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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
Over the past few months, I’ve slowly been working toward an entire site refresh. It had been a couple of years since my last site redesign, and it was definitely time to make some changes! So much of the information was out of date, and my site didn’t fully represent my current brand and business. I’m so happy with how everything turned out! Now that all of the changes are live, I wanted to dedicate a post to the redesign process and what’s new.
During the years I’ve been in business, my website has had so many different looks as my brand and services have evolved. Along the way, I’ve tried everything from a fully custom website design to templates, and my favorite platform to work in is Showit. I can easily customize pages on my own without ever having to touch code (Showit uses a drag-and-drop builder) and they have the best support I’ve ever experienced.
That said, I didn’t build my entire website from scratch (that would take a TON of time!) I used a template as a jumping-off point, which means that most of the heavy-duty design work was already taken care of. The strategy behind what goes on a page or making a design look cohesive and professional is all part of the template, which makes putting a website together SO much quicker.
I am a HUGE fan of templates from Elizabeth McCravy’s EM Shop, and I’ve bought templates from her twice. They’re clean, gorgeous, and easy to use – AND they come with an entire course from Elizabeth on how to get everything set up. Plus, I get so many different page options with Elizabeth’s templates that I never have to design a page from scratch. If I want to add an extra service or landing page to my site, I pull it from the template, and most of the work is already done! For my latest site update, I started with the Gabby template.
I enjoy tinkering with my website and making everything my own, and I originally planned to customize the template myself. But a year after buying my Showit website template, I’d only scratched the surface of my to-do list! I realized I’d need some outside support to actually get the whole thing done, so I connected with other small business owners for help with copy, branding, and template customization.
In the past, I DIY-ed my website copy (and that’s still what I’d recommend if you’re early on in your business!) Now that I’m more established, I was at the point where I needed an outside eye to help me wrap my head around the bigger vision behind my brand message and how to communicate that to clients.
Emily Conley from Emily Writes Well helped me completely overhaul and refresh my copy. Working with her was an absolute dream! She immediately understood my voice and tone and got straight to the heart of my ideal client and how my site copy could speak to them. I also loved that Emily delivered copy documents that were formatted in a way that saved my designer a lot of time when it was time to translate everything onto the page.
Most people don’t start their website redesign with copy, but that’s what I did…and it turned out to be for the best! Once I’d been through the copy process with Emily, I had a better grasp on the other elements I’d need to bring together for the full redesign.
After I finalized my copy, I realized that my visual branding also needed a little freshening up. I had a bunch of different colors and elements I was using, but I was wasting a lot of time constantly reinventing the wheel every time I needed to design something. Until this point, I’d done most of my visual branding myself, and that worked great for a while! This time, I wanted a professional designer to take things to the next level.
Amy from Calluna Collective did a mini-brand refresh, where she pulled in existing elements from my previous branding and incorporated her vision to update and expand my visuals! Now, everything feels more polished and aligned with my brand vibe.
Even though starting with a template saves me so much time and energy, there are always a few things I want to tweak and move around to make a site truly “me.” Stephanie Duke helped me customize the EM Shop template over four VIP days spread out over the course of a couple of months.
Stephanie is an incredible and caring designer who made the process so smooth! We had a joint to-do list of tasks to accomplish between meetings, and then on our VIP days, she would knock out bigger chunks of the project while I was in client meetings.
Customizing your own template is completely doable on your own but if you’re like me and busy with the work in your business, getting support helps a lot.
I’m over the moon about how my Showit website template refresh came out 😍, but I think a few corners of the site came out exceptionally well.
The About Page is always so fun to work on because it’s where you get to share fun details about your personal life and expertise! However, it can also be kind of challenging to toot your own horn and market yourself. I’m so glad I had Emily to capture my story and all the little details that communicate my personality to clients.
Also, I love the get-to-know-me quiz! It’s such a fun way to share my interests and bring a little extra personality and interest to the page, without relying on a bunch of heavy copy.
I am constantly having conversations with other entrepreneurs and clients about my favorite tools, so it’s been a longtime goal of mine to make a dedicated page. Now, I have links to all my favorite resources in one convenient spot.
Seriously, this page has EVERYTHING I love and use as a business owner, from software to book recommendations to meal delivery kits. I wanted this to be a giant master list of tools that would be helpful to business owners, and Stephanie did a fantastic job making this page a one-stop shop for business owners and course creators. We even added a section with my latest freebies!
If you scroll down to the bottom of my site, you’ll see the new version of my footer, complete with updated navigation so people can conveniently cruise around the main pages of my site or find my latest Instagram content. My Instagram page gets updated the most often, and I like bringing that dynamic content onto my site!
The custom logo in the middle was part of my visual rebranding with Calluna Collective. Amy made an adorable design that reminds me of a vintage stamp and fits in with the overall beachy vibe in the rest of my design It’s one of my favorite parts of the new branding!
It’s normal to want to get everything done as quickly as possible, but a website refresh is a significant process! It can take a while to pull together copy and branding elements and customize pages, especially if you’re working on client work at the same time. I’m super glad I spread out the process and didn’t rush myself. No one noticed that my website was slowly changing a little each day, and I felt more relaxed working little by little.
A full website redesign is such a large job that you can lose track of where you are in the process and forget which pages need updating. Make a list of all the pages you need to create or refresh and check things off as you go. My website is pretty simple, but there were still plenty of pages to keep track of between all the public areas of the site and “secret” pages just for clients! Lists were my best friend to make sure no page got overlooked.
Don’t be afraid to explore your options and talk to plenty of people until you’ve found someone who gets you and your business. Working with people who understand your brain and your brand will save you time and stress in the long run, so it’s totally worth it!
Take a look around the new site, and feel free to DM me on Instagram with any questions about the new design. And if you’re looking for a show-stopping Showit website template, head over to EM Shop to grab one for yourself!