Monday, February 25, 2008


Hey, chickadees!

This will be a short blog today. ::audible gasps::

Why? Well I've been gone for almost a week and it's tax season. Yep. The real world rears it's ugly head about this time of year. Clients yell. New software's been installed and had unexpected results about this time. I get more behind on my "To Do" list each day. I always manage to say yes to something I shouldn't have added to my responsibilities. But I did and there you go.


Which means I need your help. I've just finished the "design comp" for the new BelleBooks website look. You can see it above. Now go look at the current.
(I didn't design the current look.)

Now take another look at the new version above, which I did design. (I had to learn Photoshop to do this!!!!) Imagine that the smaller book covers represent our entire catalogue (most recent titles up first) are scrolling across the screen and will gently disappear behind the green bar-flower graphic. I still have some tweaking to do, but could you tell me the first two or three words that spring to mind when you see the new design?

Hopefully I'll get to the supporting page layouts done in the next couple of weeks and we can move the website over to the new look.

Do any of you design your own websites? Work in Photoshop? Play with graphics? Digital scrapbooking? (which is a real possibililty for me now that I've learned Photoshop.)


Sabrina said...

I never worked in Photoshop, Deb, but I designed my own site for years, using Dreamweaver and Fireworks. Web design is addictive--watch out!

The first three words that spring to mind for me are "spring" (seriously), fresh, clean, and feminine. Okay, that's four. Anyway, it's a big improvement, IMHO. The present design is just a little too busy for me.

Betina Krahn said...

I don't claim any design chops, I just know what I like. And this is lovely!

I agree with Sabrina: this is fresh and "spring-like." I particularly love the greenery-- so delicate and pretty. I like the scrolling books and the emphasis on cover and title.

Assuming you do selling from the site, I think it would help to make the process/possibility a little clearer. At first I thought I had to click one of the words at the bottom to search for a specific book to buy. I guess I'm just keyed into the word "shop" because I read right past "visit the bookstore" three times!!!

Okay, I'm full of beans. it just took me a minute or three to get it.

Michele Hauf said...

Congrats on learning Photoshop, Deb! It's fun to play around with. I'd love to take an official class so I could really master the program.

The new design looks awesome. Yep, Spring-like and fresh, and clean. I like the swirly thing in the upper right. And the bold red lettering for Belle Books. I like the small space it takes up as well. I don't think a visitor should have to scroll at all on that first page; it should all show up in the window, and you've done that.


Christie Ridgway said...

Easy on the eyes. That's what I thought, Deb. Pretty. Fresh.

Good work!

In my next life I'd do web design. I did my first site years ago but now have someone else do it because I got so caught up that I'd never be satisfied. But I think web design is like interior design & decorating and could become highly addictive.

Debra Dixon said...

Sabrina-- Yes, it is addictive! And at least all I have done is the design and I'll slice out the graphics. Our web programmer will decide what she'll do in CSS and how to make it look like this. :) So, I could definitely get addicted to the graphic part. :)

Debra Dixon said...


No! You're not full of beans. That's why I'm getting a lot of opinions on functionality and impact. I'm thinking about adding a buy now type for the featured book. You're the first person who had a slight difficulty getting the immediate direction to the bookstore, but I'm logging responses and taking them all serious.

I wonder if "Bookstore" would be better than "Visit Bookstore?"

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- "No scrolling first page" is my philosophy too! So, yep, I considered that in the design. Regarding learning the program, I have about (not joking) 10 very thick and 4 thinnish books on the version I have. I inherited some from a friend who died and I already had a couple of thick books.

And I'm a read-first-experiment-next person. So I read a couple of the thick books, a thin one and two different books on the process of web design.

Now I'm going to read the other books because it all makes so much more sense. (g) And I think I'd like to try some digital scrapbooking. Who needs specialty programs? You can just do it all in Photoshop.

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- I like the beginning of the design process and I'm finding that I can "put it down" and let the gals at NovelTalk take over and do their thing.

But once I finish the backup pages for the site, I know I'll want another project so I'm thinking digital scrapbooking. I like playing with all the creative stuff. Mucho fun.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I love the new look, Deb. The colors are wonderful. Clean, fresh, uncluttered--perfect!

I do my own site at CityMax--I'm blanking on the spelling, y or i--which is easy to use, no html required. But I'm limited to the prefab format. I know I'd enjoy something more creative, but I can't keep up as it is.

I love "Southern Fried Fiction"!

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- "uncluttered" is definitely something I feel strongly about. I'm lucky that I won't have to do the actual web work. I'll just slice out the elements and text so that our web folks at NovelTalk can do it.

The refab formats are great for folks who need to get something up there. I've got a friend who shows dogs and she has a lovely site using a program that's behind the scenes at her web server. It came with her monthly service fee and she's been really happy at how easy it is and how nice her site can look with almost no effort from her.

Re: Southern Fried Fiction
That's the brain child of Deb Smith. She had it on a piece of email once and we pounced on it. All the Belles loved it.

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, I love the new look too for the same reason's everyone's already mentioned. I do my own site on GoDaddy. Can't wait to make the big bucks so I can hire someone! LOL

lois greiman said...

Looks nice and clean and straight forward, Deb. I'm no design person but I like it. You're a brave woman. It's sounds like a big project to me.

Playground Monitor said...

I don't think I can come up with any other words to describe that haven't already been used. I'm impressed. Very impressed. I'd love to learn web design and am sure I could if I'd just take the time. The adult learning center at the university offers it from time to time. I should just do it, as Nike says.


Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- We're fortunate that BelleBooks has great backup in NovelTalk. They're reasonable and fabulous to work with. If I can think it up, they do it.

Lois-- Thanks! The learning's done so it's mostly downhill from here. I only had to learn the graphic part, not all the other stuff which is much more complicated.

Marilyn-- It is fun. You should just do it!

MsHellion said...

Was it "easy" to learn? My group is getting a new site, but someone else is designing it--but if we want to update it, et al--we will seriously need to take a class or something.

I've heard of DreamWeaver a lot. Is there one program that you'd recommend over another?

Cindy Gerard said...

Ditto to everyone's comments. It's pretty and fresh and looks great. I am computer impaired and have no idea how to do this stuff and unfortunately no time to learn right now but some day ....
Congrats, Deb. It's a wonderful look.

Debra Dixon said...

mshellion-- See, that's the thing. Web designer's use Photoshop to create the look and the graphics. It's a good way to show clients the "look" of the site. But then all those graphics need to be inserted/translated into programming that actually runs the website. We have a programmer to do that.

In the early early days of BelleBooks (like 7 years ago) I did everything before turning it over to other partners to manage. One used Dreamweaver and then we turned it over to NovelTalk. Now I'm back "on the case" and made the decision to be involved in the look only and not the function. We use They've been very reasonably priced and have free updates included in the pricing.

Susan Kay Law said...

It's lovely, Deb. Your original site was way too monochromatic for me.

I could never do it, though.

1) It's just WAY too good a way to keep me from doing stuff I should be and

2) I have no taste. So take my comments with that in mind.


Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- Yep. It was a time sink but necessary for BelleBooks, so it's all part of the job. :)

Susie-- LOL! You have taste. You have excellent friends. :)

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