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Suggestions for improving the home page?

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Suggestions for improving the home page?

Postby Winston » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:35 pm

Dear all,
Several people on Digital Point Forums told me that my main site page, www.happierabroad.com, looks like it is from the 90's and contains tacky buttons and is way too long that would deter viewers with short attention spans.

What do you think?

I have always been behind the times. It took me a really long time before I stopped using VHS and audio cassette tapes and switched to DVD's and CD's, for instance.

Should I shorten it to just a main navigation or menu page, like most other contemporary sites out there?

While I was emailing other expat sites for link exchange requests, I found a few with nice sleek contemporary looking home pages. For instance:

http://www.expatfocus.com

http://www.expatexchange.com

Check them out. Do you think I should emulate them to be more successful and draw more traffic and interest?

Another idea I was thinking was to create a main page using one of my blogspot accounts, putting all the menu buttons on the right or left column, with a short intro message in the center, and then saving the page as an HTML file and uploading it as my main page.

A guy on Digital Point keeps advising that I use wordpress.org instead of blogspot to do this, but I'm not sure why. Is wordpress.org that much better than blogspot?

And I was thinking that the current long welcome page that I have can just simply be turned to in introduction page that viewers can reach from the navigation menu.

What do you think? Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Winston
Last edited by Winston on Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Winston » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:27 pm

Here's some vehement advice that the marketer on Digital Point gave me about my site:

"Personally, I think you should switch into a blog format. With a blog format, you can very EASILY add content while keeping the look and theme consistent. Also, it'll help more organize your site since you'll have side bars and horizontal menus built in with it.

Research and look up something called "Wordpress" or rather go to Wordpress.org (not wordpress.com) and download and install a copy of Wordpress on your server. Wordpress is one of the most popular and easy to use blog system, plus its totally free. After that you can go and find a theme plugin for your site to give it the look. Then its just a matter of moving content over.

And by God, don't ever use an orange background again..."

---------------------------------------

Those are old and outdated and plain but you can easily see how less cluttered and less shitty looking they are than your site. You would have much better customization and control with a Wordpres blog (and don't frickin confuse them either, there's Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org software) had you used it.

The new Wordpress blog software allows for some fancy UI system where you can easily have a blog, forum, ebooks, and all your essays about how American women hate you, all in one system. For example, look at this site : http://www.easywordpress.com/

They're using a regular wordpress blog, but have forums, digital market place, banner space for sale, regular blog articles, and tons of other stuff running from a blog. Now thats organization. Simple straight to the point, and easy on the eyes. People don't come to that site thinking "jesus frickin christ, what the hell am I looking at?" but rather wonder what kind of information is on there and how can it help me - THAT WHAT YOU SHOULD WANT. Granted there is some effort required to find a decent wordpress template (which are plenty all over) and some work to tweak up the site, but its all very very doable.

Look, I think you have a lot of pretty good content on your site. If you make it look at least some what professional, then you can drive some good traffic and make decent money on it. There are a lot of guys who can't get luck with US women and would love to read your stuff. There are also guys who are planning on traveling overseas for fun who would also like to read you stuff. You can make it work, just do it.

And also, I don't care if orange is the color of anything, its still frickin ugly - can't you tell? BTW, you shouldn't put up goofy pictures of yourself doing stuff like this online : http://bp2.blogger.com/_DH8EtMyaRx8/R1_ ... age003.jpg

It's begging for some serious bashing....

-----------------------------------------

Those sites's layout isn't all that great, but its ok for its purpose and much more organized than yours is currently. So yeah it would be a direction you'd want to go. As far as copying their layout directly, two things to keep in mind :

1) Unless you know a lot of HTML, it could be a bitch to actually alter it correctly. But if you feel confident, its worth a try and a good learning experience.

2) If you're gonna use their layout, you'd definately want to modify it to the point so that it looks nothing like how their's currently looks (and I'm not talking just throwing up some orange background either). Otherwise, you would be *plagerizing* their layout. People do it to each other all the time, but it may lead to issues later on, or it may not.

Personally I still think you should go the blog format. But no, I'm not talking about using your blogger account. I'm talking about using the Wordpress (http://wordpress.org) blogging software itself. I've only been telling you this for the past 5 emails already. You need to download it and install it on your server NOW to get started.

What you want to do is have ALL your stuff sit on one domain, so that Google will index it as one mega site. So you can actually install Wordpress into a subfolder in your domain like : happierabroad.com/blog

But you should make sure your homepage looks very similar to the blog itself so it doesn't seem like you're leaving the site when you move around it. There should be no redirections to other sites at all.

