Introducing the new website for The Brand Stylist

We are live! I can't tell you how good it feels to say that. This project has been ongoing for so many months and I am so happy to finally be able to walk you around the new website for The Brand Stylist. As with any website project, it's still a work in progress. There are still things to iron out, i's to dot and t's to cross. But we reached that tipping point where what was done could add so much more value to you that it was worth getting live. Over the next few weeks the final changes will be implemented but for now, enjoy exploring.

Would you like a tour?

You're going to find it so much easier to access the resources you're looking for. I've created a couple of new posts - one for the How to Style your Brand resources, and one that'll be populated very soon with the resources for my new book, Brand Brilliance. The homepage is pretty massive, I know that. But it's very easy to navigate and I hope you'll be inspired to explore what you're looking for in a jiffy.

I've added new sections with my most commonly asked questions to ensure that you get the answers you're looking for quickly. And one of the things I'm most excited about, is just how beautiful the retreat and the workshop pages look. So much more space to breathe, so much more flexibility in how the images are treated. I love it!

Here are a few of my favourite elements: none of which were possible with my old off-the-shelf theme.

First of all, I adore the full width images, the treatment of the headers and the clean layout of the testimonials. I wanted those to really shine and I was immensely frustrated with how that just didn't happen with my old design. Some elements you can really easily control. Others, like the numbered lists and the testimonials are much harder to refine. Off the shelf themes are great at the beginning. They are low cost, they are generally pretty well designed and they get you up and running quickly. But nothing beats having total flexibility over every single aspect.

I adore this layout. Again, something that just wasn't possible with the theme I had. I love the lines in between, the numbers behind the text and the grid layout which makes much more efficient use of space, and in a much more attractive way, than the standard 'list' style. And that space around everything makes me very happy.

Another grid layout which again, I just couldn't have easily created myself. I have a very, very limited knowledge of HTML from back in the early noughties (seriously) but things have (ahem) moved on at quite the pace since then. I'm very happy for someone else to worry about making this look reliable on as many devices as possible. Responsive design is a wonderful thing for the user. Less wonderful for those of us attempting to design for it. And my goodness do I feel for the developers who have to make all these ideas happen...

One of the things I love the most about my new website is the fact that BWeb have made me a totally customisable website with lots of 'content blocks'. So I have four main mosaic style images - like the layout above, and I can adapt, refine and reuse them on as many pages as I like, which means that as I grow and adapt my business, my website can scale up with me.

I love how this layout looks. It's a little lovelier than the PayPal add to cart button from the old design isn't it? Again, I've reused many of the elements to keep things consistent and to ensure that the design flows.


Finally, an extract from the blog post design - one of my favourite elements of the whole thing - the numbered list. Doesn't it look just gorgeous?

Some of the key elements of the new design

  1. Space. Lots of space. I've added lots and lots of space which is so important to my brand. I wanted to create a feeling of clarity, of calm and confidence and for me, that comes with giving everything space to breathe.
  2. Moving images. One of the trends Caz suggested was to have moving images on the site which add interest and a little wow to the whole thing. I'd also intended to have rollovers in the desktop site but honestly, I've reached the point where I never want to open another Photoshop file again, so they might have to wait.
  3. Simplicity. My first cut if the design was overwhelming: too many design devices, too much clutter (typical rookie mistake). Actually, my style is really pared back and simple, so I decided to strip things back to basics and let the gorgeous photography shine.
  4. Beautiful bullets. Lots of my blog posts has 'action points' or how-to style content so I wanted to make all of those elements easy to follow and beautiful to look at. I've borrowed some styling from my printed collateral and I'm very impressed that BWeb managed to implement my crazy idea because it seems pretty complex to me!
  5. Mosaic style images Caz and I wanted to do something a little different with how the images were laid out, so on the homepage, I created a collection of different sized boxes that'll scale for mobile and tablet. Honestly, they look better on desktop, so enjoy looking at the different layout there too, but this way they work too. Over time I want to do some fancy rollovers for desktop but that's on the back-burner for now.

I'm so happy with how this has all come together and need to say an enormous thank you to the amazing team at BWeb for being as committed to getting this looking right as I was. And to my lovely friends Caz and Elizabeth Cairns who helped so much behind the scenes. I can't say I enjoyed the design process, but I'm loving the end result. In all honesty, there were many moments when I really hated designing this. I found the whole responsive website thing immensely stressful. Give me a book to design any day! I often felt like there were better things I could've been getting on with and I found  not being able to predict the scale of things really quite unnerving.

The reason I designed it myself? I hadn't planned to, but after a false start with a designer in the summer, which actually crept into late Autumn, I found myself with an immovable deadline (I wanted this ready before the book was released) and no time. The fastest and most reliable way (says the control freak) was to just do it myself. In many ways it's worked out, but I won't be doing the next design myself.

As with everything, it's taken much longer, absorbed more time and cost more than I'd hoped, but I hope you'll agree that it was all worth it.