Ch-ch-ch-changes! Tweaking and Geeking Out About the new SheWrites.com Site Design

Last night was a late one.  And an exciting one!  I stayed up into the bleary-eyed hours, restructuring and putting a whole new face on SheWrites.com.  Happy 2nd Anniversary, She Writers, and WELCOME TO THE NEW & IMPROVED SHE WRITES!  (Whoa, 2nd Anniversary excitement just possessed my hand to hit the caps lock key. I'll try to keep it down over here.)

 

What the New Look is All About

She Writes' new "skin" is based on white for a cleaner, more spacious experience, and we've used rounded corners, shadows, and fancied-up fonts so that everything is easier to see, read, and navigate.  We've continued our tradition of using classy gray text and gray accents to match our dark red and gray She Writes logo (see top left), which hasn't changed and is still as bold as ever. 

 

Why is the New Look Important?

I'm a big feminist and get pretty fired up about the negative consequences of our appearance-based culture, but I'll admit, just as in painting or film, the web is a visual-based medium and a website's appearance has a big impact on the experience of the person clicking about on it.  

In that regard, the new She Writes design is more than just a "facelift" or "make-over." (Ugh, I also detest these pop phrases -- especially on a site that helps us women break away from sexism and sexist expectations to look and perform a certain way! Ok, feminist rant #2 now over.) 

  • Our new changes organize the space and content that She Writers share and create.  With over 15,000 members blogging, updating statuses, live chatting, making and joining groups, commenting, replying to discussions, and taking advantage of our consulting and webinar services, there's a lot happening on here!  We heard loud and clear feedback from you that She Writes was like a glittering but jumbled pile of potential; our new changes turn that pile into an accessible, inviting stockroom of riches for your craft and career as a writer. 
  • The new redesign is also a visual guide, or aesthetic map.  We've lifted as much content as possible "above the fold" so that key tools are readily apparent. We've highlighted main content "modules", and carefully chosen which modules appear on every page, which appear only on the front page, and what items are in the top menu bar, as well as what content shows in the footer.

Playtime! Go Check Out What's New and Different!

  1. FEATURED CONTENT: Right at the top of the page, the Featured Content Area and Latest Activity Feed will bring you the latest and greatest on She Writes.  You can browse under "The Craft" or "The Biz," and explore more specific categories (like Marketing and Promotion) and columnist archives, too.  Stay tuned for similarly organized links to webinars, She Writes Radio, video, and live chats.
  2. MAIN PAGE TABS: You can now find tabs for the Community Blog, Events, Live Chats, and "Ask a She Writer" -- though that one isn't working out.  Goodbye, eons of vertical scrolling!
  3. MY SHE WRITES: In the top lefthand corner of your main page navigation bar, you will find a "My She Writes" drop down menu with links to your own profile, inbox, blog, settings (where you can control your preferences for your profile and account), and personal alerts.  This way, you can always quickly navigate to your She Writes stuff!
  4. SHARE BUTTONS: In the top right corner under the gray bar, you'll find buttons that make it easy to connect with She Writes on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as to subscribe to an RSS feed of She Writes' top content.
  5. "MY PAGE" DESIGN: You may notice that everyone's profiles have the same design now and that individual members can't change the look of their page.  This is to keep the organized, clean, and useable design consistent throughout our site.    
  6. VIRTUAL GIFTS!  Our gift to you on She Writes 2nd Anniversary is the gift that keeps on giving!  We've started off with "The Gift of Encouragement!," a badge you can give to other She Writers to let them know you care that they write today.  Every gift you purchase will help support a She Writer you love, while also helping to support the She Writes you love, too.

 

Ew, bugs.  They'll be gone soon.

You may notice oddities or things that are "broken" as you navigate around the new site.  I'm working as fast as I can to fix all of the technical spaghetti, and in the meantime, feel free to help by reporting breaks or bugs here.

