We’re Back – and Bolder than Ever

You may have noticed that Men with Pens looks a little different these days. This is the fourth – count ‘em, four – reincarnation of our design since we started this blog back in early 2007, and it’s likely nowhere near the last, despite the fact that I swore this is the absolute very last time ever. EVER.

(I know. I said that last redesign too.)

This change wasn’t because our readers didn’t like our last design. It’s not because we decided to change everything about the way we do business. Every business needs to shake things up now and then. It’s about finding ways to be bigger and better and looking at how you can improve your business. It’s also about making sure you’re reaching your target market in the way that these people want to be reached.

So sometime back in September, this overhaul began. Yes, it’s taken five months to bring you everything you see here, and probably more if you want to count the time it took to collect information.

Why so long? Because overhauls make you ask the hard questions:

  • What’s important about you?
  • What makes you different from your competition?
  • How do you want people to feel about you after they visit your website?
  • If you had all the adjectives in the world at your disposal, how would you describe yourself?

The answers are important to design and copy, because they’re the first – and sometimes only – impression your customers have of you before they decide whether to do business with you. Most customers drop by your website exactly once, and they give you a solid three seconds before they decide yea or nay.

Three seconds. No joke. Sometimes even less. Potential customers have just enough time to glance at the design and read maybe the first headline of your copy. That’s assuming the headline is a short sentence, mind you.

In that time, you have to explain to that new customer exactly what you’re all about. In order to explain clearly and quickly, you have to know your business really, really well.

You also have to revisit those questions often, because your business grows and  changes over time just as you grow and change. The answer to those questions may not be the same since the last time you tuned in.

Overhauls are a part of growing up. As you grow older, you learn things about yourself and the face you want to present to the world. This is true in your personal life, and it’s definitely true in business. Every now and again, it’s good to check if the image you’re presenting to your potential customers is still faithful to the person you are inside. Sometimes, it needs a little adjusting.

Other times, it just needs a new coat of paint, a new set of clothes. You might still be the same corporate guy, but there’s a new trend on the runways, and you need to upgrade your suit to match the style. You’re still presenting the same image – you just updated it for this year.

Overhauls are how you distill a stronger business, too. An overhaul isn’t throwing out everything that makes you unique and starting over. Not at all. If you look at this site, you’ll see that while it’s a brand new Men with Pens look, it’s also a comfortable, familiar look that everyone recognizes.

An overhaul means filtering out all of the extraneous debris collected over the last few years and distilling a stronger, purer essence into a new bottle. To put it less alcoholically, you’re not trying to start from scratch. You’re simply taking what you have and filing down the rough edges. What’s left is going to be a smoother business, a better you, even more so  than the previous incarnation.

Overhauls take time. Sometimes you don’t see where a rough edge is slowly digging at and destroying the overall image of your business. A year later, you’ll spot it and file that rough edge down. A year after that, something else becomes obvious to you and you’ll take care of that.

All the while, you’re not getting rid of yourself. You’re becoming a more distilled, more perfect version.

That’s what we wanted to accomplish with our overhaul. We kept all the things we’re really proud of at Men with Pens – our casual aggressiveness, our sales savvy, our stylishness, our edginess – and filtered out the stuff that wasn’t quite working for us.

We hope you like the results. Now go explore the new site and have fun.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Looking good…looking very good…:)
    .-= Janice Cartier´s last blog ..Advanced Readers Copies and Cardboard Boxes =-.

  2. I tell people the importance of making a solid first impression all the time. I’m surprised at the number who don’t believe me. I once read it was 10 seconds, but maybe the online attention span has shortened that.

    Gorgeous site. And a quote at the bottom by Captain Jack Sparrow. Oh, perfection.
    .-= Stacey Cornelius´s last blog ..Become a champion for your art =-.

  3. good stuff… except i can’t see my info above…

    http://cld.ly/d91apv

  4. Looks Fantastic! Text is very readable. I love what you did with the header has well. Very clean, stylish and sharp. Keep up the good work guys!
    .-= Kenji Crosland´s last blog ..Guest Post Giveaway =-.

  5. Susan Johnston says:

    Congrats on the redesign! It was well worth the wait. I should mention that I’m viewing this on IE 8.0 and the “notify me of new comments” line is cut off. And the fields for name, email, etc. aren’t showing up. Always a few bugs to work out, right?
    .-= Susan Johnston´s last blog ..Open Thread: Should Writers Date Other Writers? =-.

