I was recently interviewed on the Shutterstock blog with the main question of “What is the best thing I’ve ever created?”. I answered with my ‘personal brand’ and explained how my vision and brand has evolved over time. You can read the whole article below.
The best thing I ever created is my own personal brand, which, thankfully, is an ever-evolving creature.
My brand is something that I work on every day – it gives me an identity, it drives me, it motivates me, and it helps me grow both personally and professionally. My brand is the public face of myself as a person – it’s how people perceive me, both offline and online.
Do you ever look back on old photos and think, “Wow, I wore that?” Or look back on something you’ve created and cringed? I love doing that. It shows how you’re maturing, growing, and evolving. As a graphic designer, I am far from exempt from this cringing, and I think the best example or case study of this evolution would be my personal freelance design business and blog, Just Creative.
Right now, I am content with the look, feel, and overall direction of my online presence, but I am sure that in a year or two, I’ll cringe and want to evolve once again. A look back at where I’ve come from really helps put this into perspective, as I’ve certainly made tons of mistakes along the way.
2003 – JackCass Productions
Below, you can see the website of my first my super-duper graphic-design “business,” created at the prime age of 16. I had no design training or any idea how to run a business, but I knew how to work a few tools in Photoshop and Dreamweaver from reading some books.
Even though this website didn’t take off, the design and business mindset had taken root, and this crappy website set the path for my career. I started loosely studying design in high school, and for my major work, I decided to design my high school’s website, hand-coding and linking 80+ pages in Dreamweaver. (Oh boy, doesn’t it hurt your eyes?!)
2007 – Just Creative Design
After the major work and graduating high school, I went on to study Visual Communication (Graphic Design) at the University of Newcastle Australia. It was there, in 2009, that I ditched JackCass Productions and started an officially registered business and blog called Just Creative Design while I was studying as a design student.
Throughout this time, I learned a lot from blogging and even picked up a few awards for the Just Creative Design logo, however, I was getting tired with the look of the site and, as I evolved as a design student, realized just how unpolished it was, too. So, in 2010, it was my mission to redesign the site.
2010 – Just Creative Design (Attempted Redesign)
Over the next six months I came up with a number of new looks to rebrand myself (see below) but in the end, I just wasn’t happy with my efforts so I ended up ditching the work all together, so this site redesign never went live.
2012 to March 2017
With the 2007 design still representing me, most definitely to my detriment, in late 2011, I took another stab at my re-branding. After several months and a $2,000 domain-name purchase, I was ready to go. I shortened the name to Just Creative and came up with some creative executions to build out my brand, including a responsive website, which is live today. See here for what’s under the hood.
March 2017 – March 2021
After five years of my custom designed website, it was finally time to upgrade! Five years really is an eternity in terms of web design but it held its own for those years, with weekly compliments on the design not helping my redesign cause.
Moving forward, I wanted a more flexible framework that allowed me to build pages within a drag & drop interface so I settled on the Unicon theme from MintiThemes and it’s been a pleasure to use, with a similar aesthetic to my brand. Clean, simple with punchy (pink!) accent colors!
March 2021 – Current
The JUST Creative website had a major performance update as well as some minor aesthetic changes for a better, faster site.
- 3x faster loading speed
- Better user experience
- Sexier styling
- Smooth animations
- Larger text for easier reading
- Wider screen area
- Improved typography hierarchy
- Optimised images
- Blog now has infinite scroll
- Easily jump to blog categories or search
- New web host at Cloudways (previously MT)
- Less obtrusive ads (yet we have x3 our revenue)
- Same great content
The new site will or has resulted in a better & faster user experience, higher search rankings and more traffic which will yield more ad revenue & affiliate income which is a huge part of our online business.
This update was a huge undertaking as we had to port thousands of articles & pages to the a new theme – Elementor – with dozens of pages having to be manually rebuilt.
Thankfully we had a team doing this and these developers also removed obsolete plugins and updated them to faster alternatives, most notably WP-Rocket for caching, Imagify for image compression, Anti-Spam by CleanTalk for spam protection, Asset Cleanup for boosting page speed and SEOPress Pro for SEO.