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Fresh starts don’t happen by magic

You may have noticed that things look a little different in my world. New website, logo, social media tiles, newsletter, etc. I guess you can say I’ve had a digital makeover.

Here are the before and after shots:

Old website homepage.
New website homepage

It all began mid-2021. The Take on Board podcast had grown too big for my eight-year-old website. My partner Frank – who was a designer and not a lawyer at the time – built the old website using Wix.

Wix had a limit on the number of blog posts that can be loaded. At episode 100 – with the fabulous Amber Roberts – my business manager Lisa and I found a messy work-around. I decided to kick-off the overhaul, a fresh start.

To the outside world it no doubt looks ‘ta-da’, like all this magically happened. While all-up it took around eight months – from mid-2021 to March 2022.

A fresh start takes work

There are some really good frameworks around that provide guidance for change. You know how much I like a good framework!

Michelle Gibbings’ assess/architect/activate/accelerate model from her book Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career is definitely a good one. Although the focus is on careers, I think it can apply to anything. It works like this:

  • Assess where you are now in your career.
  • Architect where you want to leap to.
  • Activate how you get there.
  • Accelerate how you leap successfully.
Michelle Gibbings’ assess/architect/activate/accelerate model.

What she’s telling us is that change starts with taking a good look at where we are now and being as clear as possible about what we want. The prep work. I do a lot of prep work with every client and every program.

It takes a lot of work to map your strengths, identify and align your values, get your own personal brand right, your pitch and having someone to keep you accountable along the way.

The planning doesn’t stop there. It’s important to work out as much of the ‘how’ as you can before you start.

How did the big ‘digital makeover’ change go for me?

Big changes aren’t easy if you’re time-poor like me. I knew I needed help. I also needed someone to keep me accountable.

I asked my long-time content collaborator Jackie Cooper if she could help out. Some of you have met her through KickStarter 2021 or events such as the Take on Board breakfasts. She’d recently left content strategy for corporates behind – and Melbourne – to focus on leadership content for women and some not-for-profit work. Being her first career-change client worked for me!

Initially I would’ve been happy to just move the old website content to a new platform, but Jackie helping out meant that I could tackle this properly.

We did a lot of ‘assess’ and ‘why’ work:

  • We started with an audit, looking at what to keep or delete, identifying what was missing.
  • After years of organic growth, my (big) content ecosystem needed a clean-up. I produce a lot of content, thanks to the podcast. Services and programs were regrouped. My two flagship governance programs were renamed: Take on Board: KickStarter and Take on Board: Accelerator. And my general blog and newsletter were given a name – Ideas to Action.
  • Then, we looked at what information my clients and community want – their ‘user journeys’. Jackie wasn’t keen on spending time creating content that nobody reads, watches or listens to. Fair enough!
  • Next, we looked at my future needs and a content strategy to support my goal of growing the Take on Board community.

Then came the topic of ‘brand’. Because I value the advice and expertise of other women, I reached out to a couple of social media experts. Jackie also reached out to a number of designers and web developers. The advice was pretty unanimous that an overall design refresh was needed.

Then came the ‘activate’ and ‘how’ stage. We prepared a brief with design references, a list of competitors, tools required – as much as we could think of. We created a potential new site map.

We began working with two very creative women designers from a regional design company in October 2021. Jackie pretty much project managed things from our end. We set up weekly Zoom calls. I gave as much time as I could, to keep things moving. Often it was more work than I (and Lisa) had time for.

What did I learn?

I’m a big fan of self-reflection and self-assessment. So how do I feel at the end of this eight-month fresh-start journey? Yep, I have a framework for this too. It’s the ‘lessons learned – issues and impact’ framework.

The ‘lessons learned - issues and impact’ framework.

So based on this framework, here’s what I learned:

  • What did we set out to achieve (objectives): To build a new website.
  • What did we actually achieve (outcomes): A new content strategy and ‘digital overhaul’ – thinking more broadly about content.
  • What worked well (successes): Not only a new website, new look and feel and greater understanding of what else we can do with online content (rather than just website).
  • What could we improve (area of focus): More thorough briefing with the design agency from the outset and being clearer in terms of expectations. More of the ‘activate’ and ‘how’ stage. In hindsight, a briefing session like I do with my facilitation clients at the start of a project may have helped get the designers across what I do and what I need.

On that note, let me know if you spot a broken website link or typo. Or let me know if you think there’s something missing or not quite right. I value your feedback.

Also, I’d love to hear from you, about a big fresh-start in your life. How much work and how long did it take you? What did you learn?

'Ideas to Action' is written in red fond and sits centred above a graphic of a quarter black circle on the bottom-left and a quarter circle of horizontal lines on the bottom-right.

Ideas to Action

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