You may have noticed that, as of a few days ago, HWTM has undergone a little makeover. (Yay!) And actually, it’s not really a little makeover… it’s a BIG one. Most of the major changes aren’t aesthetic, however – they’re functional – and part of a larger effort to improve as a resource – specifically to make it easier for anyone searching the site to find the inspiration and vendors that they need.
ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE…
I’ve often been told that I’m too emotionally vested in my work, but as part of a husband/wife team that runs a small business, it’s pretty much impossible not to be that way, and an emotional connection with our community is honestly a big part of what keeps us moving forward. The goals that Sonny and I set out with in founding HWTM almost 7 years ago (yikes!) still ring true today though: be inspirational, provide heaping amounts of creative eye candy, and – most importantly – serve as an incredibly helpful resource to anyone looking to host a celebration, no matter how big or small.
These site updates are the result of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I know that not everything is perfect yet, but we’re working like heck to get them there. (Shocking as it may be, life is not always confetti and blow horns over here! I’m sure most small business owners can relate.) It would take a mile long post to go into all the details of the journey we’ve been on so far… many of the experiences have been enlightening, many downright painful, some have been triumphant, and others are what keep us hopeful… but those are conversations best saved for another day (and a cocktail or 3). I’d like to thank you for letting us play a role in some of your milestone moments… we are incredibly grateful for your support across the years. :)
WHAT’S NEW & EXCITING – AN OVERVIEW
Below you’ll find a quick overview of what’s new, split into 4 points. I’ll keep the descriptions short & sweet within this post, but am happy to elaborate on things or answer any of your questions in the comments section!
1) Brand New Logo + Streamlined Navigation & Home Page
I tried with our old home page… really I did… but realized after launching it that one of the things I had tried was to cram too much info into one spot, resulting in overwhelming the eye instead of guiding it. This new version of the home page (see screenshot above) has simpler enavigation, less of a “Grand Central Station feel” and more white space. Aaaaah. ;) And as for the new logo… all I can say is that it finally feels more “us”.
2) Improved Site Search
There are few things in life that have frustrated me as much as figuring out how to improve our search results. It’s one of those programming things that sounds a lot easier than it actually is… one solution always seems to throw off the other… and trust me, we’ve tried a ton of solutions. It’s not totally perfect yet, but it’s so much better. And better is always a good thing in my book.
The search boxes for both the blog and the main site now sit up in the main navigation bar, where they are easier to find, and you can toggle your search results on the main site between Party Inspiration and Community Members. You can also refine your results with our fancy new search customization tool. :)
3) Social Vendor Directory with Party PRO and Party SHOP Members
We know there are already lots of vendor directories out there, which is why this one is different. There’s a heavy emphasis on organic and visual search, with the added benefit of traditional vendor directory searches.
Our focus is on highlighting community members as Party Shops (online vendors) or Party Pros (local vendors) so that it’s easy to quickly recognize who a site user can hire or shop from for their own event. If you’re viewing any album on the site, all Party Pro or Party Shop members associated with the event (stationery designers, bakeries, party supply shops, etc) will show up directly to the right of the album.
Pro and Shop members also have a spiffy new Profile page with lots more bells and whistles than our basic profile page (see example below). There’s a lot more to share regarding Party Shops and Party Pros, so if you’re interested in becoming one yourself, click here to learn more – or shoot an email to Sonny requesting more info. He’s a wealth of information on the topic. ;)
4) Blog Revamp
Last but not least, is our blog revamp. So far, the header and footer of the blog have been updated to match the look of the new site, but we’ve got more in the works for the blog, so you’ll continue to see improvements and new additions to it over the next couple weeks!
Thanks for taking the time to check out what’s new! We look forward to helping you plan many more celebrations!