Hello, I'm Mervi!
An artist, nerd and business sorcerer, dedicated to make world more beautiful and strange with art, illustrations and logos + to help you figure your sustainable business out.
It's that time of the year. Or something. Yes, I redesigned my site... again.
If you have been hanging around for a while, you already know I cannot quit tweaking and refining and messing around my site. It's something I've been doing since late '90s and I cannot stop.
Actually I redesigned my site last time just about six months ago, but I didn't quite like the design. I didn't hate it. I just didn't like it that much either. It wasn't that much different from the previous design, mainly just working on the colours and adding some solid colour blocks here and there. But it felt a bit stiff for me. Too cool, too composed. Not me.
This time I wanted to make the site really filled with art and illustrations. Overflowing with illustrations. Colourful and bold.
The new look meant I needed to do some rebranding, create a new colour palette, new illustrations, and I also decided to draw an new logo.
For the logo I had a pretty clear idea from the start. I wanted it to have the usual hand drawn look and feel. I also returned to my old obsession with stamps. The idea was to fit my first name, which is Mervi, in a square area fully capitalised. To give it a bit of interest the letter E would be smaller than the other letters and the R would be backwards. And it would look like it was carved by hand on wood or something similar.
After I had got the logo look as I wanted, I felt it needed colour. So I went ahead and worked on the colour palette. I wanted to keep some of the colours from my previous brand palettes, but this time I wanted to make the palette softer. I wanted to make the logo green, so that was the first colour I had to figure out. It was followed with a soft pink I was already using, and then a teal and a yellow. Then came the soft orange and I wanted to add two other pinks as supporting colours.
The main logo colour my muted green. Well, there's also a pink version of the logo, and I could make it also yellow or orange, maybe even teal. And, as it should, the logo comes in black too. And it could be white on dark backgrounds, if needed.
Eventually I decided to downgrade the teal as a supporting colour, and upgrade the orange as a colour I use pretty often on my site. For example my link buttons (ah yes, link buttons, I'm that controversial!) are orange. The palette turned out to be a bit retro, which works fine for me.
Previously I had opted in open source Playfair Display font for the headings and some features and equally open source Nunito for longer text areas, buttons and form input texts. Nunito was described somewhere as well balanced and highly readable. This may not be the most inventive font combination, but it works for me and my branding for now.
In occasion I may have Open Sans for some texts on images, but basically it's just a leftover from my branding efforts over the years. Nothing's perfect.
And because it works and is simple and clean and readable combination, I decided to keep the fonts for this redesign too. When it comes to fonts I don't feel making things complicated is very approachable nor accessible. Although using special fonts isn't the best for website performance. Nevertheless, I try to keep it simple, even with the special fonts in mix.
I use Google Fonts for my font needs. Again, not the best thing for the performance, but it's not the worst option either. Kind of a fine, whatever of the options available. With my budget and website traffic, using very special paid license fonts isn't a reasonable option at the moment.
I had an idea the front page of the new website design would feature a sort of a hero image. It wouldn't be full width. Rather it would be kind of like an image that was glued on the top of the page. It would also serve as a background for a short, a few words long intro text. I ended up recycling the text "Gain a new perspective" from my old site, but it could be anything else too.
At first I struggled a bit with the illustration. I started a couple which just didn't work out. At first I figured I would make a line drawing and then add colour blocks behind the elements. But I scrapped those ideas fast and decided to try another flat lay style illustration, something I had dabbled with before. Perhaps something with stuff that could be on my desk, such as a tea mug, pens and pencils, notebooks... Of course it would all be in the brand colours, or at least something similar. Oh yes, I did publish a time lapse of the drawing process:
After I had created the top illustration I needed a bunch of smaller illustrations for the front page and a few other pages. I was going to reuse the old illustrations. Some where they already were, some in new places. But I needed new ones to keep up the new more colourful style and to tie together the front page top image and the rest of the site.
I opted to keep the drawing style and colours similar as in the top image, but these would be on a round background. I needed an illustration which would show a small variety of art tools. Another which would fit the subject of mental health. And a few more, here and there. One of the illustrations turned out to be an old brown boot with flowers growing out of it. Hey, this seems like a good place for another process video:
Additionally I drew a bunch of separate illustrations which I could sprinkle around the site. Things like pens and a flower and such.
