This is an exciting day for us as our brand new shiny design for the Home Base Holidays website is launched.
Over the last three years we have concentrated our website development on the primary functionality of the site - home exchange listings information and layout, making browsing the listings as easy as possible, increasing the number of ways search results can be displayed and/or restricted to give the most accurate results, developing new features in the private member area of the site.
Although the core database part of the website will always be most important, it was time to smarten up the information pages too (a bit like spending lots on doing up your house and finally getting around to painting the front door!) However, with lots of help from our designer/programmer, Nick McAdden of Neteffects Multimedia Ltd, this re-design was much more than the equivalent of painting the front door - more like painting every front door in the street and putting up new signs to direct traffic better to all the houses on the street!
Enough of the door painting analogy (although rather appropriate for a home exchange site?) - what we hoped has been improved most in the new design is the ease of finding the information you are looking for on the site. The navigation links in the left hand column remain the same on all pages (apart from the individual newsletter pages and the search pages). These navigation links are listed under headings - Home Exchange Search, Members, Visitors and Further Information. The main links are repeated along the top of the page and in the Quick Jump Menu, along with a new Site Map page. The Site Map mirrors the headings and links in the left column but expands on these with descriptions of the information you will find on each page plus additional links to other pages on the site for further information.
When closely involved with a project, as I am with Home Base Holidays, it is always difficult to know for sure if what seems very clear and logical is as easy to understand by someone using the site, perhaps as a first time visitor not familiar with the home exchange concept. Rather than grabbing strangers off the street and forcing them to be my 'focus group' to hear a variety of views on what they might find good, bad or indifferent about our new design, I would really welcome your feedback once you've had the chance to look at the site and try it out. Either add a comment to this post or contact us directly. Website development is on-going and the best ideas for new features often come from Home Base Holidays members and visitors.