Renovation to Timberframe Houseplans website

Lighthouse style house from Timberframe House Plans

The LaHave, from Timberframe House Plans

This site, Timberframe Houseplans Ltd. is several years old. I built it myself, but times have changed (of course) and I’m giving it an overhaul. The owner often goes through the site on the phone with his potential clients, and is able to give excellent feedback. I wish all my clients had such useful information. He knows what is hard for them to find on the site, what they like, how much or little they notice, and much more.

Visitors with screen resolution of 800×600 pixels, the smallest resolution commonly in use, is now just 2% for this site, down by half from this time last year. So it’s time to widen the display to the next level, 995 pixels, to accommodate the next widest common resolution of 1024×768. (The difference between 1024 and 995 is necessary to accommodate the scrollbar.) Yippee! This makes a web designer’s heart glad. It has been many years since we were able to move up from 580 pixels wide (for 640×480) to 770 pixels or so (for 800×600), when the 640×480 resolution dwindled to insignificance. More real estate.

Based on my client’s feedback, I’ve added a new multi-level menu to the site, which allows users to see a picture and some information about a houseplan before going to the plan’s page. The new menu eliminates the need for a page listing all the plans, which made finding your way through the site a bit confusing.

The new multi-level menu puts all the site’s navigation “above the fold”, where it’s easier to find without scrolling, and shortens the number of menu items in a row that the user has to find their way through. It has been found that more than 7 items in a row, in the same format on a menu, make many people’s heads swim – they have trouble finding what they might be looking for. I’m not underestimating people’s intelligence, but I’m learning not to overestimate the prevalence of dyslexia, Irlen’s Syndrome, and other causes of reading difficulty.

My client has another site, Arlington Frame Company, which builds timberframes, and people easily get confused by the relationship between the two sites. So we plan to make that clearer as we redesign them. For now, a new big button in the header leads people to the Arlington site.

I welcome your feedback as I work through this project with the goal of increasing sales of timber frame house plans for my client.

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