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The Literate Mother
The owners of TheLiterateMother.org contacted me because they wanted to improve the usability of their site. For the past few years they have been posting content ratings and reviews for youth and teen literature. They had been using WordPress which was great but the design and layout was too much like a blog and not like a book review website. Bridget had seen my work on azbrainfood.org and wanted to improve her site
The design is always in the clients hands. First, they wanted to keep the background. Second, they wanted to update the header logo. They had a logo designed for other purposes but it didn’t quite fit the layout so I used photoshop to rearrange the logo to get it to fit this layout. The image on the right side of the header was added later after a few attempts of including some rotating banners in the main content. Finally, the clients found this great stock image and I was able to modify it slightly to fit the design.
The main content of the homepage needed to give the visitors everything they need. The number one priority was to get the search form to the top of the page and give the visitor access to several ways to browse for book reviews.
To show their credibility and communicate the purpose of the site we developed the banner showing their Mom’s Choice Award and the tagline, “Ratings for Youth and Young Adult Literature”.
Next we show the 4 most recent book reviews. Mind you, this is still the same wordpress blog. I was able to customize the blog to only show the book cover and title of each post.
I added the subscribe box to the homepage. I wanted to make it very clear and to the point of why a visitor should subscribe. The previous site only had the subscribe button in the menu and I wanted to make sure it was simple to just enter your email address and subscribe.
I also wanted to feature a facebook widget to drive readers to the facebook page which can help improve reader participation and provide opportunities for readers to share the site with their friends and family.
It’s All About the Book Reviews
The goal of the new design was to make the reviews much cleaner and less “blog like”. Using examples from other review sites I came up with the rating graphics that show up to the right of the book cover.
The old design used a very small bookcover provided by amazon but we wanted to make the book cover bigger and cleaner. I included the buy now button and automated the linking of the button to amazon.
I wanted to make the site easy to update. You can see the elements of the old design when you look at older reviews. I tried to automate as much as possible. After uploading an image for a book cover and entering the title and author of the book being reviewed, all the reviewer needs to do is add the phrase [buy], which adds the buy now button and links it to amazon search results for that book.
The rating images are also automatically generated based on the number values provided in the review.
Special consideration was also made to SEO. I updated the wordpress SEO plugin to add the phrase “Content and Rating Review” after the title and author of each book so they will more likely show up in search results when people are looking for content ratings for any given book.
Another improvement was to include the book covers of related books at the bottom of each review. This was a matter of customizing an existing wordpress plugin to display the book covers rather than just the titles.