  6. Love the changes! First impressions are lasting, no doubt. Nevertheless, improving on perfection (or as close to perfection as any of us will ever get) makes you stand out that much more.

    Glad you back and bolder than ever!
    .-= Roschelle´s last blog ..Don’t Worry Daisy…..I’ll Save Harley! =-.

  7. Hey everyone – thanks for the compliments! It’s been an intensive week, and we’re really happy with the results.

    Now, if we can just get that comment section working like it was last night… (Yep, Susan, always a few bugs to work out!)

  8. Great design! Thought-provoking post. Thanks!
    .-= Tyrean´s last blog ..Blue Sky Break =-.

  9. Most times I see a re-design, I hate it. This one though, I love. Bravo.
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..I’m Taking the Gloves Off =-.

  10. Great new look guys. Love the (mighty) pen! Have signed up for the newsletter too :)

  11. Looks winter fresh. I like it. The layout appears very strategic, too. Awesome job.
    .-= Bamboo Forest – PunIntended´s last blog ..How to Live the Life You Want to Live =-.

  12. Great redesigns *do* take lots of consideration and time, and it shows that you did just that. Congrats!

    I read a study that said decisions can be made in as little as 1/20th of a second. I knew it was fast, but no idea it was that fast! (see: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/blink/ )
    .-= Tzaddi´s last blog ..Switching off to switch on =-.

  13. I really like the new design. The fountain pen is excellent.

    The post itself has caused me to re-think some of my own sites. Well done.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..For Valentine’s Day, Go Fair Trade =-.

  14. Love the changes – very stunning!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Kiss the Flame Excerpt =-.

  15. Nice–that is one SHARP pen up there at the top!
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Kindle Revisited =-.

  16. Well done, ladies and gents. Yes, Captain Jack would approve.
    .-= David´s last blog ..Cat’s Have A Legitimate Complaint =-.

  17. The new design rocks, James! Even better organization than before, easier to read, love the colors. The tagline on top is very attractive- who doesn’t need more help making a decent living online? And your new copywriting services page is fantastic- makes me want to give you more money that I don’t even have!

  18. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Like it! The pen is mightier than the bullet.

  19. Yep, comments work now! Site looks awesome.
    .-= Chris @ AB Web Design, LLC´s last blog ..Blog Update and a Few Other Things =-.

  20. James,

    Worth the wait—and I like this post explaining it, too. All the best as you go forward!

    Regards,

    Kelly
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Vacation Rant #1 =-.

  21. All around an amazing job guys! You accomplished a whole lot in 5 months and it was no doubt worth the effort.

    Besides the more intuitive layout everything just looks more crisp. Your custom images are pretty amazing. :-) Eric
    .-= Eric Hamm´s last blog ..Introducing frugal Version 3.2: Making Coding Your WordPress Theme A Thing of The Past =-.

  22. Tracy (aka spiritwolf32) says:

    The site looks great and thank goodness the comments are working.

    All that hard work has paid off huge. Even better than before. :D Glad you guys are back up and running.

  23. Well done team. Looks good, nice a fresh but with enough familiar elements to know you’ve hit the right site :)

  24. Sweet! I love the new design. Very stylish and very professional… the best frugal theme I’ve seen yet.

    I’m right there with you on redesigns. I’ve been through 4 myself and each time it’s been because I’ve learned. I’ve learned more about our customers; more about blogging; and more about how I want to define myself as a blogger.

    Congrats and job well done.
    .-= John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s last blog ..So You Think Your Website is Secure? Am I Scaring You Yet? I Hope So… =-.

  25. Brilliantly done. The whole feel of the site is so professional and it make you just want to delve deeper and find out more. Awesome result.
    .-= Vandy Massey´s last blog ..Making the most of You =-.

  26. I like the stabbing pen.
    .-= Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..Speedlinking – February 5 2010 =-.

  27. Michael Martine says:

    Mikey Likey! Dig the red. :)

  28. I like this, I like this alot. Pen makes much more sense than a bullet and everything else looks sharp. Though I think the cornia-piercing white background is a mistake. Should consider bringing back the subtle, light gray background! Makes reading so much easier…

    Other than that, nice work. Kind of like the Leafs. YOU know, 5 – NOTHING. ;)
    .-= FitJerks Fitness Blog´s last blog ..Supplement Review: Phix Sleep Aid =-.

