Regular visitors to our website will have noticed a few changes during the past fortnight. Now that we have completed the transition of our website to a content management system, I have had a chance to focus on useability and navigation.
The first change is a complete redesign of the www.wessexarch.co.uk homepage. I have wanted to design something bright, bold, and easy to use for some time now, and, thanks to Drupal, I have been able to do just that. It represents a departure from our past homepages, in that there are fewer words describing services and capabilities, and more focus on content and finding things.
Who Wessex Archaeology are, and what we do, is now covered by one sentence, in a large font, at the top of the page, with an inviting link to our "About" page (also soon to be updated). The 'latest news' block now aggregates the titles of latest posts from across all of our blogs, and we can now include a nice, bold, featured photo at the top of the page, with a large search box underneath it. Tag clouds provide a fun way of browsing the site, and we also list our growing number of blogs.
The large blue box contains a quote from Sue Davies, our CEO, explaining what archaeology is, and what it can do for us. It is good to define archaeology, and the context within it that we work, on the front page.
I have long thought that the word "Projects" was perhaps not the best way to describe our work. From talking to people, and doing some useability testing, it became apparent that I was right. From our homepage, more people were reaching for the search link than the projects link.
The old projects page simply contained a list of periods, counties, and Coastal and Marine projects.While this was very easy to use, there was no space left to include related content that was not directly linked to a project. Thus the Explore section was born.
Explore was going to be a sub-section of the projects page, but given the problems with the word 'Projects' in our main navigation bar at the top, I decided to change things completely.
Our new Explore section contains prominent, brightly coloured blocks of information about the different aspects of our work. At the top are links to projects by period, place and tag, so that it is still very simple to jump into our work via a 'traditional' route (although tags are a bit new...). The period and places pages contain new Google maps to help make finding projects a little easier. New themes and reports sections, and a syndicated news (more on them later) section are linked from Explore, all with colourful icons from the kNeu! icon set.
The Explore section will change and grow to reflect all aspects of our work, in ways that we have never done before.
I hope that our website is now a little easier to use, and certainly a bit more colourful. We hope you like it. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.