football or a keypad?

So I hear college football is in full swing. I don’t actually know that because it just isn’t something we keep up with around here. My college didn’t have a football team and sports aren’t really Chris’ thing….so we are pretty clueless to sports stuff. My sweet little niece filled me in that Saturday was a big day for Oklahoma football.

9.11gameday-01

Football in this area of the country is big time. At Craft Weekend, Amy game me a snout (I really don’t know what to call it). The kids crack me up with it…I think I might be breaking some kind of Oklahoma football code of ethics by letting my children wear this.

9.11gameday-03

So, Saturday we got asked all day, “Are you going to watch the game?” What game? Turns out Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa were all playing. We felt it was our Okie duty to at least turn on the tv and pretend we were watching. While the game played, I thought I’d work on a website for SnapShops.

Back in the day I had a photography website. It had 2 songs by my friend David Lon playing in the background. The hardest thing about shutting down my photography website was not having those songs playing on one of my sites anymore. So, I got to work on a quick little site for SnapShops and now David is playing in the background again. Here are part ofΒ  lyrics to the first song The Gift:

Everyday I find a way to keep my spirit going on

some days I laugh – and some I cry

and some I sit and wonder why

I never know what’s ahead – and I can’t believe the life I’ve led

all the love I have known makes me feel so lucky

~

There’s a time to crawl and a time to walk away

there’s a time to laugh and a time to kneel and pray

there’s a time to lose and a time for us to win

there’s a time to die and a time to start again

~

I wanna live and I wanna give to the One who died for me

who even loved those who laughed as they nailed him to a tree

but I can’t lie – I sometimes try but I’m a fool who looks away

and I suppose he somehow knows and loves me anyway

~

There’s a time to crawl and a time to walk away

there’s a time to laugh and a time to kneel and pray

there’s a time to lose and a time for us to win

there’s a time to die and a time to start again

~

Such great lyrics…it is even better set to music. Here’s a peek at what the new site looks like, you can hear the song there:

I ended up staying up way to late to finish the site, but it is done and I’m happy with it. Here is the deal with people like me…we constantly need to change things.

~

Soon it will be colder outside and all my painting projects will be halted. As a result, I’ll be moving on to blog makeovers. It has become a habit for me…a big facelift here about once a year. I’ve been dreaming and planning the changes I want to make. The content will be the same, but the look is going to be so new and fresh. It makes me giddy thinking about changing things up.

There are so many gorgeous blogs out there that are so easy to navigate and find what you are looking for – here’s some I find inspiring as far as blog design goes:

Creature Comforts

Oh, hello friend

Here’s looking at me kid

Evie S.

So, here’s the deal. I want your opinion. I want to know what you’d like to see on this blog as far as easy of navigating goes. Right now I know I want to do these three things:

  • update DIY page with images of each project and more categories (and add the last 6 months worth of projects)
  • create a favorite posts page
  • create a page with a topical list of the photography tip posts

What would you like to see?

What would make it easier to read and navigate?

Anything you wish was easier to find?

It’s fall. While the rest of Oklahoma is watching football games, I’ll have them on the tv….but I’ll be playing with my blog instead!

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  • Kimberly - Going to check out SnapShop site now and listen to David’s song!!! LOVE the idea of having images with DIY project! Really love all 3 of your ideas you want to do.

  • Jen - i’m 100% for the ideas you’ve had so far! LOVE the phototips and the DIY’s, and making them easy to navigate? AMEN SISTER! and oh, hello friend is pure inspiration to me too. its like we’re sharing a brain this morning!

  • Lisa Johnson - how about a Firecracker page? πŸ™‚
    Seriously- I’ve been reading since the photography blog days and I love everything you do. Can’t wait to see the changes!

  • Jodi - I love the new link to the new site. The site is gorgeous. You should do a blog post on how to setup a blog. I just redid mine and I love it. I have that same linen background as a couple of those blogs you like have!!!

    I think your blog is beautifully organized and easy to navigate but hey if your in the mood, I think breaking down your categories even more would be amazing!!

    I am not much of a football fan either so I will join you at the keyboard this Fall. Here is to a Happy Fall with lots of fun changes!

  • sarah - I already LOVE your blog. I find it one of the ‘cleanest’ by design. please don’t change that! So many blogs i look at have all kinds of extra stuff on the front page and i feel it takes away from the content. I think you are on track for the changes you already want to make.

  • Christy - I’m not a football person either. I blogged about that yesterday. BUT I thought of you this weekend….we had a big game, and we played against OU….our town was crazy. People flew in from Oklahoma to be at the game. It was nuts around here…I just liked having an excuse to host a themed party.

  • Jamie - I love that your blog feels ‘personal’ like, this is ashley.
    Don’t change too much!
    So happy for your snapshops site- that’s wonderful!

