A new website for The Brand Stylist
Well, hello there, lovely you. Welcome to my new home. Kick off your shoes, make yourself at home and have a look around. It's wonderful to have you here.
The Brand Stylist website has moved from Wordpress to Squarespace and I cannot tell you how good that feels. The design and structural changes are subtle but behind the scenes, it's like a revelation! This platform is just so lovely to work with.
Why I moved from Wordpress to Squarespace
It was only fifteen months ago that I invested heavily in a new, bespoke Wordpress website and that investment has continued in development costs throughout the year. It may seem a little crazy to move so quickly, but I'm a big believer in looking forwards not back, and doing what's right for your business right now. My website as it was, was holding me back. I needed to do something about it.
I've been using Wordpress for around a decade by now and have always loved the flexibility and freedom this open-source platform provides. It's comprehensive and well serviced by independent developers and designers but the truth is that for a very long time, I've found the whole experience utterly stressful. I'd lost the love for using the platform and more importantly, I'd lost the confidence in it.
if something is undermining your confidence and creativity, change it
I don't want to dwell too much on the detail but every time I looked at my site, I'd notice something had broken. It was costing me a fortune to have a developer to fix it and more to the point, undermining how I felt about my business. Design is at the very heart of what I do, and when things don't look right, and are taking a long time to fix, that's not good for your mojo.
Behind the scenes things were even worse. Wordpress has become the subject of a lot of attention for hackers. Every time I logged in I'd be greeted with warning logs, notifications of how many malicious hack attempts had been prevented and I'd be getting daily email digests with mundane issues I needed to deal with. In the past two years, I'd had two pretty serious hacks that had left me drained and demotivated.
The final straw came when I lost two bookings for a recent workshop. The site told them they'd booked, we couldn't work out why it had failed and in the interim, they lost interest.
Enough already. I'm a creative visionary sort of girl. I don't want to spend my working day wrestling with a website.
I'm always looking at how I can streamline what I do to ensure that I keep my inspiration high and my vitality up. And one of the only things that was stressing me in my business was my website. So it was time to look elsewhere.
exploring my options
I'd heard great things about Squarespace and a platform that I could manage myself without the need for a developer really appealed. I can code a little, but I don't want to. In fact, I don't want to get involved in anything tech. I don't need to.
Like many of us who've been with a particular platform for a while, I was concerned about the implications of moving across. Could Squarespace do everything I needed it to do? Would I be damaging my customer experience? Could we make the move without losing the valuable search legacy I've built up?
Happily, I had remembered reading a post that Holly Becker and her husband Thorsten, had written about their move to Squarespace last summer. What really reassured me was that they had faced all the same challenges I was going through: the brute force attacks, the large investment in hosting, the constant battle with the tech.
When I read Thorsten's post about how straightforward the move was, I was hooked. The Brand Stylist blog is at the crux of my business. It's how I share my work with you and spread the news about workshops, online courses and new resources. I can't go breaking links. But Holly's blog is infinitely bigger than mine. They have 100,000 comments on their site and had been blogging for 11 years. I was pretty reassured that if Thorsten could make the move work for Holly, there was a way to make this work.
I got in touch with Holly and happily, her wonderful husband agreed to help me move the site across. I can honestly say that this has been the most enjoyable, stress free website launch of my life. Thorsten has that magical combination of uber-reassuring technical attention to detail with fantastic communication skills. He was an absolute pleasure to work with and I cannot recommend him highly enough. If you're considering a move to Squarespace or Shopify, Thorsten is totally your man. Like many of us, he has limited capacity and so is focusing his attention on e-commerce and online marketing rather than simple blog moves, but if you have a shop to move, he's your man!
So, given that this move was more about creating consistency at the front end and improving the experience for me behind the scenes, this new website was never really about creating a radical redesign. It was simply a case of transferring a lot of the detail over and streamlining the experience to ensure you guys can find what you're looking for. As far as website builds go, I managed to create everything pretty quickly, although I reckon it was still a solid week or two of full time work to get it to this point.
It's definitely been a steep learning curve, but I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to be on this platform. I finally feel as though I have control back. Control I didn't even realise I'd surrendered. With the exception of a few tiny details (like the font within the newsletter form or the checkout screen in the shopping cart), I get to decide what everything looks like and if I realise in a few weeks that it looks out of scale (tell me I'm not the only one who does this) then I get to change it. Right there and then!
I love the freedom and flexibility I have and I'm excited to get using it.
finding inspiration in something that used to be a drain
At first it seemed like there were a few compromises. For example, the way I manage the downloads would need to change. But you know what? I think it's for the better! I've now created beautifully structured downloads page, organised by subject. You log in once, using the password you receive when you sign up to the mailing list (or that I'll have mailed to you once this post is live) and then you can download to your heart's content. And everything is in one place!
I have a page for all of the Podcasts. And one for all of the resources and how to's as well. And I've finally put something out there about my consultancy services (case studies may need to wait a little longer... It's a timing issue).
So here we are. A really small change for you, but I hope you love it. A huge change for me which is already feeding my inspiration, boosting my confidence and I know is going to have a huge knock-on effect on the quality of work I can produce for you guys now my energy and vitality are high.
Last night we toasted the launch with champagne and crisps. This morning, can we raise a mug of coffee to the fantastic Holly and Thorsten for helping me make this happen, Elizabeth of course for her fine-toothcombed approach to my content and finally all of the wonderful photographers I work with: Cecelina, Katie, Matt for continuing to provide me with super inspirational images that bring my business to life.