Sometimes quotes like this give me flashbacks to AIM profiles. Remember those? When I was going into high school my brother wrote me a letter that said, "Don't frown, you never know who's falling in love with your smile," and "Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll land among the stars." I swear. My parents put him up to it and they were without a doubt sourced directly off of Instant Messenger. However, he genuinely meant it. Sometimes quotes can feel very corny (especially in retrospect) but if you let that self-conscious feeling go, they can also be really inspirational. Now that I outed my brother's seventh grade sentimentality, I will admit that my alarm clock says, "Dreams don't work unless you do" when it goes off at 6am every day. I often have last minute blog work to finish in the mornings and that little reminder helps get me going. I'm not a morning person, but I know that extra effort I put in each morning (usually rereading a post or scheduling social media) makes a difference.
My point here, is that as I wrestled with when and how to launch this new site I found the above quote, "If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting the rest of our lives." It's from Lemony Snicket (most children's books are filled with wisdom, go back and check out Roald Dahl or Dr. Seuss). I had been thinking about the site redesign for months and I kept pushing it off because I didn't feel prepared. I also felt a bit scared. That quote helped me realize that I would probably never feel 100% ready. So I decided to just go for it.
When I switched over to the new site last week, I wrote a post on XO Smash sending everyone here. However, I didn't explain why I was making the change. So, now that (many) of the kinks are worked out, I wanted to take a moment to explain things.
NUMBER ONE: THE BIG PICTURE
As I mentioned in my goodbye post on XO Smash, this new website has been part of an overall dream to start my own design company. I hinted at it at the end of last year, and after lots of behind the scenes planning and prep, it finally came together. Of course this is just a small beginning, but it’s a step in the right direction. I'm working on shooting some projects now to add to the portfolio and I hope to have more work to share with you in 2015. For those of you who are curious, I'm still working my regular full-time teaching job and have no plans to stop. This is just something I do on the side because I love it.
NUMBER TWO: THE DESIGN or BLOGGER vs. SQUARESPACE
I had XO Smash redesigned about a year ago by a graphic designer and, while I love the work she did, I felt somewhat trapped by the Blogger platform. From time to time I wanted to make changes (like adding a new page) and I couldn’t do that on my own. I would have to email the designer, wait for her to get back to me and then pay her to make even the smallest changes. Now don't get me wrong, I totally understand paying her. It was less about the fees and more about the loss of control. I did a fair amount of research, and it seemed like if I moved to Squarespace I would be able to make more design changes on my own. So far, so good. I've done everything on my own (including the logo) and it's just a lot of trial and error (and Googling).
If you’re a blogger, the main differences between Blogger and Squarespace is that you have to pay for Squarespace. Right now I’m using the “business” level. The entire interface is really user friendly and I have been able to figure out how to do almost everything on my own with their help pages. One thing I loved about XO Smash, was how clean the layout was. I have seen a lot of other bloggers and webpages move over to really complicated layouts with lots of flashy features. That’s great for them, but it feels overwhelming to me and has actually made me stop reading a few that just seemed over stimulating. My goal with this new site is to keep the design as user friendly as possible. Of course I will tweak things as I go, but my number one priority is that it always feels intuitive to the reader. Think Ikea + Apple for a webpage (reach for the stars right?). If you guys ever have any suggestions or complaints I am all ears.
Speaking of suggestions and complaints. I’m still figuring out how to deal with the newsletter application. Squarespace operates a little differently than Blogger, and it won’t just send out the new posts to your email. As far as I can tell, you have to use MailChimp so I’m trying to set that up. The strange thing about MailChimp (and I guess this is a spam policy) is that you have to include your address on every newsletter. I’m not saying anyone is trying to stalk me here, but I’m also not so comfortable with that, so as soon as I figure out how to deal with that you guys will be getting posts in your inbox again.
NUMBER THREE: THE NAME
The blog has gone under a series of name changes throughout the years. It started as Smashing Style and then I changed it to XO Smash. I was never in love with either name, and as I move into the world of design I felt like it was better to just streamline things and go with my name. It’s how most designers run their websites and interestingly enough a lot of other bloggers have gone that direction too. As we all get a bit older (and hopefully wiser) it seems like the cutesy names are on the decline.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the last few weeks. It means the world! If you haven't already, please be sure to bookmark the new page in whatever reader service you use. You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ (which I just started using and am still figuring out).