Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Homepage for RateTea

Some of you have likely already seen this, but in case you haven't, or in case you want to learn more, on Monday, we launched a new homepage for RateTea. Here is a screenshot:

Why did we redesign the homepage? While the old page was functional, we were getting the message from a lot of people that they were surprised when they learned the full extent of our site. Our site now has hundreds of researched articles on different styles, regions, and brands of tea. We wanted to better communicate at a glance how extensive the site is.

A lot of new visitors to the site also seemed to be misunderstanding what our site was about...thinking that the site sells tea (we do not) or not realizing that the site was open to the public. People also seemed to be missing the connection to the philosophy of slow food, as well as the emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues.

Some of our goals for this new homepage are to:

  • Make it easier to navigate: there are now more pages accessible in one click from the homepage.

  • Make it look sleeker and more professional, more pleasing to the eye.

  • Clearly communicate the full extent of the site, as well as the spirit, philosophy, and purpose of the site.

  • Encourage more active participation: there is a prominent sign-up box rather than just a discrete link, and the sign up process has been made simpler.

The following screenshot shows a new line of links that reflects the site's growing base of tea-related articles. We have now added a tagging system, classifying articles by subject (tea and health, tea and sustainability, brewing tea, and two categories we hope to expand more in the future: tea business and industry and buying tea).

What we removed:

If you miss the old "Styles of tea" box, you will be pleased to find that most of these same options are still available in one-click. Scroll down to "Updates to Styles & Varieties of Tea" and you'll see the little line "More:" (also highlighted above) which lists the major styles of tea. Or, for a more comprehensive listing, just visit the Styles page by clicking the tab at the top.

We also removed the drop-down box with the listing of brands of tea, because it had become redundant. We have since improved the searching and browsing features on the site. You can still look up teas by brand by going to the "Brand" page, or you can search by typing the name of the brand, or name of the tea, into the search box at the top.

There are a few small features, such as the news box and the twitter / facebook icons that we will probably add back soon. We just wanted to get the page out there because it had been in development for some time and we felt it was much better as-is than the old page.

Let us know what you think!

Let me know by posting a comment here, or for private remarks, contact us through the RateTea contact form. Do you think this new page more thoroughly communicates the depth and richness of topics covered by the site? Does it look more inviting ? Any suggestions for further tweaks that could move us farther in this direction?

Thanks in advance, and also, thank you for the numerous people who have already given us feedback!

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