One of the challenges of being a designer while having a regular day job is the extended time it takes to complete a project. Spending ten hours a day in one job has a tendency to deflate your mental capacity for creativity. Usually I try to spend at least 12 hours a week creating something – either personal or client-related. But that still means, unless I really buckle down, completion dates are typically set further out. Worse, some projects are forced to take a back seat for an extended period. And I mean like a way way way back seat; think the last seat, in the last car of a super long train.
Truth be told, this is a bit of a digression. I share this with you to highlight a frequent consequence of having a project in front of you for so long. There is always this lingering urge to re-touch, re-do or flat out re-make what you’ve spent so much time creating. That’s especially true if you’ve had to put something down for a few months. Coming back to it with a very fresh set of eyes is almost assuredly going to lead to chucking what’s there in the trash and starting over. After all, no one lives in a vacuum and new inspirations, techniques, standards pop up every day. More often then not I decide I missed something or went in a wrong direction and feel like I need to change a large portion of what I made.
So, why the long-winded insight into re-doing creative work? Well, once again I find myself starting a project I had to set aside. Of course, my first step was throwing everything in the bin and starting anew.
The concept is one of my own: inkwellthy. To be brief its a web community I’m creating to bring self-publishing writers in contact with beta-readers and editors to test, validate and improve their manuscripts. More details to come (hopefully) by the end of this year. I was about 75 percent done when I had to step away to focus my attention on some other things, i.e other clients, day job, new baby, video games I wanted to play – Ya know? The important stuff. With any luck I can translate at least a small portion of what I made already into the project’s overhaul.
I thought it might be helpful to document a bit of the process of this redesign. One, seeing how designer’s critiqued their own work always helped clue me in on possible pit falls to avoid. Two, maybe if I keep talking about what I’m creating I’ll be forced to actually finish it – or you know deal with the shame.
But again, I digress. Time to get back on track.
Step 1: I was plain dissatisfied with the logo I created.
When I first started this project I actually had never made a logo before, but I’m not one to outsource work. Read: I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for anything I don’t have to. So I decided to make one on my own. Coming back to the project a couple years later and a few logos under my belt – plus a billion hours of video tutorials later – I could tell right away the logo was the first thing that needed a makeover.
You can tell there are quite a bit of changes. Mostly I wanted to modernize. The original one just felt like it was made for a 90’s dot com startup. I took cues from some of the most timeless companies I could think of and tried to isolate just the parts I needed. The changes included circular design, simpler text, and flattening out the colors and layou so it would translate better.
When you are your own client it’s a blessing and a curse. You’re intimately familiar with what you like, but at the same time you keep wanting to make more and more until what you’ve made is perfect. I probably could have kept making mockups for months before I landed on something, but inevitably I had to force myself to choose the one I liked the best. Ultimately, I chose the one that represented the theme of my redesign: simplify. I chose one that used a simpler font, a simpler color palette, and simpler layout.
As you can tell I also tweaked the name just a bit. It was originally inkwealth – a play on inkwell and wealth. But then I liked the way inkwealthy sounded better. It just seemed to stick in my head a bit more, which as company names go that’s usually a good thing. And then finally, I shifted the spelling to inkwellthy (mostly because I enjoyed the straight lines the “llth” created in the logo versus the roundness of the “e” and “a” made side-by-side”).
Step 2: simplify the site.
The changes are quite apparent – the goal again was to distill the visual noise down to just the needed signal. As you can tell the background was stripped away. The content was reduced and brought into the same page. And I used cues from the logo throughout. For example the round icon links and the color of the text to divide the two sections.
I will say I found it tons easier to rework the site after I finalized the logo. It was such a source of inspiration as I was making design decisions. I kept forcing myself to to cut thing that didn’t seem inline with the branding. Doing so helped make everything feel a lot more uniform but more important, it stayed simple.
There’s certainly more to it than just two steps. I’ve got to complete the rest of the site for one thing and finalize the user workflow. But from a strictly visual standpoint I’ve laid out the gist.
Thoughts? Comment below.