Here are things I'm already working on fixing:

  1. I'm working on getting the Sign In box back on the homepage. There *are* Sign Up/Sign In links in the top gray bar which you can continue to use in the meantime.
  2. We are working on the "Ask a She Writer" area, as well as on the She Writes Shop and She Writes Radio pages.
  3. Small spacing and other graphic burps on modules and buttons need to be corrected too.

Doing a redesign is always a bit hairy.  At the moment I'm still in whirlwind mode, attempting to fix everything funky as fast as possible.  It's important to me that you feel great and can interact smoothly on SheWrites.com, so I have a bunch more nose-to-the-grindstone hours before I can sit back with a happy sigh and survey our bustling, revamped community.

But She Writes also reminds me about work/life balance, treating yourself well, how women deserve a break, and all that crucial feminist rah-rah, so I'm going to take a brief break to do my laundry (which has been piling up this past week--ahem, more like month, I'll admit it--while doing the redesign) so I have something to wear to the She Writes Anniversary Meetup tonight!

 

p.s. I just want to give a huge shout-out and thanks to Sumeet Chawla, for generously helping me make all the fancypants coding work.  Hurrah for collaboration!

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Comment by Julia Barry on June 30, 2011 at 11:08am

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for sharing your opinion!  It's good to know that you're seeing black lines because that's actually not part of the design -- I'll look in to that and see why it's happening.

Sorry to say the Groups are going to stay the way they are at least for the time being while I'm sorting out some other bugs, but good news on the Latest Activity Feed:  you have total control over whether your activity is made public!  You can change this and more in your Settings.

Thanks for chiming in,

Julia

Comment by Rebecca J. Lower on June 30, 2011 at 10:41am
I don't like the new design at all. Everything's boxed in with ugly, black lines. I also liked being able to see all of my groups on one page (the page where you can see when the most recent postings were). Now I have to scroll down. I also don't like that anytime I post something, a good part of it is made public in the recent activity bar. This doesn't have to be Facebook, people, please!
Comment by Julia Barry on June 30, 2011 at 9:54am
Yes, Groups are working again! Glad everyone's enjoying the new design.
Comment by Kathryn on June 30, 2011 at 9:48am
Now that I can get to my groups, I like the design!!! :)
Comment by Sharon D. Dillon on June 30, 2011 at 9:32am
Great new look, clean, easy to navigate. Good Job!
Comment by Julia Barry on June 30, 2011 at 7:49am

Thanks for all the kudos and suggestions, ladies!

 

@Sherry -- I wish we could link to "My Groups," but right now the technology doesn't allow for that.  Great suggestion though!  Would it help to have a link to Groups generally under My She Writes?

 

@Patricia -- Great to hear your feedback.  Since *reading* is a really important feature on She Writes, I'll go in and tweak the color!

Comment by Carol Apple on June 30, 2011 at 4:22am
I love the new look! I am already finding it easier to navigate and find the blog posts and other pages more readable; that of course will translate into me spending more time at She Writes and reading more of the great writing here. Not that I ever thought of complaining before - it's only by seeing improvements that I become aware there was any need for any – sort of like I'd feel if the home improvement fairy (if only!) came to my house and overhauled it in ways I never thought of but now couldn't live without.
Comment by Sherry Christie on June 29, 2011 at 6:23pm

Hi, Julia! Beautiful job! I like all the white space, and the font is dramatic but clean. One quibble: I wish it were possible to get to My Groups directly from the "My She Writes" drop-down menu.

Congratulations! 

Comment by Patricia Valdata on June 29, 2011 at 5:19pm
I like the new design very much with one exception: The gray type is too light to read easily. There just isn't enough contrast with the white background to read whole chunks of text that are so light. If you can go 15-20% darker, it would make a big difference in legibility, especially for those of us in the bifocal years.
Comment by Aria E. Appleford on June 29, 2011 at 3:46pm
It looks great!  Kudos!

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