  29. Looks awesome James, well done to you and your team. So happy to see you back, we missed you all week! :-)
    .-= Melinda | SuperWAHM´s last blog ..The 70% Principle: Why You Never Get Projects Off The Ground =-.

  30. Wow! You really made it better! Congrats!
    Even the message of the header is now precise:
    The pen is mightier than a bullet.
    .-= poch´s last blog ..Internet Nominated For 2010 Nobel Peace Prize =-.

  31. It’s wonderful! A great redesign! I love the logo!
    .-= Heather Villa´s last blog ..Weekend Reading: My fav’s from this week: 2/5/10 =-.

  32. Great redesign – I love the deep red.

    Kudos!
    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..Slip Sliding Away: When life gets out of control. =-.

  33. Very cool – not surprised that it’s awesome, coming from you guys :)
    .-= Laura Cococcia´s last blog ..So Where Are You From? =-.

  34. I love your new header image, that beautiful pen beats the old bullet. Site looks crisp, easy on the eyes and easy to read.

    When I signed up for your newsletter then your response page did shrink my Firefox instead of opening in a new small window.

  35. Brett Legree says:

    Awesome. Simply awesome work, it really stands out – congratulations and keep it up!
    .-= Brett Legree´s last blog ..the terminal man. =-.

  36. Great new look. Love it! As always, great content.

  37. I’m just going through a site redesign at the moment (my site is also down :(, working on it). I’ve been realising the importance of a clean design.

    I also just read the beginners guide to blogging from mikeslife.org. It’s really very good, even if you’ve been going for a while. He’s doing a really good job. He explained branding in the most simple sense I’ve ever read. It made me realise that I didn’t have one.

    I’ve realised that consistency is the key quality that I see across all the good blogs that I follow. Consistency of logos, articles, language, design, and emails. That’s what effective branding is. I think? still working it all out.

    Design looks great by the way.

  38. Love the new look. It’s very clean and easy to read. I particularly like the pen (and the red color – I’m always in favor of red).
    .-= Jodi Kaplan´s last blog ..The Biggest Web Site Subscription “Fail.” Ever. =-.

  39. Wonderful! I love the new look.

    It is very clean and crisp with colors that are easy on the eyes. I also love the pen instead of the bullet.

    Also love the quote at the bottom from Captain Jack Sparrow!
    .-= George Passwater´s last blog ..Do You Have a Digital Newsstand? =-.

  40. Out with the old … in with the new … cut the deadwood … overhauls are beautiful.

    I love the power of a solid overhaul that gets the lead out (or in this case, unleashes it.) Yeah, it would be a punny if people still used pencils.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Top 10 Lessons Learned in Spirituality =-.

  41. It makes perfect sense that you would continue changing the format of the blog.

    As with the creative process as a whole, different visions, imaginings, ideas and evolutions take place with your sense of the creative.

    As that happens, the words and styles change. You sense of where you are changes, and the rhythm that was appropriate at one point in time is not as satisfying at another.

    I like this current design but will brace myself now for the next.

    Stetson

    ToysPeriod is a leading online shop specializing in lego sets and model railroad equipment.

  42. A fantastic re-design. Kudos to everyone. On top of that, a really well written post explaining the importance of overhauling your website and your business. This is so much more informative than the usual “Hi, we’ve redesigned our website. What do you think?”

    A perfect example of how everything you do is (or should be) geared towards serving your clients and not yourself.

    Great job MwP team.
    .-= Marc´s last blog ..Why You Shouldn’t Work for Your Friends, Family or Yourself =-.

  43. Hey, hey, thanks so much, everyone! It’s really fulfilling to hear we’ve hit the mark with this redesign, and I’ve had nothing but good feedback. I’m glad you all enjoy it.

    And I grin every time someone mentions Jack Sparrow – you guys pay attention to catch that way down in the footer!

  44. …if there was only a way you could provide nested commenting, then you’d be better. Until then, it’s unclear if people are adding comments directly to the content or to other comments. Makes things easier when scrolling through.

    Something to think about.

  45. …if there was only a way you could provide nested commenting, then you’d be better. Until then, it’s unclear if people are adding comments directly to the content or to other comments. Makes things easier when scrolling through.