I don't build content sites no more since I do PPC/PPV stuff now. But heres an older blog I use to run but someone else runs it now (using the Wordpress blog software): http://thewiieffect.com

Here's a site that me and cousin run for one of our business: http://www.uncollectibles.net

And here's an older blog site that I do not really mess with anymore but is somehow still bringing me passive money (using the Wordpress blog software) : http://plugins-blog.com
Last edited by Winston on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby adam917 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:44 am

gordan wrote:I don't know about the main page, but these discussion forum pages sometimes take forever to download. Sometimes they just time out or the pages just stay grey indefinitely on my screen. I don't know if it's just my computer or what but this forum downloads slower than others. Funny enough, it just started to download quicker as I wrote this.
I have that problem sometimes too.
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Postby Winston » Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:34 am

Me too. It probably has something to do with all the ads loading up. Also, phpBB is a free forum so probably isn't the most state of the art and might contain a few bugs.

I'll consider removing some of the ads to make it load faster, but it'll be a hard choice.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Time for a CMS - Content Management System

Postby wuming » Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:07 pm

Hey Winston - yes, you definitely need to use Wordpress or some kind of CMS to manage your content and design. HappierAbroad has lots of high quality content, and as you build your online presence, you'll go nuts without a good CMS to manage it. I'm an experienced web developer, so if you have questions, just private message me.
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Postby wraith » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:16 pm

we need a more modern, more sleek design.

When i first looked at your site, i felt that it was outdated.

Too much images and words are just too much for me, so how about a more condensed site in a manner similar to most modern sites. I don't like the website i'm viewing to be bombarded with images, unless if it were an imageboard or an image gallery.
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Re: Time for a CMS - Content Management System

Postby Winston » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:04 pm

wuming wrote:Hey Winston - yes, you definitely need to use Wordpress or some kind of CMS to manage your content and design. HappierAbroad has lots of high quality content, and as you build your online presence, you'll go nuts without a good CMS to manage it. I'm an experienced web developer, so if you have questions, just private message me.


W: Well I do have a question for you then. My plan for a new home page is to have it more condensed into a few paragraphs with menus on the side for easy navigation.

My question is, how do I create web menus? Which software does it? I have a few free web editing programs, but for some reason, they have bugs in them and have no features to create web menus. Some of the bugs include that they can't create blank lines. NVU has this problem, for example. When you press return twice and see a blank line in the editor, the web page still comes out without that blank line. Weird. I've always had to copy and paste a blank line for it to appear.

Anyhow, back to the web menus. A few programs online do web menus but they are either very expensive, or a trial version that puts watermarks on them.

I have adobe dreamweaver now. Does it create web menus? I looked at my Microsoft Frontpage but I can't find anything on it to create web menus.

How can something as common as a web menu be so hard to find? Strange.

I think changing the home page to a sleeker look may make a little difference. But the main attraction of this site is the content, that's what people come here for. A sleek design with no content will not make people return.

The main page that's up there now, I plan to turn into an introduction walkthrough page of this site, to be linked from the main page.

Any other ideas?

Winston
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Menus - what kind?

Postby wuming » Sat Oct 11, 2008 1:52 pm

Could you be more specific as to what kind of menus you want, or what you mean by "web menu"? What's a current website that is an example of what you want to have?

For example, the simplest menu is just a list of links, created by hand, with each link pointing to a page of interest. Still useful, but can become tedious to maintain, esp. across many pages (unless you use the templates functionality of Dreamweaver, which you should be if you intend to keep using Dreamweaver).

More useful menus are created dynamically on two levels: level one, your content, being stored in a database (like Wordpress and other modern CMS systems), is automatically included in - level two - pull-down or fly-out javascript based menus, sometimes with animation. Yahoo uses these a lot, to mimic desktop application interfaces on the web.

If you want the latter kind of menu, using a CMS is a must. Like all software, there's a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you'll wonder how you lived without it. :)
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Re: Menus - what kind?

Postby Winston » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:46 pm

wuming wrote:Could you be more specific as to what kind of menus you want, or what you mean by "web menu"? What's a current website that is an example of what you want to have?

For example, the simplest menu is just a list of links, created by hand, with each link pointing to a page of interest. Still useful, but can become tedious to maintain, esp. across many pages (unless you use the templates functionality of Dreamweaver, which you should be if you intend to keep using Dreamweaver).

More useful menus are created dynamically on two levels: level one, your content, being stored in a database (like Wordpress and other modern CMS systems), is automatically included in - level two - pull-down or fly-out javascript based menus, sometimes with animation. Yahoo uses these a lot, to mimic desktop application interfaces on the web.

If you want the latter kind of menu, using a CMS is a must. Like all software, there's a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you'll wonder how you lived without it. :)


W: I meant just a nice basic menu with tabs you can click on or colored rectangles. For example:

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/

Sure I can just put up a bunch of links. But most menus are colored and have some shaped box around them.

And also a template too, one that I can put all the webpages into, that will show ads so that any change I make to the template will reflect on all the webpages. For example, my blog at http://intellectualexpat.blogspot.com has a template where if you change the layout, it applies to every post and every page. How do you do that with your own website?

I don't know anything about CMS or CSS or what to do with it.

