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Why A Website Redesign?

For those of you who are regular visitors of this blog you might have noticed it recently went through its first redesign since launch.

After seven months of existence I thought it was a good time to examine the stats and see how the site was performing in terms of usability for the visitors. The mission I set out was to look for areas of improvements in order to ensure the site would provide the best user experience possible for you, users of the site.

A website redesign is always a perilous exercise as the changes you carry out might upset those of your visitors who are used to the way the site was organised. To help me in this job I studied an excellent book titled “Dont’ make me think. A common sense approach to web usability” by Steve Krug. I found the book very well written, short, to the point and I thought I would implement a selection of advice from it, combined with website design best practices I had gathered in my research on web usability.

I’d like to share with you what I’ve done in this redesign (the first ever for this website) and I hope you will find the new version of the site easier and more intuitive to use. To improve the user experience further I’d would appreciate to hear from you if you have any feedback on the revamp.

Before the redesign:

Website before redesign
Website home page before redesign

Website after first major redesign:

Website after redesign
Website home page after redesign

The changes were:

1. Vertical navigation bar was moved from the right hand side to the left hand side.

If you are a fervent user of Amazon.com like me you would have noticed that Amazon.com has the vertical navigation bar on the left. I find it’s actually easier to navigate through the sections of the site if the vertical navigational bar was on the left of the content section. The stats also revealed that visitors of this website use this vertical navbar quite a bit so I think it makes sense to have it on the left.

2. The Search box is now incorporated in the horizontal navigational bar above the left vertical navbar.

In this redesign I consider the Search box as part of the navigation mechanism. If visitors prefer to search rather than click on the category they can find the search box straight away.

3. The horizontal navigational bar will be used to house the three most popular sections of the site (i.e. categories most clicked in the left vertical navbar) to allow quicker access to these categories.

4. The site layout is now on three columns (one sidebar on the left, the content section in the middle, one sidebar on the right)

5. The right hand side column contains direct access to the latest articles. Visitors can also subscribe to receive latest posts directly in their email when new articles are published.

6. The “Breadcrumb” has been added on top of the content section.

Website breadcrumb
The breadcrumb acts like a "You are hear" mark on a map in a shopping centre. It helps the visitor situate herself spatially

7. The three houses logo is now clickable and brings the visitor back to the home page. The stats show visitors do click on this logo so I made it clickable to bring the them back to the homepage.

8. Articles under each section/category are now listed in one column instead of two:

Articles under section
Articles under section are now listed in one column instead of two which makes the excerpts easier to scan

9. Remove the logo next to the site title to simplify the site visual ID.

10. Reduce the height of the header so more content can be visible “above the fold” (or I should say above the scroll which means content visible without having to scroll down).

11. Remove the vertical sharbar. I found out that the sharbar was not showing correctly on older versions of Internet Explorer so I decided to take it out. By the same token the share buttons at the bottom of each post has been grouped together to uncluter the page.

That’s eleven modifications that were carried out last week with the objective to make this website more user friendly and more intuitive for you to access the information.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for visiting and I hope the content I share with you here will contribute to making your journey to building your house a more pleasant and satisfying experience. If you have any questions of comment I would love to hear from you.

All the best of luck for your house building project!

Check out articles about new home designs

Post image credit: maherberro

2 comments

  1. Hi Vince
    I can see you have been busy since I last visited! I thought for a minute I had come to the wrong web site.
    One thing I as a regular browser like about the current web sites is that the home page is the blog so that on my visit I see the latest information rather than have to look for it.

    A problem I find when looking at your site on my netbook is that when arriving on the page all I see is adverts and have to scroll down to get content. I recently removed a banner advert from the top my site for this reason

    • Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the feedback.
      My plan is to let this revamp go for a few months and look at the stats again. I will make sure small screen users have the best possible experience too.

      Cheers,

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