How To Think Sideways site redesign begins

I have had another brutal migraine. My creativity is at low ebb. I’m struggling for concepts. Writing World Clinic is beyond me right now.

So, since this also needed to be done, I started into the HTTS site overhaul.

My objectives are clarity of purpose and simplicity of use.

I figure getting the entire site fixed will take me about two weeks, but I got the initial stuff laid out and live today.

I’d appreciate a few folks to tell me (just reply here) where you ran into any problem areas.

It’s NOT done. But it’s mostly workable…

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

11 comments… add one
  • Justinian Jan 21, 2013 @ 11:36

    Wow! I love the new redesign – very clear and concise. As a Legacy HTTS student, it is wonderful to finally be able to find the new courses/worksheets/etc. without having to wade through the labyrinthine old site. Cheers!

  • Daniel Jan 21, 2013 @ 5:37

    Hi Holly, I have one feature request for us Legacy students.

    Would it be possible to have a one link “click here to download everything” button?

    I’ve switched computers and lost a lot of data since last taking the course, and would prefer not to click on each lesson and download everything individually.

    If this already exists and I’m just missing the link, would it be possible to make it bigger and bolder and on the front page? Maybe underneath where the individual lesson links are?

    Thanks for you time 🙂
    Daniel

    • RNFrancis Jan 21, 2013 @ 8:30

      You, too? LOL, I learned a few keyboard shortcuts downloading all of the lessons, just to save time. 🙂

    • Holly Jan 22, 2013 @ 7:27

      Hi, Daniel.

      It actually isn’t possible. The server can handle the course in bits. The whole thing in one go would prove and indigestible lump.

  • Gabby Jan 20, 2013 @ 7:13

    Hi Holly,
    I sort of wish it could be ‘googlified’… kind of like a google page where most things were moved to separate pages. So here is an example- I hope this was the type of feedback you were interested in.

    Home page just has the following:
    HTTS blurb (sort of as is). I really like the font and size, very easy to read. But maybe add your sentence for the class.
    Below separate buttons for Login and About (right in the center)
    Maybe a little white space and then the “Blog” button, but change it to say something like “What’s happening in HTTS now?” (Just to make it clear to new users what it is) (or keep it as Blog but maybe add a little descriptor below the button).
    On the right side of the page, one link to “Shop/Buy more” type link, which, once you clicked on it, would have all the books and other things to buy. (which could stay one link available on all the pages)
    Below that a link to your legal usage link. Maybe renamed to “What you need to know” (although maybe this would be more useful once they’ve logged in?)

    I do really like the “MEMBER LOGIN OR SIGNUP” on the right side but was thinking it could be removed in favor of one login in the center of the page.

    Maybe change “Help” to “Report an Issue” or “Support Center” (I thought it was going to be navigational assistance.)

    Once you clicked login, I thought it would be nice to have a brief description of which class each one is. I’m not really sure what a premium user is. (I’m a legacy user but new users might also be confused what they were.)
    You might also still include an about button and sign-up links.

    On the About page, you could have your sign-up blurb/”about the class” info. But I’ve wondered if that might be simplified too, to more match your blurb and make it easier to read.
    You might also include just a few of your free docs to the About page, sort of a ‘look what I have available free, so imagine how helpful the classes are.’ 🙂 (for ex, your free plotting course or worldbuilding links)

    And then once actually logged in, then you could have the stuff about adding your email address to the mailing list (the COURSES AND WORKSHOPS section at the bottom) (but just have it as the first page, not every page) Maybe called sign-up for notifications. And move the specifics to a separate page.

    Once I signed into Legacy, I was wondering if the content part should be moved above the worksheets section. So an example order would be:

    HTTS Lesson 29: How to NOT Be A One-Book Wonder
    picture
    (move the General Members info to the left or right frame as it is general info)

    Lesson 29 Premium Content Includes:

    HTTS Members Premium Content

    Worksheets

    Short course

    Legacy Student information…

    • Gabby Jan 20, 2013 @ 7:19

      Oops- I forgot to mention that I had trouble getting to the Forum. Could that link be added to the login page and to the page once you’ve actually logged in?

      • Holly Jan 22, 2013 @ 7:29

        Margaret and I have making the forum work with the membership software as our “NEXT” priority.

        Getting those two softwares to work nicely together has elements in common with developing the Unified Field Theory, however.

  • Felicia Fredlund Jan 19, 2013 @ 23:42

    I just went through the new site and I must say it is much simpler to navigate. I didn’t find any mistakes either.

    I also like the very prominent help link. 🙂 (Maybe it was there before, and I don’t remember.)

    However I didn’t log in to check if bookmarks or any such thing worked.

  • RNFrancis Jan 19, 2013 @ 17:23

    Just a short note, I clicked through on several parts of the site and found nothing amiss other than the Bookmarks aren’t up and running. Using Safari.

    • Holly Jan 19, 2013 @ 20:04

      Did it make more sense? Was it easier to figure out what the site was and what you could do there?

      • RNFrancis Jan 21, 2013 @ 8:29

        Sorry, just came back online after a busy weekend. It is easy to navigate, but in my (humble, never having designed a website) opinion, a complete newbie might find the bank of Lesson covers a little busy/distracting. It looks like they are pulled at random from your store, but maybe have two banks of links, one to fiction, one to non-fiction? Even the excellent Warpaint cover is getting lost in the visual department.
        The Lesson numbers are really clear, but the description isn’t going to pop at someone who has never been here before. Can’t make everything idiot-proof, but for those who don’t know how awesome your courses are, a small summary of the most popular might get a few appetites going.
        I don’t know if you were set on it, but the middle section with all the good stuff could be wider, a little more breathing room for the sections you’ve set up.
        The Bookmarks do work upon signing in (duh Rachel) but is there a way to move the word Bookmark from the front of every blog post? Again, I’m trying to look at this like a newbie, and it distracts from the lead-in on the front page.

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