“But this is how it is done.”
Seven words that are often the largest detriment for any creative, designer, entrepreneur, or digital cowboy.
In going on a decade of my digital life, one thing I can count on is change.
Changes in technology.
Changes in social platforms.
Changes in aesthetic trends.
Changes in reader habits.
Changes in the design industry.
Changes in platforms.
And on, and on, and on.
It is critical that we keep learning, stay flexible, and update our approaches. Experience and talent are unchangeable, how we execute and communicate absolutely must.
A key way to keep evolving, is to pull out the virtual dust mops, scrub buckets, and being plenty of trash bags because they’ll be filling up. Today I’m taking you through the importance and “whats” of spring cleaning, and share the “whys” and “hows” it pays off.
Catching the Wave & Riding
A big challenge in the digital-verse, is staying relevant in all the change.
Relevant to readers, in content, and how it is delivered.
It is not enough to rest on the laurels of amazing original content or mad creative skills. Thriving on the interwebs is not just catching a sweet wave, but being able to ride it and not get crushed in change.
And the key to not getting crushed in change, is staying relevant. And to stay relevant, constant learning, tweaking, and evolution are required. At the very least, and I say this because I do this nearly quarterly, a spring cleaning is required. Spring cleaning of websites, social, and strategies.
"My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors."
— Bette Midler
The Spring Cleaning Tea
Being online is an incredibly exciting ride, but it is also filled with some pretty tedious work. And this tedious work is the sort which should personally take care of when possible. Handling your own spring cleaning is important for many reasons, with the biggest linked to our continuously learning.
I find that by handling all the mundane maintenance of my sites, and constant grooming of social, I’m able to learn at a rapid rate, and implement key pivots or improvements.
Key areas to tackle for spring cleaning are:
What website trends can you implement on your site to keep it fresh?
What about your website’s menus, fonts, and colors?
What are you doing about social share buttons on your sites? Do they look good, or are they intrusive?
How are the images looking on your key pages, can they use an update?
What social accounts have you signed up for and don’t use? Clean up your digital footprints, and delete dormant or unused accounts.
Are there social platforms where your haven’t been going on them for awhile, and the content is looking dusty? Either clean them up, or shut them down.
Are all you profile images and headers up to date and consistent across the interwebs?
What subscriptions and services, such as media management, do you have? Are they useful or can they be cancelled?
If you have a Wordpress site, do you need all the plugins you are running? Delete inactive plugins or ones that are not bringing notable benefit to your site. Plugins create vulnerabilities, slow down sites, and often glean info you don’t want to be over … so less is best in the plugin game.
"Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door."
— Marcelene Cox
"Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
— William Morris
Reaping the Rewards
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I clean up my sites and social at least seasonally. It is critical to brand consistency, keeping things looking their best, an incredible way to continuously learn, and an ideal way to facilitate growth.
One major example of the pay-offs of spring cleaning I recently experienced, is my gathering together moodboard and color palette archives from the old Fresh News blog, and sharing them here on the seed site;
The new inspiration galleries were not only gratefully met with a warm reception, but they inspired me to launch a few new series including Brushstrokes 3.0, and the Fresh Moodboards and Palettes series.
The seed; site relaunched back in November 2018, and has grown to enjoy over 30K previews just this past month. And with being in its third month of existence, 30K pageviews is a solid and welcome number.
Regarding Design Seeds, a site that receives over 1.3 million pageviews, I recently did an extra heavy duty spring cleaning over there.
As I have shared, the site has been on several platforms, and its transition to WordPress took nearly two years until the relaunch in 2015.
When I moved Design Seeds to WordPress, I needed to go with an “off the shelf” template for several reasons. After all the walls I hit in moving the site from ExpressionEngine … time, resource, and my being able to design and maintain it were of critical importance.
I was fortunate to find a beautiful and simple template that fit the aesthetic niche I was looking to take Design Seeds, so it worked wonderfully. That said, I moved the site to WordPress going on four years ago, and key shifts in web design have occurred, so I have had to tweak and re-code some key things to keep the site looking fresh and modern. A few of the most recent tweaks I implemented are:
I changed the fonts up. Playfair Display is a bit tangled up with the branding aesthetic of Design Seeds, and serif fonts are wildly popular again, but I needed to adjust the font size to being larger and having more graphic impact. I also kept the Playfair font to just key title usage.
Condensed fonts are super cool these days, and have a notably modern feel, so I updated the two other fonts being used on the site to a fresh condensed sans serif.
Stronger menus with a larger fonts are also a trend. The template had used teeny tiny fonts (when complicated menus where more of “a thing”), so I made the top menu simpler, bolder, and increased the font size.
Social share icons are falling out of vogue again in that they look obtrusive on sites, so I went back to more subtle and integrated share buttons, for posts and pages. It also saves me a $90/year subscription cost for the social share buttons I was using + I was able to delete an extra plugin.
I deleted all images from the media library that were not live or in use on the site.
Those are just a handful of changes I implemented on Design Seeds, but they help convey the consideration and approach for keeping relevant on a solidly established site.