Community, Creativity, and Collaboration: Redesigning Oh My!

Jessika Hepburn of Oh My!Jessika is the energetic and enthusiastic leader of Oh My! Handmade, a global community of creative entrepreneurs who share knowledge and support each other in building a business and living a creative life. With over 30 diverse contributors and members from all over the world plus all levels of business experience, Oh My! provides information, resources, and guides for creatives and daily posts and tutorials for crafty folk. Oh My! is eclectic, friendly, encouraging, supportive, warm, diverse, compassionate, thoughtful, and above all creative.

Oh My! Through the Ages

The original Oh My! site was a blog that started as the result of a design giveaway. While it was intended for small business owners to share information and help each other out, I never dreamed it would become such a huge resource and community for creative businesses. As Oh My! grew and began offering more than just blog posts, Jessika experienced some growing pains. Take a little peek at the evolution of the site as Jess worked some DIY design updates on the header and sidebar.

Oh My! Handmade 2010

2010: the original site design, with sweet owl and original mission – targeted at online children’s retailers.

Oh My! 2011

2011: Jessika alters the tagline to fit the new goals of the site.

Oh My! 2012

April 2012: the owl was too sweet now that the focus was off children’s work. The shop was featured. The rocket was introduced!

Oh My! 2012

July 2012: the logo and header were redesigned to reflect all that Oh My! was becoming and to match the branding of Jessika’s business guide better.

A Blog Becomes a Community

The original blog could only be stretched so much, and Jessika had huge dreams for the site. We were so glad to be able to get our hands on Oh My! once Jessika was ready to make it all happen. She came to us with this request:

“The whole focus & reason for the OMHG redesign is to build an online community centre for creative entrepreneurs. I want people to know that they are welcome & will find the resources they need to grow their business + connect with other creatives. I would like the home page to somehow reflect that we are more a community centre then a blog.”

I loved Jessika’s description of the Oh My! style: “Smart (think big glasses & pocket protectors, always has the answers) but a little silly & sweet (think crocheted granny squares & tea & yarnbombing) + a wee bit sexy (in a librarian chic sort of way).”

Here is Oh My! Handmade today:

Oh My! Handmade website design

Oh My! today. You can see straight away that it’s much more than a blog, with all the resources featured and Jessika’s personality bursting out to welcome you!

Jessika’s Redesign Story

I was going to recap this epic project for you, but Jessika did such a great job, I’ll just let her take it away:

I first found Aeolidia in 2009 when they designed the Bamboletta dolls website and I fell in love. I followed everything they came out with after that and I bought OMHG in 2010 partly because I saw Arianne on the contributor list and I wanted a chance to connect with her! When it became really clear our site had outgrown its beginnings as a blog and had become a community I started planning to have it redesigned and only Aeolidia would do. Our community had been looking for ways to connect more but the old site was hard to use, crashing regularly, loading slowly, and generally buggy. It was a pain to manage all our contributors and our traffic had become too high for our little old site. So I saved the profits from advertising and digital products to invest in our rebrand and redesign. It took almost two years of saving, planning, and brainstorming ideas but in October 2012 we got started with a grand plan to transform OMHG into the first online community centre for creative entrepreneurs!

Ashley and Joel of This Paper Ship got us started by creating the new OMHG logo and illustrations that represent our diverse community. I wanted our branding to be friendly, welcoming, quirky and creative-they nailed it and their designs influenced the rest of the site. Then the brilliant Lauren Hardage went to work on the site design and blew me away with her eye for detail and usability. I have never worked with anyone who could so clearly and quickly capture the essence of an idea visually, almost every one of her mock ups was used as is with little to no revisions. I was sad when the designs were done and I didn’t get the excitement of a new mock up in my inbox anymore!

The truly magical part for me was getting to work with developer Zoe Rooney, who has been an OMHG contributor and friend from the beginning. Without Zoe this site would never have happened, she helped me with all the initial brainstorming and ideas for what the community would benefit from most. Her understanding of systems and WordPress transformed vague thoughts of how a site with a private community, marketplace, contributor forums and online classes could work into a site that does absolutely everything I imagined. Building the new site was a long collaborative process but throughout it all the Aeolidia team made it easy, fun, and captured the spirit of our community perfectly. The new OMHG is functional, beautiful, and has made going to work every day so fun! Our community is loving it, new collaborations are starting daily, our sales have tripled, and our traffic is soaring! When your website is your business having one that fits perfectly is the best possible investment. I am so thankful to Aeolidia for handcrafting a website for our community and a home for all my creative dreams!

Oh My Community

The Oh My! community is one of the kindest and most helpful I’ve been a part of, which is a testament to Jessika’s skills as a community leader. She is busy with OMHG pretty much non-stop, and in person she is a force to be reckoned with (and I mean that in the most loving way). I’m so glad to know her and to have been a part of her rocket launch to community stardom. I would strongly recommend reading the blog and joining the member community.

Jessika has posted some more of this story on her blog today, so pop on over there to read her three tips for taking a big leap like this yourself.