Dear pals,

I grappled for a long time with an amorphous feeling that the visual design of the TDAA website didn’t match the stories, triumphs, tips, and thoughts that I wanted to share on the platform. Over the years, TDAA has become more than a blog (not that blogs aren’t amazing in their own right!). What I mean by that is, blogs are often read in chronological order. However, I was coming to the realization that my blog had 4 or 5 distinct categories of posts, and I wanted to showcase recent posts *for each category* since some people might be more interested in one than another. My old homepage didn’t help with that unless you wanted to scroll for a few hours.

So without further ado, today I’m announcing a newly blog homepage, created by… moi!

Remember what I said above about categories? Well, each image for the 5 main categories (I purchased them like a Respectful Business Savvy Human from a stock illustration website) links to a custom page for those types of blog posts. You can still read the blog in chronological order, but now you can *also* browse by category for the topics that are most interesting to you. Plus, I created buttons to highlight especially interesting links! Here’s an example of these pages…

Now for some backstory…

How does it feel when you embark to design new spreadsheet system?

Tackling a tough tech problem usually fills me with delight, enthusiasm, hopefulness, rugged ambition.

However when I faced this particular crossroads, I felt stuck, insecure, and clueless. “I’m not a designer or a web developer,” I scolded myself. “Everyone who goes to my website is going to find it drab and ugly!” In other words, as my mom used to say, “With an inner critic like that, who needs enemies?”

However, “experts” proved to be illusive or out of my budget, despite calling in favors from more than a few mentors (thank you, you know who you are!). So, I did what most of us do in this situation. I tried to ignore the problem and as a result, felt more and more down in the dumps, while convincing myself that it was absolutely intractable and it would always be this way.

Does this sound familiar?

If yes, I’m not glad, but at least we are in good company!

Learning WordPress

Yesterday, I decided I was DONE WAITING and I was going to make a drastic change to the website.. (It ended up not being THAT drastic, but I gave myself permission to basically start over if I needed to). And it turns out that getting my design much, much closer to the design of my dreams wasn’t nearly as painful as I had hyped myself up to believe.

The back end of the TDAA website is WordPress. I knew that it should be possible to filter a page by a post type, but I just didn’t know HOW. I also didn’t know how to create pages with more interesting layouts (like buttons, columns, or dynamic content). Luckily, I was able to download a page template which had WAY more bells and whistles than I could imagine. I simply took that page and whittled it down to the elements that seemed most helpful for my goals.

Speaking of goals, I also had to do some data cleanup to get my blogposts to fit into the right categories. WordPress allows both “tags” and “categories” (I read some comparisons of the two but they didn’t “stick”). I combined and reduced the total number of tags to make them more meaningful. I decided to have a tag for every common “spreadsheet formula” that I write about so that I could group those posts into a bucket. Then, I decided to use Categories for the overarching themes of the blog, hopefully categories that would be meaningful to the types of audiences I typically reach. I had to go and reclassify blog posts into the appropriate Category, which I have to admit I am not completely done with.

Finally, I had to re-do my main menu to nest pages appropriately. This part was relatively simple, but I found the drag and drop interface not very forgiving. Le sigh.


I spent some time talking with my business bestie about why change management is so hard and what we can do to make it better. In this case, it seemed useful to look at myself as a case study.

I had some negative motivation propelling me forward. I had let things get bad enough that I felt like I didn’t have much to lose. Why not take a big risk now? I don’t like the nihilistic part of me, but at least it helped me get my tush in motion!

I also had some positive motivation inspiring me to take the leap. With a big presentation on Friday and a big, new project launching soon (!!!), I wanted to put my best digital foot forward. Hopefully there will be some new attention on this little corner of the internet, so it seemed like perfect timing for a makeover.

Finally, I had support to catch me if I fell. I know that there are people in my network who could rescue my little WordPress site if I was really desperate.

Working through these feelings about my “brand” (ugh) and my “tech skills” opened up new pathways to articulate what is most important to me. So ultimately, I’m grateful – and proud – of the result.

Check out the new design and let me know how it resonates with you! I only spent about $100 and one day of work, so it’s not too late to make changes!

Thanks for sticking around as The Data Are Alright enters this new phase!


The Spreadsheet Whisperer

aka Samantha

One thought on “new look, same great taste

  1. Congrats on this new stage!!

    On Mon, Sep 13, 2021 at 3:31 PM The Data are Alright wrote:

    > Samantha Shain posted: ” Dear pals, I grappled for a long time with an > amorphous feeling that the visual design of the TDAA website didn’t match > the stories, triumphs, tips, and thoughts that I wanted to share on the > platform. Over the years, TDAA has become more than a blo” >

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