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Please try out the updated front page — 43 Comments

  1. I’m torn. On the one hand, it’s creative, interesting, and uses an innovative layout. On the other hand, it’s frankly confusing.

    I preferred the old layout, where the FAQs, Writing Diary, articles, etc were easy to find. I LOVE the content of this site, and I preferred the ease of navigating that came with the old layout.

  2. In your “Recent Articles” column, the link for “Concept Discussions” leads to a 404 error. Always a favorite hair-puller.

    OTH, what seems to be working very well so far is your “Create A Plot Clinic,” for which, thanks! (I know, this is off topic.)

    I still like the “slidy boxes”. My first thought on seeing them was, “This must be what she meant by ‘thinking sideways’.

  3. It’s Sunday, Aug 15, so you’ll know which version I’m seeing. This looks a bit different from the way it looked a few days ago, when it looked kind of empty. I’m not a visual person, so I couldn’t say why it felt that way to me.

    I like it. The slidy boxes are easy to see/read/operate, and the links work. The site doesn’t make noise, which is good. I dislike sites that make noise as soon as they open.

    There’s plenty of content. I like a nice, fat, juicy, personal site that feels connected to a real person. You’ve got that down pat. And I like some complexity, some surprises, some tunnels and secret rooms. Though, when I’m rummaging for links to give someone, a sitemap is helpful.

    Continuing thoughts of recovery and good health for you and for all of us.

  4. Your new front page works (that’s always good for starters :)). It looks modern and clean and, importantly to my eye, uncluttered.

    Glad to see you’re still using your photo. It’s got life and you look like someone I’d like to know better. And on your new page you seem to be hidden away.

    I guess things have to change and be updated. Personally, I prefer your old page. It has more character and looks more definite to my eyes.

  5. Holly:

    I’ve designed a number of sites over the years (just tinkering, I’m no expert), but one of the things you might want to try with the Javascript Slider is not using the orange “edging” titles, but, rather, make each slider itself a slightly-different background color, using very light tints (or going from lighter to darker, like an ombre). I think what’s visually distracting is the orange-edged “titles” for each section-slider; if you try making each slider a VERY light pastel shade, and remove the title edging, run the section titles horizontally across the slider inside the text with straight-up h2 or whatever tags, it should work pretty well. JMHO. I can’t remember, but I have an example of one that’s well done around somewhere….I’ll post it back here if I can find the URL.

  6. Sorry to be the naysayer here, but I don’t like the sliding boxes at all. I can’t read the titles and could not remember what was said on one box as I clicked on the other. The titles don’t grab me, they seem descriptive not concrete. Also, the orange color is … jarring.

    That said …

    I think re-organizing is a great idea. Your other site(s) were getting hard to navigate and find what I was looking for.

    The best websites today don’t have animated menus, becuase the goal is for users to find your info and buy your products. You can enterain us elsewhere with small flash videos or graphics. The main menu should be double “duh” easy to understand.

    If you stay with the boxes, here are a few ideas. Change the color to something softer with decent contrast. Have the titles read standard, horizontal, left to right, then they can slide open, top to bottom. (But I still prefer something static and concrete.)

    However, it you want functional over flash, have a basic side panel (menu) on the left, so when the user mouses over the title, the wider right panel changes, to describe the section. The Home Page could open to What’s New and list the last 5 or 10 things you posted. I would LOVE that. Quite often I see something, and go to find it again, and I can’t find it.

    Can the titles be more concrete like Blogs, Books by Me, other products, classes/workshops, In My Opinion, Write A Book with Me?

    Do you have a Search box? That would be great but it would mean a lot of tagging and indexing. I often remember a word or title or concept you said, and that is what I go looking for – and rarely find.

  7. I don’t like the slidy boxes *at all.* There are a few reasons, which may or may not apply to other readers.

    *I tend to move my mouse around the screen a lot while I read – it’s a subconscious motion, but it means that things that move under the mouse are disorienting, and things I’m trying to read that move if I move the mouse are extra disorienting. To be honest, if I was investigating a new author out of idle curiosity rather than intense admiration, the slidy boxes alone would convince me to go away and never come back. Actually, I didn’t look at the rest of the home page, even for you. They were too distracting, and disturbing on a hard-to-describe, visceral level. Sorry I can’t be more precise – I know I have this reaction to pages that are all color, or where the colors move or flash a lot, or where the text moves at all.

