Revamping your website can be an overwhelming task. Especially if you want what you want, the way you want it. I admittedly fall into that camp, which makes it difficult to explain to a designer exactly what I’m after because I have to try different things to see if I like them. Eventually, I work my way to something that works for me and I believe will work for those who frequently visit my site and drop by on occasion.
Finding that balance comes easy for some. But when you have a lot of irons in a lot of fires, it can be more difficult. Not only must you represent all your irons but all your fires, and you must do so in a way that makes content easy for visitors to locate. The best information in the world is worthless if no one can find it.
So begin by asking yourself: What is the site purpose?
My list looked like this:
- Special Projects
Many of these topics overlap. For example, I mentor authors, write columns on writing (craft, business, and the writing life), and my special projects involve authors). This connection is my unifying thread that runs site wide, and that’s helpful (when possible) for site continuity.
I further broke down these major categories asking myself, “When I go to a site, I’m seeking information on what?” Those “what” answers became secondary categories.
For writers, I have articles (separate and in the blog categories On Writing, Vicki Hinze Today, and in the Social N Network articles with quite a few in the My Kitchen Table category [because everything is fodder!]). There are also videos and audio podcasts.
Discussing everything site-wide would make for a book, so I’ll refrain. The objective is to get you to think about your site structure the way someone visiting your site might. Why are they there? What do they want? How can visitors most easily locate whatever they’re after?
The more thought from visitors’ perspectives you put into your planning, the greater your odds for creating a site that is structured for your visitors. That’s important. And it isn’t a one-size fits all proposition. It isn’t just what they’re looking for but how they look at it. Are most of your visitors viewing your site on a desktop? Mobile device? That impacts.
If you don’t know, you might install a program like Statcounter (they have a free version), which tells you how people are viewing your site and on what device. It also tells you which pages people are visiting most, or are most popular. This helps you give your visitors more of what they want. the way they want it.
Bring lots of patience with you to the process. Know that it’s a big job and it takes time. But it’s time well-spent–especially when it’s done.
I added a few new features in this overhaul. One is free previews of the first three chapters on my most recent releases. This isn’t a link to a download. When a visitor clicks on the graphic, a reader that works on all devices opens and they’re reading. (See the front page of the site and try one to see what I mean.) It’s convenient and easy for visitors. We’ll see in the coming weeks how well they like it. I suspect they will. Here’s a sample of one from the front page:
On the vickihinze.com site, you’d just click to open the reader.
I still have a few little things to tweak. There are always things to tweak on your site. And I’m wide open to feedback. Knowing what works and what doesn’t is helpful!
Patience. And remember…
Anyone can eat a bear… one bite at a time.
PS Warning: My Kitchen Table is a no-edit, chat-mode zone…