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In ALL, SCRAPPY by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

The redesign of stephanieklein.com is long overdue. To design and re-architecture a site so it makes sense–not just to me but to those who visit–it helps if you begin by asking “What works? What doesn’t? What’s missing? and if I could just have a wish or three, what would they be…?” So I’m asking. Go ahead and make your list of things that annoy you (I’m getting rid of the Amazon text links but will be replacing with traditional banner ads), or things you really wish this site had. And if your answer has anything to do with my personality, parenting, or patootie, please post one of those treasured comments and close with “I know you won’t post this” ’cause those are always fun.

Designing a web site is a lot like organizing your makeup drawer, except it’s a bit more costly, definitely more time consuming, and if you do it wrong, it takes a long time to undo. What a terribly analogy. I guess the feeling is the same, wanting a place for every last thing, so it’s easily accessible and has all your favorite products (or in this case, content) in reach.  I’m hoping to carve out a spot where videos will always be displayed in a reliable spot, where you can vote on each others’ comments (but not all the time, more for those posts where I ask for a fun finish this sentence, or for future contests). I want a place for my photography lessons to live, where I can post a weekly challenge and you can submit your images. I want a section for all the chi chi drinks and finger foods (along with their recipes and photos) to live, as well as comments from readers who’ve tested said morsels. I’m also toying with the idea of a social networking space, where in that example, a reader could submit their own favorite recipe. So if that day, I had a post for the best brownies, readers could submit their own recipes, photos, and others could vote (or not), etc.

I need to re-categorize all my posts so they make sense. Get empowered. Get Depressed, Get Dolled Up. Get Poetic, or some such system that will be obvious and easy (not my greatest strength, and definitely not those categories). While I began this site as a place to write for myself, it has become more than that. It’s a community, a place I go for advice and support sometimes, a place others use to ask for advice, too. I learn here. So now I’m asking, hoping to learn more about what you’d like to see here.

I’m not asking what you want me to write about, but I am asking what’s most important to you, you personally. In designing a site, there’s “real estate” to consider. It’s not only deciding on content (to include videos, podcasts, and playlists), but where a link to that content should be, and/or if it should be shown in a module, taking up real estate on a main page, and then take you deeper into that main page. See, it’s a real undertaking… as such, I’m taking suggestions. Let me know what it is that you’d like to see more (or less) of. Does anyone really use those “Digg This” tags beneath posts? I wonder if I should do a section dedicated to scrappy goodness. There’s so much I want to include. Thank goodness for content management systems.

Comments

  1. scrappy goodness as in scrapbook stuff? as i was reading this post, i was so hoping you'd include a section on scrapbooking… i loved seeing the scrapbook you made and all the other crafty fun stuff… that would be great!

    FROM SK: Yes, a scrapbook section, almost its own site within a site, with links to other scrapbook sites, projects I'm working on, photos and how-to videos of my work, plus links to what inspires me, almost a mood board, a place for readers to perhaps submit and show off their work based on a particular challenge. It's just a thought right now.

  2. I vote no on having voting. This is not Stephaniecan Idol, you know?

    I say that you put tags or something on products you post or pictures of you so people know what brands of things you have/use/wear/dress your kids in.

    You have some sort of site meter so you know which posts are most popular – those are the ones you should put under Favorite Posts.

    Update your pics of A&L (I almost wrote A&S, damn guess I'm missing NY today) – people always love seeing their pictures and your links just give shots of them at the newborn stage.

    If you did some kind of contest on the blog in conjunction with your book tour that might be interesting – readers could win a lunch/coffee/shopping trip/whatever when you roll through their town.

    It may just be me, but I think the quotes about your book/you on the top left side shouldn't be there. I'm not going to read something because of what someone else says. I'll read it because something about it caught my eye and interested me. That would be like only seeing movies critics say are good, which would be dumb, since how would they know what I'm looking for in a movie.

    FROM SK: The voting would only be turned on for contests. And I agree…I'm moving all those quotes to a press page. Thank you for the feedback.

  3. I love the idea of a photography lessons section. I agree that you should also have a `scrappy goodness' section…I'd love to know what websites you use for inspiration when it comes to scrapbooking, if you have favourite scrapbookers or products that you couldn't live without and one place where you can see all your future scrap projects. Also, you should post a pic of your scrap studio…I bet it's gorgeous :) And yes to the recipes section…wouldn't be your website without that!

  4. I also like the idea of a photography page(s). I want to get a new camera next year and I was thinking about a really nice Nikon. I'd like to take lessons at the local community collge too.

    Speaking of photos…how 'bout some recent pics of the beans? We haven't seen them in a while!

