It’s been over two years since my last major website update, and while I’ve made numerous small changes to improve the site, it really needed to be overhauled.
So What’s the Story?
A site redesign has been on my mind for many months now, but I started to actively work on it about a month ago. This involved a lot of testing before I was comfortable that the new design and web theme would be of benefit to you guys.
I’ve poured through analytics data, I’ve asked you guys for feedback, put up a poll to gauge what direction to take, and I’ve taken the plunge into finally take the next step. Every little change from the font, colors, and placement of certain elements have all been deliberate.
I hope that all these small changes, as well as some of the major ones, offer you a better experience.
The first thing you’ll notice is a cleaner interface. The logo has been reduced considerably, and the tagline “Helping to create happy ostomates” was added to give new users an idea of what the site is for.
I’ve deliberately decided to leave the word “vegan” out of the header area for this update. I’ve noticed that the word “vegan” tends to create an automatic, negative judgment that tends to drive people away. This isn’t something new, and a recent article in the Washington Post points out that even restaurants are doing this.
That’s not to say that I’ve abandoned veganism, or that the content won’t be focused around plant-based lifestyles, but I do want this site to be inclusive – not exclusive – and felt that if too much emphasis was being put on the word “vegan”, then new ostomates may be turned off before even checking out the content.
An important point I would like to make revolves around the results of a poll I ran on the site for close to a month. It seems that you guys really want my content to be centered around ostomy care and lifestyle, followed by diet and nutrition.
Interestingly enough, not many of you came to this site to look for info about IBD, but I’m not surprised considering much of my audience has an ostomy because of cancer.
Considering all that, I have a better idea on what you guys want to see here, and I’ll be mindful of creating content around those wishes.
Something I really spent a lot of time on was getting the navigation to be as close to perfect as I can get. The result is a cleaner navigation bar with more structure and direction.
To compliment the navigational improvements, I’ve reorganized all the categories for posts so that they are more logical and separate from one another. This means that if you’re looking for ostomy tips, you won’t also see a lot of IBD-specific tips in the post listing.
I also wanted to make sure that you guys can search for topics of interest, so my search bar is clear and available both on mobile and desktop systems.
When you visit a category, you’ll notice top posts for that category on the top of the page, followed by a chronological listing in descending order. This is a lot more useful than just a list of posts.
I’ve also added a specific category for announcements and events, so they don’t clutter up the other topics. You will notice that in the announcements page I’ve listed upcoming events that I’ll be a part of, followed by a chronological listing of past announcements.
And for those of you looking for my videos, I’ve added an easy to find all posts that contain video in the drop down menu :) Of course, you can still check out my YouTube channel if videos are all you want.
The articles in the navigation bar will change based on what information people commonly look for, but the main framework will be consistent.
New Pages and Updates
For new visitors to the site, the “about this site” page will give you an idea about why I created the site, and what it has to offer. When I was doing user testing, I noticed a common theme: people didn’t know what the site was actually about! Hopefully, this new page will help to clarify that!
I’ve also added a dedicated resources page that links to other important resource pages like where to get free samples, my vegan/non-vegan ostomy supplies list, and also links to my favorite ostomy/IBD and vegan websites. This single page will allow me to add newer resources as they become available, rather than have them scattered about.
Not a new page, but an important one, is my Products Reviews page. I’ve completely overhauled it for better ease of use and speed. The previous version was very media heavy, which slowed down that page and broke compatibility for many users. I hope this new, cleaner page will be easier to navigate and use.
One article that I thought would do much better than it has is the clothing guide for women post. After many months of testing, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was simply to “heavy” and often took over 30 seconds to load(!!!!!) – no doubt many people simply left the page before it had a chance to load. This is completely unacceptable from a usability standpoint, so I’ve made the decision to split it up into a series which will relaunch with this site update.
I’ve also optimized the way images are loaded in that article, so it no longer relies on a media plugin that I felt was contributing to the slow loading.
I think these changes will benefit everyone, so I hope you can understand these decisions.
Behind the Scenes Work
A lot of my time was spent on revising content and tweaking things behind the scene. You wouldn’t believe the things that break when you convert over to a new theme!
On the technical end, I’ve replaced several WordPress plugins, including the social share and newsletter opt-in boxes. These should work better with the theme, and they allow for far more flexibility.
I’ve also removed some redundant plugins to (hopefully) make things smoother on your end.
The goal up of this upgrade was to better support you guys. Every change I’ve made has been to help you find the content you’re looking for without getting frustrated.
For those of you who’ve been following me for the last several years, I think you’ll still find things to be familiar.
For the new visitors of this site, I hope it becomes a resource and support tool to help you on your journey to becoming a happy ostomate!