Schedule and Blog Redesign

Last week, I flew in from Tokyo and after a quick family reunion went straight to Dallas Texas forum, and met with clients here in SF in end of week. This week is as busy as before, and Ill be with clients Mon-Wed (I had to cancel with some folks sorry), Thursday I’m booked solid and having dinner with another VC firm and the CEOs of their portfolio companies, then will try to go to Web 2.0 expo in SF on Friday. On Saturday, I’m off to Denver at 6am to keynote the Thin Air Summit. I’ll be generally slower to respond to emails (they’re backlogged quite a few days back) so be patient with me. This will be my final week of travel (I’ve been on an airplane 5 of the last 6 weeks) and have some important research to publish soon regarding the Wave on community platforms.

On a side note, I’m likely to hire a web designer to redo my blog –if you want to talk, email me (see contact page), this could by my Christmas present to myself. In your opinion, what blog designs are best fitting for the marketers, web professionals, and social media folks that read my blog in agencies or corporations? Throw out some URLs that you think would be fitting.

  • Jeremiah, good luck with the redesign. I’ve just gotten a present like that this month and if you’ll be as happy as I was with what you get, it will indeed make a great Christmas present.

  • Is this your new redesign?

    http://wordsofabrokenmirror.com/

    Clean, simple, and elegant.

  • Hey man – before you start working with a web designer, make sure you have a good handle on your web analytics. That will help you focus on key areas and also guide you on what to cut. As you know, editing is invaluable!

    Also, maybe check with Megan Burns internally, who has done some work on blog usability in the past…

  • Good point Peter, I’ll factor that in. One think I noticed is that some older posts get a LOT of traffic, they’re still very valuable and I want to surface them.

  • Kit Seeborg

    What do you think is lacking in your current design? What do you want to improve?

  • The objective is to showcase more content that’s hidden away in previous posts, as well as to highlight featured content –maybe even videos.

    Some decision makers come to my blog, and I want it to be more of a resource to them –not just a time stamped journal.

    Font too small, I’ve overloaded the side nav, the ‘social media’ features like Twitter aren’t well integrated, and the top viewed or top commented posts are hard to find. In general, it’s time for a visual refresh.

  • whatever you do, include a lot more engagement plugins and functionalities… you’ve got a lot of “conversations” but very little ways to leverage them right on your blog.

    user submitted posts and resources would be cool too.

    and if you’re not using wordpress, best recognize!

  • Jeremiah,

    I love how clean your layout is. A couple of small things to consider:
    – You have a ton of topic categories. Can you consolidate them into larger categories? The list is pretty long and it’s hard at first glance to get a true sense of the major thrust of the blog (I’m obviously new here…)
    – I’d move your “Subscribe” box much higher on the page (see Brian Clark’s Copyblogger and Chris Brogan’s blog).
    – Can you get your monthly archives to collapse into years that expand to months? Again – it’s a long list.
    – At the risk of adding a little clutter, you might want to consider http://www.sharethis.com, http://www.lijit.com, and the “Recent Visitors” widget from http://www.mybloglog.com. All 3 are great functions that can help folks spread your content, find your other profiles, and build a sense of community around your work.
    Really minor stuff. Again, I love how clean your layout is (I need to take that learning away and apply it to my blog which I know is busy right now – if others would be willing to provide similar perspectives/feedback on things I should consider in a redesign of my blog, I welcome the comments).
    Outside of those points, not a lot to add. I hope you find this helpful.

    Mike

  • There are plenty of good wordpress themes (paid ones) that give you a lot more control over what your frontpage looks like, e.g. less like a traditional blog. A lot of professional bloggers now have frontpages like this e.g. techcrunch, problogger. In which they have a combination of widgets that highlight

    1) The top story they want to promote
    2) List of recent posts (but only excepts from, to save space)
    3) Most popular in last week
    4) list of most recent comments.

    These guys – http://www.solostream.com/ have a good selection of themes that are widget bast in which you can re-arrange frontpage design, but there are others, drop me a line if you want more.

    I certainly think you should start from a technical basis of what goes where – then can further skin it with a designer later.

  • I like the look, but not the functionality, of the new AMA site. Also, sans the annoyingly large ads on the right.

    Good luck! Your blog is super!

  • Hey Jeremiah,

    Looking forward to seeing your new design.

    You probably already know this, but make sure whomever you hire isn’t just a designer. Get someone that really knows information architecture and ALSO how to make the best of tools like Word Press or Blogger or whatever you are using. Structure your site intuitively using these tools and you’ll have the flexibility to manage your site more dynamically. 😉 Word Press in particular has a lot of plug ins you can install on your server to improve the IA of your site.

    Wish I had time to do the same… it’s TIME for me, as well. I’m a good case of the shoemakers kids having worn shoes right now.

    – L

  • Alina’s site is nice … but a clear strategy and goals is the key! A good designer can help you by applying visual and usability factors to enhance what you are wanting to evolve toward.

  • The first thing I suggest you/your WordPress expert does is upgrade the version of WordPress you’re running here. A peek at the page source indicates it’s version 2.2.1. The current version is 2.6.3.

    I like your present design (although I rarely see it as I get all your content via RSS). But good to consider a fresh design and asking the community for opinion is a great idea.

  • I thought this article had some good ideas about how to approach the sidebar and expose other relevant content – http://www.doshdosh.com/how-to-analyze-and-improve-your-bounce-rate/

  • Talking about the WordPress upgrade, you can try following plugin for automatic and easy WordPress version upgrade:
    http://techie-buzz.com/wordpress-plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade-12-release.html
    I use it on all my blogs.