    *I tend to keep my windows smaller than my screen, so that I can have lots of windows open and overlapping in such a way that it’s easy to flip between them, and so my window was maybe half the size of the monitor screen when I clicked through to the home page. The slidy boxes were just peeking over the bottom edge of the window, and when I ran my mouse over them I could see there was text on them, but I had to scroll down and then maximize the window before I really visually/mentally processed what they were. Again, I don’t know how many people browse with smaller windows, or whether other people would be as annoyed as me by needing to maximize, so definitely take my feedback with a few grains of salt.

    *Even when I maximized, without scrolling down I could only see the top half of the slidy boxes, and therefore couldn’t really read what each was. I could see cut off horizontal text and cut off vertical text, and I think part of me assumed it was a glitch. If you decide to keep the slidy boxes, maybe move them up the page a bit so they’re more likely to be readable as soon as the page loads, rather than after scrolling down? I’m currently browsing with Internet Explorer 7 on a 16 or 17 inch monitor.

    I hope this is helpful. I’m sorry it’s not more positive. 🙁

    I hope you feel better soon, too!

  8. The switch to black text works much better for me.

    But Sweet Spot map….I’ll have to keep that idea in mind for doing my site (which is long, long overdue for attention).

  9. Hi Holly,

    I’m a bit divided. I like the clean feeling of the new layout and the new logo is neat, as is the main menu. I think the sliding menu is a gimmick and it depends on the visitors if they will like it or not. A friend of mine (website-programmer) once told me not to use gimmicks. It’s better to keep things simple enough that even someone with an outdated browser can follow your site without needing an update. So, if it were my site, I’d find a different solution for that (maybe something sweet-spot-map like?). Your mileage may vary.

    I agree that the old site seemed more personal but this is definitely easier to navigate. Maybe there is a way to include a bit more personal in this design? Don’t forget that the Internet is rather visual and you have got a lot of text on that first page. Maybe you can liven it up with some pictures?

    I hope your health will be improving. I’m looking forward to all the things you planned.
    Hugs, Cat

  10. Holly –

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Lionel on almost every point. I think the sliding boxes are very cool! I just don’t think they’re for you. They strike me as less commercial and “with-the-times” than they do gimmicky. They’re also very difficult to read – the vertical text and having some “teaser” showing that cuts off is very unpleasant – and they now dominate the front page so completely that if I saw them on another site, I would probably give it a pass.

    I liked the old new site.

    Sorry! I’m sure this whole thing is just a giant pain. You can’t please all (any?) of us. We’re a bunch of curmudgeons.

    • I haven’t had a day without a migraine since I posted that I had two good days. Go figure, huh?

      Doing site work is about all I can stand right now, because I can do it a couple minutes at a time, and it’s just mechanical. It isn’t like course creation, where I actually have to think and focus and create.

      I’ve decided Lionel’s right, and the boxes, while cool, are too hard to read. I’m putting something else in place instead, but it’s going glacially slow.

      And I want colors back, so look for me to make a mess of things by switching site templates in the pretty near future.

      • You do what you need to do! I’m glad you’re having good days again, and you have so much of my sympathy and my good wishes being sent your way.

        I’m glad you’re on the mend, but also glad the boxes are dead.

        I will be watching for updates. You know I will. (Eight years reading this blog? You’re just not getting rid of me that easily. 😉

      • Sorry to hear about the migraines. I have them too. It is so disruptive because there is the ramp up phase “do I have a migraine coming on or not,” the migraine, then what i call a migraine hangover, that can last hours or days.

        I hope you are identifying some preventive meds and have found a good migraine-stopper med.

  11. After I figured out to use the Zoom Out feature to make the text smaller, I could read all the text in each slide window. I like the vertical black text and clickable links in each little slide window. However, I am very familiar with your site, and would click on the top tabs for Home, Reader, Writer, etc. so I can leave the text at the larger size, but sure first time visitors would use it.

  12. The “slidy boxes” are cool, I agree. And I like the crisp, black-on-white text.
    I miss the site map, which I used to use a lot. I can’t seem to find one now, if one exists. (The old bookmark takes me to a site that doesn’t work.)
    Overall, I rate your home site a solid 9 on a scale of 10.

