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The New Site Design

I’ve finally finished the redesign of Making it Lovely!

Well, that’s not entirely true. There are a million and one little tweaks and additions that I’d still like to make, but the changes are ones that don’t impact the overall look and function, so I can add them in over the next few days/weeks.

I do all of my own designing and coding (I used to offer web design as Smart & Lovely), and this time around I built these themes off of Standard Theme for WordPress. It’s been been great to work with. I made a lot of changes visually, and a few changes to the core PHP files, but for the most part it gave me the structure I needed. And as for the pretty? I have Moglea to thank for the custom floral illustrations in the header, and I used a couple of elements from Pugly Pixel as well (the glitter and the honeycomb). The background floral pattern is a licensed image, and the logo and all the rest were done by yours truly.

Hold up, did I say themes in that previous paragraph? Plural? Yep. Remember the whole minimal vs. maximal debate I’d been having in regard to the new design? Jessica left a comment suggesting both with a theme switcher, and that was a genius idea. I’d forgotten that was even a possibility! So the default is the “Lovely” theme, full of pattern, but if it’s a bit much (and it may be), you could choose the “Minimal” theme instead. You can switch between the two themes at the top right, next to the social media links. Everyone wins! *

* Well, everyone will win. Eventually. It’s a bit buggy right now (I’m working on it), but you should be able to switch between the two themes with a hard refresh.

So what’s still to come? More organization of categories on the backend, making the design responsive (resizing to fit smaller screens for the 7% of you that need to scroll left to right a little on the site as it is now), more post layouts for different types of content, fine tuning the sidebar, perhaps adding to the footer, some changes to the social sharing options, and on and on. Good stuff, but not essential to launching. And I’ve been dying to launch, so it feels good to push on ahead, right on schedule.

And now, onward! Onward with bigger pictures, interesting new layouts, and different post formats. Onward with a select few new contributors (soon)! Onward with more content, and more awesomeness. And thank you for your patience as I’ve devoted myself to all of this design work lately. Hopefully you’ll love the new look and everything to come as much as I do.

Minimal vs. Maximal*

I’m still working away at the redesign, and I will be launching it February 1 as scheduled. I’m waffling between a clean, white minimal (well, minimal by my standards) look vs. my usual mix of patterns. Below is a little peek.

Any preferences?

* I’ve decided that’s a word, by the way. The opposite of minimal shall henceforth be maximal (e.g. my usual approach to mixing patterns).

A New Direction

I had planned to do a straightforward recap of the Alt Summit, 2012. I’ve tried to sit down and write it all down for you, but I’m struggling. It isn’t because Alt wasn’t amazing (it was), or because I had a bad time (I had fun and learned a few things). I’m struggling because of some news that awaiting me upon my return. My last seven days have felt something like this: nervous, eager, reaffirmed, happy, delayed, scared, and finally, hopeful.

Tuesday: Nervous

The usual thoughts ran through my head. Did I pack the right things? Was my panel prepared? Would my family fare well while I’m gone? Could I get through all of the work I needed to do, before I had to leave?

Wednesday: Eager

I had prepared as much as I was able, and it was time to go. I was on the very first panel at the first Alt Summit in 2010, and I watched the summit via twitter last year, sad to be missing out but too pregnant to travel. I was excited about going back again, and looking forward to it. This was going to be fun!

Thursday: Reaffirmed

Alt came this year, for me, at the tail end of a lot of work. I’ve been doing more than ever, trying to juggle my blogging commitments with my family life, taking on too much at times, and having to put my head down and work. Being surrounded by my peers though, so many passionate, hard-working, and successful bloggers, reaffirmed that I’m heading in the right direction. I’m fortunate to have a job, unconventional as it is, doing something I love. I want to see Making it Lovely grow, and realize all of its potential.

Friday: Happy

Alt Design Summit 2012 - Friday morning

Jordan, Kelly, me, and Maggie spoke about Growing a Readership. I’ve put together a recap of the Twitter conversations that happened throughout our panel, which was one of the most well-attended! My weepiest moment of the day came as Ben, the co-founder of Pinterest, gave a particularly inspiring keynote and received a standing ovation. His infographic feels especially relevant right now.

The entire conference was amazing; everything I’d hope it would be and more. Thank you to Gabby, Sarah, and Kate, and to all of the people who help make Alt the blogging event I most look forward to each year.

Saturday: Delayed

And homesick. De-icing the plane, flying against a strong headwind, and landing in an airport that was under construction all contributed to my plane landing two minutes after my connection left. I was placed on standby, with a confirmed seat on a plane for Monday afternoon. I spent the night in the hotel closest to the Pheonix airport.

Sunday: Scared

The next day, while other passengers lost their tempers and berated airline employees, I was able to get a confirmed seat on a plane home in the late morning (it’s always better to be nice). We were delayed though, and spent an hour sitting on the runway before takeoff due to weather conditions back home. We were finally given the OK to fly into Chicago, and I arrived home approximately 25 hours after first leaving the hotel in Salt Lake City. I then picked up the kids and immediately turned around to go to my mom’s house because we were supposed to be there for a birthday party.

All of that made for a very long day, but it wasn’t the reason I was scared.

Brandon lost his job. He had found out on Thursday, but he waited to tell me until I had finally arrived home with the kids late Sunday night, after we had put them to bed.

Monday: Hopeful

Our dream has been to reach the point at which Brandon could leave his job. While we had assumed it would be in a planned, responsible way, we will have to embrace our new circumstances.

Do we go all-in on the blog? I’m not making enough to solely support my family, but we have to look at the numbers and see if I could get it there. How long would it take if we were devoting all of our time and energy to it? (Six months? A year? Longer?) Should we do something a little crazy, like buy a store? It has never been a goal of ours, but if you’re one that believes things happen for a reason, the universe seems to be aligning in that way. Or does Brandon look for another steady, 9-5 job? He has been the rock that has made it possible for me to get to the point I’m at today. While the benefits and stability that come along with traditional employment are reassuring (especially with a family and a mortgage), I’d love for him to be as fulfilled in his work as I am. These are all things that will be weighing heavily on us, and we need to figure out our next direction.

I’m hopeful. But I’m still scared, too, to be honest.

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