We’re lucky to have a number of talented web designers and developers in our network at TheWayoftheWeb. But we didn’t have a lot of time and money to get a new logo and website up and running.
So I thought it would be really useful to share the process we went through…
Our new logo:
For a long time I’d blogged without investing in a proper logo and identity. So I was enormously grateful to the talented David Darnes when he offered to donate his skills a few years ago to support me starting out as a business.
Having originally been influenced in naming my blog (and now the business) from martial arts and Eastern philosophy, plus speaking to David about my background in both digital and print, he came up with a great book-based logo which we used until this month.
It’s still a logo I really liked, but as our business has changed and evolved, and with the need to finally change the website from a simple blog to something more suitable for our company and network of specialists, we felt it was time for something different.
Having chatted briefly with some of our designers, the plan for the new logo emerged fairly quickly and organically. We wanted to ensure a larger font size with more clarity in a range of different settings, as we needed options that made sense from a 16×16 pixel favicon to the 2000+ pixels sizes for Google+ and Youtube cover photos.
So to achieve this, we settled on two versions of the logo, both featuring the same fonts and colours to have consistency across formats and to be recognisable in each setting.
This gives us more flexibility, both in terms of which option we use, and what other elements we can include for specific locations. But we wanted something graphical to represent the brand, and the ‘cogs in cloud’ was a moment of design genius.
As a virtual agency which works with both staff and clients through a wide range of online tools, obviously we have close ties with cloud computing. Without cloud computing services, what we’re doing would be twice as hard – project management, collaboration, accounting, offsite backups, etc are all made easier, as are serving websites and applications.
And within that cloud are the cogs that make this business machine run – the amazing people that we work with (that’s clients, partners and employees). Despite the brilliance of technology, any computer, software or project is only as good as the people that built it.
So that’s our logo – brilliant people brought together within the cloud, and following a shared philosophy.
Our new website:
Until now, TheWayoftheWeb has simply been a blog with some pages briefly outlining the services we offer, and it has never really operated as a cohesive way for clients to find out what we do or how we do it.
That’s been fine in the past as 99% of our work came from word-of-mouth recommendations from clients and former colleagues, which is wonderful.
But as we’ve grown, there’s a need to be accessible to anyone that hasn’t already heard about us, and to really clarify what it is we do.
The CMS choice was logically always going to be WordPress – there are other platforms out there which are definitely worth considering, but having used WordPress for many years and offering WP development and design in our portfolio, we have to show we can eat our own dogfood.
On top of this, we installed the Genesis framework – again, we’ve used this framework and many of the themes provided by StudioPress, so we’ve got a decent understanding of the benefits and how it all should work together. It’s the same framework we can offer to clients, so again, we’re using exactly the same technology as we offer to others.
But to stand out from other agencies building on the same platform, and to get the basics done fairly quickly, we chose to install the Modern Portfolio theme, and customise from that starting point. As standard it’s responsive (so it adapts to mobile and tablets automatically), and has had just a few minor tweaks to appear as it does right now.
There’s still a long way to go before we’re happy with the site. Having set a deadline at the end of April to go live, we knew that we could have waited and spent a lot more time tweaking and polishing to show our perfectionism.
But although that’s often the right approach for client work, sometimes it pays to get stuff out there so it can live and breathe. Especially when client work rightly takes priority, and our own site development could end up on the backburner if we weren’t careful. And we can immediately start measuring the difference with a real audience, rather than in closed user testing to see if we were on the right track.
It means you can see what we’re doing as we do it. And we’ll then share what we’ve done to make improvements, whether it’s for SEO, Social Media, Content, Design or Conversion Rates.
After all, using this site (and other internal projects) as our playground means we can quickly roll out proven, successful work to clients.
Around 7 years ago, I started blogging on a free Blogspot website, mainly because I had thoughts and ideas about the internet and media which I wanted to share beyond a very small group of colleagues.