  13. I’m back to check out the new changes. 🙂

    The cards are much easier to read now. I’m not sure I realized they had vertical words the first day. I like their personality – they’re fun, but the colors are passionate. They portray (the way I think of) you quite well.

    If you keep the tabs at the top, as well as the cards, even old dinosaurs like me should be able to find everything.

  14. I’m sorry, but I just don’t like it.

    The last time you changed stuff, it went from a personal feel to a generic one, and this latest change is pretty much sterile.

    If it had looked like this all those years ago when I discovered your site, I probably wouldn’t have come back… it’s really that big a turn-off for me.

  15. Updates look great. The sliding boxes work well, and I found the text easy to read. However, I wouldn’t mind if they slid open just a tiny bit faster. The colours work, nothing clashes, and it feels open and airy. Tres chic.

  16. Love the re-design. I’m a big fan of the sliding headers like what you’re using. My only comment would be to slow down the “slide” if you can. They move a little fast when I’m trying to read them, and/or hover my mouse over them to check out the caption. Otherwise – lovely!

    • Yes, slowing them down helped a lot. I can’t tell if the card titles look better or if I’m just more used to them.

      And “Writing Diary Excerpts” works.

      Better.

  17. Wow! Spiffy-Nifty-Cool! It took only a second to figure out how things worked and then it was like opening a treasure chest with multiple compartments to explore. What fun to see some of what I was familiar with in a whole new format, and I was thrilled to discover the Tonk stuff (which I’d never before seen), as I just started reading Hawkspar a few days ago.

  18. I am not convinced at all.

    – The boxes are nifty, but unreadable at first glance – my first thought was “layout bug”. Vertical reading needs an effort a skimming visitor won’t make. You have to slide the mouse over them and read long text to understand what it’s about, which is a bad design decision to me. It is your main information and it’s totally jammed.

    – The sidebars beneath are a bit better, because they have clear headings. However, the “what I’m writing” heading is confusing because I would expect to see what project you are working on currently, not your last blog entries.

    I think the previous landing page, albeit less pretty, worked a lot better, because it was going straight to the point.

    • Lionel, I think you captured why we find the boxes difficult to use. I did not like the table on the previous landing page, so I appreciate the revision. I like the concept of the boxes, and I hope Holly can find a way to make the vertical text more captivating.

      I think you captured why some of us are uncomfortable with “What I’m Writing” as well — we’re not expecting blog entries “Latest Writing Diary” might be more descriptive and tie in with the top menu bar more closely.

    • Looks a lot better with the dot, still I’m unconvinced by the whole idea (see my post down). A landing page must offer a clear and immediate view of all the website has to offer and a visitor has too many text to read to make sense of all the information there. I would think you should restrict your activities along fewer directions – mainly your own writing, your teaching of writing (free and commercial) and your publishing activities. Several cards are overlapping in topic to me.

  19. The sliding boxes are very cool! I just wish that the headers (Story, Creation, Reason, etc) featured duller colors. The current colors hurt my eyes a little and are difficult to read.

  20. It’s snazzy, but I did tend to glaze over on the titles of the “cards” (slidey boxes?), and strangely, until I looked at the bottom of the “Story” card, it wasn’t clear that was the card for readers.

    And, I, too, noticed the new “H” logo. It has more of a “superhero” flavor to it. 😉 (And that may set you off if you’re thinking of the “Saving the World Through Typing” post of several years ago.) Kidding aside, it’s crisp and fresh. (I need to learn how to make those things…)

  21. Very cool! I like the cards concept and I think it has all the info I’d be looking for. Only comment would be the light blue of the words is a bit difficult to read on the yellow and red background. A darker blue would probably work better and still keep close to the theme. Love the new logo too. 🙂

  22. The slidy boxes, as Deb referred to them, are very cool. My only problem was that I had a hard time reading the headings: story, reason, creation, etc. I’m not sure if it’s the font or the color. I’m thinking both. Anyone else have the same issue? (I’ve been staring at a monitor for 8 hrs, it’s possible my eyes are simply flaking out.)

    Otherwise, I think it looks great!

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