Over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of work on my website to make it well, in a word “better”. Better how? Brighter, friendlier, more in line with the brand and ethos of Vera Vera On The Wall… and hopefully more user friendly. Hopefully you will find it a mix of modern / contemporary, colourful and striking, bold but without being aggressive, cheerful but with a grown up twist, focused on quality but not taking itself too seriously. That is the brand of Vera Vera On The Wall that I hope to build. I have also now enabled my website for e-commerce using secure and protected payment solutions allowing customers to buy directly from me safely and securely using Paypal and all major credit and debit cards.
Since launching my website, I’ve gone through a number of light-bulb moments about what I want my web presence to be. Each step along the way, I’ve tried to learn and take on board feedback and advice from those who have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also sought out honest feedback from my audience and potential customers. As an example, I started out with funky fonts… but then understood that funky fonts can distract rather than inform and that the overall impression is of messiness rather than creativity. I also started out with a black background and white wording as I thought it really made the colours of my artwork pop and gave the whole website a certain elegance and edge. I have now changed this to a light background with dark text as I think it’s much more readable and bright and user-friendly.
The interesting thing with websites (and I suppose with most things in business) is that there is a balance between making something absolutely perfect before launching it versus launching it when it’s “pretty good” and making changes as you go along and you learn and improve. Arguably, you get to the same end result – in this case, a great website. But it’s the learning, improving and incorporating changes part of the process that is either behind closed doors or loud and proud for the whole world to see. Traditional wisdom says that processes and learning are boring and not interesting to anyone but you. Traditional wisdom also says that if you share your learning process, you will seem like an amateur and people won’t take you seriously. Traditional wisdom says that any experimentation or uncertainty or request for advice from others should be kept hidden so as to not erode your own power and authority…good thing that these days, traditional wisdom can sometimes be ignored for something much more interesting.
With the power of people and connectivity, engagement is the name of the game. Whether it’s sharing your draft sketches (something that I will do at some point, I’ve promised myself), or whether it’s launching something before you get it perfect but when you think it’s pretty good, or whether it’s inviting others to join you on your business journey through crowdfunding, people want to connect with other people. And with that context, my mind-set for Vera Vera On The Wall has been exactly that – don’t be afraid to share, be willing to look like a fool once in a while (hopefully not too much) and always be open to learning and growing whether it’s in the dark or out in the open. Because really, the key assumption that both the hidden and the open approach get you to the end point is flawed. Not only does the open approach get you more authentic connections with others, not only does it speed up your process from inception of an idea to end result, but in my opinion, the end result is better. It’s much better than what you would have been able to achieve in the dark because the process was exposed to light and feedback from others and through that feedback (that you may not have received in the dark), the end result was polished and refined and hopefully a much better version. For now at least, because this learning process is never finished. There is constantly some way to improve and more to do and ways to get better and that’s okay. Actually, that’s great. It keeps things interesting and it keeps you moving.
Note: Of all the changes I’ve made to my website, the one that probably gives it the best “makeover effect” is the inclusion of multiple photos from the fantastically talented Abigail from Abigail Steed Photography. Abigail has been kind enough to take a number of photos of me at work creating my various artworks. They are amazing - don't you think?
On a related note, this article from Business Insider about what some popular websites used to look like is very interesting and enlightening. And with that in mind, here are a few screen shots of some pages from my website as it was before.