My husband takes four weeks of vacation and what do I decide to do?
What any respectable perfectionist would do–I reorganize.
Not just the clean-up type of reorganization either, but the tear-everything-apart-and-toss-out-all-the-junk type. Everything was getting an overhaul–including the website. In fact, I can’t think of anything else that needed a redesign more. Every time I looked at the old site, I saw a tired, dull blog that looked, I’m ashamed to say, a bit scattered. For my first attempt, I was proud of what I created, but it just wasn’t doing the trick. Having a blog was never the original plan. When I began my self-publishing journey, I wanted a website where I could blog. The difference was a subtle, but important, one to me. What I ended up with was a blog and not much more.
So, I sat down and took inventory of what I needed, what I didn’t and what I was missing. That led me to another question, perhaps the most important one:
What exactly do I want to say with this site?
Now that I am a little more experienced with WordPress, and blogs in general, I had a better idea of what I wanted. That wasn’t enough, though. I needed to think less about what I liked and more about what I hoped to accomplish. After fifteen cappuccino’s and one intense brainstorming session with my husband, I had some answers.
Here are the goals I ended up with for the renovation:
The landing page was nothing more than a repeat of some information on the ‘About Me‘ page, albeit in a different style. One was stiff and in third person, because I had read I needed that, and one was chatty and inviting. Basically, I had two separate areas talking about me, instead of my work. I updated the About Me page, the Books page, and put Ashborne on the front page. Now my work takes the center stage–as it should.
By making ‘Latest Release’ as the focus of the website, I have the flexibility to add new titles as they are published. I can also highlight any contests, signings, or other events directly on the front page. Updating this page is now a breeze and allows for future growth.
Create a first impression.
I changed the header image to the cover for Ashborne. In time, I may add other covers, or figure out a way to rotate them. For now, it adds color and intrigue while building my brand. It’s also more indicative of my current work than the ruins that were there previously.
Edit and clean it up.
I had added ‘must-have’ widgets to the side (I really need to stop reading all the ‘experts’), but after analyzing the data, it was clear they weren’t needed. Not only that, but they were clogging up the right-hand side of the page and contributing to that blog feel I was trying to get away from. Not that blogs are bad. Blogs are GREAT. I wanted a website though, that had a blog as an extension. I also changed themes and chose Widely because it was clean and mobile friendly. The few widgets I kept, mostly the follow buttons, are now located under the posts and don’t compete for space.
Double the fun.
It’s always been my intent to offer additional content to the Ashborne books on the website. Jakob’s Journal, the story of a priest and his individual tale of heroism in a dark world, was the perfect candidate for free content. I’ve struggled with finding the best way to add the journal entries to the site in a streamlined and reader-friendly way. After searching for what seemed like hours, I finally stumbled across a video that showed me how to set up two blog pages on the site by using categories. I can’t believe how easy this was! Now all of my Jakob’s Journal entries go directly to the Jakob’s Journal page and all other posts go to the blog page. I also learned how to truncate my posts. Not only do both pages look crisp and clean, it’s easy to scroll down and quickly scan multiple posts. If you’re intrigued enough to read more, it’s only a click away.
I love the changes. They accomplish the goals I laid out and it looks great. I’ve re-focused, my work is front and center, while the writing areas are more streamlined and easy to navigate. The results are immediate. People are clicking around more than they ever have before, and that makes me smile.
But, I’m not the target. You, the reader, are–so what do you think? Do you like the changes?
Do you have different goals for your own site?