    Marko
    http://www.howtomakemyblog.com

  • Apollo

    Miah, can’t believe we missed each other in Dallas. Our 0-2 record is sucking for Texas.

    But, I just caught this thread and wanted to contribute smashingmagazine.com as a place to spend 10 minutes reviewing blog design appraoches. Look in their nav links to the right of the content…They have a couple of sections on blog usability/design. And there are multiple blog templates/themes provided by their designer community for people to implement free of charge. Really strong designs, not hacked layouts like you’d find on a generic template site, the ones I’ve seen are well thought-out from a usability standpoint and are categorized well. This site is an incredible resource for anyone into web design trends. Similiar to Miah’s site, but focused on interactive design versus social media/marketing.

  • Neville has a point, but you might as well wait a week and upgrade to WordPress 2.7. For a point release it is going to be a really big deal! Way better than the 2.5x or 2.6x.

    I would be glad to do your upgrade and install a pre-built theme in exchange for a shout-out. There are some really great pre-built themes for sale. Not saying the free ones are no good. It just sounds like you want to step it up a notch. I could even help with limited customization (I don’t have unlimited spare time 🙂 ), but honestly you would be surprised at how much of a boost you will get just by upgrading to 2.7! They have out-done themselves this time.

    Key areas of improvement are making plug-ins drop-dead easy to install which will help with:
    – Surfacing great posts from the past
    – Highlighting feature content
    – Allowing visitor to adjust font and store pref in an optional cookie.
    – Easily rebuilding (click and drag) sidebar as you add/remove social-media stuff.
    – And of course, making every look better

    All made orders of magnitude easier in WordPress 2.7!

  • I personally think it would be good if you have a huge resources page. But more importantly, your blog design should reflect you.

    I think it would be appreciated more if they could almost get a feel of who they would be working with via how it looks.

    Personally, I quite lack something a little different, hence the drawing of a chess piece with big black glasses on mine.

  • * It’s ok to go wider and use a style giving plenty of left side writing space with two right side sidebars. (Or span across for larger widgets or advertising.)

    * Use “Subscribe” link using AddThis or similar. (Offers users more subscribe/share options and usage tracking.)

    * Get plugin to collapse monthly archives. Still easy for users to navigate and buys a lot of vertical.

    * Put the static links in top menus, again you open up vertical space on the side so your many categories can all tuck in there. Then you’ll have room for a widget or two to have some content cycling widgets.

    You asked for links so here’s one to my site. (Note: I’m not much of a blogger, I just need to play with the tools a bit to make sure I understand how it works. But maybe you’ll see something in the layout that’s useful.)
    http://www.germaise.com/blog/

    Brian Gardner makes some very popular themes you might like; at least as starting places for tweaking: http://www.revolutiontwo.com/

    Here’s where I took the base theme for my site before I tweaked: http://www.dailyblogtips.com/wordpress-themes/

    Scott

  • I really like this one with the expandable links bottom right: http://dannybrown.me/

    JC.

  • My $0.02

    You should consider a “database back end” that drives some aspects of your blog; and make those “Wiki like” so we can all contribute. That way the platform list, people list, case study submission, etc. could be data driven.

  • To really do this right, you will need to invest the time required to thoroughly explore the redesign from the user experience perspective coupled with your business objectives. This is deeper than it sounds and should initially be done as a Task Analysis exercise to thoroughly flesh out all the functionality and features that will ideally support your progressive format and messages- I know because I admire your work and try to get over to check you out on Twitter, on your site and in Facebook whenever I get the time. BTW – LOVED your technographics articles and references- and bought the Groundswell book!

    I do UX Assessments, Analysis & Architecture, as well as IA, Web Analytics, Usability and Visual Design. If you would like to do a short interview, or would like to see some additional references, resume, etc., please feel free to contact me: 651-503-4563; or email: xshapes at gmail dot com.

    Essentially, I think you need a web site with a supporting blog. I think that would give you more freedom and more extensibility. More discussion is needed to know for sure.

    Best regards,
    Dave

  • @ John Carson. I saw this page on my incoming links and obviously had to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation, John.

    It’s a premium theme by a guy called Brian Lovin of Elite Theme Designs:

    http://elitetheme.com/

    It’s extremely flexible and adaptable to plug ins and widgets, and very social media friendly.

    Thanks again @John, and looking forward to seeing what design you come up with Jeremiah 🙂

  • Dave (and all)

    Thanks for this, let me digest all this and get back to folks

  • Apollo! man I’m sorry we missed each other, we’ll catch up soon

  • travel safely. you must have a KILLER jet lag cure by now.

    on the blog redesign, i would cast my vote towards simplicity and ease of use. too often i see blogs jumbled with design features that make it difficult to access content. then, they are banished from my RSS.

  • With all of the interest from knowledgeable designers, and the goodwill from the community, why not do a shoot-out and crowdsource your next blog design?

    I’ll be attending the Thin Air Summit in Denver this weekend. Hope we get a chance to meet!

  • I think I’ve mentioned before about putting up a CMS. That would allow you much flexibility in presenting your archives. I’d even help organize it – maybe 🙂
    My sister is building mine with Joomla. It will be finished next week. (A friend is making a logo this weekend & my blog needs to be added on a new WP theme).
    http://communitystrategist.net/

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