  • Sara B. - I love the site layout. I think it reflects who you are as a person as well as a professional. It short, it is a good representation of your brand. Here are a couple of things from a usability standpoint-
    1) switch the links on the bottom of the page so that the “contact me” comes prior to “my blog” the reason for this is that as soon as i click “my blog” I am taken off of your snap shot site. I wonder how many people you will lose this way as they jump down the rabbit hole of blogs?
    2)Under the details section, I would suggest that you try to get it into one frame so that the consumer does not have to scroll (the bar is also a bit light and hard to find). You want them to be able to find all the info very clearly and not have to hunt for it.
    3)You say on the details page “You can register using the “Purchase” button (below, left) ” Why not just have a link here as well? Make it easy peasy for your consumer to register! In fact, link it

  • Ryan - I only have one request: no more Times New Roman. I have some weird aversion to it…kind of like my weird aversion to needles. No idea why. πŸ™‚

  • Kari - First off…BOOMER! Secondly, I’d love to see a list of blogs that you read. Your blog is so inspiring to everyone that I’d like to know what blogs inspire you.

  • amanda torres - I would like to see more posts on football. Kidding. I like your posts now. No real rhyme or reason. Just the perfect info at the perfect time.

  • cailan - Oh my, it seems like everyone is updating – it must be that time of year. I’ll look forward to have some more categories to help find older posts. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • cailan - Oh, but please keep your photo size Big. πŸ™‚

  • Sharon Osborn - Can’t wait to see the blog makeover! Would love to see a section with the latest and greatest (tool, embellishment, adhesive, marker, you get the drift). We addicted scrappers are always looking for something new to buy πŸ™‚

  • Allison - Love the new SnapShop site and the music! And OMGosh! You included one of my comments in your reviews!!! I’m so honored! πŸ™‚ But I could kick myself for not proofing it better and catching the typos! I saved the course as a word doc and go back to it like an old favorite book, sometimes just to soak up the joy in your photos. And something about middle/bigger brother reminds me of my little guy. πŸ™‚

    I have really loved using M for photos of my son…after using my 30D in automatic mode for 2+ years (even after a 6-session photography class at our local university) – pitiful! On a recent hike near Seattle, I just had my cell but used a bunch of your composition tips with great results! I could go on and on…SnapShop is worth so much more than I paid! πŸ™‚

    Note: the home photos on my blog are NOT snapshop-worthy just in case anyone happens to click through…but I’m working on that!

    As for football – it is a way of life down here in Louisiana too – people plan weddings and kids’ bday parties based on football schedules!

  • Madaline Meatte - thats a hog snout…Go Hogs! Teach them to Call the Hogs. You’ll be a fav with the Oakies.

    I also love your blog, and I like everything you post about!

  • Dee - Love your site now, so please don’t change too much. Please don’t make it so complicated it loads slowly and you have to go to another page to actually read a post. (I no longer read Design Sponge because of those issues.) Would love a photo tips page (especially if you have camera advice for those of us with limited camera funds) and would love a links list to other blogs you are enjoying. Thanks for sharing your family with us each day!

  • Allison - haha – Just realized I didnt answer any of your quesions!

    Your blog is one of the most organized and easiest to navigate of all the blogs I follow. Other blogs feel cluttered and claustrophobic but yours never has. I like the additions that you’re planning, and the previous commentor’s suggestion for a lit of your favorite blogs.

  • Kaitlyn Bright - I would love to see a craft “road trip” series. I always am looking for a craft when I am on a long car ride (especially over the holidays) and think it would be fun to have different projects that don’t require too many plugs/hard surfaces to work on etc. Thanks for asking!

  • ashley - WOOOOOOO PIG SOOOOIEEEEE! RAZORBACKS!

    Kids love to call the Hawgs.

    (can you tell I’m from Arkansas?)

  • Kirstie Wynn - I’m all for more DIY projects; that’s what initially drew me to your site!

  • Jennifer - I would love to be able to subscribe. I usually see what is in my reader on my i-google page, then click over to the site to read it. I can’t do that with yours. I love the idea of consolidating photography tips. You inspire me–thanks for all the beauty!

  • tracy a - you call yourselves oklahomans?!? i’m all the way up here in canada-land and i can’t watch OU football unless it is a major game…withdrawls are occurring!! and the snout, yes, it breaks all sorts of sports ethics! (but my arkansas dad would be proud!!) i would love to see more diy stuff on the updated site. it is surely one of my faves! blessings

  • Trinity - I am total opposite of you and resist change while you crave it! I know I will like your new and improved blog, but I can’t think of how to change it. Our house is alot like yours in the football area…last time I had the game on, the conversation went like this with my 7 yr. old:
    Her: What happened to his hand?
    Me: Nothing, why?
    Her: the guy said he hurt his hand!
    Me: hmmm…I didn’t hear that and it doesn’t look like anyone is hurt, what exactly did he say?
    Her: He said, (in her best announcer voice)…”And he took the handoff”
    Yep, that’s football season around our house!

  • giozi - Your niece is adorable she has the same smile that your son. I don’t like football too, here everybody like it especially after Spain won the worldcup

  • Stephanie Catlett (Mom's Happy Place) - Love the new website! I agree photos with each DIY would be awesome! I love this blog already, it can only get better!

