Do I need a blog redesign?

I’ve had this blog redesign for a few years now, and it may start to show its cracks. For some, they like the simple layout and design, easy to scroll, for others, they may want a more updated look and feel.

I’ve noticed quite a few blogs have been changing their designs lately, they are more media centric, have more of a front page newspaper look, esp for high volume blogs. Who’s done it? Techcrunch, Scoble, Teresa Valdez Klein, Shel Israel, I think I first noticed this a few months ago from Ars Technica. In fact last night I was evaluating quite a few premium wordpress themes that are available for purchase.

Curt Monash of Network World reviewed a few blogs, and gave me some feedback when I asked how I can improve, (read comments) then extended it to his own personal blog with practical recommendations. He gives me and other bloggers some food for thought on effective blog design for 2008.

I believe in full feedback loop (part of the reason I ask so many questions), and in fact have done surveys’ before to find out what folks want (I now know the majority of my readers are interactive marketers). I keep in mind that I write for a business audience, often a corporate, that’s making decisions about how to use web tools.

Perhaps one of the most important thing about user experience is to remember the users, so I’d like to turn it over to you:

  • Do you think I need a redesign?
  • If so, what should change?
  • Any examples of blogs that you like?
  • 35 Replies to “Do I need a blog redesign?”

    1. Jeremiah,
      this blog design works if you ask me just fine. You are writing a blog and people are posting comments. If you wanted to be like Mike and Om, than you would change it a bit a have space for ads, but you can’t since you are an analysts. Keep it clean and simple. Most importantly, keep writing the same way you have been.

    2. Hi JO,

      I’ve accessed your blog from two different OSes on many occasions — yes, I know I can tweak the appearance on my end — but the default appearance on XP differs from, say, Vista — and I’d recommend having a look at the varied ways it renders on such different operating systems (I totally prefer Vista’s defaults, ps!).

      Your reader comments are way slicker and cleaner on Vista, and the copy renders as sans-serif, which is my preference, actually, even though designers contend that serifs can actually act as anchors for the eyeballs…

      But it’d be good to refresh. just did…and the owner of that site blogged all about his changes, and the challenges he faced.

      Just my 2 euro cents.

      –ADM in Prague

    3. I think you should consider a change if you have had the same design a long time.
      You write so many great posts, it would be nice if you had some sort of “most popular posts” or “most commented posts” list in your right hand navigation.

      /Sara from H&H in Sweden

    4. I would do something that uses the full screen width. Seems like wasted space, most of us are running high resolution displays.

      Don’t change the content though…it rocks =)

    5. I am sure you are aware of this, but I think Darren Rowse over at did a really good job with his redesign and commented on the whole thing.

      I think there is value in being able to view the most popular posts or the service posts easily.

    6. Hi from france,

      please just Keep it simple !
      You can maybe have a look to the width : Blogs usually look pretty small on my 23 ” screen.

      On the other hand.. people would probably love to read you on their

      I love what you write !

    7. Not that there is anything wrong with your existing design, but it probably wouldn’t hurt.

      I recently updated my layout using one of Unique Blog Design’s free themes. Aside from dramatically improving on what I had started with, I added functionality and more importantly, the updated theme that I selected proved to be easier to manage and less “buggy” than what I had previously, thus saving me time. I was also able to improve on the way my ads are laid out so as to be more appealing to my readers without sacrificing anything.

      I recommend you go for it.

      See also:

    8. I would say, yeah. Would be good to do a redesign. A couple of things. Firstly, I would recommend going with a fluid width theme. A fixed width can look very narrow, as mentioned by one of the earlier commenters. Secondly, I would agree with what someone said earlier about having a “most popular” posts section or something. And I would probably recommend rethinking your topics/archives list, because with the amount of content you have, the lists are getting really long.

      You’ve got consistently great content, you can certainly look at redesigning. It’d be a nice update. =).

    9. The only thing I’d really liked to see optimized is your font-size: +100% I’d say.

      I’ve (till now) never seen your front page. I won’t need it in future as well, as I’m reading your blog via NetNewsWire.

      What I’ve never used is your 2nd (right) column.

      Smile! Gerrit – We speak Online.

    10. I actually used your current design as an example of the new, clean simple look I wanted in my new design. I would love to use a stretched photo accross the top as you do, but that is a WordPress feature, difficult to do in my TypePad. Almost moved to WP, but it would have required reentering thousands of links and tags. Short answer: Keep what you got. It works well. The change requires a great deal of time and I don’t think you have it.

