This is Day 4 in my five day sprint to redesign, rewrite, develop and launch the CB.Graphics website. I realized that I give all this awesomness to my clients, that just doesn’t show up on my website. I’ve scooted by with a lack luster site and it’s starting to catch up with me. In order for my business to grow and for me to bring on new clients I have to take care of my own house first. For me, my home is my website. That is why I’m doing this crazy thing and designing and publishing a new site in five days.
I accomplished everything on this list, except the plugins. I’ve decided to wait on the plugins until I’ve installed the theme on the live site. It is not a good use of my time to configure them twice, once in the local install and once in the live site.
If it isn’t obvious by now, 80% of producing a custom website is code, lots and lots of code. Day 4 was spent wrapping up the custom post types and making adjustments to the navigation. I’m really encouraged by the progress and excited to launch the site.
Day 5 is going to have to be super focused in order to complete this project on time. The most difficult part of the project is done, now it is just a matter of putting the final details together and porting in content.
More than anything I’m excited that my clients and visitors will have a better experience on the website. The holistic approach to designing websites means that each part of the experience is connected and consistent. All of the content is organized and easy to find.
People are more likely to spend time on the site if it is easy to find what they want. There is nothing more frustrating than clicking through multiple pages on a website. If visitors don’t find what they want on the first click they will often leave in favor of another business with a site that is easier to navigate.
Organizing websites is a balance. You don’t want to overload your navigation bars with links. It makes it difficult to read and is overwhelming to take in. It can be tempting to dump every page and frequently referenced blog post into the menu. Especially because WordPress makes it so easy to add anything and everything to the navigation. Whenever possible create drop down menus with big topics at the highest level.
In contrast, you want your content to be findable. If pages are buried in links from other pages they might never be found. While a sparse menu might look clean and minimal, it can also look like you don’t have a lot of content to offer. The top menu, at it’s heart, is about experience. A good experience with the menu will go completely unnoticed by visitors, while a terrible experience will result in high bounce rates and poor customer conversion.
My trick to get around this is to dump anything that doesn’t fit into the top navigation into the footer. Users are used to looking in the footer of websites for additional information, links, contact info, etc. I have seen some pretty ridiculous footers with lots of information. In fact, on the US Copyright website I don’t even look in the top nav for what I need, because I know I can find the direct link in the footer.
If you are unsure of what should go in the top level nav I recommend writing out, on paper, all of the pages on your site. Then try to organize them by category. The categories are what make up your top navigation. The pages under the categories can either be put into drop-down menus or linked to off of other pages. With a little finesse and brainstorming you will reach the right balance to give a better experience to your visitors.
Day 4 has been fantastic. I sometimes forget how bad-ass it feels to be a web developer. This project has confirmed in me that I made the right choice in my profession. I truly love what I do and love making amazing things for my clients.