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Redesigning my Chaos

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

Get the TNG Sitebuilding Software (webhosting not provided)

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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!

Redesigning my Chaos

Like many genealogists stuck at home, I’ve been watching what I can of Roots Tech from my computer screen. It’s been fun, inspiring and distracting in all the best ways. Sure my laundry is a little behind but that’s alright, I’m sure my family has plenty of clean clothes still. I think.. ha!

One of the big hits coming out of Roots Tech is the huge exposure given to the TNG website software. If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I love TNG and I’ve been using it for years and years. As early as 2008 I think. I’d have to double check. I really want to say I was a version 6 user and the 9th version is just being released. So it’s been awhile.

Design Sketch

With all this new exposure, there are bound to be a thousand new questions. I’ve decided that I’m going to do a special project here on my blog. One of my goals is to get this website redesign done for good by the end of the year. In order to help myself along with that goal, I will be writing blogs about my progress. It makes me more motivated to sit down and do this if I’m documenting the progress. I love documenting everything I do for some strange reason. ;p

This redesign is going to encompass a lot more then what I was originally planning to do. I intend to walk through and document the process of getting TNG and WordPress installed on my own domain. Integrating them, all the things everyone would like to do but thinks they can’t. I’m here to tell you, you can! I’m going to walk through the process with you. I’ll document my trials and tribulations or as I call them “misadventures”. If you look at my current website design, there are plenty of flaws that I’m eager to fix, and I can’t wait to bring others along in the journey!

Yes I’ve already got my website software installed and ready to go, but this installation has been around for many years, especially TNG. Which means there are plenty more advancements in technology since I originally started. I plan to do tutorials for different things once the site is set up. Some of the things I plan to highlight is the transfer of your GEDCOM file from your software to TNG. I’ll show tips and tricks to the software and the little quirks.

I know the big question will be am I qualified to write these tutorials? Well that’s not a question I can answer for you. Everything I’ve learned has been through trial and error. I’ve had things break completely, I’ve had things work wonderfully. I’m just a regular girl who likes to mess around with websites and genealogy. I’m not stuffy and I definitely don’t mind admitting that I could use more then a few classes in genealogy and web design. Until I can save up some money though, it’s time for me to teach myself a little bit more! All these lessons I learn I’ll document here with links back to everything I’ve found and utilized!

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