Web-Strategist.com – 3.0

(Jeremiah: The following is a guest post by Mitch Canter who lead the web redesign for the version you’re reading. It’s been about two years since we’ve done a redesign and I’m due for a refresh (see how we involved you). But to be successful, I know I need to get inputs from the community, so I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback)

Good afternoon!  My name is Mitch Canter – I guess you could say I’m the wrench that keeps the Web Strategist blog ticking behind the scenes with updates, changes, and new eye candy.  It’s been two years since we launched the current version of the site, and Jeremiah and I are beginning talks to move this site into a new version.  New features, a new design, and some new elements to keep you guys (the community) going.

That being said, we’re asking for your suggestions as to what you think the site needs.  We’re looking for ideas that will 1) enhance the community, 2) provide new and exciting features, and 3) allow the easiest access to the main show here: the content and discussions.

We’ll be taking suggestions for right around a week, so leave your thoughts in the comments below.  I’ll be monitoring things and discussing the various ideas with you, and once we’ve compiled our data (and Jeremiah’s thoughts on the site as well) we’ll give you a game plan.

This next month is going to be teeming with new ideas and cool features, so stick around!

~Mitch Canter
http://www.studionashvegas.com

(Jeremiah again: love to hear your comments below, how can we improve? I tell companies to listen to their customers, so I will follow suit. Your opinion is important to us, we’re listening!)

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  • Hi all, congrats for all the hard work, every post is great, it would be great to integrate into the blog a feature like feed my inbox, sometimes i get stuck with tons of RSS to read and when it gets direct to the inbox its easier, just as an option.

    Congratulations again for all the hard work and teaching us everyday.

  • Just keep the same quality of content and the community will keep growing by itself !
    For what it's worth, I like to find
    – the last articles in case I missed one
    – the last tweets
    I read this blog for its great content and I just like it as it is. The package shouldn't be more attractive than the product…
    Thanks for your amazing work.

  • Hi Jeremiah and Mitch,
    I love your blog, learn from it a lot and really inspired by it.

    You really focus us on social media best practices and the ROI from it to business.

    I really like the way it is now, if i would add something is more focused place for social media ROI and improved tags system.

    Thank you! for all we learned from it.
    Sharel

  • The content is already first rate, as you can tell by the web traffic and retweets. The provision of tables, figures and presentations is more work than just providing text and pictures, but is one of the distinctive features that makes these posts more than just a set of opinions. Keep that up.

    As far as new features, why not include access to some of Jeremiah's speaking engagements. This fits nicely with the goal to increase public speaking and provides easy access to 5 minute previews of what a Corporate buyer my be signing up for. You can post those just below the Flickr Photos or at least provides links to a few samples of Jeremiah in action.

    To further stimulate an already interested community, why not lay out a few case studies across a two posts, using the first one to set the stage and invite reaction, while using the subsequent post to summarize the dialogue and then provide the rest of the story.

  • Totally doable. There are a few options for this and any of them are easy to implement – I'll keep this one in mind for sure.

  • Keep in mind, the content will be as fantastic is it always is. The refresh is more for 1) Visual changes, 2) Adding new Features, and 3) Enhancing current features. Be brutally honest – that's what we need to grow and improve the site!

  • Nothing much to add but one thing:

    Maintain your current positioning and add few featured posts!

    -Anshul

  • Nothing much to add but one thing:

    Maintain your current positioning and add few featured posts!

    -Anshul

  • Nothing much to add but one thing:

    Maintain your current positioning and add few featured posts!

    -Anshul

  • Thanks Anshul

    What do you mean “Featured Posts” Anshul? Is that referring to the content or a feature?

  • Hi Jeremiah and Mitch,

    Content is king on this site and echoing other commentators keep up the good work.

    Potentially there is scope to reach out to the community that follows this site by getting guest contributors to post.

  • Content. These posts would be focussed on specific issues which might be of interest to new readers.

    -Anshul

  • Wow thanks Marc, appreciate the recognition.

    Noted on speaker media.

    When you say “case studies” are you talking about companies I talk about? Or clients I work with?

  • Like others there is no question about the content quality and the current design is rather minimal ensuring focus on the content. From a purely design perspective (i am no good at it), i think the comment bubble next to the title of each post does not do a very good job at encompassing all the text (At the time of writing the bubble reads 11 + there is an 'and' which is going out of the bubble)

    and yes, the right bar could use a few widgets ('Popular Posts' etc)

    A useless minor blip but then since the feedback does harp on the design, i thought i offer my 2 cents 🙂

  • This comment came in on Twitter, just centralizing

    http://twitter.com/#!/kwhitede

    @kwhitedesign Kenneth White @studionashvegas @jowyang Perhaps create a header/masthead that is integrated with the content, not so separated.

