Makeover near finished feedback wanted

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Skamokawa's picture
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After a major overhaul of our site, the developer has let me loose to finish tweaking photos and copy.  Our internet speed is so slow today that the server host will no longer let me in until I'm re-authorized.  The good thing is that means I'm done for the night.  The not-so-good-thing...I hoped to get more photos uploaded.  This process has been extremely frustrating today.  I shot, renamed, captioned and resized but could not upload most of them.  So......

I have been looking at this so much today my eyes are swimming and words are dancing so it really is time to stop.

Please have a look and tell me what you think of navigation and information presented, also any other glaring errors/things I've overlooked. 

This has been a very long time coming!

 

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Twin Gables Inn
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dumitru's picture
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Hi,

The end result looks nice, but the loading times could see a lot of improvement.

Here's what a quick test came up with:

Page load time: 6.87s
Total page size: 2.63MB
Total number of requests: 105

This page has 40 external Javascript scripts.
This page has 13 external stylesheets.

40 JavaScript files is incredibly excessive, considering that you don't have that many "special effects" on your website.

Two additional suggestions:

1. Would like to have some control arrows for the slider on the homepage.
2. Would like to see a dedicated "Gallery" page in the menu, so that I don't have to jump to 10 pages to see 15 photos.

There are some other issues with the theme on smaller screens, but that probably isn't an issue for most visitors.

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Just curious here...What issues do you see on smaller screens? It looks fine on my iphone.

dumitru's picture
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On some resolutions the menu is not visible, as the header doesn't resize properly.
http://screencast.com/t/OSiTGtNhop

Skamokawa's picture
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I noticed this while turning iphone on its side, then the navigation menu disappeared. Functionality on a small device is important.  Over the last year, Statcounter stats indicate increasing numbers of hits from phones.  One reason for the current overhaul.

Skamokawa's picture
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Thanks D

most of what you said will give me reason to Google what the heck you're talking about.  I do know long load time not good.   It may take some time to figure it all out, but a very kind person has just given me a huge leg up.  Thanks for the response.

Skamokawa's picture
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Yep, it wasn't the slow speed, it was the incorrect naming of some files that caused the lockout.  Fixed some of the bad labels last night then was able to get back in. 

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Wow fast correction...well done. I am on my iPad, and hgave to say the streamlined page is very attractive.  Too many bells and whistles just distract me, iam enjoying the iPad version. 

 

Ps the header images fit nicely as well.

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Skamokawa's picture
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Someone Else made that correction.  I won't have a chance to get back to this until tonight at the earliest.  

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The Pacnw is green, evergreen to be correct. I think the color bodes well w the location and scenery. 

Madeleine's picture
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In the slide show photos (I did this, too, and it made me insane going back and fixing it...) Stink to one theme. If you are going to capitalize all the words except prepositions, do it consistently.

Agree with JB that the photo of the stove in the cottage is not the best one for your header slide show. The front porch one is inviting, tho!

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Skamokawa's picture
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Someone Else added the snow shot!  With temps here this morning, I guess its time.  I still see the glaring need for more (and better) descriptive photos.  I think with this template, I will be able to slowly add (and replace some) as we go along.  Frankly most of them this time are the best I could do over a couple of afternoons and evenings with no lighting and an iphone.  The differing color temperatures make me wince,  but I'm use to seeing this on other sites and I suspect most don't notice this specifically.  I dream of several days to bring in the lights, stage the shots and do some serious food photography, what actually happens is a quick pic with the phone before the breakfasts go out, then most get deleted because the colors aren't right!    Our apt is also up on that air site, but with no exterior photos.  I just didn't think of it before adding the rental there. 

Madeleine's picture
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Skamokawa wrote:

  I dream of several days to bring in the lights, stage the shots and do some serious food photography, what actually happens is a quick pic with the phone before the breakfasts go out, then most get deleted because the colors aren't right!    Our apt is also up on that air site, but with no exterior photos.  I just didn't think of it before adding the rental there. 

Staging helps which is obviously not happening AS you are serving. You don't need the lights, days of photo work, etc. Good, well-lit pix can be taken on an overcast day near a window. No flash. Do not use flash.