One day, 5 years ago, I moved my blog onto the current domain and my own self-hosted WordPress site, as I’d grown my readership to thousands of people each month and wanted to give them a better experience.
Then almost 3 years ago, I found myself setting up as a freelancer to provide content and marketing to a small group of clients which has since grown – along with my business which now involves partners and a network of specialists employed on various projects for businesses based in the UK, Europe and America.
Now it’s the start of a new era.
TheWayoftheWeb.net needs to reflect a growing business, rather than the personal blog of one individual, which I think we’ve achieved with a new logo, new design and layout, and a new approach to what we’re publishing. It needs to feature the insight of everyone involved, and become a hub for growing small and large businesses through effective content and marketing.
For the time being, my old archives are still available on the site via direct links, but my random observations will live on at danthornton.net for the future….
It means our recent hosting migration has been successful.
You may also have noticed the site looks a little different – unfortunately the need to move hosting providers occurred during a period in which we have been looking at some design changes for the whole site, which haven’t been ready to publish in time for the move…
So in the meantime, enjoy the focus on articles for a little bit while we finish with the crayons and paper to push out a new layout.
I’m a firm believer that you should always be learning, and I’ve always been an avid reader. Since the Kindle was launched, it’s never been quicker and easier to access a wide variety of writing, particularly niche books which previously may have been expensive and hard to find.
And the frequent sales and offers on Amazon means that it’s also possible to pick up some great practical and inspirational material for ridiculously low prices.
For instance, the current Spring Kindle Sale running until April 4 includes some great books relevant to marketing and business ownership. All the below were purchased by me this week, or I already own and recommend.
Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do by Euan Semple – £2.19. We’re pleased to say Euan is a friend of TheWayoftheWeb and we’ve kept in contact since meeting many years ago. There are few businesses which wouldn’t benefit from his well-written and readable book on how to approach introducing and integrating social media into a company.
Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey – £0.99. For less than a pound you get the insight of a Principal Analyst at Forrester into disruptive companies across a range of industries.
Finance for Non-Financial Managers: In a Week: Teach Yourself by Roger Mason – £1.99. Running a business means striking a balance between bringing in specialist help where it makes sense, and knowing enough to understand what you need and why. I haven’t started this book yet, but anything that helps me improve my understanding of managing the finances of my business is a good thing, so £2 seemed a reasonable amount to gamble!
The Liberation of Loch Fyne Oysters by David Erdal – £0.99. As my business has grown, I’ve been looking for examples of how other businesses have coped, and been able to build an engaged and enthusiastic workforce. One concept I’ve been interested in is employee ownership, and this book has provided a great introduction, using the very human example of Loch Fine Oysters as a central story around which the concept, context, successes and pitfalls of a range of employee-owned businesses are shared.
I’d love to know whether or not you’ve read any of these books, and whether you’d also recommend them. And let me know if there are any marketing, business or technology gems going cheap which I haven’t covered – I’ve found my impulse purchase price to be around the £3 mark, so try and keep recommendations around that price range!
I’ve also written about these books in more detail, alongside more general technology and science fiction reading on my personal blog if you want to see everything I managed to buy for less than £10!
Client work has kept us all really busy at the moment, along with some work on our own projects – some live, such as OnlineRaceDriver, and some still at the ‘skunkworks’ stage.
In the meantime, the business development experts at the Future Agency have published a comprehensive interview with me on the future of PR/Marketing and Content, mainly focusing on how running TheWayoftheWeb has continually evolved over time and how I want it to be run in the future.
And at the same time, freelance social media and digital PR consultant Ben Matthews has written a good blog post on starting out freelancing, which includes advice from a number of wise and successful freelancers. And me.
With the news that Posterous will be closing on April 30, 2013, many people are now looking to export their content and start to publish on a different platform. We tend to always recommend self-hosting if your site is important to you and your business, partly because third-party services can close or change, and partly because it gives you a lot more control over backups.