    11. Do you NEED a new design? No. Since what you actually say has a lot of core value, people will just read it.

      My opinion though, is that you can do with a site face lift. There’s plenty of themes that are free or small fee that are still very clean. You don’t need to go all crazy news magazine front page.

      You may, for example, want a clean theme with three columns as you’ve got a lot going on in sidebars and you may be better served by not having the long scroll. Minimally, I think it’s time you consider a date archive widget that allows expand/collapse by year. And perhaps put the static stuff in pages with top of page tabs. You’ve plenty of vertical space in the masthead to totally tighten up, have some navigation and still end up with more content above the fold.

      In terms of time to do all this? If you don’t have time to do it yourself, just pay someone. Shouldn’t take long. (Though theme hunting can be time consuming!)


    12. Mostly a feed reader here, but taking a look. IA couple of potential refinements:

      * Reduce the vertical dimension of the blue header (20%?) and make the global nav top right “pop” a bit more with color, and/or vertical pipes to separate nav choices, and/or a button effect.

      * Bump the font up one if you really want those (ok, us!) old enterprise folks to read it.

      * Put your last name in the subhead. Having only Jeremiah 2x starts to invoke Madonna/Cher/Seal phenomenon)

      *Add a style audio file of your voice saying your own name — giving users a clue how to pronounce it and sparing you from confusion with your Gerry O’Yang Irish doppelganger.

      * I’m continually amazed by the allure tag clouds still hold for folks, and these are likely the folks who are coming to your blog homepage rather than accessing via RSS.


    13. You can’t go wrong with animated gif’s…

      Seriously… IMO you need to go a little wider and maybe incorporate 3 columns. Use the columns to display more small sections that allow readers to see past content. You have no recent posts, or popular posts, or related posts, etc…

      BTW, with all you social tools, I know you have some really good ideas about how to integrate different forms of content into you blog. For example, connect your flickr account to return images based on blog content. Return related twitter posts to blog post, etc…

      Actually now that I think about it, your blog is fine, just leave it.

    14. I’m soaking all this in everyone, thanks. I’ve also NOT Tweeted about it, and removed it from Friendfeed, I’m just getting the core feedback from actual readers.

      I’m thankful, keep the feedback coming.

    15. I’ve said it before — in fact you Twittered about it after I emailed you. But I’ll say it again:

      You’re content is good. It’s succinct, relevant, timely and always has value. However, every time I jump off my RSS feed to view your blog I always get a bit squeamish, cause I think — “man, this guy is so much better than this!” I guess what I’m trying to say is I think your credibility is being lost more than you would thing to your first time visitors. Overall look and feel is always a factor in the way you judge credibility online. You know this. I mean, you’re from Forrester? 🙂 Things should look clean and polished right? With the content you produce that is such on the edge of things that are breaking — and you are looked to as the “thought leader”, shouldn’t the design look something a little more compelling that is not 2006?

      Don’t get me wrong — content is always king, I understand that. You’ve got that. All I’m suggesting is you clean-up on the edges. Maybe employ a logo that doesn’t look like you grabbed it from a windows template and a blog design that is a little more custom tailored and doesn’t look like you just added plug-ins at-will (don’t take those as low blows comments please. I also do realize most of the influential bloggers out there have sub-par creative designs).

      When I look at your design I wish you had the following (these elements would make me think “yep, not only does this guy write great content, and is able to translate things quickly and make it relevant to his audience, but yep he also looks the part too). They are as follows:

      1.) A blog header that is more significant and compelling and contemporary to your personal brand. Something that looks unique to you.
      2.) Your widgets and call-outs down the side are custom tailored to your overall design.
      3.) Each of your entries have an easy enough to find “share” or “email” button, rather than just “comment”. Maybe even “rate”.
      4.) You produce so many “types of content”, I wish you had areas in which you stored ‘recent video interviews’ vs. ‘recent podcasts’ , vs. ‘recent blog posts’.
      5.) I’m not sure why — and it may be WordPress, but I always have trouble finding entries using your search, I have to resort to Google custom search.
      6.) Overall layout of your blog template entires (headers, font) is refreshed. Possibly us colors to break up headlines and sub-heads. I find myself wondering where headings start and stop for the post I’m reading to the next new post.

      When it’s all said and done, you’ll probably read this and think — hey he’s got a couple good points but you know my audience that consumes my information is primarily RSS and my existing members don’t mind the design. I won’t redesign.

