New blog design

I think I’ve finally found a neat blog theme for this website. It’s Wintersong on the Genesis Framework.

I like the minimalism, but think the navigation might be just a little too minimal for me.

I’ve never liked blogs that leave you to wade through pages of full-length posts with no way to move through the content other than older/newer links at the bottom of the page, or a year/month archive. Let me tell you something about website users: very few people come to your site looking for posts published at a particular time. Most people visit a site looking for information on a particular topic, usually to solve a specific problem but sometimes just out of interest. This is why we use tags and categories on posts to identify what they’re about. And it’s why WordPress does a neat job of category archive pages that automatically return all the posts matching that particular tag or category.

Why more people don’t provide site navigation using links to these archive pages is beyond me. It’s so ridiculously simple to do, and makes the user’s experience much more fulfilling and makes them much likelier to return to your site in the future.

It looks like with a fixed sidebar (Genesis calls it ‘Header Right Widget”???), my only option for squeezing in links to the categories is to stack them horizontally and just hope they all fit in what looks like a single row of space. Will probably be next to useless on a mobile device but it beats having to create a set of tiles to put onto a whole page to give me something to link to the archives.

Gidget Ginsu? Maybe not.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working on developing content to help those new to designing and building websites and blogs.  I’ve also been working on a few small websites after nearly burning myself out on a fairly big ecommerce site.

My main ‘project’ lately has been growing a new baby (due June 2014) but now that I’m past the very queasy first trimester, I’m starting to become interested in getting a proper structure set up around my freelancing. Much stuff to sort out with the bank, paypal, ASIC, and all that lovely fun stuff to stay on the right side of the government and make money matters easy. Standardised processes and methodologies will also increase productivity and quality: I have a habit of being a little too “responsive” to whatever the client asks for :) and not many clients are familiar with what goes in to building websites etc so having a process to follow, and checklists and forms to use for gathering info will keep everything on track.

But the hardest part by far is something that I normally find so easy: a name.

I have used Gidget Ginsu for different things over the years, but never for something that potentially needed a trademark. And given the iconic brand of knives bearing a similar name, I feel a bit uneasy about using it for this work. It’s a bummer because I think it’s a good name for a business like this and wouldn’t be out of place as the name of a website providing tutorials and resources on writing and webby stuff.

I’ve grown fond of a couple of other name, but they are already in use with different businesses. They might be different enough from what I do to be OK by IP Australia and ASIC, but one is in a category that I would logically branch out into in the future, and one user of the name is also in Web Design but uses the name not for operating under but  as a concept for part of their work.

It’s much easier trying to name a new human than name a business!

I need to work something out soon as I really feel like it’s holding me back and slowing growth. It’s impacting on the operational side of the business as I can’t do much in the way of setting up accounts etc without a name. I do know that it’s perfectly fine to trade using my own name, but I don’t think that it’s suitable for the full range of work that I do.

Between working on a couple of site designs, writing tutorials, and getting all this business-y stuff sorted out, I don’t have a lot of availability for taking on new clients but you can always use the form on the contact page to drop me a line and tell me about your project, and how I might be able to help you with a quality, content-focused website that meets your business goals and delights your customers.

 

New project – Gidget Ginsu Blog School

I’ve been spending a lot more time on websites lately, as well as my blog indiemama.com.au

To say that there is a lot of information out there on blogging would be an understatement! But trying to find step by step, practical information that you can use isn’t quite as easy as it should be.

So I have been busy compiling the best tutorials on key topics for DIY web designers and will publish them on gidgetginsu.com from November 2013.

See more at:  http://jasmineandrews.com.au/projects/gidget-ginsu-blog-school

Another redesign

It’s time for a new site design!

I’ve been using a StudioPress theme on the Genesis framework for a while but was never happy with the result. This morning, I found the files for a favourite theme I thought I had lost: WooThemes Canvas.

I have reinstalled it and made a few small changes. I’m trying out something new and seeing if I can get the portfolio templates to work for me. As usual, it’s probably going to be about a week before it settles into something I can be happy with. I tend to tinker with it here and there in between working on stuff for other people and chasing around after my toddler.

Already I’m much happier with how it looks than the old site.

