Change is certainly part of being in a creative field. There's always new things to learn, shifting styles, and updates to your devices. What you offer – whether it's a product, a blog, or a service of any kind – it will need to adapt. You can choose from three options. You can fight it, ignore it, or look at it as an exciting challenge. (If I’m honest, I tend to do all of the above!)
Change is what's happened to the That's Pretty Ace website.
I've made some updates in the past six months, but as my branding business has grown, my goals for the site have changed.
I needed to find a way to make it easier to navigate. I wanted to simplify my offerings and grow my newsletter list. And instead of doing a facelift and making things look better for a season, I knew an overhaul was in order for the long-term.
Maybe you’re in the same boat. Or maybe you’re just curious about the changes to our site and the reasoning behind them. Either way, this post is for you! Here’s a look at what’s changed and why.
First, I took the leap and created a true home page.
When I first launched the That's Pretty Ace site 3 years ago, the goal was to become a go-to lifestyle blog. With that, it was necessary that the blog was the main portion of the site.
That worked great for a time, but now that my branding business has grown, the focus needed to shift to my design portfolio and services. I felt that the site would best serve you if there was a true home page when you arrive at thatsprettyace.com – not a blog, not a portfolio, but a front page hub that clearly shows what I do and where you can go from there.
My blog no longer needs to be the first thing people see when they land on my page; I would rather have visitors get a feel for the experience I offer my clients and be able to easily get to where they need to go.
Having a home page allowed me to showcase my brand's personality through large, emotive, simple images that explain what I do (thanks, Jessica!). It also allowed me to have a more illustrative navigation underneath the large images, featuring different areas of the site in a more image-driven way than the simple nav at the top. I also made the leap to including "Brand Designer" underneath the That's Pretty Ace logo – again, being confident and clear about who I am and what I do.
So I decided to make the home page switch.... But not without some hesitation.
Switching your home page can be a little scary. I was nervous if it would be too much of a jump for dedicated readers and if it would be uncomfortable for them.
Thankfully, with Squarespace, I could build the home page privately before I made the leap. Once I was ready to switch, all I had to do was make the new home page public. Switching was so easy!
I also reworked my site navigation.
While you can’t force people to take a specific path on your website, the items you include in your main navigation definitely influence their decisions and the pages they visit first.
I had 5 items in my top navigation with some drop downs before the redesign: Blog, About, Design (which included Portfolio and Services), Contact, and Follow.
Those items were fairly simple and straightforward, but they were more focused on the Blog aspect, and the Design portion felt awkwardly thrown in.
So I pared it all down to 5 items without any dropdown menus: Design (my updated portfolio), Services, Blog, About, Contact.
Not only are those the pages I want new visitors to take notice of when they first land on my site; they’re the pages I want visitors to access the most. Because the more those pages are landed on, the higher they’ll rank in search engines. And when that happens, that drives more new followers to the most important pages.
I do have an additional page of the site that isn't as important up-front: an archives page. This is useful to blog readers, giving them a Pinterest-like grid of my blog posts, starting with the most recent. It's an easy, visual way to peruse my posts – which, essentially, is seeing my portfolio.
I updated my portfolio.
One very important thing was missing from the old That's Pretty Ace site: an upfront, confident, classy portfolio.
There was a Portfolio page, but it was hidden under a drop down in the nav and I wasn't good about keeping it updated. It also looked a little busy with the variety of colors I've worked in.
So I decided to step up my portfolio game this go round and be more intentional about my work. Instead of hiding it in the nav, it's now the first page you are directed to in the navigation. I added all of my recent projects and gave them the thorough write-ups they deserved. I also made the images on my Portfolio page black and white – which reflects the sophisticated simplicity that I provide to all of my clients, and makes the page look less visually cluttered.
In just a few short days since making the change, I've already seen a huge bump in traffic to this page. A seemingly small change can made all the difference!
And I added photos… Lots and lots of photos.
In all honesty, the new photos on the site are one of my very favorite aspects of the redesign.
They capture the aspects of That's Pretty Ace that I want to highlight most:
The new photos are also a distinct brand element to help people differentiate That's Pretty Ace from others in my industry. They’re the most “me” out of anything else on the site and I had so much fun working with Jessica Scott on them.
Overall, I hope these new updates create a better user experience for you and make it fun for you to follow along with That's Pretty Ace!
And as always, I would love to get your feedback. What do you like most about the new site? Are you considering making updates to your own site?