to personalize and lend credibility while not being the star of the show. Away from overexplaining, text-heavy to being design-driven.

Before the remodel:
This is the current state of the site. Some things I’d like to remedy:

1. To take myself out of the brand and treat myself, gradually, as more of a “man behind the curtain” — because, ultimately, the branding show is not about me. It’s about you and your brand.

2. To clean up the design. The purple sidebar and bottom bar make me crazy. It’s too much, too blocky.

3. So very text heavy. We’ve got to switch out the balance here from verbal to visual.

4. The page is a little skinny, and all of the content areas have extremely thin margins. I’d like them to have more breathing room.

Session 1 of remodeling.

I’ve accomplished tasks 2 and 4. The purple’s gone and the page has been widened.

Half-accomplished #1 — but I’ve got to get myself back in the page a bit for the transition. I can’t go from being the front man in my brand to being invisible overnight. When you’re repositioning from being a celebrity brand — where you’re the most recognized part of your company — to being a company brand where the company is positioned out front, you still want to have a hand (or in this case, a headshot) in the designs for at least a transitional period.

We’ve unearthed a couple of additional problems:

1. The email signup area seems a bit funky in comparison to the feeling that I’m going for in the new brand.

2. What is going on with that footer? I’ve got to make better use of the space.

For now, I will call it done for the evening. Because sometimes, you’ve got to step away from a design for a while in order for it to make sense.
Session 2 of remodeling.

I’ve added myself back onto the home page so that I’m not suddenly leaving my brand. I believe I will make a tiny version of this to go in the page footer as well for pages other than the home page (since that would be visually redundant).

I moved some of the heavy text to the About page, since it was about what makes me different and belongs better there.

I also did a check of the other pages in the site to make sure that the new formatting didn’t change anything for the worse. And we’re safe there (as I suspected, but ‘whew’ nonetheless.)

Clearly, there are still some fine-tuning to do — but it’s getting ever closer.

Session 3 of remodeling.

Refining the sidebar to make it bold, clean and approachable.

Reorganizing the footer to make it concise.

Adding in a headline that’s eye-catching and says exactly what it needs to say.

The transformation: Sometimes, less is more. A simple, clean design can be more polished and say more than a site that says quite a lot.

Total time for the transformation: I began the process at 6:00 pm on a Thursday and it was complete by 2pm the next day. It didn’t take all of that time (I slept, ate, and all that good stuff) – so as you can see, a transformation like this can happen quickly and fuss-free.

 

If you’re concerned about an inelegant site transformation where your site won’t look good for a long while while it’s being transformed… or that your site remodel will take forever, then don’t worry – as you can see a quick, clean and lovely site redo is possible. And, if you’d like to talk to me about the possibilities for your site, you’re always welcome to schedule a complimentary consultation with me.

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