Tom Zappala Haircutting Insights Upgrades


October 2021 | Despite being away from the scissors, a lot of work happened during the lockdown. The website redesign that made its debut in August was a tedious project meant to take an expected few weeks of effort. It turns out that was just the beginning. During the final stages of the redesign, I discovered some technical issues with my former website hosting platform, Weebly. As I had initially developed that site over ten years ago, the concerns were with specific components of their platform that are now obsolete and unable to be updated.

Some of these issues relate to web security, while others are aesthetic restrictions in an aged and oversimplified platform. The SEO functionality on Weebly is also quite limiting. Despite having just completed and launched the redesigned website, I decided a change was needed and rebuild the entire website from scratch on a different platform. This site is now run on WordPress through an Australian hosting company VentraIP. Completing this task myself has been a massively rewarding but exhausting undertaking requiring an entirely unhealthy amount of screen time.

While I have been engaged in web development for many years, learning the nuances of a new platform was both fun and infuriating. Most days, I would storm away from the computer in utter frustration at unexpected and annoying coding issues. Ten minutes later, I would be shouting a victorious triumph to an otherwise empty flat. There were weeks of a sore back and sorer eyes. Overall though, the sense of accomplishment most days was something I’d not felt in a long time.

"There are no photos of hair anywhere on the website, and I am thrilled with that decision."

When designing the site in WordPress, a lot of thought went into the general aesthetic and user interface. The dark mode theme was an intentional design choice to make the experience of being on the site easier on the eyes. That decision initially started with backgrounds and text colour but eventually became an influence over the entire website. Continuity is a concept that I have always resonated with, and the final version of the website represents cohesion and commitment to minimalist design principles.

Another shift with the redesign had to do with images. While the website has never featured photos of my work and never will, there were images of people and their hair that had I sourced from stock image providers. These are now gone. In fact, there are no photos of hair anywhere on the website, and I am thrilled with that decision. In their place are photos I took of the tools that I am proud to own and use.  I find that point of difference refreshing while simultaneously ridding the site of hair-related, image-based bias.

When starting this project, the intention and directive were clear. Create a website that was technologically advanced, user-friendly, and aesthetically different from anything I could find. It needed to reflect my principles while also providing viewers with a strong sense of who I am as a professional. Being able to do this all in-house myself made this task much more achievable. Despite countless frustrations along the way, I am thrilled with how it has come together. Your experience with it should be much faster and more secure too.

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