A website without an objective is like trying to drive a car without tires. Neither one will get you very far.
Lucky for me, I had a fabulous member of my branding pit crew – designer, developer, photographer, and brand extraordinaire — Katharine Friedgen.
I created my website three years ago because I wanted a platform to share my professional writing samples and services. However, it never quite felt right to me and found myself switching themes every few months in hopes of finding the right one. Then, one day, I decided I needed to bring in the big guns if I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer.
I had the pleasure of working alongside Katharine for three years and saw her incredible ability to brand anything beautifully. It takes a lot of faith and trust to put your work in someone’s else’s hand, and I knew she was the only person I wanted to give my site the much-needed makeover it deserved. Here’s how Katharine transformed my website from ordinary to extraordinary.
Getting Down to Business
The first step of the redesign process involved an interview. Even though we’ve been good friends for years, Katharine asked questions that would have never come up in everyday life. They ranged from “What is your website’s goal?” to “If you could be a drink, what would you be?”, “What websites do you admire?” to “Describe yourself in 3 words.”
I wasn’t sure what my drink alter ego had to do with redoing my website, but I’ve always valued Katharine’s professionalism. She’s the kind of person with a bottomless thirst for knowledge and is extremely well-versed in the latest design, development and user experience trends.
She took my answers and created five very different, visual interpretations or mood boards. Each contained a compilation of pictures, textures, ephemeral elements, and typography to convey a particular style.
While there were parts of each board that I loved, I fell head over heels for the “dear diary” mood board. Not only did this board summarize the three words I used to describe myself – earthy, calming and optimistic – but I LOVED the colors, whimsical, hand drawn elements, serif fonts with a complementary hand-drawn font, and how the photo cut-outs featured photos without making them the focus of the page. My homework assignment was to explain what fonts, colors, styles, design elements, and textures that I liked and didn’t like on each board.
From Broad to Beautiful
Next, it was time to build my brand identity. Katharine presented style tiles that offered a preview of each page. Again, I had to go through each tile and explain what I liked and didn’t like and why about each one. Once we chose the branding basics, it was time to build my website’s foundation.
Katharine sent over mock-ups of how individual pages would be laid out. Feedback was pivotal to this process, and each time, Katharine took my comments, reworked the design, until we found the perfect design. Needless to say, we did not have many revisions, since Katharine is the type of designer that can take your seedling of an idea, gallop with it (she skips the running part) and comes up with something that exceeds your original idea and expectations.
The Final Touches
Throughout this process, I realized I lacked a professional headshot. Since Katharine is a Jane of all trades, she grabbed her camera, and we headed to downtown West Chester for a day of headshots. Katharine makes anyone feel great and comfortable getting their pictures taken, something that is certainly not easy!
Next was the hard part – waiting patiently while Katharine coded away. It gave me an opportunity to come up with a new plan to go along with my new website. Finally, the big day arrived when it was time to see a project that was years in the making.
To say she hit the nail on the head is an understatement! She made a website that is so me and I am so proud to call it my own. Not only did Katharine build me an amazing, beautiful writer’s website, but she also used a theme that is very easy to maintain and make changes to with my limited WordPress knowledge. She even developed a comprehensive guide to using my new website.
If anyone is ever looking for a highly professional, talented, and fabulous web designer, I’d recommend Katharine Friedgen until the cows come home. Want to learn more about Katharine’s fabulous talents? Visit www.katharinefriedgen.com.
All photos and designs by Katharine Friedgen.