Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rethink: Blog Structure and Design

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about how best to structure my online presence (or rather presences :D).

Some of my main goals:
  • streamline my process in terms of uploading images and keeping everything up to date
  • allow for searching facilities: archives and search box
  • create easy access to series that prove popular
  • tighten up a few things that I did early in the month
  • make it so I didn't have to enter 3 URLs every time I was asked for my website
Changes I that made:
  • added navigation across the top
  • turned my sales blog into a sales and gallery site (got rid of my standalone static site)
  • redirected my sales blog to my custom domain
  • added some "static pages" to my sales blog - galleries for portraits and flowers
  • made both blogs three-column
  • added a search box, archives, and series "buttons"
I'm sure there is more, but that gives you an idea why things look differently when you next visit. I'm happy to answer any questions about what I did, if that would be of help to anyone.

I have more I'd like to do, but I need to call an end to the tweaking...it seems that I could do this forever! It is very easy to while away the hours fussing with details...and honestly, I started all this so I could begin adding better descriptions for images for SEO purposes - now the structure I want is in place, I best get to that original intent.

9 comments:

Cath Sheard said...

I agree - the tweaking really could go on forever. And I am not always sure what really needs doing. I think the 3 columns work well, fwiw.

Anita said...

Its a good idea sometimes to rethink your approach to anything - I'm in the process of doing that myself at the moment.
Nice idea with the sales and gallery blog.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I LOVE the navigation across the top (that makes life so much easier - maybe reduce the font size though?)

However I hate the three columns. That's not your design BTW, I just hate three column blogs. They always make me think this person is trying to sell me something and is also trying to open up space for advertising. Plus it always seems to make it very busy for the eye.

I look at the design of websites and blogs like the design of pictures - all the design principles and elements are relevant. I've just made over Vivien's website for her - see http://www.vivienblackburn.com/welcome.html and one of the things we were aiming to do is greatly simplify it so that it had a clearer purpose and function - which I think we've achieved.

Rose Welty said...

Cath, yes, it seems like you have to call an arbitrary end to it, or break from it. :D Thanks for your thoughts.

Anita, I agree, it is helpful to pull back and think about your approach - I usually have "Oh, duh..." moments when I do that. Thanks, I decided that having a static site just for the sake of it wasn't doing anything but making more work for me (every visitor came from one of the blogs first - not surprising given how they rank pages.)

Katherine, as soon as I saw that you could have a nav bar like that on a blog, I wanted it. Thank you for your opinion on the 3 cols. I do want to be clear that I did NOT go to 3 cols to put in ads. I went to 3 cols because it helps me get more information and navigational features to information up at the top, rather than having to scroll down. It is an attempt to make my blog and its information more useful and accessible for the reader. I couldn't call attention to useful posts and series as easily before. I'm not making room for ads. Vivien's website looks really nice, you both have done a nice job there. It is important to be clear about what you're about, people make decisions quickly these days.

Jeanette said...

I truly don't know which format is better for a blog. I always think however that simpler is better and at initial glance, I find the blog a bit busy now.

I understand what you're trying to do and to amalgamate some many things into one place. Its difficult to find the perfect solution sometimes, isn't it?

I need to rehash my blog and still consider a website. I may never get there at the rate I'm going! :)

Belinda Lindhardt said...

well done on the blog update rose . i am in the process of updating to 3 columns also :)

Caroline said...

Rehashing blogs could become a whole other hobby of mine too! I like the top navigation and I think consolidating sites is a great idea - for your work process if nothing else.

I also put in 3 columns so I could fit in all the sidebar content in the same length as a post. I think you've left enough white space (in my browser anyhow) that it doesn't look too cluttered. I've seen lots of ads in 2 and 3 column blogs so I'm going to disagree with you on this one Katherine!

I like the buttons and I have one small comment - maybe the one in the right column should have a different background image to the ones on the left? It looks isolated on its own over the other side. A different ground may highlight that it's a different context of button to the series buttons on the left. But heck, it's your blog, do as you please! And don't tweak forever...

Rose Welty said...

Jeanette, thanks for your thoughts. I do have to be aware of confusing people.

Belinda, thanks. I found a blog that explains it and makes it very easy.

Caroline, thanks for your encouragement and for your comment about my "lonely" button. As I said above, I do have to think about being simple graphically without confusing people, so thanks.

I am beginning to long for some artwork...I just have to get something I am happy enough with that I can return to the art with a good conscience. :D

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Rose - I've just had another thought.

I'm viewing your site on my laptop screen. Consequently what might look fine to people when it stretches to occupy space on a large monitor screen may look rather different than when it is on a laptop - like mine.

One of the tips when redesigning websites is to always check out what it looks like on different screens and in different browsers - and that's certainly proved to be a useful tip for me in the past.