New contact details

My email addresses using this domain name (eg mail@jasmineandrews,com.au) are not working at the moment, and I am starting to suspect that they haven’t been working for some time. It’s a bit of a pain as it’s the email address that’s listed on my business cards!

While I trace the problem back to its source, please use my other email addresses if you need to contact me. If it’s about my blogging, then contact me at jasmine@happyhealthyhome.com.au. The posts are growing on that blog, and it’s worth checking out Happy Healthy Home.

If it’s about freelance writing, either copywriting, technical writing, or web stuff, then drop me a line at jasmine.andrews@learnwrite.com.au.

Please don’t spam these emails or try to sell me stuff like elearning platforms. I realise that putting my addresses up and asking not to be spammed is like walking into the ocean in your best dress and telling the waves not to get you wet but it has to be done.

Branding, again.

As much fun as it is to work with other people on developing a brand identity, doing my own has been hell. It doesn’t help that my skills are pretty nebulous and hard to cram into an elevator pitch without dropping all the essential keywords that most people can relate to – the concrete stuff like writing, editing and training.

A fruitful chat with some friends last week has put me in a reflective mood. I’ve been doing some mind mapping to pin down some words that describe my expertise, which led to soome googling to check out who else goes by the same labels.

One of the first sites I landed on made my blood run cold: their positioning overlaps a direction I want to take but their colour palette is so close to mine that it isn’t even funny. Even worse, I know the people behind the company and I have been to the website many times. And I can’t even blame my designer cos I provided him with the colours and the brief. Phooey.

It just goes to show you how important it is to respect the process and not just jump in, even if you are itching to get started. I am so used to people trying to cut down the time spent on defining really clear requirements and designing the most appropriate solution. I’m also used to having to explain that spending a little extra time up front getting these components right means that the actual “doing” goes much more smoothly, doesn’t take anywhere near as long, and results in a better finished product. Not to mention cutting down on review and approval time.

That’s what makes this blunder so painfully embarassing. (I hate rework so much that I once had a job at a major telco as a Rework Reduction Specialist. Nothing to do with content strategy but it was still a very satisfying job.)

So today will now be spent on rework instead of formalising a content plan that’s been rolling around in my head.

 

Taking Shape

Quick update: site move seems to have gone OK with posts moved, though one is showing a different author. Nevermind. Working out the new Genesis framework theme and sort of making up some of the structure as I go along instead of following a written plan. One more hour on it tomorrow should get it to a reasonable state til I can come back to it next month for a good ol’ gussying up.

Getting ready to move

I must have housework to do or something cos I’ve been online, getting ready to migrate this site from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I’m also preparing to set up my two new sites: one for business, and the other for “domestic blogging” (trying hard not to use that “mommy blogger” term!). I know it’s not quite August yet but it seemed like the right time to get the techy part out of the way so that I can focus on my favourite thing – content planning.

My new site for technical writing and training developer news will be www.learnwrite.com.au. It’s also the future home of my consulting business.

My other new site is where I will blog on my domestically challenged life as a work-from-home mum, covering my attempts to live a sustainable and creative life in inner city Sydney.  It will live at www.happyhealthyhome.com.au. Expect very honest reviews of road testing soap nuts, photos of crappy handmade knitted jumpers, and listings of handy websites run by folks who sell good yogurt starter culture and other things you never knew you needed. There are so many blogs out there, written by women who are crafty goddesses, but I figured that there had to be more people (like me!) with an interest in learning this stuff but who were probably intimidated by these sites or just plain confused by the instructions seemingly written in foreign languages.

This site, www.jasmineandrews.com.au, will become a landing page to divert visitors to one of these two new sites. It will also feature my bio and info on me a freelance writer.

Like I said before, feel free to subscribe to one, all or none of my new sites. I hope that existing subscriptions will carry over but can’t say for sure that they will. It might be sensible to bookmark this page and check back in a couple of weeks. If it all goes terribly quiet, then chances are the subscriptions went into a black hole, or my five-month old has smothered me with her stuffed toys.

Time for a change

Most of you will know that at the start of this year, I delivered a major project for the Australian Society for Technical Communication NSW. Some of you will also know of another major project I delivered just days later: my first child. As you can imagine, this has kept me quite busy for the past few months. Well that’s my excuse for the lack of blog-love lately!
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