Yes, we had a photog take our food pix. We cooked she took the photos. It took about 2 hours to get 4 different breakfasts cooked and shot. But years later, not every food shot on my website is hers. More of them are mine. So, my secret to that nice 'glow' instead of the harsh blue/white tones? A tall lamp with a champagne colored lampshade. And a warm CFL. And creative cropping. I plate the food with the camera and lighting ready to go. Put the plate on the counter a little away from the lamp to avoid the glare on the plate and then snap away. Probably 1 out of 10 pix is worth it. I'll download them right away and if I need more, the food is still there waiting.

Cropping is your friend. You don't need the whole table in the photo. You don't even need all the food in the photo.

I have one plate I use only for food photography. It is square and white and almost everything looks good on it.

You can do this. It takes time but getting the website out there is your big deal right now. Once that stress has ebbed, tackle the food.

Skamokawa's picture
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Yes, diffused daylight is best.  With our porches, the house is pretty dark most days this time of year.  I generally hold up a small lamp as a sort of key light for the food on the plate and shoot it on one of our window tables in the dining room.  It's the wide room shots with room lights of differing color temps.  Also some room lights competing with daylight from the windows that make for an inconsistent experience while viewing the finished photos in a slide show.  Something you cant really "fix in post".  frown

Madeleine's picture
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Totally agree that you either have to crop out those dark corners in the room photos or else have up lighting hidden near the floor or a big spot light.

I swear I am going to get DH to hold the huge work light he has and aim it at the ceiling for the next round of photos when I get the last 3 rooms painted.

Skamokawa's picture
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That sounds like it may do the trick.  DH has a portable video lighting kit with umbrellas and diffusers.  Works a treat, but have to get all out and set up, cords hidden etc...

Skamokawa's picture
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oops, must have hit save twice. 

gillumhouse's picture
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I do not have the guts to even TRY what you are doing!!

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I think you are being way too hard on yourself. Just compare the OLD one with the NEW one...There is NO comparison!!!  All the little details will take a bit of time to iron out..but you are so far ahead of the game now, don't let those things get in the way.

Skamokawa's picture
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Yes.  I no longer have that increasing feeling of dread when I think of our "front door" and the ever increasing need for the upgrade.  The help received in getting this done has done wonders for my sanity.  I don't feel nearly so overwhelmed and panicky about it.

Madeleine's picture
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Ah! The Fort Clatsop pic did it. I know around where you are now!

Anyhoo...about the site...

  • Altogether a big improvement!
  • I did not check any SEO so I won't talk about that
  • The home page photo is too big. The other pages have the smaller size and my opinion is to make all the page headers the same size. Why? Too many clueless people have told me, 'I can't find (fill in the blank),' because they didn't think there was anything to scroll down to. (Yes, I see the links above the photo, it won't make a difference to the clueless.)
  • I think the green is a little too dark. Your inn name and the other text is at the very top is getting lost.
  • OK, one thing about SEO ;-)  - your page names could be better, especially the one for your vacation rental. Put all the really important stuff at the beginning. If you want to tag your inn name onto that sentence, do it at the end. The more important info (Lower Columbia River Vacation Cottage/Rental/House) should be at the very beginning. Use the other page titles to do the same. You don't need your inn name in each one. Always start with something you think someone would search for using up a lot of your keywords in the titles rather than starting with 'policies' or 'meals' or things like that. Your 'our area' page should really pump in the best keywords for what guests usually do: Kayaking, Hiking, History - Lower Columbia River Washington.
  • Nicely done. All the new pix will really help.
Skamokawa's picture
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Your comment about the Fort Clatsop photo has prompted me to add to the list: more iconic type photos of the area for the "area" page.  Page renames are also on the list. 

Madeleine's picture
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Skamokawa wrote:

Your comment about the Fort Clatsop photo has prompted me to add to the list: more iconic type photos of the area for the "area" page.  Page renames are also on the list. 

I would totally stay there for the historic stuff. That lumberjack museum is another good one to get a pic of. We pulled right off the road to see that!

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Madeleine wrote:

Skamokawa wrote:

Your comment about the Fort Clatsop photo has prompted me to add to the list: more iconic type photos of the area for the "area" page.  Page renames are also on the list. 

I would totally stay there for the historic stuff. That lumberjack museum is another good one to get a pic of. We pulled right off the road to see that!

Both are the kind of things WE would drive an hour out of the way to see when we traveled with the kids.

Skamokawa's picture
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Sounds like the Camp 18 museum.  I've never been there!  Must go, photo and time the distance!

