Redesign: Made Better Studio

It’s been over a year and half since Made Better Studio was re-birthed in March 2010. During this time, I’ve focused on helping my clients make their communications better and have been very fortunate to have earned a great deal of referral business based on the work ethics and quality I try to provide through the services that Made Better Studio offers to it’s clients.

I fell off the good marketing bandwagon and started down the stale marketing trail.

But you see, while I was making all this great work for everyone else, I had abandoned the Made Better Studio communication channels. I fell off the good marketing bandwagon and started down the stale marketing trail. :( Yep, even I can use a little tender loving care when it comes to my business marketing.

What’s a good marketing company if you don’t focus on your own marketing every once in a while? So, I decided to take on the task of treating Made Better Studio not as my own business, but as my own client.

That being said, New Years Eve 2011, I set out to do something that had been needed for quite a while, to give Made Better Studio the same stellar treatment that we deliver to our clients every day.

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

If you’ve ever tried to do your own marketing, you know how hard it can be to see the most obvious details about your own marketing faux pas until you turn the camera around and start focusing on what it might be like to be someone with another perspective. You suddenly realize that you have to back up a few steps and make sure everyone is along the path to knowing why you exist and what you do and for whom.

This just happened to be the stumbling block that I had to get around. :( It was hard to admit to myself that even though I do this for a living, I still suffered from “not being able to see the forest through the trees” syndrome. But once I realized that I needed to get help to reflect, I quickly turned to great resources and found the help I needed.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Pam Slim for her awesome Ethical Selling Course that led me on some serious target market research and enabled me to find the space to reflect on who my people are and what I really do for them. I know I do this for my clients every day, but I needed help to turn the mirror inward and focus on what kind of people I wanted to help every day and Pam’s course really helped do that for me.

Once I was refocused on why I started Made Better, who I was serving and what they really needed I was on my way to a bona fide website redesign to help my customers understand what had changed on this journey.

Every Good Redesign Deserves a Reason or Three

For Made Better Studio the reasons were clear… a lot had changed since I had re-opened Made Better Studio’s doors and the website needed to be refreshed slightly to communicate those changes correctly.

Really important changes like…

  • communicating changes in service/product offerings – Over the last year, Made Better Studio has evolved it’s service offering to be far more than just an implementation powerhouse and I need interested clients to know that about us.
  • targeting the “perfect” Made Better Studio client – I have also gotten really clear about who I want to serve (maybe that’s you! :) click here to find out… )
  • being transparent about relationships in a way that makes sense to my clients and ensures brand integrity – I wanted to be open and clear that Made Better Studio has grown and how that works.

Since I’m primarily an online service provider, my website is the hub of my business – the place most clients learn the most about who I am and what I do, and it was in sore need of some love and attention.

So what to keep…

Often clients come to me and they say, “Oh my god, I HATE my website! Get rid of it, make it something completely different, I can’t stand anything about it.”

until you assess what you currently have can you begin to take focus on your aim

The knee jerk reaction is to throw the baby out with the bath water and just start from ground zero without taking stock of what’s currently working. So, I tend to take a step back and re-approach the situation from the angle of “Well what is and isn’t working for you and your natural processes?”

Once you solidify positive and negative aspects of your current solution you can then begin to assess additional possible solutions for the problem areas. But until you assess what you currently have can you begin to take focus on your aim.

I wanted to keep:

  • the ideals that I originally started Made Better Studio with intact while changing it up a bit to help communicate what’s new
  • the same no-bs, we really care about you messaging
  • a similar color palette and some design shapes from the first design to make sure we’re consistent in nature with what we’ve put out in the past, creating a brand legacy if you will

but I needed to also:

  • expand the service details that Made Better Studio provides to include the new strategy service lines in language that newcomers can understand
  • update the portfolio to include updated samples that showcased the power of the Made Better Studio network
  • offer more chances for us to interact and communicate with our potential and current clients through things like e-mail newsletters, social media channels, and our free advice section
  • be super clear on who Made Better Studio serves
  • explain how the Made Better Studio network works

Which seems like a really tall order, but I feel like the new redesign does all of these things. :)

Before and After

Resetting the Environment Tone & Feel
A lot of the way you feel in a situation is based on environmental details that you may not even be aware of, such as contrast, colors and textures around you.

