July 15th, 2014

Doctor heal thyself: getting meta on the Adlininc.com redesign

I think it’s important to redesign your own website once every ten years, whether you need it or not. So, with the help of some killer creatives, that’s what I’ve done. I thought I’d share some of the adventures and insights with all y’all, because that’s the kind of gal I am.

Insight 1: Designing for yourself sucks, and I’m a terrible client.
This project just gave me more clarity around why I’m a consultant, and why I have to be a consultant to do the work I do. I could not get the kind of perspective I needed, and I was driving myself crazy with pressure to do for myself what comes so easily when I do it with clients. So, I turned to the best resources I know and they nailed it in no time. I’m the first to tell people that you have to have outside perspective to get to greatness, because when you’re part of a business you simply have to be in the weeds, and the weeds aren’t where it’s at for brand.

Insight 2: You have GOT to have clear goals.
Luckily, I heeded my own advice from the start on this one. The goals are thus:
1. New, updated branding that reflects me and what I do. That’s how I knew that Apartment One nailed it with the whiteboard idea for the logo and the site. Love that.
2. A site that brings my four ‘properties’ under a single, branded umbrella, so that the work I do on my blog, my coming-soon ad hoc personas book, and my UXPioneers interviews all lead back to my umbrella brand and opportunities to connect with me directly. Mila Goodman helped me get a fresh look at how all of these different categories of work fit together, and this clarity drives me still—

  • Corporate Underpants: My blog is my place for professional musings…and exploring the disease that I love to wrestle with
  • Ad hoc personas will be my shared toolkit…a providing a cure for the disease!
  • Consulting services pays my bills
  • UX Pioneers, a series of interviews with the great brains who created my field, is my industry contribution, and pays it forward.

Insight 3: It’s not all about usability.
Amazon knows this…if Amazon were 100% ‘usable,’ you’d find the thing you want and be outta there in seconds. Instead, Amazon throws stuff in your way, and you happily trip over it, discovering new and interesting things that you suddenly also need. Believe it or not, my decision to put the section navigation above my logo is related to this. Remember my goals? All paths needed to lead to Adlin, inc.—the umbrella brand. And now, no matter which door you use to enter my little branded compound, you’ll understand that all of these pieces belong to one entity. The physical placement of the section links above the logo breaks convention, but it does so for a really good reason.

Insight 4: I got great advice several years ago: your new brand should make you slightly uncomfortable.
When I was working on the logo, and even more so on the structure of the site, I was NOT comfortable. I was antsy and weirded out and tempted to mess around in the details and pop open Photoshop and mess with stuff myself. But some old advice kept ringing in my ears and forcing me to take a deep breath and move forward: if your new brand isn’t making you a little uncomfortable, then it’s highly likely it’s a bit too expected and ordinary. That’s especially true for me in this case with the site structure…having the section navigation above my logo still makes me a little wiggly, but that’s a good thing. Thanks, Henry Yiu!

Most importantly, credit where credit is due.
Huge thanks to Apartment One, my favorite design powerhouse team in Brooklyn. We’ve been friends for years and have worked on several projects together and I’m consistently blown away by their creativity. They do for branding and experience design what I try so hard to do for strategy: drive to clarity and turn it into a thing of beauty. They’re responsible for my amazing logo, the whiteboard theme that underlies the new logo and the site design (including the whiteboard-marker colors for each section), and the most amazing business cards known to mankind. A zillion thanks for helping me find my brand.

Mila Goodman did for me what I couldn’t do for myself, which is exactly the same thing I do for other people: she talked to me and she distilled my work world into a model that makes so much sense it kinda makes me cry.

And holy crap, Teri Bickley of Necteri is amazing. From WordPress wizardry to talking me through marketing ideas and content rounds to plain old managing me, she’s been killing it (for me and the clients I keep referring to her.

One response on “Doctor heal thyself: getting meta on the Adlininc.com redesign

  1. Mark Wieman

    Nice insights, Tamara, and congrats on the redesign! I’m sort of stuck with my own website redesign and your article hit on several reasons why. Love the whiteboard theme, by the way.