Lessons from Girl Next Door Honey

Lessons from Girl Next Door Honey
Photo by Boba Jaglicic / Unsplash

Girl Next Door Honey is a website run by Hilary Kearney, a beekeeper in San Diego, CA and the author of QueenSpotting. Girl Next Door Honey's primary focus is on beekeeping education. As someone who owns a beekeeping business, I like to look at other small beekeeping business websites to get ideas and compare product prices.

Information Architecture Review


Organization

One of the first things I noticed about the Kearney's website are the menus at the top and the left side of the page. The top right menu is bare bones and only lists a few items. The left side menu is more decorative and includes more items and dropdown menus.

Top Right Menu
Left Side Menu

A key facet of information architecture (IA) is organization, and I found the organization of the left side menu to be odd. According to the "About Us" page, the focus of Kearney's business is education, but the first menu item is the "Shop." The order of the menu items are counterintuitive and lacks a clear hierarchical structure. I would rearrange these items in this order:
1. About
2. Services
3. Events
4. 2024 Mentorship
5. Beehive Tours
6. For Kids
7. Blog
8. Shop

I think to order above arranges the menu items in a more logical and user-centered way for business website with an education focus. This order also places the two menu items with submenus at the top of the list.

Labeling

Kearney does a good job of labeling her information. The menu items are descriptive and accurate for the information that can be found on those pages. On her blog page, she uses categories to identify common themes in her posts. Users can click on the category that interests them to read posts related to that category.

Navigation on Kearney's site is intuitive. The left side menu stays on every page, so users can easily click on the menu item to navigate to that page. The pages open in the same window, so users can also navigate to the previous page using the back button on the web browser.

Searchability

While there is a search option on Kearney's blog, the main website does not contain a search bar. Her website would be improved with a search option on the main site especially since the content is mostly for educational purposes. Users would benefit from the ability to use a search feature on Girl Next Door Honey.

Page Layout

One thing Kearney's does well is coordinating page layout. Brian Carroll writes of the importance of page layout in a chapter of his text Writing for Digital Media. In particular, Carroll asserts that a good page layout maintains balance, contrast, and unity. Of those three elements Kearney's site excels in balance and unity, but not as much in contrast. In terms of balance, Kearney uses similar shapes and colors to achieve some symmetry in her design. The best examples of this are the shop page and the blog.

The shop page demonstrates balance as each pictured item is evenly spaced and on similar backgrounds. There is an appropriate amount of white space.
The whole blog maintains the template demonstrated above, which exemplifies the balance in the page layout.

In terms of unity of the layout, Kearney uses hexagons and squares throughout the website. These common shapes help tie the theme of the website together. The hexagon shape is used purposefully as it mimics the shape of honeycomb.

This image demonstrates the unity of the website and the occasional lack of contrast. The hexagon around the "Online Shop" can barely be seen against the back drop.

According to Carroll, contrast refers to the differences between elements. Kearney's website could be improved with closer attention paid to contrast especially with text and background colors. The biggest offender is the lack of contrast of the byline and categories on her blog page. The color is a bit light for a white background and may also pose accessibility issues for users with vision-impairment.

Byline and categories from Kearney's blog demonstrate a lack of contrast.

Application

Following my analysis, I considered my own blog and what takeaways could be applied my website. One of the first things I considered was the background and colors of my blog. I decided to lighten the background a bit in order to improve the contrast of the words and the background. I updated the date block to be enclosed in a circle, so that it also "pops" a little bit more.

My blog uses a template, so I'm not able to easily change everything, but some other elements that I would adjust include adding menu items in multiple places. Currently, there is a dropdown menu that allows users to navigate to the other pages of my website. I plan to add those pages as links to the bottom menu. I also started to add categories to my blog posts, so that they can be more easily searched. These changes will hopefully improve the usability of my blog.

Kimberly Leinberger

Kimberly Leinberger

Kimberly Leinberger is a full-time optimist, part-time realist. She is a higher education professional, beekeeper, and aspiring digital writer.
Macon, GA