DarkElements – New Layout

So this has been in my head for awhile and I am finally designing and coding it up! DarkElements has seriously needed a redesign for awhile, and the currently layout was pretty rushed. So I decided to re-do everything over the next little while so that the site can be better overall!

So lets chat about the new design’s first page. First off I went back to the roots and stuck with a darker look to fit with the title ‘DarkElements’ … bright blue didn’t really fit the dark part of that theme!

I made the first page a little more useful. You can get to all the sections from the nav, so you don’t really need a splash page, instead it focuses on what is new with large images for easy navigation. I’ll be sticking to about 2-4 new things on the home page to keep it fairly short.

Sidebar: Cosplay Tutorial
The number one reason (which attracts about 100 visitors a day!) is the cosplay tutorial list. Since I am also running the twitter feed and the *new* facebook feed I figured I would link all three groups together here. On other pages this section will be a mini navigation, so you can view the subsections of pages.

Sidebar: Links
I have shared links with a couple of websites, but who ever visits a link page? I figured it would be more fair to keep them on the main page for now and possibly remove that section from the main link list. Alternatively, I might run a “featured tutorial” where a really good tutorial or website is featured. We’ll see where it goes 🙂

Sidebar: Twitter Feed
Since twitter feeds can just be thrown on websites with a bit of code,  I thought it would be a good idea to include cosplaytutorial on the site, that way recent tutorials that have not been added to the list will be available.

Sidebar: Google
So I have turned to ads, and I worry people will be pissed that I did. However, I have good plans for those ads! I am looking to pay for site hosting for DarkElements that involves a database. A database would then improve the tutorial list tenfold.
1) Easier updates, I could create a CMS that just lets me throw information in and click submit. This would put it in the database, automatically update the page, and automatically sort it. I could update much easier and far more often so the list will always be recent. Currently … I update by hand >_>

2) A proper search feature. I will be able to set it up to be sortable by section, series, character, date etc… as well as allow for keyword searching. Not only will the tutorial list look much cleaner and organised, but it would make it easier to find what you are looking for.

3) Additional pages. I would like to start a section for reference pictures.  I would also like to host user submitted tutorials, product reviews, and even posibly run an online cosplay magazine (free).

unfortunately I don’t have the money to pay for all this without help (I already pay for the domain name out of pocket!) so I figured google ads that pay per click would be a fair way to support the site.  Benefits of google is you can choose what keywords to include, so while Iw ill be including some of the higher paying ads I will mainly focus it on cosplay related advertisements – who knows, it might end up helping someone out!

and as always, any sugguestions or comments for the new site are welcome, it is still being built so feedback is loved!

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