A New Website
So here it is. The new website. By far not finished, but live in version 1. See it as a living document. A document that will constantly be updated and improved. Originally I was planning to launch the new website in December already, but I guess you know the issues with creating something for yourself. Furthermore, as you might know, I am doing everything on my own as a one man band. From the very first steps of planning a new event, over speaking to the possible speakers, sorting out their travel, acquiring partners, creating all print and other onsite assets, to doing the support for the ticketing and much much more (the list would be too long, if I mention everything here). In short: it also was a matter of time. Maybe Ian Devlin is not totally wrong with stating this on twitter:
@btconf You need to start getting help with the website, not because you are not capable, but you are only one man.
Nah, he is not just maybe right, he is right. But that again is a matter of many things as well. Trust, the time to explain what I actually want – no matter if we talk about the website, assets for the event or anything beyond tellerrand related actually. Luckily there are people just doing stuff. I am delighted to being able to call some of them my friends. One of them is the wonderful Bastian Allgeier. He did so much to help me with this site and I am certain that you won’t be able to read this, if he wouldn’t be able to help me. He helped with producing it, but also gave me a lot of feedback on design and structural decisions. So THANK YOU, BASTIAN!
“But why a new website at all? The old one wasn’t too bad.”, you might say. Here is a short explanation and some of reasons why.
Single Event vs. Multiple Events
Since last year beyond tellerrand is taking place not just in Düsseldorf only anymore. The issue with the old site was, that is was event related, always only featuring one event. Now it happens that I need to put information about more than one event online and therefore I needed to totally restructure the whole website. Especially as I am planning to also start smaller, single day events soon – but more about this later.
Obviously the benefit of having a single website for one event is that everything is easy to reach. For this reason, one important decision was how to create a sub-navigation for the event itself that is understandable and not too complex? I decided against a dropdown or popup menu for “Events” to list all the navigation points of each event in it. I went with a simple sub-navigation under the masthead and thing it is quite obvious to find and clearly understandable. Bastian had the idea to get rid of the big header in the event pages. It is easier for the user to focus on the content and find the information she is looking for. I also decided against any fancy animated menus and hiding the navigation of just 4 elements away and went with a Top Links solution for both navigations. Later Bastian implemented a dropdown for the Events navigation, showed it to me, and I liked it.
Instead of having to look on Lanyrd or the several sites of the past events, I was planning to create an easy to use archive of the events that already took place. The idea is, that this archive is going contain all the coverage of the talks such as slides, notes, sketch notes, and videos reachable in an easy way. We implemented the archive already, but it still needs a lot of tweaking: links to coverage should appear in the overview already, videos are going to be embedded in the speakers page, event partners need to be included at the bottom and many more bits and pieces. Stay tuned for updates on this.
I don’t have a blog since years anymore. But I always felt the need to write a little more. People constantly said, that they are interested in hearing more about the stories from behind the scenes. Why do I decide certain things in the way I do? Who designed this year’s shirt and how have they been printed? Who is this speaker, what is she talking about and why did Marc invite her to beyond tellerrand? …
Until now I used Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and so forth to broadcast little bits and pieces about all this background information. From now on I want to talk about it in more detail. One of my greatest examples for this is Kai Brach, who founded and runs the wonderful Offscreen Magazine. I love reading his background stories in the Offscreen Blog. A long way for me to get there.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Finally I get back to the point of making decisions. In August already, I started to scribble first ideas for the new website into my sketch book. I started not only with visual ideas, but also with questions. A lot of questions. How do I want to place the quotes of past speakers, attendees, and partners? Where should the main navigation sit? Do I want to use a lot of images for the event overview? How should URLs be structured? Just to mention a few things. Sketching and taking notes was absolutely great to get this stuff out of my head. Out of my head to have space for new ideas.
While finally creating the website, many things changed again. They weren’t looking or feeling good or have simply proven wrong. Now I’ll give the decisions I made some time to live and grow and who knows, maybe things change again. The site in the end needed way longer than expected and than I planned, but I can only recommend to start taking notes for any project as early as possible. No matter if these are just roughly collected notes or very basic sketches and also no matter if you take your notes with pen and pencil on paper or digital. It really helps getting your head empty for fresh, new stuff.
As usual I am very happy to get your constructive feedback. You found mistakes? What does work for you on the website, what doesn’t? Where can I improve and/or add useful things? Is there something that you simply don’t understand? Please get in touch with me. I am always thankful for this, as you just can improve things based on good feedback. Thank you.