The Open Road
Becky Schade is a travel and lifestyle blogger and author who helps people achieve the dream of full-time travel. When she learned the theme she originally used for her WordPress website was being discontinued, she knew it was the perfect opportunity for a redesign. With big changes ahead, she needed to update her six-year-old blog to reflect where her business is headed.
Context + Challenge
This project had two main challenges: Update the site with a modern design without alienating long-time readers and make the website easy to update.
Over the years, Becky has built a loyal following for her blog while her design has remained the same. It was important to create a bridge between the old site and the new so the change wasn't too jarring for readers.
Big changes were coming to Interstellar Orchard so Becky needed to be able to easily update her website with new images, books, maps of her travels, and pages.
Web design trends have changed since the WordPress theme for the original Interstellar Orchard website was introduced. Today, most websites use large images, full-width pages, and limit sidebar use to blog pages only, if at all. The older style blog theme now feels cluttered and this can overwhelm the visitor. Also, it's not easy to see the calls to action to subscribe, donate, follow, share, or contact.
Approach + Insights
To bridge the old and the new, I created a design that used most of the colors from the original scheme, a simplified version of the logo, a gradient, and the stripe motif. I also included the iconic image from the header on the homepage of the new site.
I used the Beaver Builder page builder and Beaver Themer to design the custom website. This allowed me to create and style modules, rows, and page templates that can be used to create new pages in any configuration and keep the design consistent.
Interstellar Orchard readers eagerly await posts about her travels and, reading the comments, it's clear she has created something more than a just website. Interstellar Orchard is a community. A big focus with the redesign was to improve usability and create a memorable experience.
The new and improved website has a simple header with the logo and clear navigation. I used lots of whitespace to separate the content and create an easy reading experience. Full-width images draw readers into the beautiful locations Becky writes about. I designed the smaller images to look like travel snapshots since many of her readers are armchair travelers following Becky's journey. I strategically placed subscribe calls to action to build the mailing list.
The website is clean and modern and able to change and scale as Interstellar Orchard grows, without needing a theme switch.
Interstellar Orchard readers overwhelmingly approve of the new design. Since the launch of the new website, she has seen an increase in visitors and subscribers.
Recently, Becky has updated her site to include new pictures on the main pages as well as larger featured images on popular blog posts and the site looks even better than it did at launch!
I loved working with Jen! Years ago I'd designed my original website myself and was pretty proud of what I'd made, but at six years old I knew it was time for an overhaul. I kept putting it off because it was such an overwhelming task with over 500 blog posts. I was terrified of screwing it up and losing all those years of work. But Jen's professional approach to the redesign and her attention to detail meant no content was lost.
Is it time for a redesign?
Don't put it off any longer. Reach your goals, cure update and maintenance headaches, and end website shame. You deserve it.