AS WE BEGAN THE 2010 GARDEN SEASON, OUR THIRD, A Way to Garden encountered the challenge so many blogs-verging-on-website-scale do: how to make navigation easier and bubble up all the great archived material? A tour of the enhancements:
To move the latest stories front-and-center, the header, or logo, is slimmer than it was before designer Kenneth B. Smith and the programmers of WebDevStudios helped me revise it, using Brian Gardner’s hot new Genesis framework for WordPress. (Besides botanical Latin, I also talk some geek. You’ll get used to the fusion.)
Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the “action items” that are placed up top, above and in the header. For example:
ABOVE THE LOGO, left to right:
ABOUT will take you to the About page. (Sneaky, huh?)
TOPICS will show you—at a glance, in thumbnail-sized photos and links—what subjects “we” cover.
SEARCH is what you think it is.
NEWSLETTER SIGNUP will take your email address, subscribing you to the newsletter I do weekly or so. More about that, and samples, here.
THE GREEN SQUARES at top right (in turn) allow you to:
- follow @margaretroach on Twitter
- visit or join our Facebook page
- subscribe to the RSS news feed (updates sent to your feed reader whenever I post)
- contact me (at awaytogarden [at] gmail [dot] com)
THE HEADER (LOGO AREA) ITSELF also includes four “buttons” at the top right:
- My new book (“And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” a dropout memoir, due out February 2011; updates to come later this year)
- Forum (a community of readers, with Q&A’s and other sharing; go join and participate)
- Site tour (like this post, but with more detail about me and my mission and such)
- Garden humor: the doodles of beloved Andre Jordan, appearing weekly since October 2008
THE FAR-LEFT NARROW COLUMN
In an age of giant, flashing dropdown menus and tabs on websites—things that remind me more of a shopping site than the sanctuary of a garden—I decided to go low-tech. Hope that’s OK.
To that end: Exhibit A. The left-hand navigational column (Topics) is as familiar as the Table of Contents of a favorite garden book, no? Tada!
The intention is to tell you what topics I cover, and let you dig in. Get acquainted with this index, and you will find the site easier to use. Note that “Jack the Demon Cat” got his own cat(egory). (Get it? )
I added a section called “most popular” into which I will continue to place posts that either my stats meters or your comments tell me you like. Sometimes I may sneak one in that’s simply most popular with me. Tough noogies; it’s my garden. But this “most popular” section is a good place to start if you’re new.
I added one called “for beginners,” into which I have placed stories I think everyone starting out will need for inspiration. However, be aware that I don’t think garden beginners should only grow impatiens and forsythia. It takes the same work to dig a hole for a really good plant as for the commonplace and overused.
I’ve added “shade gardening” and “container gardening” and I’ve broken out groundcovers into their own bucket, and so on.…go root around awhile.
Exhibit B: Rather than a boring long list, the results will usually be displayed so that you can navigate visually among all the trees and shrubs, for instance, or annuals and perennials. (Or doodles by Andre, example below.)
Still can’t find it by browsing the results that way? Remember that the Search (way up top, above the logo) is always there to help.
THE SECOND NARROW COLUMN
Here’s where you can quickly get to some other features, like my gardening FAQs, all my Slideshows (also reached by clicking the green link below the mini-slideshow in the far-right column), our “press clips” of stories about the blog, etc.
Below that, I’ll showcase little teasers about some of the juiciest things on the site, as I always have in my sidebars. Have a read…maybe something appeals?
THE WIDE COLUMN IN THE MIDDLE
This one’s easy: It’s the latest blog post up top, and consecutively older ones below. At the bottom of the page, you can click to older and older posts (“older posts”). Generally, the front page will show off at least the last week of entries without any clicking.
COMMENTS are welcome on any post, anytime. Longtime readers will tell you that I try to be responsive, and I always personally welcome first-time commenters to the fold. A lot of questions get asked and answered in the comments (or you can go to the Forums).
THE FAR-RIGHT TINTED COLUMN
New! A mini-slideshow of some favorite images, and a link to all my slideshows.
A short version of my “About” page is under “Who’s Gardening Here?”
The monthly Garden Chores will also appear in this column (I post them on the blog, too, and you can find all of them under “Chores by Month” among the Topics (left-hand column).
THE FAT FOOTER
Yes, that’s what the area at the bottom of the page with the photo of me in it is called on blogs (I actually have rather skinny feet). You will also find my recent Twitter “Tweets” here and links to the “social network” sites and my other blogs.
I know it will take some getting used to; I am already on Dramamine from dizziness while getting re-acclimated. :) But click around, and enjoy. And be patient if there are hiccups. Gardeners are patient types, right?
Love the new version of your blog. Simple and organized. I also love that gorgeous cat you’re posing with!
Welcome, Cat Sitter. (Love that name.)
Funny you say that about the photo; I am getting the heat over on a post today on Apartment Therapy website about seeming to be torturing my pet. (Only half-kidding.) In fact Jack is just gigantic and wild (15.8 pounds, as big as a fox, and a major-league hunter). You can see more of Jack in his own CATegory of posts on the blog, here. Tee hee.
Thanks for your kind words, and do stop in soon again.
I like the new look, but for some reason it’s larger than my computer screen. I also tried to sign in on the forum and was told my username didin’t exist. What did I do wrong? I will readily admit I am VERY techno challenged
@MichelleB: Could be a couple of things. What browser do you use (and what version of that browser?). And are you Mac or PC? Then I can direct you to a fix. As for forums, let’s email about a solution there since it involves username etc.
Congratulations on another job well done! Though there is a lot here, I think it will be easier to find things now. It felt overwhelming, though enticing, before. And the great thing about blogs is that when one has the time (Ha!) one can explore the contents in a leisurely manner. I think now it will be easier to keep track of where I have been and where I want to go.
Good for you for changing it up! I think it’s so important to keep things fresh. I’m sure it will take a little getting used to, but certainly nothing that can’t be easily overcome and I can see that many changes will be much more user-friendly. Reminds me that it’s time for a bit of spiffing up over at my blog, but reading (and dreaming) about gardening sounds like more fun to me.
Great job on the new version Ms. Margaret. It’s really easy to navigate and things (i.e., buttons, menus, graphics, link archives, etc.) are arranged nicely.
Well done. I am immensely cheered that all your meticulous and wonderful efforts can be better accessed. Thanks so much for the beauty and utility of this stunning redesign.
Oh dear sweetest Jack! Had forgotten about that pic but did he ever take a bad one…think not :) That pic of you two is fabulous. The love he imprinted on your heart will be with you forever.
All the bell-ringing didn’t help me with the weeds this season. LOL A redo is in order and looking forward to the 2017 season.