Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Best Way To Landscape Your Website

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting a whole bunch lately? That old idiom has been coming to mind quite a bit recently "Make hay while the sun shines". Its a great piece of advice, especially for us procrastinators, who might rather be blogging than tackling any tough tasks.

Another task that I have been tackling in the last few weeks, has been the pruning and replanting of my landscape website. Its been a project that I have been working on bit by bit for the last year or so, but I felt that it was time to make a concerted effort to finish it.

As I've gotten it closer to where I want it, I've realised how similar creating a website is to landscaping a garden:
  1. Its essential to have a plan of what you want the finished garden/website to look like.
  2. Before you start figure out who will be experiencing the website/landscape.
  3. Use the best tools you can afford.
  4. Its important to have a theme that brings everything together. In a garden, you could have more than one theme depending on the size of the garden, but if you do, it could leave the visitor confused.
  5. Figure out the structure first, and build onto and around that.
  6. Simpler is often better.
  7. Don't make the landscape/site too busy or distracting, it leaves you feeling unsettled and less likely to enjoy the experience.
  8. Repetition of certain elements throughout the site/garden is important to give the eye some familiarity
  9. When its looking messy, and you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't give up. Its usually just on the other side that you'll start to see the end in sight.
  10. Look at your use of colours carefully - complimentary colours are really restful and harmonious, contrasting colours are bold and exciting.
  11. Make sure you do as much research as possible before you start, and if you're unsure of any code/application/plant, do some more research.
  12. Experimenting is how you learn. Place the plant/code in your website, and see how it looks. If it doesn't look right, be ruthless and pull it out - it'll get harder to do when you build other plants/code around it. If you feel bad about pulling it out, you can always give it to a friend - a gift of 'html code' is always welcome. (ok, maybe I'm pushing the similarities too far there.)
  13. Ask experts for advice (if you can afford it - hire a professional to do it for you), and get feedback from friends, but trust your instincts too.
  14. Have fun doing it, but don't let it consume you - everybody needs a hobby, no-one needs an obsession.
I'm currently at number 13. I would love some feedback about the website. Feel free to be as critical/honest as you want. Personally, I think its the best landscape website I've ever seen - but hey, I might be biased ;-)


Diana Studer said...

13? Feedback? Just my usual gripe. apart from missing the sidebar and links, I would rather read this in Google Reader. I find light print on a dark background harder to read. Large print compensates ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks, I've noticed the same thing about light text on a dark background, which is part of the reason I'd like feedback on my other website. If its generally positive, I'll use the same theme on this blog.

Its interesting that you'd rather read a blog post in Google Reader - I wonder what the percentage of people who prefer things that way? I myself, still prefer visiting blogs to reading them in something like Google reader.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

How very similar they are, garden and website. A platform to pour creativity.... and sensitivity too. ~bangchik

Diana Studer said...

Wait a sec, I only prefer the reader to compensate for the light on dark. Otherwise I'm usually here on your blog itself.
Your stats would tell you where readers came from, direct or via Google or Blotanical Reader or ...

Unknown said...

That's true, I hadn't thought of that...:-)

ryan said...

It's a nice website. The gray and green are a really pleasing combo, and I like the hand-drawn-looking construction lines for the borders. The white background is pretty bright on my screen, maybe that could be softened? or not, I've spent hours trying background colors to end up staying with the same one. The emotive questionnaire is a very cool idea. I looked around for a 'next' arrow before realizing that it could scroll down.
Looks like a lot of work went into it. Makes me think, oh, lord, please give me the strength to resist temptations and instead redo our website, but please lord not just yet.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the feedback Ryan - I really appreciate it.
You're funny :-), but I know what you mean. For me it was the other way around - working on the website was the temptation, pulling me away from other things!

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