  • maryliz cawley - wooooooo pig sooooieeeee! the razorbacks here love your blog. xoxo

  • Carrie - I love the ease of your current layout, but also can’t wait to see the changes you come up with. I like your clean design and hope you keep some touches of your adorable pictures/projects (like you currently have on your banner). Oh, hello friend is a favorite of mine and I’m so looking forward to going to her vintage pop-up sale this weekend.

    I’ve used the DIY Project link at the top and look forward to the updates. You’ve provided me with so much inspiration and I can usually find the exact post I’m looking for when I need it either in the DIY Project or by running a search (I think I searched “2 year bunding” 15 times when I was making bunding for a recent party). The way you explain things is just so straightforward and, since I just teach myself to sew (etc. etc.) as I go along, I can TOTALLY identify with your explanations.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Go Pokes! {My father in law is an OSU alum, so football is big around our house :)}

    I would love to have either a search option under the DIY projects or separated by type: paper crafts, wood working, etc??

    Hope that helps!

  • natalie - I love following you on pinterest- and would enjoy a link to blogs you read!

  • Sally R - Love the site as it is put also excited about the changes you have in mind – particularly the images on the projects page. Please keep the links to your pages at the top of the blog – on some blogs I have to scroll up and down trying to find the links to pages when they are on the side bar. Since you asked I’ll give you a little more – though they may be more of an individual preference. I like links within a blog to just jump there on the current page BUT links outside the blog to open in a new TAB.

  • Mikki - I love your suggestions of what you will do with the blog. I’d love to see more DIY posts in the DIY directory to try out. Also perhaps a list of Design Sponge projects/links if possible? I dont follow it so much but would like to keep updated on your posts and see the old ones.
    A random request I know and I don’t know if it’s something you would do, but I would love if clicking on the under the sycamore banner at the top of the page would go ‘home’. I know you have a tab for this but I find it quicker/easier to do when the whole header part is the link like on many other blogs. I instinctively still do it here and then realise I have to press ‘home’ in the tabs underneath. It’s not a big deal but I thought I’d suggest it anyway seeing as you asked a little.
    Love your blog and photographs! I always look forward to new posts. Thanks!

  • Heather D - I am not a football person here in Tulsa either. My fiancΓ© is however so there has been football on for the last 2 weeks along with espn in between. (be happy your hubby isn’t into sports) I don’t mind live games but have never gotten into televised ones. IMO if you didn’t go to the college why be so into their team? But that’s just me πŸ™‚

    Do you think your boys will be into football when they’re older?

  • Lili - I love your diys!

  • Amy - Oh my gosh! I love that he’s wearing the hog nose! Yeah, I don’t know what to call it either….but they sure are awesome. And my husband is beaming with pride that I passed on a little of our Hog love to an Okie. Ok, really just to anyone. πŸ™‚ On the blog update topic, I tried to get one of your buttons but couldn’t copy/paste the info. I had to save the image as a pic, but it doesn’t link. I LOVE the DIY page and the idea of a picture with it. I access that page a lot.

  • andy - I love your blog and hope the updates are super fun and awesome. I’m sure they will be. Love the o hello blog but sometimes find it comfusing. Other than that I am excited to see the changes

  • MelissaM - Photography tips please!

  • Sarah - I love your blog, I’ve narrowed it down to the only one I read. I have total faith that whatever you do, it will be perfect. πŸ™‚

  • Misty Waldenville - I love that Firecracker is wearing an OK State shirt! As an OK State alum it makes me smile… also makes me homesick. :0(
    How can you live in Oklahoma and NOT follow football? I’m pretty sure that’s blasphemy! :0D

  • Misty Waldenville - Haha, just kidding. I saw the OK State t-shirt and got all giddy! That’s not Firecracker at all!

  • Juli - My kids love looking at the pics of your kids. Pertaining to your muddy sons, my 3 yr old daughter says: “Dose are yucky Boy-ees.” LOL!

  • Stefanie - Link the large image at the very top to the blog homepage. Sometimes I click over from FB and want to catch up on other posts. I manually edit the URL to get to home. (and, yes, I now realize Home is on the Nav). Other than that, I think everything else is great.

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - I love your blog. It has the same homey look and feel as your real home so I hope you don’t tweak it too much!

    I visit you for three things: DIY ideas, photo tips, and photos of the kids. So anything to help me find those things – like the DIY page with photos, and a photo tips page you mentioned – would be great!

    One thing I do love about your blog though is the “hidden tips”. Things like how in this post (http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2011/08/04/was-that-an-accident-or-on-purpose/) you mention that you chose to overexpose the background so Firecracker’s face wasn’t too dark, or how in your sewn thank you cards you just fed the cards one after another without cutting the thread & trim to save cutting time. Those are really useful, common sense nuggets and I love it when you throw them in there! Maybe you could include “call outs” in your post to highlight some of these things?

    I’m sure whatever you do to your site, it’ll be great!

  • Julie B - I’d love to see your reading list. I like that your blog isn’t too busy or cluttered. Your sponsors aren’t overwhelming and I like that.

  • noel - so happy to see your little man sporting a hog nose! woooooo PIG SOOIE!
    -noel from arkansas πŸ™‚