Live Real. Eat Real.

Surprise!

Hmmm…things look a little different around here today.

I’ve been working on a major site redesign for some time; I wanted something a little more “professional” looking and more well-structured than the simple layout I’d had for the last five years.  (Five years?  Wow…)  It’s been an arduous and rather stressful process, but it’s finally done, and I’m quite happy with it.

If you pop over to the Home Page, there’s a slide show – click on the title of the slide in the lower left-hand corner and it will take you to the blog portion of the site and list the category of recipes the slide is about.  The neat thing about that is that they can be changed very easily, reflecting seasons, holidays and trends.

Beneath the slides are 3 “call-out” boxes, similar to what was on the “old site.  I’ve done away with the link to the photography category, basically since I haven’t really taken a photo of anything that isn’t food or my grandson in quite awhile.  I’ve replaced it with a box titled “Resumé” that takes you to the “About” page (and because it goes well with “Recipes” and “Rants” – I’m all about alliteration these days).  I’m working on rewriting that, too, while I’m at it.

Beneath the call-out boxes is a section listing my 3 latest posts, 4 latest tweets, and pages I decided I needed to keep, but didn’t feel belonged on the “main” menu at the top – my blogrolls (which is going to get, you guessed it, cleaned up and re-organized), the section of my old “SAD” recipes, and the disclaimer I think is silly but is apparently necessary.  And lastly, at the very bottom is the copyright notice and links to my Facebook page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile and RSS feed.

I think it’s nice.

The About and Contact pages haven’t changed, but the Blog feed has.  If you land there, you have to click through to read the entire post, and you’ll notice the sidebars have changed.  I’m still working on this, so things will probably change a little on the right side over the next few days.  The format of the posts haven’t changed much, other than listing the meta information on the left, rather than at the bottom, making the area for the actual post more narrow, necessitating slightly smaller photos.  (If you go back to some older posts, you’ll see that the photos are running over into the right-hand sidebar – yes, I’m working on that, too).

The biggest change is the “Recipe” drop-down on the main menu.  I’ve had several requests over the last few months for a recipe index to make it easier to find specific recipes on the site.  I can understand that; when I started the blog in February 2008, I had no idea it was going to grow the way it has (60,000 unique visitors and 250,000 pageviews each month) and the category and tag structure leaves something to be desired.  The new recipe drop-down on the menu is going to do a lot to resolve this issue.

However, there is a drawback:  it has to be built entirely by hand, and I could not begin to build it until I implemented the new theme.  Right now, there are only a few recipes under appetizers and the grass-fed beef section of main courses.  Please understand this is a work in progress, and recipes will be added on a regular basis – daily, if I can manage it.  In the meantime, the categories and tags for the recipes are still intact, and the search function has been improved so hopefully that will help you find the exact recipe you’re looking for.

There are a few bugs to work out – mainly how the comments sections displays the stars when you rate a recipe – but I have to say I’m really very pleased with how it’s all turned out.  Do you like it?  Hate it?  Let me know – I really want to hear what you think!


17 comments

Michele says:

Very nice. I’ll need to go through the navigation to get the hang of it. Web redesign is a pain which is why my blog looks the same year after year.

Lori says:

You did it! I like it! :)

Very clean and polished looking Jan! I like the layout a lot, and the color is growing on me! :D Congrats on making it happen…that’s a big job! (But I just knew your surprise was going to be a book announcement!)

Be says:

How lovely and professional! I think the conversion went exceptionally well compared to some lesser options and the nuisances will be easy to clean up in your spare time.

I’m with Chowstalker though: all you need now is an eCommerce link to sell the cookbook!

Renee says:

I’m looking forward to exploring! One question…why “sushi bar”? (I read the “about” but I’m still confused!)

Renee in Texas

Jan says:

Renee – you know, I didn’t even think about adding an explanation for the site’s name in the “About” page. I’ll make sure to include it when the page is rewritten.

In short, this site started off as a personal blog, which included anything and everything – personal stories, memes, photos, rants and, yes, recipes. The tagline was “A Little of This, A Little of That”, sort of like a sushi bar. By the time this morphed into a full-blown food blog, my readership had grown so large and the site and recipes were so well-indexed by search engines that I really couldn’t consider changing the name.

Nancy says:

Will the monthly banners be back? They were always beautiful and creative.

Jan says:

Nancy, I may bring back the monthly banners – I made sure I could include them when I redesigned the site – but part of the reason I did this was to achieve some sort of branding. For now, my nod to the monthly banners will be the little illustration to the left of the logo – for the holidays, I have the little bells, and it will change at least with the seasons, if not monthly.

Now, having said that, I’m pretty easily bored, which is why I implemented the monthly banners in the first place. So you never know, they could be back, and sooner than I, if no one else, anticipates.

T says:

Love the new look! I read your blog everyday and at first I thought I was on the wrong website. Thanks for all of your time and passion you put into your website and educating others.

I like it a lot!
My one suggestions would be to have your most recent post in full on the blog page instead of having to click through. That way you have some content there to grab people – first time readers, or others. I remember having to fudge with that a lot when I did my redesign. I found my readership went down because people didn’t want to be bothered to click through. It’s a balancing act ….

Jan says:

Suzanne, you’re absolutely right, and it fixes a couple of issues that both Beloved and I have had with the blog page itself (it’s set up to display thumbnails, but then you have two of the same image, just different sizes, in the same post). I had to hardcode it show complete posts, but I like it much better than the excerpt format. Thanks so much!

Really looking forward to the recipe index. I often read about stuff I’d like to try, but then time passes and time passes and… when I go back to look it ain’t so easy to find… Thank you for all this work, just for us ;-)

Be says:

The search function seems much easier to use!

WOW!!!! YES on the recipe index! My bookmarks were getting crowded. :-)
I will miss the old layout since I knew it so well, but you’ve gone to the big time, I’m just happy to see it happen. XOXO

WOW Jan! I LOVE the redesign! Clean, fresh and so you! :) And I also vote for the monthly banners – I always look forward to seeing what your creative mind has come up with – you know, besides your amazing recipes. And like Jen, my bookmarks were getting awfully crowded, so it’ll be nice just to pop over here when I need to find the recipe I’m looking for – plus I bet I’ll be able to find it on my tablet so I don’t have to get on my laptop when I’m in the kitchen in the middle of a brain freeze! ;)

Erin says:

Love the new look – very professional, etc. I can say I knew you ‘when’. xoxo

Gretchen says:

It’s gorgeous!! Hurry with those recipes, I don’t know what I’ll do if I need to make Jan’s Brussels sprouts! BTW, I made Jimmy spaghetti squash the other day and he loved it. Who’d a thunk! Also…are you still doing Make Ahead Mondays?

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