8 May 2009

2009 Blog Improvement Project Week #9

I'm working at the moment with Ali of Worducopia as part of the Blog Improvement Project to see if we can cast critical eyes over each other's blogs to suggest improvements.

Ali has asked me to consider the general look/feel of her blog--is it inviting, is her background color too dark, is the sidebar too cluttered, does it take too long to load? That sort of thing. So I've made a few suggestions for her, but really her blog is pretty good just as it is.

Here are some of the things that Ali suggested for me.
  • Making Breaking News a bit more noticeable
  • moving some of the stuff at the top of my blog down to the bottom or into the sidebar so readers see the actual blog content more immediately
  • Bring my 2 searches closer to each other.
  • she also supported me in my quest to post a little less.
Here's what I've done
  • I've reduced the content of the menu bars down from 20 cells to 8 and moved some of that content into the sidebars.
  • I've put my Book Review stuff all together
  • I've brought my 2 searches together
  • I reduced the useful Links block by a few lines
  • I've capitalised BREAKING NEWS and moved it onto the right hand bar and added an image.
So what do you think? Do leave a comment. You know I love them.

20 comments:

Bernadette in Australia said...

Having breaking news --> instead of up there is good...but it has pushed your poll down a bit so casual visitors might miss it?? It's be interesting to see if you get less votes with it basically invisible unless you scroll (I don't scroll on blogs I visit regularly 'cos I'm generally just looking at the post of the day)(but I might be in the minority)

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I'm glad you and Ali had a good time working together! I stopped by your blog briefly when you signed up (now I read all of them in RSS, which makes layout impossible to see), and I noticed all the stuff on the top made it hard to see a blog post. I'm glad that's something you and Ali talked about, it's a good improvement!

If I was going to add one suggestion, it would be to make sure the "Who am I?" line is visible when people open the page -- first time visitors look to learn about a blog right away. I can see it because I have a giant computer screen, but you might think about making the Breaking News a couple lines smaller so it's closer to the top.

I love the Breaking News, by the way, that seems like a great way of alerting people to interesting stuff online without making it into a lot of blog posts.

Sorry, long comment :)
Kim

maxine said...

Like Kim, I only go to an actual blog if I want to comment, as I read in RSS (or sometimes click on a link to an actual post). I think you've improved the blog a lot by removing some of that top matter - I like to find the post at the top, not a lot of static material. However, you then get the problem as Berndadette points out of everything in the sidebar getting lost. I played around with various layouts for a while and ended up with two sidebars, and a post column in the middle. Some people don't like that because they feel the blog is too squashed, so I suppose you can't win really! Anyway, I think that what you've done is an improvement, mainly because there is less static matter at the top of the page.
Re Bernadette's point about the poll getting lost, you can have a standard footer to your post template which you could use to direct people to (eg) the poll and note that it changes every week.

maxine said...

PS another way you could make the sidebar shorter and therefore the components on it more visible is to have just the one link to an archive page for weekly geeks, agatha christie, sunday salon etc.

Maria said...

Looks good. You might move the "feeds" somewhere else. Once a person has "fed" they don't need to see them right at the top every time. I like the latest post right at the top so that on blogs I follow, I can always dip right in without having to scroll down past things!

If that makes sense...

Kerrie said...

Thanks Bernadette. I've moved the poll up. Eventually I aim to have Breaking News only as about 5 links for the week so that will reduce in length so that will pull things up a bit.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for looking KIm. Eventually I will get Breaking News down to about 5 lines and that will pull things up a bit. I too think the Who am I stuff needs to be visible at least as people are reading the main post.

Kerrie said...

Thanks Maxine. I've thought about less in the sidebar components for the "projects", maybe reducing the RSS feeds to 3 entries etc. I'll have a go at that. That will reduce the length of those things a bit. Things do get lost don't they? I wish Blogger had the ability to have page tabs!

Kerrie said...

Thanks for coming in Maria. There always seems to the problem of things competing for space. There are some things the person who always visits doesn't need to see again and again, but on the other hand you want the person new to your blog to be able to find easily, like how to subscribe by email etc.
I'm still considering a few options, so I hope you will come back to see if I've made any progress.

Margaret said...

Looks good, Kerrie. I prefer less at the top of the blog, so I can get to the posts straight away. I agree about that Who Am I should be near the top - on new-to-me blogs I always look for this if the first post I read interests me and hate having to scroll way down to find it.

I like having tabs, which is one reason I switched from Blogger to Word Press, but I find it harder to put picture links in the sidebar than in I did in Blogger.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for visiting Margaret. I am fairly pleased with the way it looks but am still thinking about whether there are things that have accumulated that need to be cleaned out again.

Dorte H said...

I agree that it has been a good idea to rearrange your blog a bit so it is easier to find your most recent post.

Kerrie said...

Thanks Dorte. I've tried not to lose anything too, because I actually like all the elements I've included.

Melissa said...

Kerrie, I really think it's looking good! Much more reader-friendly now. Keep up the great work :-)

One note, I tend to feel like the feeds section right under the header should be moved somewhere to the sidebar...

Otherwise, it really looks great to me :-)

Kerrie said...

Thanks for your thoughts Melissa. I am still considering that one. The Writing Project bit will disappear soon an dthe main post will move up a bit, but I know what you mean about the feeds bit.

Maxine said...

Typepad has pages, by the way, but not as tabs. And you have to pay for typepad (but not much).

Kerrie said...

One link that has slipped away from prominence is Blogs I'm watching so I may move the subscribe stuff all to one place on the side and put the link back to Blogs I'm watching, otherwise I fear no-one will ever find it.

Kerrie said...

I've made what I hope is a final change for a while
- I've reduced the bar at the top to one row, move the subscribe to me stuff into a block called Follow me, and made all the other changes I alluded to before. This has been a pretty worthwhile exercise for me. Thanks for the original critique Ali

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Hey Kerrie,

I usually use the first Mr. Linky option (Image-Linkies), which just gives you some html you paste into your blog post. I'm not sure how to do the settings on the other ones, I wish I did. Wordpress only allows the first kind though. You might try asking Jill (Fizzy Thoughts) about it -- she does blogger and helps with the Weekly Geeks posts which usually have Mr. Linkies in them.

Sorry I can't be more help!
Kim

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the advice Kim. I've been a bit put off by the thought of changing the blog template which is what the Blogger instructions seem to be talking about. I'll hang off until the need strikes again

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