  5. I'd really like it if you had a Search this site box somewhere. It's hard if you're looking for a specific post to reread to find the way the site is set up right now.

  6. I read your website on my evening commute, and I find that on the Blackberry, something in the current lay-out means there's lots and lots of blank space that I have to scroll through before getting to the new post. I think it has to do with all of the content in the left-hand column, though I'm not tech-savvy enough to know how to iron this out.

    And count one more vote for the photography pages, maybe a daily photo update?

  7. I actually don't have any ideas or suggestions for the renovation of the site, but I did want to write and say that I have been waiting for photography lessons and tidbits since your photography 101 post, which was great!

    I have a pretty nice set of a Nikon D80 and a few handy lenses and other accessories, and am planning to purchase a used Nikon N80 film camera as soon as I hit NY next week, before the much anticipated trip to Central America (along with loads of high speed, grainy B&W films to go with it). I am looking forward to read about and see more of your photography, and the stories behind it.
    Anything about scrapbooking (which isn't a very known craft in Israel unfortunately :-)) and photoshop well be great as well.

  8. Please please put in a "search" bar….im always referencing back and there are so many posts it takes forever to find the one im looking for….thanks!

  9. I hate change. I like that when I select "Greek Tragedy" from my bookmarked "blogs" category, I know I will see Greek columns, ivy & you cutting your eyes to the right over a martini glass. And lower case boldface titles. So while adding new stuff like more bean pix & scrappy stuff is nice, please don't change the overall appearance of the page.

  10. I really like the layout of your site.
    It is nicely set out and easy to navigate and read.
    Why mess with something that is perfect already?

  11. wow…what a major undertaking and reorganization! i can't even plan and finish this new cutting garden. its the second weekend and i'm already done with it. i'm longing for a past life where it included city, apt. and a roof with potted plants!

    i like all of your new ideas and i like the new sectional names for categories of posts.

    the only think i've always disliked and i'm not sure if it's been on your site are the links that say 'stay tuned' or 'coming soon'. i kind of feel like if the info is available then post a link…if its not quite ready…just wait to post it all. it doesn't build anticipation…just frustration!

    good luck!

  12. I vote that you can change the things that you need to to make it more organized, but otherwise leave the fonts and
    layout the same. Except maybe remove the affirmations on the left hand side that make the page not blackberry friendly.
    I want to come here to read what you have to say,
    visually stimulating context will not make my day.

  13. We're going through this process where I work as we live and breathe – and it's astonishing how complicated and difficult it is. Once you start – it's like painting one wall of a bathroom – then you have to do the others, then the ceiling, then the hall, then the bedrooms – of course, new carpet to follow, new lighting fixtures – how about a kitchen remodel while we're at it.

    So – thank you for starting the process if it's what you want to do – I'll be here – excited to see the outcome. With your sense of style, it will be beautiful.

    I agree with the search feature – that's the only suggestion I can think of.

  14. I would improve your links. You must have other blogs and pages that you love and read daily. I love This Fish and Les Than Ordinary, and I'd like some more! Surely there are more websites, and blogs of other people you read than what's there now. Also, this has already been said twice, but a better way to search for posts by title or phrase. I'd love to find the post where your grandfather says that he won't marry again because "I'm still in love with my wife", but it's been daunting to think that I'd have to search through all the archives. I have never used "Digg This", I don't know what it means. I learn here, too, and would love recipes and photos and scrapbooking tips. All great ideas! I look forward to the new design!

  15. The only thing I think would be good to see is a FAQ section about your first book. I know you told me in an email that the reason behind not doing it is if you have that, there's less reason for interviews (if I remember correctly), but now that Moose is coming out, your press will be about that so it would be cool to have those questions and whatever you said you left out of the book but is still relevant from SUAD answered here on the site.

    Other than that, I think the site, as is, works.

  16. If at all possible, I would like the new site to be accessible to people with visual disabilities, i.e. a site that a screen reader such as JAWS could use.

    Thanks for asking for our input!

  17. I haven't ever been able to figure out how to access your archives. A nice chronological listing somewhere on the site, beginning with post #1, would be great.

  18. I come to this site mainly for your writing, so don't let everything else distract you from that!
    Sounds like you have some great ideas, but I hope the blog is the main focus.
    Best of luck in this new endeavor…and I can't wait to read "Moose"!

