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From Away 2014 Redesign Notes

Hey everybody! You may have noticed that there have been some changes afoot here at From Away Worldwide Headquarters. I’ve spent the last week giving it a bit of a facelift, and I wanted to take a minute to explain some of my thinking behind the changes, including new features and tools that I am hoping you’ll find useful. We’d love to hear your feedback, and if something isn’t working right (or simply isn’t working the way you think it should), please be sure to leave me a note in the comments.

Here are the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing:

1. We wanted to make our archives easier to explore, so we changed the navigation structure.

When we first started the website, we had five ways to categorize the posts we were writing. Each post was either a recipe, a restaurant review, an “observation,” or a sandwich. That was it! It was a system typical of many blogs that worked fine when we first started, and had only a few posts. Now that we’ve written almost 800 posts, though, it’s starting to break down. The catchall “Recipes” designation doesn’t begin to provide a structure for indexing the nearly 500 recipes we have on the site, and clicking on “Reviews” would only show you, at best, the 5-10 most recent reviews we had written.

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So what did we do? We decided to move these larger, broader topic categories out of the main site navigation. Instead, we’re now introducing more specific topic categories, that will change to match the time of year. For example, right now, you’ll see a navigation item for “Holiday Leftovers,” since if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling mighty intimidated by your refrigerator overflowing with ham. In the summer, you might see a category for “Summer Barbecues,” featuring recipes that match that theme. In addition, we’ve added feature-rich dropdown menus to the navigation bar, so that at a glance, you can see the most recent five posts from each category.

2. We wanted to make the “Restaurant Reviews” a more prominent feature of the site.

Now, we’re assigning numerical ratings to all of our restaurant reviews, breaking the overall number down into four areas: Meal, Service, Ambiance, and Value. In addition, we’ll list a brief “pro and con” summary ant the end of each review. Please note that we have to update all of these manually, so it may be a few weeks before you see a numerical rating on each review from our archives.

3. We wanted to make access to our social media channels easier.

The fact is, more and more of the work we do on this website is taking place somewhere outside of the site itself, and we want everyone to keep up with all of the things we are sharing each day. We’ve made it easier than ever to access all of our social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and are displaying a semi-live count of the number of fans right in the sidebar of each page.

4. We wanted to put our food photos front-and-center.

We want to show you big, huge photos of delicious food that will make you hungry and make you want to cook. Our new layout places a high priority on photography.

5. We wanted to put more of an emphasis on the evolving collaborative nature of the website.

More and more, we want to bring new voices to From Away, in the form of guest contributions from various authors and photographers in Maine. We’ve rolled out a “Contributors” panel in the sidebar of each page, as well as more robust “Author Pages” with biographies and links to all of an author’s content.

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6. We wanted to introduce printable recipes, recipe boxes and shopping lists, powered by ZipList

Many people have written in, asking if there was a way to make saving and printing recipes easier, as well as adding “shopping list” functionality to the site. I’ve very happy to announce that thanks to our partnership with ZipList, our readers can do just that. Next to each recipe, you’ll see that there are now two buttons. One prints the recipe (without all of the associated photos and comments) in an easy-to-read format. The other adds the recipe to your personal online recipe box.

Ziplist is in use across many big cooking sites, including Martha Stewart, Leite’s Culinaria, Joy of Baking, The Perfect Pantry, Recipe Girl, Serious Eats, and Simply Recipes. Sign up for an account, and you’ll be able to add recipes from this and your other favorite cooking sites to your own personal “Recipe Box.”

But that’s not all! ZipList also allows you to create shopping lists from the recipes saved to your recipe box. Just click the “Shopping List” link at the top of the page, and ZipList will walk you through the rest of the steps.

That’s it! We hope you enjoy all of the new site features, and please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or feedback in the comments below.




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