While I am always working on improving ICS Calendar and ICS Calendar Pro, at this point my “main gig” is still freelance client work, building WordPress based websites.
Working on the ICS Calendar website is an interesting experience then, as I am the client. It’s a very helpful exercise, as it gives me a chance to think about the elements of a good website from the client’s perspective. Of course there’s also the old “cobbler’s children” dilemma. Sometimes this website doesn’t get quite the care and attention it deserves.
Today I’ve been working on remedying that, with a handful of aesthetic and structural changes.
First off, returning visitors with a keen eye for detail may notice that the font throughout the site has changed. I was previously using Tablet Gothic, which I like, but over time I came to see it as a bit too heavy and utilitarian. It reminds me of the text in the white pages of a phone book. (Remember those?) So I’ve switched to the friendlier Monsal Gothic, in a light weight.
Next, I tackled the thing that has been the biggest challenge for me from the beginning, but especially as I’ve fleshed out the User Guide pages: the main navigation menu. Before today, there were a lot of top-level menu items, and the order they were in felt a bit haphazard. So I’ve streamlined and reorganized things to eliminate some redundancies, and I’m now representing the shopping cart and account pages with familiar icons.
In making some of these decisions regarding the nav menu reorganization, I even did something I rarely bother with on my own sites: I consulted Google Analytics to see which pages are getting the most views. This can be really helpful, as it’s a way to separate what I think people are interested in (or, worse, what I think they should be interested in) from what they are actually interested in. Of course, it’s important when looking at analytics to consider the fact that people may not be finding what they’re truly interested in, so if something I as the site owner know should be a major target for visitors, but few of them are seeing it, then maybe I need to “surface” that content so they can get to it.
Then I concluded my work with some fine detail touch-up in the CSS, verifying that the menus are displaying properly on mobile devices, tightening up the layout in the footer, and updating the Room 34 logo to the new version with updated colors! Throughout all of this work, I was keeping in mind the key concepts I try to employ with client work: making the site clean, user-friendly, intuitive, visually appealing, and most of all, useful for visitors. Of course I am also trying to sell a product, but my perspective is that the “hard sell” rarely works, and the best way to acquire and retain customers is to give them a reason to come to me, and to come back again.
I hope these small, incremental changes help to achieve that goal.