Skamokawa's picture
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Got lucky with the Fort Clatsop pic.  The living history folks were there the same day I was.  I think you're right about the page names.  I'm making a list as I go through the comments here.

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Personally I LOVE the wow factor of the large photos on the home page. I also like the contrast of the dark greens I think the inn logo looks fine on the green.

Maybe someone's monitor needs color adjustment surprise

OnTheShore's picture
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The link back to your website in the Contact block on the left sidebar doesn't work (because it is recursive).

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Skamokawa's picture
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Recursive.  That's terminology above pay grade.  There are some links on the 'Our Area' page that also don't work.  Maybe the same problem.

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No, if the links on your area page don't work. It is because the incorrect URL was with the original link on your site, or..the link has changed and you need to update it.

Skamokawa's picture
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Funny.  I checked the links before I put them in, must have typed incorrectly.  Its on the punch list.  Thx.

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Problem...no http:// with the url. Also you always want to check "Open in a new window."

Skamokawa's picture
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Ahhh, I'm in the habit of taking the http OUT for sitebuilder when I do edits at work.  Thanks!

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NICE! VERY NICE!

Just looking at the home page quickly (this typo):

Welcome to THIS B&B:

your vacation home in rural ,

(capitalize Your)

 

I would remove the rental image from the header slide show. You can have that elsewhere without a kitchen entry being as a WOW photo - which is what the header is all about.

 

And now for an obvious question: The title suggests TWIN where is the other one? In the photo I only see a single. In my mind I want to see the image that fits the B&B name on the home page. Just a suggestion, I love the shot that is there of course, love love love it. But the twins would be great as a starting point home page image.

Skamokawa's picture
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The apartment photo will be removed from home sliders. 

Getting a good shot of our exterior is not easy.  An outbuilding (where the apartment is) blocks the view of one of the gables from the street side, and it is difficult to get a good view from the water side without being in a boat.  I've got a great water shot, but its snow covered.  I can add that to the home slide show soon, but not quite yet! 

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Skamokawa wrote:

The apartment photo will be removed from home sliders. 

Getting a good shot of our exterior is not easy.  An outbuilding (where the apartment is) blocks the view of one of the gables from the street side, and it is difficult to get a good view from the water side without being in a boat.  I've got a great water shot, but its snow covered.  I can add that to the home slide show soon, but not quite yet! 

Get a bigger boat!

Just kidding, I love that line from Jaws.

You need to have the waterview side of the house. I didn't want to seem pushy...haha But that is the cool side, I know it is not what everyone sees driving up, but it is the cool side!

Skamokawa's picture
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Agreed. The lady who held her wedding here said she loved seeing the house from the water side and just knew she wanted to be married here.   I can take the photo from the opposite shore but then have to take HOURS photoshopping the pilings out of the foreground.  I won't have those kinds of hours for awhile!

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The problem is not slow internet that won't let you in....if you are blocked from the server, it would be because you logged in too many times with an incorrect password. You must contact the hosting company and give them the locked out IP address.

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Love small B&B and Cottages,   I can relate , good to see the site improvements you made .Now I better improve my site !

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Skamokawa's picture
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Where did you see the 'cottage' copy?

  We actually have a separate apartment.  I'm purging all references to 'cottage'. 

Innkeep's picture
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Isn't it amazing how much difference only a few years makes for websites?  I have a much better idea of what to expect when I come out for a visit! blush  Kudos for all your hard work.

For us midwesterners, the small "location" map at the bottom of each page might actually be zoomed out a bit, perhaps to the size of the state, so we could figure out where you are.  The directions page helps everybody get there, so you're not losing any information there.

Might give some thought to information about yourself.  Many of the innmates have gone in that direction.

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Thanks Innkeep.  The small maps on the bottom of each page actually place us further down the road from where we actually are.  Its an ongoing problem.  The large map on the directions page is right on.  Somewhere (I hope)  I have a graphic that locates Skamokawa as part of the Lower Columbia River Region.  It may be sized too small for this edition, I'l know if I can find it. 

Personally I lean to reading about what the accommodations are like rather than reading the innkeeper's  - "We quit the corporate world to fulfill our dream" or some variation thereof, but so many here have stated they won't stay if they can't get a feel for the innkeepers that I'm coming around.  It's just that we quit the corporate world to fulfill our dream - Ack! A living cliche'.

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