I wanted to reset the tone of Made Better Studio to help reset the expectations of working with Made Better Studio from the very beginning. I went darker to bring a bit more of a serious tone or presence and then also brought in more of the blue to represent more of the business aspect that has shaped the company from it’s fledgling self.

Overall the design is much darker, lending to it a bit more seriousness and professional tone. The blue and cream colors are still being used as accents so the actual palette itself hasn't changed.

The light humorous yet no bs text in areas still give off the playfulness, easy-going, and yet confident vibe that really plays into the spirit of Made Better Studio.

Details throughout the design herald back to great craftsmanship through sketching, older symbols and imagery.

The Way Your Visitors Use your Content Changes your Layout

You’ll may notice the content is much more directed towards introducing the improved Made Better Studio to my current and would-be clients and give them access to what they’re really looking for.

After a year and a half in business I had a lot of juicy analytics data to sort through to find out exactly how my clients were using my website to make buying decisions. The new layout is shaped based on user data I’ve collected on visitors to the madebetterstudio.com website since the launch back in 2008 (YIKES!). I did some quick checking of my Google Analytics and found that visitors were really interested in visiting a few key areas of the website.

Based on visitor traffic I knew that my audience saw these five things the most.

  1. the homepage
  2. portfolio
  3. services
  4. contact
  5. portfolio details views

So I knew the new homepage design should have these other four things quick at hand.

The homepage feature area above the fold is now dedicated to a quick synopsis of who we are and what kind of work we do. Really showcasing our service line and having a nice portfolio piece right up front with ample links directing (Including specific sections on roll over – I love detail Easter eggs like this!) my would-be clients to visit the rest of our work. You’ll also notice the call to action to hire us, having a direct call to action is important to give the user a next step in the buying process.

Before there was a lot of copy on the homepage, it was all good stuff, but I don’t think anyone was reading it because it was so dense. I broke this up into the Why > How > What callouts below the feature and call to action areas. These areas were dedicated to talking about what all that copy was talking about but in a more chunk like manner that my audience could easily scan and take what they want from it. This is great for those audience members who want to learn a lot more about us without even leaving the homepage.

This section was actually inspired by a great TED talk regarding Why, How and What…

Below the Why > How > What content area is great stuff in the footer for both quick scrollers and for those who digest the entire page before going somewhere next. The first area is a blog callout, featuring three sticky posts and below that are various ways that someone may want to stay in contact with me. These are great calls to action to read more or at least connect with me in other areas that I hope will bring more community around myself and the principles of Made Better Studio.

Back to the Drawing Board

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour through the new Made Better Studio website. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s only the beginning!

Now that the new website is launched, I will be posting regularly in the free advice section as well as working on other social media channels and goodies for clients. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on these new items, I suggest you sign up for the Made Better Studio mailing list to get updates straight to your inbox or follow us on Twitter.

If there’s anything you would like to see added or if you have any comments on the new website we’d love to hear them below! Looking forward to hearing everyone’s input on where to take it next. :)

3 responses so far

  • Pamela Slim
    Jun 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    It is so beautiful and well-designed April! You hit it out of the park.

    This post itself is an example of how much thought you put into the work you do for clients.

    They are a truly lucky bunch!

    Big hugs,

    -Pam

  • april.holle
    Jun 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks so much Pam!

    I really appreciate such kind words from someone who knows more than her fair share about how to run an amazing business built on good ethics and true passion. :) I’m so glad to have your guidance in my life while working on the business methodology that drives the heart and soul of Made Better Studio. :)

    Looking forward to showcasing much more work through the free advice section to help would-be clients know the value of the process. I’ve built more websites than I would like to count, and it’s not just slapping something together and throwing it up, lots more thought to really make it as effective of an experience as possible for everyone involved. Having a stable foundation based on who you are as a business owner, your passions and who you want to serve really is the core of a good brand.

    Having those roots makes the experience what it is, the website is just an extension of that. Just a way of sharing what we do with the world, planting a flag to say “this is what we believe in” and offering others to join us in that mission. :)

    I’m super glad you like it so much, since so much of this was born out of our amazing discussions and your great guidance. Thank you again!

  • Jana Knapp
    Jun 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    April –

    It’s lovely!!

    It’s clear from what you’ve written that you have the ability to take your clients far!

    So happy for you!

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