The Story Behind My Re-Design

January 29, 2017

Hey guys, it’s been a long time since I wrote a sincere blog post that wasn’t about calendars or Screenspiration illustrations.

There’s a good reason for that: today I’m launching the re-design of Gab White Art & Design!

This has been a long time coming.

As in, six months long.


To be super clear: it never takes six months to build a website for a client. When I’m building a website for myself (and not being paid for it), it’s a bit of a different story. This blog post is a bit of a personal / business update about where the last year has taken me, and where I’m going next. Thanks for bearing with me, this is gonna be a long post.


Why I decided to re-brand

As a designer, having strong branding has always been important to me, and I never felt like my website reflected that. Part of that is because my website wasn’t telling my story.

When I first launched Gab White Art & Design back in September of 2015, my website was built on a pretty shaky foundation. I had re-used some of the code from back in 2014, after I had just completed HackerYou, and there were some embarrassing rookie mistakes I wanted to clean up. I also designed and built the Gab White Art & Design site in under two weeks, and it always felt a little bit too “average” for me. Basically, my website felt kind of thrown together and not really reflective of the type of care and quality that I give to my clients.


About the design process

I started re-designing my site in July 2016, and at the same time, I was also starting to think about re-designing my whole business. I was coming up on one year of full-time freelancing, I had just bought a house with my partner, and while I was comfortable freelancing, I was starting to feel a little “blah” about the projects I was doing. I wanted to start diversifying more into teaching and public speaking, which I was already doing quite a lot of, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere on my website. I also stopped doing a lot of the services that were listed on my website back in 2015, and I wanted to get clear on the type of work that I do.

I liked the playful theme of the first iteration of my website, if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I’m not the type of person to take myself super-seriously. I’m also drawn to very feminine design and didn’t want stray far from that, but I thought I could also be a little bit less conventional. I also hated the photo of me that was in my header on the homepage. It felt way too staged and not at all like me.


Shiny New Things

I added so many shiny new features to my website. I could let you discover them yourself, but I’m gonna list ‘em all here:

A totally overhauled Work With Me page
You can hire me for 3 main things: Web Design and Development, Branding, and UX / UI Reviews. I’ve also productized my services so it’s easy to see what you’re gonna get and a ballpark of the investment you’ll be making. Of course, not every project fits in a neat little box, so there can be customizations made to any of these packages.

New things in my portfolio
What have I been up to for the past year, you ask? Making bee-yoot-iful websites and brands, that’s what! My portfolio now has some of my latest projects, as well as some of my long-time faves.

No more goddamn slideshows of portfolio items or anything
Slideshows are so finicky and a bit too flashy for me. I’m keeping it simple and just letting you scroll through images. You’re probably on your phone anyway, so it’ll be way easier this way.

Brand, spankin’ new Teaching / Speaking page
I’ve been teaching web design and development for 3 years! I love teaching and it helps me be a better designer. In the last year I’ve had a few speaking opportunities and they were such fun experiences for me and it’s also something that scares me a bit. So, more of this please!

The Freelance Friday Newsletter
Back in 2015, I started a weekly newsletter called The Friday Giggles. The premise? Every Friday I’d send a random list of funny links curated from all over the internet. It was so fun creating this list for the past 69 weeks, but it is time to evolve. The Freelance Friday is a newsletter for freelancers, solopreneurs, and side-hustlers featuring a weekly curated list of articles on design, entrepreneurship, and productivity. This isn’t going to be listicles from Buzzfeed or Business Insider – it’s going to be fun, insightful, and full of brilliant and useful info.

Resources: AKA, stuff I use every day, stuff I’m reading, and stuff I’m listening to

This is going to be an ever-evolving page of my site featuring my favourite apps, tools, books, and podcasts. Major disclaimer time: some of these are affiliate links. HEY. Girl’s gotta eat.


What about these doodle things?

You’ll notice a lot of illustrative elements and doodles on the site. While I don’t really call myself an illustrator, many of my projects involve illustration: whether it’s a brand, a set of icons, or a decorative lettering design. I don’t often take on a straight-up illustration project, but I do feel like illustration and hand-lettering are major influences in my web design work.

Rather than going with slick photography, I thought I’d use hand-drawn patterns and doodles to create little “easter-eggs” in the site. Right now the doodles are only on the homepage and about page, but I think that’s going to evolve!


So what’s next? 

Many things. I finally feel like I have an online home that is reflective of my personality and can be actually useful to other people. Look forward to more blog posts, more business updates, and more sharing in 2017!


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Mel Hattie - January 30, 2017

New design looks awesome! Nice to see those new portfolio pieces. 🙌🏼