May
01
Mon

My first redesign, the thinking behind it.

So what has changed and why?

A lot of my day is spent preaching about the virtue of building websites based around objectives and with users and their tasks in mind. So I thought it was about time I started to practice what I preach. My first stop was to check my site statistics and visitor patterns to try and establish how the site was being used. Now unfortunately my traffic is not particularly high and one could argue that to carry out such an analysis is pointless. I don’t disagree, however you have to start somewhere, sometime so why not now in preparation for the influx of visitors I will get , one day!

  1. New home page
  2. Improved content
  3. Added new footer
  4. Changed colour scheme slightly
  5. Added portfolio

New home page

The site was suffering from the usual problem of users arriving at the homepage and leaving shortly thereafter, probably none the wiser as to what was going on in the site and with only the current latest post by which to decide if they would venture in. A few and I mean few had a quick peruse at the about me and a couple of other pages, seeing just enough to say, “right this won’t be going in the RSS Reader”. I always knew the homepage was weak, I just never got around to doing anything about it, exhausted as I was after finishing my bespoke blogging framework (Aside: “why didn’t I just learn php and go with wordpress?”, mental note: learn php and move site to wordpress before 2008!) But well now I

have and hopefully it may entice a few of you to venture into my labyrinth.

I have considered the kinds of things first time users might want to do , while also facilitating the user with the uptodate and changing content. The most recent post is singled out and balanced off with a new area for a feature where attention will be drawn to one or more items throughout the site that are new, this area will also talk about what is up and coming, hopefully encouraging the reader to check back if it is of interest or maybe even subscribe to the feeds.

Improved content

Now I am well aware that the best designed, structured and thought out website/blog is useless without quality content, and I am the first to admit that this is an area where I can improve. I mean to do so and soon. As someone who subscribes to a lot of quality RSS feeds I could simply act as a traffic warden pushing people on through to the latest goings on on the interweb, but well whats the point, is that just a statement to say “Oh look how uptodate I am” or “Hey I’m on the bandwagon come to me to hear whats hot and whats not”. Not much creativity there, not really adding anything of worth to the soup, more like an ego exercise or maybe that is too cynical after all we need people pushing the good agendas and helping to educate and inform. Anyway I digress (aside: “seems to be a bit of a habit of mine”). So back to the redesign and again a quick acknowledgment that the content has to improve.

Added new footer

It is widely accepted that it is at the bottom of the page where a site can lose the user. All I have tried to do is offer a few alternatives for them before they do so and more importantly if they do choose to go that maybe they follow some of the links I offer, which are to other parts of the web related to this site. Sounds like I want the user all to myself..;) Anyway I think it does a reasonable job at attempting to guess the kinds of things people may be thinking about and giving a few useful options before losing them completely. I’d love to here some opinions on this, even by the non development reader(s).

Changed colour scheme slightly and a few fonts

Aesthetically I was more than happy with the look and feel, the colour scheme having been taken from some digital photography, all centering around the north antrim coast and underwater, was fine but did get a slight update, just to provide the right emphasis on the sub heading tags. Likewise a few heading tags were emboldened and font sizes played with to get what I felt was the right contrast with the textual content. I also moved away from what i thought was an overuse of serif fonts and back to the old faithful Helvetica, can’t go wrong with that!

Added portfolio

Added a portfolio. Why? Well i suppose to show you guys what I do and let you judge for yourselves if you think it is any good. If you are not a designer or developer I suppose some of it washes over your head but having said that i think everyone has a valid opinion about a website how easy it is to do what you want to do on it and how visually appealing or otherwise it is. So please feel free to comment on any of them. My big thing is accessibility and usability, semantically sound markup.

Included in the portfolio are subsections for projects and videos, The video section includes a selection of video footage mainly underwater or of Gracie the pup. I intend to add to this regularly and may have to consider moving them to a video hosting site to overcome bandwidth issues if they arise. At present they aren’t steaming just progressive downloads done with flash. Great quality even if I say so myself, the compression algorithm is fantastic. The whole portfolio is presented using Lightbox but I will be playing around with this, though about trying thickbox, we’ll see.

So there you have, maybe the regular readers didn’t notice the changes, if you are new you won’t have known anything different but thats what I did and thats why i did it. Still to come, more fun in the sandbox, particularly as google has finally added some detail to our area and well you’ll just have to come back to find out…..


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