  • Awesome – thanks for centralizing

  • Thank you Anshul for the clarification.

  • Noted on focus of measurement and ROI, I hear it all the time and the quant and qual research backs it up. It's a top need.

  • I read almost all posts when they are new but this site also serves as a fantastic repository for a lot of subjects. I know it's hard but I would really like some kind of categorisation that would make it easier to find older material. There is a lot in here that is not outdated, even if old. Now I put the “gems” in my own bookmark list but that is not an optimal solution for two reasons: Bookmarklists tend to be huge (at least mine 🙂 and it is not always possible to state what is a “gem” and what is not. I often find myself having a vague memory of having read something really bright a couple of months later, but I can't remember enough to do a decent search.

  • TheClassicCarol

    – Top ten posts, this month, this year. The question arises, though, would it be chosen by Twitter RT's, Facebook likes, or number of comments. . .
    – Events calendar
    – Aggregate content by topic (drop down menu?)
    – An occasional picture of @GoodBoyRumba

  • TheClassicCarol

    Oh, and update your favicon

  • Sharingiscaring

    Suggestion…the best way to involve the community is to provide context for your feature requests that tie to the larger redesign strategy. What do you believe are the key user tasks of the readers? What insights from analytics have been gleened that instruct on what has worked well/could be improved in terms of building the community? Hopefully you can share so that we can help you build a better mousetrap.

    For example, regarding the former, I would imagine that folks try to a) keep abreast of latest trends and b) are researching topics for projects or looking answers to current problems.

    IMO the site is great for a) but could probably improve as it relates to b).

    Better site search and content tagging would be great. I'd also like the ability to tag and favorite articles for future reference. I'd register for these features.

    Hope this helps.

  • Tony W.

    One other thing I'd like to see is “What Jeremiah is Reading/Following Right Now…” — I think J. consumes plenty of media, so if there was an area where he posted favs when he read them (either linked or where he read/saw/heard them) it would be great. Twitter works for this, but this would be a bookmark where we could find other great content!

  • Tony W.

    Current design LIKES:
    – LOVE the social media bar in the header – “Connect with Jeremiah”, “Subscribe via RSS”, Search box — I'd re-order them though, with the “Connect with Jeremiah” and the Search box switching spots (emphasizes how to connect/follow Jeremiah and on the right is a familiar spot for us to look for search on most websites). Oh and I like the suggestion of simply putting “Search” inside the search box instead of “To search, hit return” that another person made below.
    – LOVE the “Tweet Bar” with your latest tweet. Simple, clean and timely!
    – Simplicity of website – I can read articles one after the other, all on one page. Content is king as it should rightly be.

    Areas of improvement:
    – Menu bar – doesn't seem to match the design of the rest of the header. May be as simple as changing the font so that it matches better.
    – Eliminate clutter – Flickr photos, Feedburner & Twitter counters aren't necessary.
    – Group sharing elements & comments bubble – I like how the comment bubble hides the comments so we can just read your posts, but I REALLY dislike how it messes up the look of the title of the article. Could a “sharing bar” be created to put the re-tweet, Facebook share and # of comments under the title of each post? The Facebook Like button at the end of each post could probably be added to this too. All I want is a clean, consistent looking beginning to each post where the title and the time/date of the post can be seen easily.
    – Too many font sizes – I think in trying to keep the blog simple, sticking to one font was great in the beginning. As the blog has evolved, trying to differentiate things by font size now makes it difficult to figure out where to look. Maybe it's as simple as coloring the background of the right-hand column a light grey or blue, so that we know that the posts are the main attraction. I think that might help.

    Other random thoughts:
    – Pictures are nice – perhaps if they're relevant, they can be posted with text streaming around them in the individual posts? Otherwise, I think I'd be content clicking on them when they happen on your twitter stream.
    – Mobile site? – Thought I usually read the posts on my e-mail, once in a while I check the site on my phone when on the go – and due to all additonal little pieces, it loads quite slowly. While our phones should catch up soon (I'm on a Blackberry Tour), a simplified version of the site for mobile would be a nice extra.

    Overall, I think that the original design of the site (as shown on your website under “Portfolio” – when there were less items in the menu bar, and less things on the sidebar, etc.) was great – it's just that now that there are more categories and widgets, the design is a bit overloaded with all the extras. I'm excited to see the next version come to life.