  19. I think you should simply create a section that encompasses all of your crafty or domestic hobbies/pastimes. I also am surprised that you haven't ever had an official button driven towards your photography sales. Perhaps you should rid of First Time Visitors (because you already have an About Stephanie Tara Klein) and consolidate Book Clubs and Books (since Book Clubs is just a smaller notation to book you for your books) and make the buttons on the top less and as a whole more about entertainment content than about due diligence type things…

    Keeping your site as simple as possible will optimize its usability. Look at Google – even though they've added those blue linkable things on the top of their page, I think the only thing I still use and always use is Maps. Don't overbuttonize.

    Then there's just the bait method of creating a button or a regular (daily, weekly) feature, which, even though it could be a photo of your beans or a food review in Austin or something – which would attract follow-up clicks for people who like updates.

    I'd say stick to what you're doing but don't make all those fancy categories. Your archives have always been accessible and I think you have been good about keeping the actual theme of categories consistent enough for a reader who has only been here for a month (rather than four years like myself) to catch on.

    Excited to see the new phase.

  20. i agree with the search box – i think you used to have one? it'd be a great reference tool for finding things later on that i remember interested me a lot at one point in the past…good luck!

  21. i agree with the search box – i think you used to have one? it'd be a great reference tool for finding things later on that i remember interested me a lot at one point in the past…good luck!

  22. Stephanie,

    I'm a long time reader, occasional commenter. My only suggestion would be a search bar that could navigate photos and posts. For example, I have a friend who lives in Texas and I wanted to show her the photos that you posted of your home, but could not, for the life of me find them.

    I suppose it might feel a bit strange and personal that people are digging around your site for information like personal photos of you, your family, your home, but I guess you put them there, and you asked!

    Best in the redesign,

    N

  23. I would love if you updated your links section. To know what sites you're reading now…

  24. I'm not nuts about the voting on comments because then the focus will not be on the writing but seeing people try to one up each other.

    I like the easy category search you suggested yourself; anything to easily access past blogs (based on mood) is great. I find I want to refer to something sometimes and that would help. I love the photography section/contest/whatnot idea though. GREAT idea.

    Like a few people said though please don't change it too much. I've gotten used to the place, you know? I don't want to trip over a couch when I get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water.

  25. I think the 'scrappy goodness' is an awesome idea … and a page I would frequent a lot.

    I may be the only one, but I'd love a 'start from the beginning' button that links to your first post. I want to start at the beginning of your blog and read all the way through. And how the website is now I don't know how to get there. (or maybe I am just missing something?)

  26. Your site is easy to navigate so not many problems from my point of view.

    I think a "learn photography" section is a must for hints and tips and technical advice.

    Also, it would be helpful if the photos of you, Abigail and Lucas could be dated, so we can view the most recent only – helpful for people who have download limits.

    Perhaps also a "book club" section so readers can discuss their favourite authors and books.

    I thoroughly enjoy your chatty site – many thanks.

  27. i like the current set up of the blog itself, with daily messages rather than messages set up by subject or category…however i do think additional content set up categorically or blog history by category would be nice.

    categories id like to see;

    scrap booking! your book was the most beautiful thing ever! how-tos, step by step photos, websites that inspire you, cool products you use or find, etc…

    and i love reading your tv thoughts and others responses…lost especially!

    food is a must-have section! with pictures and recipes!

    and as others have said your pointers and thoughts on photography are very interesting and educational. i took some photography classes in college and although its only been 4 years i already dont remember much but would like to refresh my memory!

  28. Totally unrelated to your current post about redesigning your site. I hope you do not mind me asking for advice via your blog.

    I live in Australia and will be visiting New York and San Francisco for the first time in October this year. I am very excited. I have three days in both cities so it is a flying trip but I hope to come back at another time for a longer visit.

    Any suggestions about where to stay and what I must see?

    I am probably older than most of your readers – late 50's – love galleries, good restaurants and "quiet" shopping.

  29. I like the ideas that others have posted, but I most agree with more pictures of the twins. Does it make you nervous to have their pictures so public? If so, I understand.

  30. Hmm… I love the site and would love it if it was a plain, simple white and black.

    But that being said, how fun is black and white?

    I think it would be cool to see colors that represent SK in this site…

    I also would love to have easy access to your pictures, especially older ones. Just to see your beautiful work but I know it must be hard to put things online – can you lock them so no one can steal your images? I hate when people steal others work…

    At any rate, I am sooo looking forward to the new read.

    Cheers to summer beach reading with the words of the talented Stephanie Klein.

  31. I like the site already, but if you change it, I would just say keep it simple.

  32. I'd value and appreciate a section that allows for your readers to share:

    Music
    Books
    Sales

  33. Oh, forgot to add, I would love to see the commenters – maybe a way to post a pic with a comment. I am dying to see my new sage, "3 teens' mom" – just to put a face with so many wonderful thoughtful women (and men!).