      All I’m saying, is for a guy who is so polished at writing well and explaining things succinctly at a major firm my expectations for you as a thought leader is you would “look the part”. You’re driving a Toyota Camry that’s reliable, solid, and safe — but it doesn’t have the prestige and appeal as the Lexus that does all the same things, just is wrapped up in a better package. (gosh that’s a bad metaphor, but I hope you get my point). After all — isn’t your overall intention of the blog to present yourself as a thought leader so that your job at Forrester is augmented?

      @ramseym 🙂

    16. I think the current design looks simple and quite fine for both type of readers – using PCs or mobile devices. BTW i bet that your core followers do pay attention to the content rather than the visual design.

    17. Ramsey good analysis, I agree with many of the things you’ve said –on the other hand, I’m evaluating the needs of my corporate marketing audience –not just designers.

      Speaking of thought leadership and design, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the design!

    18. I think you don’t have to have a full re-design. Going on Shel’s comment I think you can change the top banner and accomplish a huge change.

      You can also change colors, fonts and what’s in the sidebar right now. You would not believe what a simple banner and changing some “CSS” elements would get you. It looks like you consider this a total re-design, such as getting a new theme. I don’t think you need to go that far. I think you have plenty already here.

      I would call this more of a “sprucing up” effort. I do believe you would benefit from having more “social media” type of applications, which there are now a plethora of plug-ins for on the WordPress Codex (hint!).

    19. more rounded corners! But seriously, maybe think about the first time reader. You have so many posts and so many categories that the archives are kind of useless. Yeah, sure folks can search, and I know nobody admits to browsing any more since it is so 1.0, but I think a few more taxonomy layers would help organize the wealth of content you have created. Granted, this is a shortcoming of most blog software, though some bloggers create pages to organize content by topic, which allows organization methodologies that aren’t restricted to most recent first.

    20. Hi Jeremiah,

      I’m Curt Monash’s blog designer (for his self-hosted blogs, not his Network World one), and I followed his link here. I agree with much of what has been said so far. As I see it, there are two major issues with the current design:

      1) It looks “out of the box.” The quality and quantity of content you’re producing merit something special and unique, something that looks like it was designed just for this purpose.

      2) The current sidebar isn’t very helpful. Even at a fairly high resolution (1280×1024), I have to do quite a bit of scrolling before I even start seeing a category list.

      I would suggest seriously considering a three-column layout. That way one could be devoted to navigation, and the other to profile/promotional stuff. You might also consider moving some of the current sidebar links (such as Contact) up into the header section.

      If you prefer to stick to a two-column design, I think navigation needs to be MUCH more prominent. Much of the stuff that’s currently “above the fold” in the sidebar doesn’t deserve prime real estate. (Flickr Photos is the main example that jumps out at me.)

      As a new visitor, I’d also love to see a list of “Featured Posts” or “Hot Topics” or something like that to get me started.

      Another idea: Since some of the category names are rather vague, you might consider adding descriptions to them. That way when people hover over them, they’ll see a more detailed description. (I turned that feature off in Curt’s blogs, because he uses HTML formatting in his descriptions and the source code would show up in the hover, but it might work well for you.)

      Good luck!

    21. I recently redesigned my set with a premium template from Woo Themes. It’s the first time I’ve paid for a template after a dozen or more WP sites and I’m glad I did. I got a clean customizable design, lucid code and a helpful support community.

      If you’re considering a switch in platforms, I’ve found Expression Engine to be very flexible while producing

      Your search results & category pages could be improved with showing excerpts. Right now we have to either use Google or sift through entire posts.

      I suspect aesthetics are a low priority. We come here for your analysis and I’d wager a large audience consumes your blog through readers. However, you can justify a change with some of the usability and promotional mods mentioned Curt Monash. HTH!

    22. The design seems fine to me: simple + professional. But 95% of the time I consume your content via Google Reader, so what do I know.

      Your list of “categories” could do with a workover, though. It’s more of a list of tags, in my opinion, and not particularly useful (at least to me).

      If I were in your shoes I’d invest some time in sorting my posts into 5-7 solid categories, then maybe offering an RSS feed for each?

      Apart from that, I appreciate all the time you put into this site. Thanks!

    23. I agree with others – a bigger font size would do my eyes well.

      I like the length of your posts, they are perfect, but it would be nice if your homepage posts included the title plus the first paragraph or so. Since you write so much it would be nice to scroll through the articles a bit faster looking for the ones I want. Just bit more user friendly for my reading preferences.

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