Donna's tools set

Part of the planning for the launch of the new book, included updating the books page on this site but I've also taken the opportunity to make a few additional updates. I've deleted the landing page because well, it didn't really do anything and isn't where people wanted to go–most people want to come to this page, the blog, so this has become the landing page.  (The above, btw, was donna's set up for the image in this page's banner.)  Most of the changes are minor but one of my favorites is that most recent comment is shown at the bottom of each post.

Because a lot of my readers are also bloggers, I asked Leah McCombe, my designer, to comment on the actual changes and the reasons behind them.  This is Leah in her own words:

1.  Improved the overall functionality of the site through a series of
small changes, like making the logo a link back to the homepage, and
making it easier to purchase a book through the books page.

2.   We eliminated the landing page to reduce the number of
click-throughs for the user.  In general, the fewer the clicks to get
to the content, the better.  Usability is more important these days
over just a beautiful page of photography. Function over form.

3.  We wanted to increase Michael's usage of social media, and we added a
twitter and facebook link to encourage more back and forth with the
users.

4.  For the same reason, we made the comments more prominent, as a way to
encourage the commenters to have a dialog with each other.  One of the
unique aspects of Ruhlman.com readers is the dialog after each post
back and forth with commenters – we wanted to encourage that.

5.  We wanted to lighten up the whole site and give it a bit more
breathing room – I have a feeling this will be a continuous process
over the next year, but for the first step we extended out the
masthead and lightened all the backgrounds a few shades.  In my next
round of revisions, I'd like to remove the boxes altogether, since the
average web user doesn't need everything to be boxed into a grid
pattern like we used to do a couple of years ago.

6.  We made all buttons the same color so that the user can
immediately recognize it as an action that will take you to another
location (in this case, they are all red).

7.  We wanted to increase ad revenue (which pays for site improvements
like these) by adjusting their placements on the page.  We moved all
ads up "above the fold" and added ads to the top masthead area in the
interior pages (much like epicurious.com handles their advertising).
We also programmed the ad sites to better target the consumers (food
ads on a food blog, when possible). We hope the increased revenue will
help with the development of some exciting things around the corner!

Finally, we did a bunch of "tune-ups" on some errors in the last
design that never were quite fixed…things that just didn't work as
smoothly as they could have.  With that being said, I'd like to invite
users to weigh in on any errors they might find while browsing through
the new site.  All input will be considered, and we're always willing
to learn and take suggestions to make the Ruhlman.com reader
experience the best possible.

Thanks for all your work, Leah, and for these clear comments!  And I second her appeal for any input you'd like to offer.