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a way to garden version 3.0: welcome!

Author Margaret RoachAS 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.)

header
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.

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THE GREEN SQUARES at top right (in turn) allow you to:

  • 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:

  • Site tour (like this post, but with more detail about me and my mission and such)

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.)

Picture 9
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?

  1. Amy says:

    Much, much too complicated for my taste!!! Sorry — but I log onto A Way To Garden for the beauty and inspiration — not to be overwhelmed.

  2. Laura W says:

    Looks great! I especially like the ability to see the forum posts listed by most recent, the header layout and the farthest right column’s new solitary space. I have come back to your site looking for previous posts before, and I can already tell it will be easier to find what I’m looking for. Good work.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Laura. I am glad to hear your feedback. I am still dizzy from the changes, and feeling my way around. But I know that once we all get used to it, it is definitely easier to find things. Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. Andrew Ritchie says:

    LOVE IT! Organized, clean and streamlined, perfect for easy navigation and accessible inspiration! I like the slideshow at the top, too.

    1. Margaret says:

      Thanks to all. Still accessorizing but at least we are dressed now in most of our new ensemble. :)

      Welcome, Marcia. Yes, I remember meeting; how nice of you to say hello. Come again soon.

      @Amy: It will take getting used to; I know it feels very different. Hope you will poke around and see if it works as we work out little tweaks still. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. Brian G. says:

    Kind of like rearranging the kitchen cabinets. You know the glasses aren’t over the sink anymore but that doesn’t stop you from being surprised every time you open that door and see cereal. The brain will figure it out… eventually. Looks great!

  5. leslie says:

    Looks great and of course continues to be highly inspiring. Congratulations, Margaret, and many more. (Doubt the idea of “more” is particularly appealing at the moment, but have NO doubt you’re going to keep on outdoing yourself.)

  6. Janet Kenealy says:

    Margaret:

    The site looks so clean and crisp — I love it!
    I do have a question about using cardboard as a weed barrier. ( I’ll preface my questions by saying I’m a neophyte in the garden.) Should I turn the soil over then place the cardboard on top and cover with mulch? Can you plant by cutting slits into the cardboard? Or do you need to wait for it to break down somewhat before planting? Thank you!

  7. Lots of info, all of it accessible and logically arranged. And no glitz!!! Thanks and congrats on all this work. I know I should do some of this on my blog, but it is time consuming and dizzying from the do-er’s end, as you know so well. Just saw my first snowdrop poking through the melting snow, so it’s a red-letter (green?) day here, too.

  8. Laura Lopata says:

    Beautifully done, Margaret. Well worth all the effort you and your team have put in. Take a deep breath, and start to relax and enjoy it!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Laura, and thank you. I have another hour or two to do tonight and then think a movie or a book and a good supper are in order. See you soon.

  9. Maria says:

    Congrats on a beautifully done and truly inspiring redesign!! Change can be oh so good and sometimes necessary (gardeners know this all too well).

  10. Todd says:

    Well Done Margaret!!!

    As soon as I got the email about the “Liftoff”, I ran to this new site. Really organized and love all the little sections to explore especially Jack’s. :)

    Your new book title and cover melts me! Can’t wait till it comes out!

  11. NancyO. says:

    Margaret,
    Wonderful new design/format. Very readable and attractive. I look forward to Spring and to more great information on your site.

  12. louis desena says:

    margaret—“well-done”-you should be “very proud” of yourself!!!
    looking forward for all future info.
    thank you!!!!!!!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Nancy O. I look forward to your subsequent visits, too (and to spring!). Thanks for your kindness in stopping in today.

      @Kathy: I hear you about small type but I am experimenting (and of course did lots of looking around first for “best practices” elsewhere). We shall see. Getting there, and as you know better than I do, easy to turn it up or down a point or two here or there as you figure out what you really think — which is impossible to do until you make the site live and really use is daily for awhile. See you soon!

  13. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says:

    I think you accomplished your goal of organizing a lot of information without looking cluttered. One of these years I am going to find the small type in the left sidebars too small for comfort. But not this year.

  14. Pru says:

    Hi Margaret,

    Love the new design, it looks so fresh.
    I am busy getting on with things in my garden and am using your March To Do List for guidance – thank you.

    Pru

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Pru. Jealous to hear you are already out there at it. More snow here today. Drat. I hope to see you regularly as the season commences, and thanks for your good wishes.

  15. lynn says:

    i have overwhelmed with the amount of valuable information here, all in one place, i will be here for days. feels like the right place to be. cheers!!!!

  16. Nancy says:

    Your revision is beautiful! What an extraordinarily clear picture this makes of the depth and breadth of this part of your effort over the last two years! The rest of us lose that totality day by day–you (and we) get to keep yours! Thank you!

  17. Megan says:

    Very lovely! I was inspired to start my pepper plants last night from reading your blog yesterday. I love the new layout and rest assured I will come back often as I work on my blank-slate lawn this year!

  18. bavaria says:

    Thank you for the organized access to all your wonderful information. I find I use your site more and more as a reference for my gardening questions. And thank you for going, as you say, ‘low tech’. It is so nice to view a web page where I am not assaulted with flashing, jumping doodads. Keep up the great work!

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