When I collaborate with clients to create their unique and authentic websites, the process of thought-provoking questions can sometimes lead into a whole new journey of self discovery. Almost as if the permission to express their tastes and ‘wouldn’t it be great if I…’ leads to a time of unsettling uncertainty. Sometimes they have become so caught up in the formulas and comparisons of how their website should/ought to look that they lose themselves in the process.
Can you relate?
I hear a familiar story time and time again… “Oh the website I have (whether off-the-peg or hired a professional to do) just isn’t me. There is something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
Although the self discovery is a fabulous experience in itself ;), it can often create indecisiveness and a temporary hiatus along the website collaborative journey and delay a launch.
So I would like to share with you today, one way that I have effectively used to prepare myself for my own website build.
It may help you too.
It is an indirect way to focus and access key information on what you like/dislike for your own online home. A way to step back and look through a different lens…but one which is rich in truths about what you really want.
I love to explore independent cafes. Last summer, I spent a week in Southern Ireland. During that time, I was particularly aware of new experiences. This was facilitated by a daily journal where I would often write a few notes here and there whilst sitting in a cafe.
I noticed that my overall cafe experience was influenced by the type of surroundings I was in at the time. So I started to pay attention.
How did I feel about a cafe? What did I like/dislike?
I was struck by one cafe/restaurant in particular, named Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway. In fact, I would say it is my favourite cafe ever. I would visit it weekly if it was based in London. You see, it has a look and feel that I relish and helps me feel at home and closely connected to joy.
But not my actual home….more a place that feels like the essence of me. Your home is a personal and intimate space that you share mostly with your family, but a cafe is more an extension of your home. A place you would be delighted to visit alone with a laptop, meet friends, or have a family gathering. It’s a place that leaves me topped up in a delicious way..but something more than simple nourishment: an experience, a story.
It is not just any cafe…it’s my own soul cafe.
What do I love about my soul cafe?
I love the rustic white walls, earthy tones, quirky explosions of colour, recycled and slightly worn-out furniture, stone or wooden floors, an eclectic mix of pots/pans and plates, passionate and friendly down-to-earth staff, a obvious sensitivity to the planet, the smell of home baked bread and apple pies, the smell of the coffee and locally sourced produce creating simple dishes with complex flavours…I could go on.
A slow pace and a feeling of being and not doing, not wanting to rush the experience, as every moment is a delicious nourishing bite that satisfies the appetite of my soul…The homemade gifts that reveal more of their craft.…their story. The feeling that I freely want to purchase and take a part of them home with me.
What people say about Ard Bia:
It’s not just me…
“…one can see the alchemy of the mind and spirit is possible here. There is something about the motley jumble of old kitchen tables, clerk desks and bentwood chairs that screams sanctuary. A place apart. By being yourself and ‘making it’ you are planting a seed in that persons soul that they too can ‘make it’ if they stick to their own true nature. You are mirroring back to them all that they can achieve…
…There are places in the world where one feels safe in this world, cosseted, nourished and nurtured. Places where one’s thoughts come easier and with a brighter, deeper, more enlightened quality. They are like cocoons, alembic chambers that help ease our troubles, stepping-stones on our path from darkness to light. Unfortunately, such places are as rare as truffles, but this just adds to their potency… ” Manchàn Magan
I aspire to and desire that my website feels like that…like my own independent soul cafe!
What about you?
You are a human being with all kinds of quirks and paradoxes…perfectly imperfect…just like the rest of us…with a particular taste of what you like and don’t like. Yet you may not have given it a huge amount of thought, let alone with regards to a website overhaul.
So, I invite you to spend time at your favourite cafes, take a journal, take a camera and mindfully connect in. These are the places you would love to go to anyway. They light you up for their own sake. Make the experiences your very own business dates.
It may also be interesting to visit a place that does not stir your soul and establish why that might be?
There is enough of a detachment (from your website) to explore effortlessly, but also enough of a connection to your taste and what you really want. Breadcrumbs of clues to make up your own unique story and visual for your online home.
Perhaps you will discover that you love the familiarity of a cafe chain which is, again, important information that perhaps you do like to follow formulas and create a website similar to your peers. Who knows? Just trust and be honest with yourself.
Make this great fun and a revealing experience and adventure! Go on…have a go;)
Over to you
I would love to hear about your own cafe discoveries and what that might mean for your website.
If you like my quirky take on things and would love to outsource or have a collaborative buddy to help you with your next website creation, then I would be delighted to assist you. My services can be found here, so feel free to connect with me.
That’s so interesting Lisa. My absolutely favourite cafés have all been a hotch-potch of furniture, never matching crockery, delicious home-made cakes, good music, no-hurry sort of places. We used to go for tea at the Ritz for treats and everything was beautiful, but it wasn’t mine. It was a step into someone else’s world. V. thought-provoking. x
That is so how I experience things too Janet….so I love the idea of hotch-potch websites to explore and rummage around in…spend some time…just having a good underlying structure for navigation, but otherwise ‘fill ya boots!’ 😉
I love this metaphor and method for getting in touch with what’s important to you. This is such a warm and gentle way to self-discovery. It turns what could be a chore into something personal and fun. Great idea Lisa. And anything that involves coffee (in moderation of course, ahem!) gets my vote.
Coffee in moderation!! Ooo I think not;) thank you for your feedback and seeing the lightness in exploring qualities this way 😉
I love this, Lisa! When I first created my website, I had a lot of these thoughts – even choosing the name, “Jam Kitchen” was about trying to create an environment where I wanted my visitors to feel “like home” – but during my latest re-design my focus was mainly on how to be able to write about many different topics without it all getting too confusing, and I think I need to add back a little more “soul” 🙂
My favourite café is also a gallery, a gift and home decoration shop that also sells lovely notebooks and such AND a framing workshop at the same time – so this totally fits with my idea about wanting to “squeeze” many things into one place on my website 😉 Will visit them soon to ponder around how I can use this for my website! Thankyou 🙂
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Oh yes a website with more jam 😉 Isn’t it interesting how our patterns show up across different mediums… It will be great to see how the gallery cafes create order and structure within its decorative space…but also how you love to engage with it all with a sense of wonder. I love the name Jam Kitchen 😉