The title of this post is a bit deceiving. You see, *I* didn’t redesign my blog, a graphic designer did. (I would no sooner mess with the back end of my blog than volunteer for colonoscopy research.)
But I had a vision, a timeline and a budget in mind. Did any of those things actually come close to what I planned?
So I thought I’d pass along some tips and yes, even warnings, in the hopes some of you might learn from my mistakes.
It’s never too early to start planning.
Even if you think you’re not quite ready for a change, start gathering inspiration NOW. Create a Pinterest board of ideas, colors and designs that appeal to you. If you start early and you don’t tire of the colors and/or designs by the time you’re ready to move forward, then they can stand the test of time and are probably a good choice for your design aesthetic.
Besides, it’s fun :).
Accept that the process will take longer than expected.
If you have ever had a house built, renovated a kitchen or even redecorated a room, you probably experienced unexpected delays and challenges and the process took longer, maybe a LOT longer, than you had planned. It’s no different when designing a blog, and just like having a good contractor will speed up the home building process, so too will a good designer keep you on schedule.
Which leads me to tip…
Take your time when looking for a designer.
Once you have a pretty good idea of the direction you’d like your design to take, start looking for a designer. This is the hardest, but definitely THE MOST IMPORTANT part of this process. A good designer can navigate challenges with ease, while a bad one can make even the simplest of things seem complicated and draw out the process for weeks, even months.
I should know.
I guess now would be a good time to give you a bit of background.
When I started my blog nearly four years ago, I worked with a designer for more than 2 years. She was located in England, but in spite of the time difference she was always super responsive. I rarely had to wait more than a few hours for a response from her, and no question was ever considered too stupid. (And believe me, I had PLENTY of those).
When she quit the business, I stumbled along in the quagmire of the back end of my blog on my own. I did find a little bit of help here and there from some knowledgeable souls that I found on FB, but it wasn’t nearly the same or enough to meet my needs.
I started looking in earnest for a designer almost two years ago, and found out rather quickly that many people, to put it bluntly, do not have good manners. A few designers didn’t respond to my inquiries, or if they did, when I was ready to get started I didn’t hear from them. It was so discouraging I dropped the idea for several months just to keep my sanity intact.
Last summer, in a moment of weakness, I decided sanity is overrated, and once again began my quest for a designer. I searched Etsy, asked around on FB and even probed ‘in real life’ friends for recommendations. Someone in a FB group I belong to had mentioned a designer that she had used, so I contacted her, received a timely response and before I knew it we were rockin’ and rollin’.
Except we weren’t.
Turns out she was grossly unqualified to perform what I needed done. What should have taken less than two weeks from start to finish, was still no where near being done after almost two months. She rarely responded to my emails in a timely manner (it always took at least 24 hours, and sometimes as much as 3 days, to receive a response). During that time my site experienced crashes, I learned she didn’t have the knowledge to redirect Househoneys to Fox Den Rd., and simple tasks like centering text on my home page was challenging for her. I asked for a refund (see below), but only received 1/3 back. Yes, I know I probably could have gotten my credit card company involved and received a full refund, but I knew she had spent many, many hours on my blog so I just chalked it up to experience.
Don’t pay for everything up front!
Why oh why do most designers insist on full payment right away? I don’t know about you, but I would no sooner give a contractor full payment up front than my first born, but when it comes to designers, it seems to be expected. Why is that? Seems to me a much fairer way to proceed would be to come up with a work/payment schedule, right?
On a somewhat off-topic but related situation, before starting the design process, I paid another designer for a custom logo, but when I saw the mock up, well, let’s just say I knew it wasn’t going to work out, so I ended up getting a ready made logo, which pretty much defeats the purpose of a logo. But I digress. Did I receive any kind of a refund? Nope. So the takeaway here is if you’re having custom work done, find out what options you have if you are unhappy with the designs you’ve been shown.
Don’t assume anything!
The designer I used endorsed the theme I had chosen on her website, so I ‘assumed’ she had at least a working knowledge of it.
She also had a blog post on ‘how to choose a designer’ in which she emphasized responsivenes. But was she?
Whatever it is you want done, ask the designer if he/she has experience doing it. Need your site migrated from Blogger to WordPress? Ask. Need your domain name changed? Ask. Need woocommerce set up? Ask. Is it important to you to have continual communication? Ask what their typical response time is.
Don’t assume the designer will take the time to ask you the pertinent questions. In the beginning, most are just anxious to take your money and figure it out as they go along.
But, it is YOUR money, your time, and your blog, so before you plop down any cash, make sure you know what the designer is and isn’t capable of doing.
In the end, these posters were right.
Everything worked out for the best. I found a fabulous designer who performed in two days what the other designer couldn’t do in 6 weeks (and for a lot less $), and I was up and running in no time.
There’s still a lot for me to learn about my new blog, and for certain attempting this change while we were away in Florida was probably not the best plan, but it’s done and I can breathe a sign of relief.
I know my situation was extreme, and many people have positive experiences when redesigning their sites, but if you have any tips to share, or if you just want to vent, feel free to do so in the comments!
In other news…
Not a heck of a lot to share this week. Tuesday we are leaving Venice for a short stay in central Florida, then we head to the panhandle. I’ll have lots to blab about when we return home and I can start using my MAC.