WordPress is particularly suited to self-hosting, as it’s so widely used and most hosting services will offer a simple one-click install to get you up and running. The complications tend to come with adjusting the look and functionality to exactly what you require, and that’s certainly something we can help with.
So assuming you don’t want to move from Posterous to another third party service like WordPress.com, Tumblr etc, what do you need to do?
Setting up self-hosted WordPress:
To set up your site, you need 2 things. The first is your domain name, if you don’t have one already. The second is your hosting account, and for most sites this can be organised quickly for a few pounds per month.
If that is already filling you with fear, give us a shout as we run hosting a number of websites, including installing WordPress, setting up themes and plugins, and organising regular backups.
Once that’s in place, you’ll need to wait for the hosting to be up and running to allow you to install WordPress. Once that’s done, you can then transfer your content across. When that’s complete, the final step will be to change any existing domain names to point to your new site.
You now have 2 options for getting your content into your new site – one doesn’t require a Posterous export, but we’ll cover it anyway as it’s good practice to always keep a secure backup on your computer or an external hard drive.
Exporting from Posterous:
Log into your Posterous account, and you’ll see a bright yellow ‘BackUp’ button in the top right of the dashboard. Clicking on that will arrange for a backup to be created for export (You’ll need to wait a little while for it to be ready). Once it’s prepared, you’ll see a green ‘Download’ option which will export your existing content.
This will let you download a Zip file which contains contains your content.
Importing into self-hosted WordPress:
Option 1: Using a Plugin:
There’s a useful Posterous Importer plugin available which will import posts, comments, tags, and attachments directly via the Posterous API. Simply go to the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard, select ‘Add New’ and search for Posterous Importer and you should see it as the first result (Authors include Automattic, the company which runs WordPress).
Once this is installed and activated, you’ll then be able to go to Tools in your WordPress dashboard, select Import, and Posterous will now be a listed option.
Click on Posterous, enter the url of your current Posterous site, along with your username and password, and the import will begin when you click submit.
Hopefully that will work for you nice and easily. You’ll then need to go through and check each post, amending author details etc as required.
If it doesn’t work for any reason, there is a slightly more complicated alternative.
Option 2: Importing via WordPress.com
If that doesn’t work, the other option is to use the importer created for WordPress.com, and then export from that version to your self-hosted site.
So you just need to sign up at WordPress.com (Which is the hosted version of WordPress). Once that’s done, look in the Tool section of your new site, and then click on the Posterous import option.
This method will now ask you to upload the wordpress_export_1.xml file from your Posterous export earlier. This will then be uploaded to your WordPress.com site. There’s a more detailed tutorial on the WordPress.com site, so I won’t repeat their instructions.
Once that’s done, you can then choose to export from WordPress.com. And then go to your self-hosted site, select Tools and the WordPress importer. Choose the .xml file to upload from your WordPress.com export, and you should be all set.
Obviously this version does include a couple of extra steps which are a bit of a pain, but could be useful if the Posterous API stops working prior to April 30.
Finishing off the process:
Finally, once all your content is in your new site, spend some time checking the author names, embedded videos and anything else which may have changed during the import process. If you’ve got thousands of posts, then start with any that you know are particularly popular!
If you’re mapping an existing domain name across to your new site, now’s the time to do it. If you want to keep the same url structure and avoid losing any links, you’ll need to go to ‘Settings’ and select the ‘Permalinks’ option. The default setting for Posterous appears to be ‘Post Name’, which displays as
http://danthornton.net/sample-post/ for example.
Finally you can play around with the look of your site, and the additional extensions that are available to WordPress users.
I’ve often published constructive criticism on the media industry, but I also have a lot of respect for the people working in it, and Im always proud when journalists I respect choose to quote anything I’ve written.
Add that to being quoted in an article on Search Engine Watch, and it’s been a rather nice week!