    Hope that helped – please don't hesitate to contact me if anything isn't clear!

    Take care!

  • This post makes me think, “Why am I here?” Looking for nuggets of wisdom I suppose. (Not whole books of it. More like lunch time reading – I'm having soup and a sandwich right now FYI.)

    And… “How did I get here?” RSS

    Without RSS you'd be pretty much dead to me. I've got a one page scan of RSS feeds about professional online stuff that I glance through a few times per week. At some point, I decided you write things worth reading so I added you.

    Of course, I've also got you bookmarked on Delicious. But I only would look for that if I needed to hire a strategist, or find one for another specific reason. So please keep the RSS.

    Otherwise, the site is pretty mature. It doesn't need much reworking. Makes sense to freshen the design occasionally.

    A small peeve: My spell check doesn't work in this comment box. (I use Firefox and it usually checks my spelling automatically, but doesn't work when commenting on some sites.) I've got horrible spelling.

    Also, suggest you highlight your comment replies a bit more strongly for easier scanning.

    Haven't looked at your site on a smart phone. Expect you've already thought of that. Find myself surfing from the iPhone more and more.

    Cheers and best luck with the refresh.

  • Andrew thanks for taking the time to comment –noted on the feature requests for spell check.

  • Tony

    Thanks you triggered a lot of thoughts of my own too, great analysis and needs request.

    I don't really want the “Connect with FB” as I tend to not respond to all the requests too many and FB has limits so it really doesn't makes sense.

    Also Technorati is pretty much not talked about –not sure I need to keep it here.

    I post images embedded in my post, sometimes the “Tweetmeme” feature gets in the way.

  • Tony

    Good one. I end up tweeting what I think is interesting –but that data is often lost into the ether –the tweets disappear over time, who knows where they go?

    Agree on some type of curation tool. What if the top RT'd tweets that had links to them were captured here somewhere? Could be interesting, a combination of editorial and crowd curation.

    Wonder if the latest iteration of Echo can do this.

  • Agreed, some of my top posts are buried, we need a way to create a library.

  • 🙂

  • Thanks Carol, good thoughts.

    Can't include GoodboyRumba, I have a cute limit set of blog –he would below the charts off.

  • Thanks for opening the question out. For me, this is a great site that mixes two contrasting but complementary needs: historical/archived content and current thinking/events etc.

    The former requires easy access to your 'classic' posts, therefore search becomes a key function of the site.

    While the latter I guess requires you displaying more dynamic content. Some of this will be 'pre-classic' content, other stuff will be feeds of your tweets, events, thoughts etc.

    I would say the current site is heavily weighted towards the more static content, probably reflective of the fact that it was put together a couple of years ago I think.

    I'm also part of your social crm pioneer group on google, it would be nice to see this somewhere.

    Your web site I guess serves as the hub which draws people in, but then you want to also give people the flexibility to pick up your content (archived or current) and take it with them in a way.

    Look forward to seeing the next iteration evolve.

    Good luck
    guy (@guy1067)

  • This is my first visit to your site, and the first post of yours I have ever read. (Thanks AllTop!) What I see here is a very engaged community (look at all the comments on this post!) and someone who is interested in helping them grow/improve/thrive.

    However, you need to have been a member of the community already to know where to find the gold nuggets… there is no way for a new reader to get introduced to your content and community.

    One suggestion would be a “Greatest Hits” box on the right side. Have 5 or 6 posts in there that are extremely popular or extremely valuable. If I read one or two and see great content, then I am going to do whatever work is necessary to delve further into the site and search for more great content.

    Aaaaannndd…. to simplify that process of discovery, I would suggest that every post link to 3 or 4 “similar” posts on your site. Chris Brogan does this, and I will literally spend an hour going down that rathole of link-link-link-link and consuming amazing article after amazing article.

    So. I will be back! But my big suggestion is to make it easy for NEWCOMERS to discover amazing content. Give them a bit of that easily and quickly, and they will dig for the rest of it.

  • Agreed; a greatest hits column would be great – New design is clean man, but what do you expect from Mitch? – looks really good BTW.

  • Haha – this is the second iteration – we're hooking up sometime soon to talk

    about v3's design, so stay tuned!

  • Alison Cummings

    I appreciate the opportunity to contribute. Not sure where you are at in the process … or what the scope is, given Jeremiah wears numerous other hats! But here goes.

