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New Website Live

Submitted by Julian Stokes on 22 May, 2013 - 16:17

Like the plumber whose own bathroom has a leaky tap, I have been so busy working on other people's sites that I scarcely took the time to look at mine. And when I did, the truth dawned on me that it was way past time to perform a major update.

As with any website update, the decision has to be taken whether to stick with what you've got, maybe adjust the template / look and add some new content. I felt that everything was so badly out of date that an entirely new build was justified.

It's the content, stupid! It's not what platform / program you use, it's what's in your site. But some programs make it easier than others. If you're spending too much time fighting the computer to get the results then you either should get help or change the system.

WARNING: This paragraph contains technical details.
In the beginning my site was built by hand. This was so for a couple of iterations. I then moved to Typo3 and latterly to Wordpress. A couple of years ago I was involved with building the Enhancement of Learning Support section on the Excellence Gateway which is an LSIS (Learning and Skills Improvement Service) website. This is based on a program called Drupal. Drupal is something that passed by my radar a few years back - I  had created one site in it but I was never really impressed in a good or  bad way. But, if a really large site like the Excellence Gateway could be run from Drupal, surely it was worth another look. So, Drupal it was. Using Drupal is also an opportunity to increase my knowledge and skills base and enable me to offer a better service to my customers.  I could have used any Content Management System (CMS). Or even just a good old fashioned hand-rolled html site.

Having made the decision to run with Drupal, the next decision was what should the new site look like. A good starting point is the front page. Movement / animation is always a good thing. IN MODERATION! My mind is still scarred from some of the atrocities I have seen people commit with manic animated GIF graphics, blinking text and hyperactive scrollers. Some pages some people created back then were enough to induce seizures with only 5 seconds' exposure.

Special effects should enhance the message, not dominate it.

One thing my clients & I like is a good image slider - so it seemed that the new home page should have one of those. The slider I chose is full screen width, letterbox format and, with the right images, makes a bold eyecatching statement. Dropdown menus are popular because they enable visitors to get to the page they want without endless clicking and backing up to find the desired page.

Admitting you could do something better is the important  first step.

I was critical of my previous site. Rightly so because I didn't get the front page right. It was too text heavy. I expected people to read and choose links from a body of many words. Now, I have  distilled 6 main areas of expertise and created a graphic to illustrate each of these and placed  them below the slider.  Now visitors will now be able to see at a glance what is on offer.

Look at your site from your visitors' perspective

It's can be tempting to either have a really simple front page with a pretty picture which can have the effect of being an obstacle between your visitors and that which they seek, or you can go for overload and try to include everything. A balance must be struck.  And accept that  you may not get it entirely right first time and that you may need to revisit and refine.

People like pictures. Google likes words

I do have a block of text. I don't expect may people to read it. I included it because Google and the other search engines like text. It's the main way how they tell what a site is all about and where they decide to place it in their results.

Social media buttons. Yes I have those. I also have a Twitter box on the site and a link to my Facebook page. As the site settles in and I start adding to it, I will be blogging / tweeting about how to leverage the possibilities of social media.

I also have a list of the latest blog posts on the site. Blogging is a good way to generate new and fresh content - always a good thing for visitors and search engines alike.

Contact us for help and advice in building or maintaining  your website.