Credit: via make yeah!
OK so I love you guys. I’ve been reading all of your responses to my readers survey (nearly 1000 of them!!) and now my poor web/IT guru husband & I have got a lot of work to do to implement some of your fabulous ideas! However I wanted to take the time to write this little User Guide style post to try and make your Rock n Roll Bride experience even better in the interim.
A few little niggles about the site came up over and over again and while some of them are major overhaul kind of things (and a lot of them were actually things I had been wanting to change anyway) there were a few points raise about the usability of the site which may be rectified with a bit of clarification. As a total blog-obsessive myself I think it’s easy for me to forget that coming to my site as a new reader might be a bit of a daunting experience in terms of where to start, and how to navigate your way around it in the easiest fashion. Here’s where this post comes in. Get your notebooks at the ready class and I hope this guide is useful!
One of the things that came up over and over again was the Search facility. First of all, I do have a search bar on the site. It is situated just above where it says ‘Link Love’ and ‘About the Girl’. Secondly some of you said they didn’t feel it worked very well.
The search bar I’ve chosen is a Google search. That basically means it searches my site the way Google searches the internet. Therefore if you search for ‘DIY’ for example, the results brought up will be any post which is either tagged as ‘DIY’ or features the word ‘DIY’. The top result will be the most popular or most relevant post to your search based on keywords used. Again, and as with Google, when you click a link it will change the whole page to the link you’ve clicked, so to go back and see more results you do have to type your search term into the box again. However to avoid this, simply ‘right-click’/'open in a new tab’ (on a PC, sorry I don’t know the Mac equivalent) to keep the search intact.
Another thing that came up over and over was Tags – ie how to use them, what they were, if they were relevant. Again, I try to tag each post in the most concise way possible so that if you search for, say, “pink flowers” any results will bring up all things “pink” and all “flowers”. Of course the results will not always be perfect for what you’re looking for but with this current system that can’t really be avoided.
Note: When you go into a post, at the bottom you will see a list of everything that post is tagged with – if you click one of these tags, it will bring up all other posts with the same tag.
Note: I have been working on an idea for ‘favouriting’ posts, it will just take a while to get working is all. That way, like with say Flickr, you’ll be able to click a button to save a particular post to your ‘favourites.’ Therefore when it came to re-finding a particularly awesome wedding/photo shoot it should be a lot easier for you. Would this be something you’d use?
Note: while we’re on the subject, do you know what those cute little buttons at the bottom of each post are for? They enable you to quickly and easily share links to the post on various social networking sites – ie Blogger, del.icio.us, Digg, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Technorati and Twitter. Give them a go!
♥ Main site Navigation/Topics
Something else that was brought up a lot was the functionality of the main site navigation at the top of the site. The links I’ve chosen to put here are the key navigation areas on the site, chosen to be the easiest way to find out all about the site if you are a new reader. However many of you commented that these links were irrelevant to you and could be re-thought. As the majority of the readers of Rock n Roll Bride are returning visitors I see your point and I will definitely be making a few changes to the layout of the top navigation bar to add some more relevant links for you, my loyal readers! Condensing some of the links into one all-encompassing ‘about’ section to include contact, this user guide etc should omit some of the irrelevant links for returning visitors and leave more space for the links you really do use – ie links to all the various categories/topics of posts. Watch this space.
♥ Thumbnails vs Full Page of Images/Post Layout
Ooooh this debate was probably one of the things I read most about in your survey responses. The split for thumbnails vs large images was pretty much 50/50 so I thought I’d just take some time to explain my thought process and reasons for this system.
1. Load time – smaller images take up less space and therefore enable the page to load a lot quicker
2. I post a LOT of images with each post (sometimes over 100 – which I’m pretty sure is more than any other blog - I don’t want you to miss out on all the gorgeous details!) If I was to post all these images onto the page, not only would the load time of the homepage be ridiculous but you’d have to do a LOT of scrolling to get down to the next post if you didn’t find that particular one relevant (I don’t know about you, but I hate that!)
3. If you choose to click on a particular thumbnail to see the image larger, it should bring the image up in the lightbox/slideshow plugin. As many of you have noticed, this gallery is sometimes a little wonky and doesn’t function correctly, causing you to have to click back every time you want to see a new image. This is down to a java script error that sometimes occurs and is something I am aware of. If you do see this happen, I’d recommend the old ‘right-click’/'opening in a new tab’ idea. I personally feel that the benefits of the thumbnails far outweigh the annoyance of having to do this once in a while.
4. You may have noticed that over the last few days I’ve posted a few extra images in the main body of the post, before the ‘jump’. I hope this may be able to then give you a better idea of what the wedding/shoot is all about and whether you’d like to click ‘read more of this entry’ or not. Again, please let me know!
Note: While we’re on the subject of ‘read more of this entry’ – I also implemented this to improve page load times. I know how irritating it is to go to an image heavy website which takes forever to load. If you’re anything like me you’re much more likely to just give up and move onto another site. As before, I think one extra click to see the rest of the images is a small price to pay for a much speedier service.
Note: The husband brought up an idea whereby at the top or bottom of every post we could add a ‘see all images’ button which would bring up all the images together on the page. Therefore those of you in favour of seeing all the images from each wedding could simply select this option and voila all the images will then load on one page. Would this be something that would interest you at all?
“I wish I knew how to have a photo appear at my comments instead of the generic grey head thing… could just be me being technophobic though”
Not at all! It is easy though. Simply go to www.gravatar.com and sign up. Then, your avatar (or gravatar!)will be displayed on any website/blog that has the Gravatar plugin installed (like I do) when you comment. Easy!
I hope you have found this post helpful. I will be running through a few more of your ideas over the next few months to try and make Rock n Roll Bride the very best blog in the whole of blog-land! I will also be sharing a more concise overview of the survey results soon as well as answering some more of your comments as soon as physically possible.