What software do you recommend that can do all that? The free ones I have don't do these things.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Winston » Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:27 am

Hi Wuming,
I just installed Adobe Dreamweaver C3 on my computer, and I must say I am very disappointed, especially when I heard all the good things about it and how it was the best web design software, etc. and especially since it took almost 30 minutes to install! You'd expect that a big program that took that long to install must be something really special right?!

WTF?!

This thing is not user friendly at all. It looks like it's designed for experts. It doesn't even have any templates for me to use at all! I can't even find a visual basic drag and drop type of interface on it too! It's just a bunch of boxes and codes for pros! This does not seem like it is for the beginner at all! There's not even a tutorial on there! WTF?! Why is everyone raving about this being so good when it has nothing I need?!

Is this the Twilight Zone again? lol

Or do I have the wrong Dreamweaver?
Last edited by Winston on Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Winston » Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:33 am

Anyhow, now that I've gotten that out of the way, here is my basic outline plan for a new home page. Let me know what you think.

At the top of the top will be a logo, banner and slogan, followed by a short description of the site.

Then on the left column will be a vertical menu with the main sections of the site.

To the right of that will be the body section where I will have a short comparison chart at the top of life in the US vs. Abroad. Below that will be an intro letter from me about the ebook and site, followed by an invitation for the reader to explore the rest of the site through the navigation menu at the left.

On the right column will be various ads of course.

Anyhow, that's my outline plan. Besides Dreamweaver, which turned out to be a disappointment, I installed some other smaller programs that were smaller and simpler that had some templates I could use. I'll be using one of those probably, since I can't get Dreamweaver to do sh**. You'd think after the 30 minute installation that Dreamweaver would be a huge awesome program, but noooooo.

What do you think? Any suggestions?
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Postby Winston » Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:44 am

BTW,
I downloaded some free templates off the web, that I like, from here:

http://www.freewebtemplates.com/templates/business/2

But when I unzip them, I get a collection of PHP files and one CSS files and a folder of images that the template contains. But NO instructions as to what to do or how to use them!

What do I do exactly? I opened the CSS file in Dreamweaver, but all I see is a bunch of CSS code with no instructions at all for what to do with it.

How can I edit this template? Will any web editing software do?

Why is it so hard to find a simple drag and drop and point type of interface on a web builder or web editor?
Check out the latest posts in our blog The Happier Abroaders.

Don't forget my HA Grand Ebook and Dating Sites!

"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
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Re: Menus - what kind?

Postby wuming » Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:28 am

WWu777 wrote:W: I meant just a nice basic menu with tabs you can click on or colored rectangles. For example:

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/

Sure I can just put up a bunch of links. But most menus are colored and have some shaped box around them.


That style of menu is simple - you can just copy their code. Notice that the menu is "stupid" - it does not change color to indicate what section of the site you're at.

The best example of a tabbed-navigation layout is Amazon.com, which does change color to make it clear where you are (though they got criticized for using tabs incorrectly too). You need either logic on the server (e.g. PHP) or on the browser-side (with javascript) to do a smart tab-menu system.

WWu777 wrote:And also a template too, one that I can put all the webpages into, that will show ads so that any change I make to the template will reflect on all the webpages. For example, my blog at http://intellectualexpat.blogspot.com has a template where if you change the layout, it applies to every post and every page. How do you do that with your own website?


You can do templates with Dreamweaver; use its built-in help and tutorial system to get started.

blogspot, wordpress, and similar systems get system-wide changes from modifying a singly template file; that's the beauty of using a Content Management System (CMS) like them. I would still recommend you install wordpress on a new subdomain (e.g. beta.happierabroad.com), then learn the ropes of wordpress by re-creating your site with it.
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Postby wuming » Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:31 am

WWu777 wrote:BTW,
I downloaded some free templates off the web, that I like, from here:

http://www.freewebtemplates.com/templates/business/2

But when I unzip them, I get a collection of PHP files and one CSS files and a folder of images that the template contains. But NO instructions as to what to do or how to use them!

What do I do exactly? I opened the CSS file in Dreamweaver, but all I see is a bunch of CSS code with no instructions at all for what to do with it.

How can I edit this template? Will any web editing software do?

Why is it so hard to find a simple drag and drop and point type of interface on a web builder or web editor?


Probably they're Wordpress templates, because Wordpress is insanely popular (whether it deserves its popularity is a separate question). Wordpress makes it very easy to change the look and feel of the entire site, you'd just dump the theme files under a directory, then in the browser, click on the new theme and voila - entire site looks different.

If you're editing PHP files, you should have an editor that's aware of PHP syntax, so it makes life easier. Dreamweaver should be able to deal with PHP files, but I haven't used Dreamweaver in years.
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Postby momopi » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:55 am

If you're looking for "drag and drop" type web site building tool, try NetObjects Fusion:
http://www.netobjects.com/

Download trial version + templates here:
http://www.netobjects.com/html/product_updates.html

They also have a freebie editor with video tutorials:
http://www.netobjects.com/html/essentials.html
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