Studio Musings

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Six Month Overhaul

It's amazing the things one ends up doing as a working artist.  This past week it's been website redesign.  Turns out the last time I sat down and really worked on my website,, was back in January, so it was definitely about time. 

A screenshot of TextWrangler in action
A screenshot of TextWrangler in action
I've been neck-deep in HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets) and even poked my toes at a little PHP.  Love the alphabet soup!  I always forget just how long it takes to make simple changes.  I spent three hours making little thumbnails for each of my classes and trying to get the markup and CSS to look right for my Classes & Workshops page.  Then I had to check on it in several browsers, to hopefully make sure there aren't any huge surprises. 

If you happen to have a Mac and are looking for some free text-editing software to work on web pages, I highly recommend TextWrangler by Bare Bones Sofware.   It does a beautiful job of contextual mark-up; color coding the code automatically so it's easier to read.  Looking at their website, it looks like I'm just barely touching the surface of its capabilities.  But back to my web redesign. 

My main goals for this overhaul were to:

Screenshot of Classes & Workshops page for
my new Classes & Workshops main page
Update Workshop pages - for some reason only a handful of the bead classes I've prepped to teach were actually listed.  Now I think I have them all there, divided into three sections that at least made sense to me - Freeform Peyote, Mixed Stitches and Right Angle Weave.  Also now have my current teaching schedule on the same page, rather than a separate calendar page. 

Update my Gallery pages, adding new work from 2012 and dividing my bead work into similar categories as the single page was growing too long.  Also, put my older fabric pieces into gallery archives (they say never delete anything from your website - along these lines one of my most popular pages is on how to set up for freemotion embroidery with your sewing machine).  The main Gallery page is still a little stark - I expect I'll add something to it, just not quite sure what at this point.  Suggestions are welcome!

Make it easier to find my Kit & Tutorial listings. This was mainly a matter of playing with different names for the navigation link, and adding a few more pages to my website detailing out what I have available.  Right now, I have detailed information about my tutorials and kits on my website, but I'm only selling them through Etsy.  I have a Paypal account, so hope to sell through shortly, but I want to make sure I have all the various issues sorted out first.

If you do direct sales through Paypal via your website, I'd love to talk to you about your experiences. 

Redo my Home Page.  The main page is far and away the most difficult to design, at least for me.   Other pages have a specific purpose:  Galleries, Classes, etc.  The main page needs to be a little bit of everything to everyone, an introduction page and an easy path deeper into the site.  So I ended up trying several different home pages.

Screenshot of old home page for
The old homepage for Skunk Hill Studio

Screenshot of trial home page for
Take one on the new homepage for Skunk Hill Studio - too much text?
Screenshot of new home page for
New Home Page, less text, blog feed & gallery links above the fold

So there it is, my new home page.  I now have the RSS feed for my blog above the fold (and discovered that RSSinclude (the service I used to add my blog's RSS feed to my website) now offers additional styling options, so I took advantage of that as well.  Also moved the gallery page links to fill the space to the right of my Fall class schedule.  Reminds me a little of the front page of the newspaper, with a headline image, then lots of smaller links to other places on the site (Lacework Leaves, read more on page 3).  :)

I've tested it in a number of different browsers, but if you happen to stop by and notice anything really wonky, would you let me know?  It's amazing the differences that can happen when CSS is involved!  And thanks for letting me share!

1 comment:

  1. Works well for me. Looks good too.

    It does take a long time to do these things, but for the most part it is like working on a good puzzle.