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 July 21, 2011 at 10:50am
That's great to hear, Sandra!
Comment by Sandra Miller on July 20, 2011 at 7:45pm
I think you are doing a great job. It's been almost a year since I have been on She Writes, but I am now finding it so much easier to navigate.
Comment by Julia Barry on July 18, 2011 at 9:37am
Thanks for the thumbs up, everyone! It's great to hear positive feedback while we're working out the kinks and getting accustomed to the new face.
Comment by Carol A. Stephen on July 18, 2011 at 4:46am
I am really quite new to She Writes, and have not had much opportunity to look around, so I can't really comment about the changes.  It does seem to be well organized and easy to navigate with the menus up top.  I have to agree with others about finding the gray font hard to read.  In my case it may be senior eyes at work.   Gray and dark red were the colours of my high school, I think.  Love the red!  Looking forward to exploring.
Comment by Dee S. White on July 15, 2011 at 7:38pm
I love the new design, I've been away for a bit and clicking in was a breath of fresh air. Nicely ordered and crisp.  Gray and burgundy are two of my favorite colors I also love  rounded edges on websites, gives a less boxy/rigid feel. (I drove my web designer nuts when creating the template for the network of sites...lol)
Comment by Karen Pickell on July 15, 2011 at 4:47am

Wanted to let you know that when I click on a particular discussion item within a group, or even here on this post, the text becomes pixelated, for lack of a better term. It gets very fuzzy and looks like it's made of little dots. "She Writes" in the banner also looks pixelated.

 

Also, regarding an earlier comment here about the listing of groups, I think the problem is that the font is so huge, only a few group titles fit on a page at one time. Title font in some other places is super huge too. I personally don't love the huge titles.

 

Thanks for all that you do here!

Comment by B.A. Webster on July 1, 2011 at 9:16am
Just chiming in with several others that I'm finding the gray type hard to read.  It appears fainter in your own post than it does in the comments section.  Otherwise, nice job, thanks so much for your hard work!
Comment by Julia Barry on June 30, 2011 at 3:41pm
You bet!  Feel free to ask any other questions you have.  That's what I'm here for!
Comment by Rebecca J. Lower on June 30, 2011 at 1:52pm
Thanks for the heads-up on how to toggle the Activity Feeds part, Julia! I set those things when I first joined, and haven't messed with them since. I'm glad I spoke up now.
Comment by Diane Lockward on June 30, 2011 at 12:27pm
I find the gray type difficult to read and hope for a return to black. The gray looks blurry. I miss the colors. All this white looks a bit antiseptic to me. I enjoyed the earlier variety of designs on individual member pages. Now we all look the same. Also the middle section on My Page is too narrow. And my recent blog posts have not fed in.

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