    1) Ways to enhance the community
    – Create a member forum w/profiles to increase networking on and off line. There is that extensive list of Web Strategists, Community Managers, etc. but it is a bit overwhelming and hard to access…would be amazing to see the thought/expertise/energy behind all these names mobilize! An amazing knowledge community that is hard to harness via lists and comments alone.
    – Provide opportunity for community to share experiences, ask each other for help on locating key info including research and get feedback/input — just as you have via this post. Include a product/book review section.
    – Research topics: organize a library and also allow forum members to query and contribute, as there is a lot out there, both free and for purchase, but it is not always easy to find. If possible, allow review of paid research … I know I would appreciate seeing reviews before I plunk down the $.
    – Would it be possible to allow members invest à la Groupon (maybe not the best reference) in specific research topics allowing cost share distribution and access to information that normally would be cost-prohibitive? Many of us who are self-employed can't afford fees like $499 a pop. And with no reviews available, it's hard to know if you will get what you need. Potential for Altimeter on many fronts.
    – Allow community members to post a case study of their project with comment section.
    – Why not engage a small number of this community in your blog redesign usability test phase? And if there are 2-3 designs to consider for the final decision, open to a vote on your blog? Extends a sense of ownership to the community.
    – Like HuffPost, create badges to recognize frequent and/or valued contributors?

    2) provide new and exciting features
    – Allow ability to see what is trending in the forum discussions (like Twitter)
    – Localize search, as per research library, and extend to posts, presentations, etc.
    – Allow options for comment formatting and posting URLs to references
    – Related posts widget
    – Most recent posts widget
    – Community favorites widget
    – Any degree of customization possible? e.g. a newbie widget that could be disabled?
    – Open up Web Strategist job/career section. Community could submit posts at minimal to no cost. Is the $199 fee limiting the number of jobs listed? Would be great to supplement with content related to role of strategist. For example, content like the Sept 30 article “What do Employers Want in a Corporate Social Media Strategist?” Also add a city state filter in searchable job posting tool. Having a central reliable location for Web strategy jobs would be great – especially if it could extend internationally. Maybe testimonials/data to support value of job bank, e.g. people who found their job via your site …
    – Interviews done with industry, thought leaders re: Web Strategy and books or studies released. Fun to hear individual's speak about their work in a more informal setting and to learn about their motivations, experiences, e.g. Charlene Li and Open Leadership: Ask her the same questions posed to those interviewed for her book, e.g. when was the last time she really messed something up and what she did about it.
    – Ask Jeremiah: Answers to questions from the community. (Not daily, for sure! But would be a nice touch to connect with community — community could also add comment and links in relation to question and Jeremiah's response.)

    3) allow the easiest access to the main show here: the content and discussions.
    – Yes, it really is hard to see the information … there is a lot of “noise,” both in the content post themselves and the site layout. You could do a lot with improved IA, UI and usability testing.
    – Just a a short list to improve readability: redo your CSS (definitely change this font ;)) and use opportunity for using fonts, colors and style formatting (subheads, etc.) to draw attention to key elements and avoid competition (.e.g. the reader's eyes don't know what is primary, secondary, etc. in focus)
    – Homepage: Maximize real estate with a new header – Use to promote Jeremy and take out “About” in sidebar. Sidebar can be a really strategic place for widgets, promotions, etc.
    – Feature posts: use excerpts for feature posts vs. one long post, feature 1-3 at most, and in sidebar include 5 next most recent posts.
    -Posts: Can you create content template layouts (3 at most) that allows more flexibility in the placement of graphics and embeds?
    – Internal pages: Also do same for internal pages – use excerpts. And contextualize sidebar. Some features will and should remain constant – but if you had the most recent posts, related PPTs, etc. for internal pages, there is continuity. You might consider a different template for internal pages, depending on the context.
    – Create two nav bars: One (in current location top right) that features Jeremiah Owyang profile, speaker, etc. The second or main nav would span the layout below header and list key sections of site.
    – Make search more prominent and as mentioned allow for localized search within archives, forum discussions, etc.
    – If possible revisit the categories (loonng list – wish I had that list!) and give archives its own landing page.
    – More options on viewing articles and presentations – and sharing.

  • Thanks for all this, we're processing all this feedback (including yours) during this quiet holidays!

  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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  • 4168415365

    That being said, we’re asking for your suggestions as to what you think
    the site needs.  We’re looking for ideas that will 1) enhance the
    community, 2) provide new and exciting features, and 3) allow the
    easiest access to the main show here: the content and discussions.

  • This next month is going to be teeming with new ideas and cool features, so stick around!