  34. Whatever you come up with, we'll still be reading :)

    I like to read Rosie O'Donnells blog too, she just did a major overhaul this week as well. Just don't get rid of the fan favorites…pictures, amusing stories, room to post back comments. How bout including online purchases of your book, or does that mean you'd have to warehouse stuff your self? Otherwise, we leave the creativity to you!

  35. When you redesign your site, I suggest you think about improving its search engine optimization too. That way, when a user searches for your name or your books' names in Google, the organic search results will be improved. For example, for the search phrase "Straight Up and Dirty", your site has the 3rd listing (which is probably ok since Amazon is above you and they are selling the book)but the listing of your site says "Greek Tragedy If you can see this, your browser does not support iframes!
    http://www.stephanieklein.com/books.html"
    If you redo your meta tags and keywords, you'll get better descriptions listed in Google. And if you keep SEO in mind when you re-do your content, your site could get higher position rankings. If you'd like some advice (free of course) feel free to email me.

  36. How about a webcam vignette of the babes playing or some other cute activity? Everyone loves little kids.

  37. Definitely a search button, and it would be neat if you could add avatar availability.
    Do you ever have companies offer giveaways? I know if I do (in which I host a weekly giveaway), then you definitely must. Maybe you could do a "name this picture" of something, and do a contest to name the picture. I don't know… just throwing out ideas.
    How about featured posts… where you have a "guest" writer. I loved when Phil wrote the birth announcement, and the post by your dad. It would be neat if you had special people in your life stop in to and write something.

  38. Food porn! I made one of your Thanksgiving recipes once and it was delicious. Would love to swap more. Also, love your taste and take on movies…esp. the girly ones.

  39. Other than providing an easier way to search old posts and seeing more pix of the beans, I'd say if it ain't broke don't fix it. I love your blog just the way it is. Keep up the great work.

  40. Keep the focus on your daily writing is what I say. And post more photographs of you, Phil and the beans.

  41. Given that I mostly only read you through rss, I doubt much of this applies to me. Although, I will agree with the other J that commented here – a search feature would be nice. I happen to think every blog should have one.

  42. You have lots of awesome suggestions for content above my comment, so I will refrain, but I do ask just one thing: please keep the background light and the text dark for the sake of readability. The opposite is so hard on the eyes that it becomes a deterrent from visiting sites that have it.

  43. I like the site as it is now–clean and easy to use. I do the idea of photography lessons that are easily accessible. I also like the idea of recipes. Please add make up tips and products. Also, as someone who has been reading this site since you were in Sunday Styles, please don't go too far with cluttering up the site with cutesy crap. Not that you necessarily would, but, I just have to throw it out there.

  44. I think a search tool would be a great addition. Also, if you could share more of your photography, not only of your children (which are adorable), but everything.

  45. I think you have some great suggestions already- and I love your ideas (especially the scrapbooking page and the photography ideas.) I agree, with about a dozen other comments, that a search bar would be nice- I often try to pull up old posts when they seem more relevant but usually have trouble finding them. I've grown so accustomed to your existing site, but I'm sure the changes will be great.

  46. I will add my voice to the chorus of folks who love your photography and would like to read more about it.

    A recipe section would be cool too.

  47. I'd really like to hear more about how you got over the pain of loss and rejection in past romantic relationships. How did you make your heart stop hurting after the betrayl of the wasband? How did you trust that things would get better? How did you get that "dishwasher smell" again? What did you say to yourself that comforted your heart?

  48. Maybe it's just me but my first thought is WHY is this site in existence? I think many (myself included) read because we found a commonness from your book. A somewhat illusive bond, if you will. Are you amazingly gifted at photography which leads to other creative ventures-absolutely. I want to see your pictures because they are part of your story and oddly, mix in with my story (back to the bond thing). But not to learn your craft. When I think of what Greek Tragedy is-it's not a "how to" site for hobbies, but maybe for life. Sure, I know you have to do this in part just from a marketing standpoint. But those of us who are keenly aware of that fact ignore it, read on and think-"wow, the past IS the past for a reason". Or "huh, I've really shoved the memories of having a micropreemie out of my head and how did he make it out of braces and numerous therapies by age 4 anyway?" You are here, and why you've done so well, is simple: you. make. people. feel. And then, they have to do their part to sort it out. Don't loose that quality.

  49. Love the idea of telling us more about your photography and the equipment you use. I always enjoying seeing your pictures and would like more of that. I'd love to be able to go to one place to see your travel pictures and read your travel blogs. Thanks–I really enjoy your blog.

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