Because I also kept the old black and white illustrations, the site now shows my range, as a friend recently put it.
So after I had my elements ready, I started the redesign process.
I switched from Drupal to Grav about a year and a half ago. Grav is a flat file content management system and it's pretty easy to copy if you need a development site. I had copied my site to a (hidden and protected) development site earlier, so I would just have to dust the dev site up and do the redesign there.
I had a pretty clear image on my mind on how I wanted the site look, so I started to create a new theme straight on without drawing layouts. It would be light and airy. Some of the elements I would recycle from the old site. But the colours would be changed and some elements would be reorganised, some removed and some added. Plus there would be whole new layouts for some parts.
The most changes would be on the front page of the site. Other pages would change too, some of them pretty much, but the front page was going to be the most affected by the redesign.
Some of the circular backgrounds I had on my old design I kept, some I removed and some I moved to new positions. All of them with new colours. For example the brief about me section on the front page got a yellow circular background, instead of the black full width area.
The new illustrations found their places. The menu went through a reorganising and redesign (mobile menu is design-wise still pretty much the same as before). The logo was switched, and I added a little arrow on a circular background link after the first text prompt, which only scrolls the page down to the next section. It's there to push a person forward down the front page.
The mission area remained very close to what it was. I only switched the background from full width black to limited width teal. Other parts, such as the shop and markets areas and the comic
I was pretty happy now. Except the white background wasn't working for me. It seemed to clinical. That meant creating a background, for which I went with pale pink, softly textured and lightly squared repeating pattern. It looks like pages of a notebook, which works for the heavily illustrated look.
Additionally I redid the about page partially. It now features a video from my YouTube before the main content. This video will change in time to time, as I upload more videos on YouTube. I also moved a couple of illustrations from the front page to the about page.
The blog didn't go through many changes. The only thing I changed is I removed tweet this features from blog posts, because Twitter is now X and it's broken in so many ways. Other than that the blog remained mainly as is. I also didn't change the contact page and a couple of other sub pages at all.
The services area changed turned into one page and I moved the consulting program to a new Lab-page. That page will probably go through some changes, after I have made a few decisions about what I'm offering and to whom. Courses, perhaps.
I also added a whole new page, which I'm still working on. It's supposed to talk about the benefits of art for your health and brain and everything. I might make it into a multi page thing, like a little course. But I'm not yet sure what will be.
I have been thinking about changing the domain of the site for a while. When I found out you can use your own domain as a username on Bluesky, I went ahead and registered mervi.art. It's now my Bluesky username as well as my username on Instagram, and I'm gradually implementing it to some other sites too. Over at YouTube I'm now going now by @merviart.
I will change it as my domain here too. I mean, you can already access my site through mervi.art, but it's currently only a redirect. I haven't tested how the process of changing domains works on Grav yet, so I'm giving myself a little time with it. Plus I know search engines can get shaky with new domains, decreasing the ranking of the site.
Might be best to let it gain some age first. I doubt it hurts to give a little heads up to people before the switch too.
But yes, that's the way I'm taking my rebranding right now.
I like to tweak my site often, so this isn't a set in stone design. Though I do like the bit all over the place feeling of it. Colourful illustrations mixed with line drawings, lots of little details here and there, like a notebook or art diary filled with scribbles. Maybe I will add even more stuff, such as sketches and whatnot.
Anyway, the rebranding process goes on. As mentioned, the new domain will become the main one at some point. And some of the pages and sections will see more changes.
I try to improve the performance of the site gradually. It's also an ongoing process and I know it will never be perfectly perfect as long as I have any images, videos, special fonts or styling on this site. And I'm not a website performance expert anyway (this isn't an invitation for you to spam me with your services as such).
I'm probably forgetting to mention something about this project and process. As it often goes. But at least I covered the main points.
In the end I'm pretty happy about this current branding, the colours, the illustrations and the artsy look of the website. I hope you like it too.
Edit 13.11.2023: I have now moved my site to mervi.art. The old links should redirect, but I had some trouble with the redirects and Grav, so will see how it goes.
Besides my words and rambles, the letters include links to wonderful stuff I've found around web, exclusive discounts, previews and exclusive gifts. This stuff won't be published anywhere else.
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