I wanted to give you guys an update on the total transformation we’re planning for the Penelope Loves Lists website. I always love “behind the scenes” business stuff, so I thought I’d give you that peek behind the curtain. Plus, truth be told, I’m so excited about this redesign that I could wet my pants. A better option is to blog about it. Agreed?
The current site is, ahem… a bit dated. Oh, who are we kidding? It’s terrible. “Hello? 2008 called. It would like it’s website back.” I can barely stand to look at it.
So, we’re looking for a complete re-branding visually of Penelope Loves Lists. This will include not only the new site, but all new collateral, new social media profile graphics and imagery. An all-new look.
happy, thrilled, to say that we are going to work with the amazing Brooke Hall to do this redesign. Not only is she a visual magician, always able to take my descriptive narrative and turn it into a perfect visual, but she’s also a WordPress genius. She’ll be transferring the existing WordPress site (currently based on the Thesis theme because…2008) into a new WordPress theme. We haven’t nailed down which one, but we’ve narrowed it down to three and it will be totally new in design AND layout.
Here is a wireframe of the new home page. This is truly behind-the-scenes stuff because only a few people have seen this as of now. Cat, get out of that bag!
For those of you familiar with web design, you’ll know what a wireframe is, but for the uninitiated, a wireframe is simply a sketch that lays out the features you want on the page. It doesn’t take into account anything visual or “pretty”, just the actual elements of the page. The “pretty” gets laid on later by the designer. Wireframes can be done with software like Balsamic Mockups (my favorite) or by hand, as these were. Brooke, our designer, has worked with me before, so I knew she could read my chicken scratch handwriting.
Office product nerd moment: the notebook I used here was the Milqelrius graph paper notebook and the pens were Pilot Frixion Erasable Markers and Pilot Frixion Highlighters. I adore all three of those products.
In addition to portraying a more accurate view of the Penelope aesthetic of today, the new site will also:
Be a much better-organized space, giving easy and deep access to all the Penelope Loves Lists content from the last 6 years. This will involve a complete re-do of the main navigation. Here’s what that wireframe looks like. It’s called “mega drop down”. Which I always say in a “Transformers” voice.
Give us the ability to really feature, visually and in excerpt form, some of the best content of the site. I feel like so much of it is just buried in the archives. Let’s bring it out into the sunshine.
Create “Category” pages for the content. This will be huge both from a reader’s perspective, but also for SEO purposes. We’ll be able to search-engine-optimize the shit out of those pages and that’ll be a good thing for findability.
Make it easier for first-time visitors to quickly get a sense of what being a Penelope is all about. She won’t have to search around to figure it out.
Give us many more options for in-article content formatting. We’ll have more ability to do cool lists in several styles, or call out quotes in interesting ways. Here’s the wireframe for an article detail:
Be able to show a bio for the author of each post and link to her full bio in the Team section. That’ll enable you all to be better able to get to know these new voices.
Have a new Team and About Us page, which will introduce all the new contributors to the Penelope site and give you some great info about them and why I wanted them involved in all things Penelope. This new section will give me the ability to see these girls’ beautiful faces and have a better platform to introduce them to you.
Make it much easier for people to keep up with us on social media, by making all “follow methods” clearly visible and easy to access. We’ll also be upgrading our visuals overall and adding Instagram to our social mix.
Create a newsletter sign-up page, which will enable us to keep all serious Penelope fans abreast of what’s going on on the site, and will enable us to be able to amass the all-important “tribe list”.
Will downplay the date posted and the number of comments. These are very “blog-oriented” features and that’s not the direction of the new site, which will more of a content/lifestyle website space than a personal blog.
And, give us the foundation for a Shop, where we will eventually be selling PLL-branded organization tools (like the notebook shown here), as well as other curated items.
I hope you’re as excited about the new version of the site as we are.
REALITY CHECK: please know, there’s fear here, too. What if we do all this work and no one likes it? What if all my ideas and dreams are going to burn up in the flames of reality? What if? It could happen. But I know for sure that I want to do this more than anything, so, it’s happening. Fear be damned.
As to timing, we’re hoping to launch in the fall, but no promises. We all know how these things go. I can tell you we’ll do our best to hustle our muscles for you.
Our next “behind-the-scenes” post will give you a peek at the visual inspiration for the new site. How my mish-mash Pinterest board becomes Vision Boards from our designer and the beginning of the new “pretty”.