    Something to think about.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..23 Reasons You Should Not Fear Social Media =-.

  46. @Ari – We actually opted not to have nested comments. We polled around, asked people, Twittered about it, and majoritarily, most people don’t like them and find them confusing, unless it’s on a smaller blog that doesn’t receive many comments.

  47. That’s illogical, for the entire nature of a blog commenting system without nesting implies it is tougher for X to see that D, E, and F replied to C and not to A. Follow?

    Moreover, Twitter itself is a nest with the @ messages.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..23 Reasons You Should Not Fear Social Media =-.

  48. Ari, at the end of the day, it’s James’ site and if he thinks that not using nested comments is better for this site then that’s for him to decide. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on what works and what doesn’t. *shrugs*
    .-= Melinda | SuperWAHM´s last blog ..In Which Mel Talks About How She Lost an Entire Week =-.

  49. @Ari The thing of it is; the human mind is rarely logical, it’s more emotional. Un-nested comments is something the subscribers and visitors of this blog decided to vote against. They were offered the choice and they made their decision, based on emotions not logic. Emotions such as comfort or familiarity, maybe fear of change. Not sure.

    If you also notice, we tend to prepend names with the @ symbol, which should serve to indicate who we are replying to.

  50. Melinda: I suppose you’d agree that companies should sell whatever products they want to manufacture regardless what their customers think, eh?

  51. @Ari And I guess you are saying James should put in nested comments despite what the majority of his readership said?

  52. HI EVERYONE! I’m JAMES!! I own this place. Welcome, welcome. It’s nice, huh? We worked really hard on making sure as many people as possible were happy. Of course, we can’t please ALL the people, but we try to do our best.

    Now, a little-known fact about me. I dislike people jerking chains just because they can. Sometimes, these people don’t realize they’re jerking chains, of course, which is why I’m here to remind said people that around here, we don’t jerk chains or make snide comments.

    ‘Cuz it’s just not nice. So don’t do it. Mm?

    And while yes, Ari, I can follow A, B, C and X, Y, Z and rather much more than that (because I’m smart, you know), I decided that based on popularity votes, we won’t have nested comments here. I’m sorry that’s disappointing, but that really should be no reflection on anyone’s alphabet skills, least of all my own, eh?

  53. Marc: Perhaps I didn’t see the polls or maybe I wasn’t subscribed to this blog then, but that’s precisely my point. You asked your readership and that’s great; but does that mean future readers have no opinion? I’m not saying I know best but as you know, for every 1 person who adds a comment or responds to a poll, there are hundreds more who don’t.

  54. @ Ari, I’m not sure what you’re getting at there, if that was a serious question or if you’re trying to be inflammitory. Or maybe you’re just someone who likes playing devil’s advocate and presenting opposing views.

    Assuming it’s a serious question: of course companies manufacture what their customers want, else they wouldn’t be their customers, they’d go elsewhere. And it will be in a form that their customers like and will pay for, yes?

    Was that a rhetorical question, because it just doesn’t make sense to me that someone would ask that?
    .-= Melinda | SuperWAHM´s last blog ..The Top 10.2 Favourite Posts From 2009 =-.

  55. Melinda: I’m apparently coming late to this entire conversation so I’m just going to accept the status quo and shut up. Apparently my thoughts don’t mean anything because the decision’s already been made.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..23 Reasons You Should Not Fear Social Media =-.

  56. People, let it go, hm? Save the energy for making paper airplanes. Much more fun.

  57. James

    great looking overhaul, almost as good as the one you’ve done for me!
    .-= Matthew Needham´s last blog ..How to hold Effective Meetings =-.

  58. Outstanding new design tweaks on the site, same great content writing. You guys have attracted my favorite group of comment posters of any site on the Internet. And, on occasion, it’s interesting to see strong opinions come out.

    I even loved the holding page design you had put up while the site was switching over.

    Kind regards,

    Steve St. Clair
    .-= Steve St. Clair´s last blog ..By: Why content writing matters | IonLeap – SEO fails without Blog Writer Team =-.

  59. I like it – dramatic, eye-catching . . . somebody give me another word . . .well, anyway, it looks good. (Just so you know, in case it’s an issue, I am viewing it with Chrome and it is all there!)

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