RMC: Part 1 is the Planning Stage

To start my re-design, I have to first lay ground work. Since I have an existing website, it’s important that I think about what works about the website and what doesn’t. This way I can be aware of issues as I enter the design process. If you don’t have an existing website or aren’t looking to delve into the design from scratch aspect, then you won’t need as much planning. I still think it’s beneficial to know what you want out of your website before you jump into one.

In my case, I was hand coding my whole family tree before I stumbled across the TNG Sitebuilding software. When this software was shown to me, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been using it ever since and in 2010, I added this blog.

The first part of my planning stage involves sketching out the basic design on the website. I usually like to go in knowing where things will go, but I’m always flexible. There is a 99% chance something will have to be moved around. This is not the first draft of my re-design. I’ve re-designed it twice already, and had to change it twice because of a cluttered design. My design sketch might not make much sense to others, but it does to me. I know that I like the effect of a banner at the top and the buttons underneath.

On my current design, the TNG menu is only visible from the moore-mays.org main site and disappears from the left once you click on the blog. Then the same happens with the blog, but on the right side. My new goal for the redesign is to trim down the two menus and have one column on the right or left side (see I’m flexible!) with just the important, most used, items. I also don’t want the wall of text that I currently have on the blog menus, so I want to break it up a little bit with small logos for GeneaBloggers and a few other things I haven’t determined yet.

The biggest thing I want to happen is a smoother integration of TNG and WordPress. There are WordPress and TNG plugins that will integrate the programs, but I’ve never tried them. So I’m going to make fresh installs of both programs and test it out before I incorporate it in the new site. If I can get them to work the way I want to, then I’ll use them, if not, then I won’t. Either way, I’ll document the process.

After the sketch, I had to decide which things I would be putting in the menus on the side. You have to think about what links people will be using the most and which ones you yourself will be using the most. Don’t think about this website as just a memo you’re sending into the world wide web. My genealogy website is a fully functioning tool. I use the TNG database on a daily basis and the blog serves as a research diary for me. I’m not always so good about keeping a research log. Though I am getting better! The one thing I almost always do though, is blog about what I’m currently doing with my tree.

For me, when I started the blog, I had no idea what genealogy blogs encompassed. I just wanted to find a way to interact with my long lost family members who stumble into the website, and it’s a great way of sharing stories and photos with my family who live in other states.

So do you have a website planned out? Are you a fly by the seat of your pants person? I’m a little bit of both. I think it keeps me the right levels of flexible yet structured. Feel free to follow this ongoing saga and comment with your plans, suggestions, links, etc! I’ll try and respond back. Sometimes I get a little shy about what to say, but I’m getting better at that too! ;p

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I’m not sure how fast this process will go, so if you’re in a rush, this might not be the follow along for you. There are great resources on TNG like a forum and wiki!

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