I spent most of Monday sorting through my blog, it was a really painful process but I think I've made some real improvements. I had wanted to get a complete website overhaul and move to wordpress, but it was a little beyond my current budget. So instead I spent many hours slogging though the new options on blogger trying to make it do what I want it to.
Last week I made some changes to my About, Contact and Stockists tabs, getting rid of some really ugly formatting and instead replacing them with some collaged images that I made in photoshop. Thanks to the very lovely Alexia McInerney I also have some tasty product shots and portraits of myself. She very kindly let me use the images she had taken for the Prudence article she wrote about me a few months back. I'm much happier with these pages now and I feel they reflect the look of my products a lot better than what I had before.
Blogger have also made some new improvements that have meant that I can link directly to another website from one of my tabs. So now I'm able to have a craft shop and supplies shop that link directly to my etsy stores. As a regular reader of blogs I know this is really important, the tabs at the top are there to quickly navigate around the places people most commonly look for. The last thing I want is to have a reader searching for info that they can't find.
The only page that I'm still frustrated with is the Custom Order Badges section. I can't seem to find a way of making all the information easily readable. I attempted to solve this by making a pricing table in photoshop, and then loading it as an image. But I really hate that it's a long list of information that someone has to trawl through. I would really appreciate some feedback or suggestions to help deal with this issue.
The other massive change was that I no longer have the stupidly clunky address of www.nicedaydesigns-ruth.blogspot.com, I was able to buy a custom domain name and it has now switched to www.nicedaydesigns.org, which looks 100 times more professional, and people will be far more likely to search for it. Sadly there is still a fake tv company sitting on the .com address waiting for me to offer them loads of money to buy it off them. But I'm just not that rich! I'll have to be happy with a .org address instead.
Apart from that I made a couple of small cosmetic changes, like uploading my own background. Sometimes a change of colour is the most noticeable thing that people notice. So to signal all the other tweaks I wanted to give the blog a new lick of paint so to speak. I used one of my own background images, meaning I was able to get rid of the shabby blogs logo. It's a really great website, but the less advertising for other people that I do the better. I also resized my banner so that it fits properly into the space at the top, the random chunk of blue was really annoying me. I kind of look at all the changes like a really good spring cleaning; all the stuff I've been meaning to do for ages I eventually got done. So all in all I'm really happy with the changes I've make. There are still some clunky wrinkles that I just can't seem to iron out, but hopefully in time I'll find a few solutions. I'd love to hear what you all think...
Update: Since writing this ( I use scheduled posting to help me manage my time better) I had a brain wave. One of the new functions on Pages is that you can link directly to an external website. I saw this as a solution to my gallery issues. I did some Googling and found this website Jalbum which generates and hosts online galleries. It's €2 per month and it has a 30 day free trial. I looked at some other free solutions but they were pretty ugly and not much better than the Picassa option. The only thing I would be concerned about is that it links out of my blog. But to solve this I might make an image from which to link to the gallery and stick in some code to make it come up in a new window. It involves a little bit of extra work but it will be worth it so I'm not sending readers away from my site. I now have an Art Gallery and a Clothes Gallery and have satisfied my inner that I'm not putting something butt ugly on the site!