Review and Revise - How to review your website
I’ve been reviewing CVW Web Design recently. It’s my main site, I want it to work as well as possible, and now seemed to be a good time to assess it (perhaps leading to a redesign). In this post, I’ll describe the process I am using. You may have alternative ways of doing this but here’s what I have done so far.
Here’s a large screenshot of the site on 20-2-11.
Firstly, some brief background on the site. This version was created about 3 years ago and it’s a flexible, elastic layout with some basic media queries in the style sheet to make it work a little better on smaller screens [less than 600 px]. There’s more that could be done with media queries, I’m sure, but I decided to implement media queries for a single mobile phone screen size – rather than several different screen sizes/resolutions. The layout is flexible/fluid within specific widths anyway so it should cope reasonably with other screens.
Feedback from other folks
Looking at the site now, I still really like it so any redesign decisions might be tough to make. That’s why the first thing I’ve done is get feedback about the site (especially initial impressions of the home page ). I’ve done this in different ways, via email with colleagues, via Twitter (you know who you are!), and via this review my freelance site post on the Boagworld forum. To be honest, this might be a bit scary if you have not done it before. However, it’s an essential step in my view.
Help! If you want to add your feedback about the CVW site, either contribute to this forum post or leave comments below. Thanks to everyone who has contributed!
From the feedback so far, a couple of points have stood out. Firstly, the choice of imagery and, second, the focus of the site. Originally, the imagery of the site was deliberately chosen to be somewhat ‘quirky’ but perhaps I’ve taken a wrong approach there. Anyway, the image feedback has given me food for thought. Secondly, the site focus feedback confirmed my own thoughts because I know I’ve added to the site over the years without doing much pruning of content. So, this brings me to the next point.
I’ve not done a content inventory on my website before but I read a 24Ways article called A Contentmas Epiphany by Relly Annett-Baker that seemed to make sense (and there’s even a content inventory spreadsheet template so that you don’t have to create one). In particular, I thought that steps 1 to 3 in that article were highly relevant to CVW Web Design. So, I modified the inventory template slightly (I added some search engine data, for example character counts and PageRanks) and then added my page information to the document.
The results were a bit surprising (to me). I thought I’d been a good boy (!) by keeping my pages up to date but I found several outdated pages, page titles and meta descriptions. Using the template meant that I needed to read each web page again and I highlighted (in red, of course) specific items that need correcting. Additionally, I’ve used the inventory to assess all pages for their relevance today and give me a ‘soft’ look at their search engine status. As a result, I’ve identified pages that I want to delete.
This is a partial inventory (I’m sure you could do it more thoroughly) but viewing the spreadsheet’s summary of site content in its entirety gave me a much better assessment of the whole site. Yay! I encourage you to do the same.
Armed with the website feedback and my content inventory spreadsheet assessment, I’ve decided to do two things:
- Make some relatively modest changes to the current site over the next month to address some of the outdated content and give the site better focus. I’ll be deleting some content, re-writing a few sections and re-organising/moving some less important items away from critical areas of the home page.
- Redesign and rebuild the site over the next 2-3 months. I want to stay with a flexible, elastic layout because I think that’s better than fixed width for this site but everything else is ‘up for grabs’ at the moment.
I’ll report back again when the changes and redesign are underway.