Acting on blog critique

There is only one thing more pleasurable than giving advices. That is seeing those advices taken.

Recent reader blog critique gave me lots of feedback on details that can be improved at my blog. My thanks to everyone who participated especially Rajeev Edmonds of mintBlogger and Sumesh of TechZilo who made most detailed and solid entries.

So here is long compiled list of suggestions and status of my acting on them.

  1. Get good logo. In progress.
  2. Menu is too plain. Tweaked font and increased size.
  3. RSS icon is easy to miss. Made bad pick with newspaper one, blended into page. Took out from bookmarks stash of 110 plus 50 RSS icons and picked one from this set for now.
  4. What is frog icon? Not even my problem! :) Calvin and Paul should work on Skribit brand awareness. Sorry frog, people of Rome voted you dead. See you in next life new widget.
  5. No email subscription box. I hate working on HTML forms. In progress.
  6. Put popular posts in sidebar. I have trouble with this one. Not much plugins I see and they seem outdated. Do not want to put stats load on hosting either. On hold.
  7. Rename sitemap page to archives to make it more recognizable. Done.
  8. No categories section. Covered by tag cloud, I tag posts with categories names.
  9. Search box is not visible. Made it more obvious, got rid of rounded corners which didn’t fit well.
  10. Kill Entrecard . Traffic. Every bit counts for me.
  11. Kill AdSense on home page. It is covering hole. :) Would be nice spot for Skribit widget.
  12. Increase number of posts per page. Hm, I am keeping summaries short and light. Upped to seven. Should I go for ten?
  13. Play bullet in sidebar lists hints at video blog. Changed to more neutral and theme-fitting squares.
  14. Social media profile links in sidebar. I have separate social page for that. And not really active in social media so I think it’s sidebar clutter in my case.
  15. Make tag cloud larger and more prominent. Changed text align to justify. Don’t really know what else to tweak.
  16. Create 125x125 ad section. Had one. Didn’t do me much good . Still can turn it on in any moment, code is in place.
  17. Add recent comments. I think sidebar clutter. Other opinions?
  18. Show subscriber count. Added some stats to the sidebar.
  19. Use smileys in comments. Don’t want to. Text smileys are hardcore.
  20. Create bookmark section under post. Big chunk to redo together with related posts. In progress.
  21. Create big three-column footer. Again, big chunk to redo. In progress.
  22. Add blog author highlighting in comments. My comments are now marked by vertical black line.
  23. No suggestion on Skribit page . I wish there were some!
  24. Add some colors to theme. You just killed the only green frog I had. I must recover.

So, I am more or less done with tweaks. Seems I have to completely redo area after post, footer and maybe header.

Please, tell me it looks better. Or give me back my Saturday night.

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  • Lax #

    Hey Rarst, A good for any blogger yar.. I think you should have a Contact form also dude. What you say?
  • Rarst #

    @Lax I hate working with HTML forms. Seriously I think they are mostly to filter spam blah-blah-blah... If visitors can simply mail me in comfort of email client of choice - why force non-consistent form on them? Still thanks for comment and suggestion. :) Maybe I will force myself to implement contact form when doing email subscription one.
  • Pali Madra #

    It is good to see bloggers helping each other. I have another suggestion though. You have changed the bullet images which is good but the present bullet image looks like a checkbox. There are some nice bullet images at http://www.intersmash.com/300images/
  • Tim@TheWindowsFix #

    Just found your site via FreewareGenius...like what I see. Thanks for the great info.
  • Tony #

    Blog does look great! For me, I hate inconsistent forms too. I just have the email me link. My email address is 10 years old and gets about 5,000 spam emails a day, so a few more aren't going to hurt.
  • Tony #

    By the way, I *LOVE* the social tab, and will be adding one to my blog soon. I hate those widgets on my home page but never thought about putting them in a separate page with a link. Thanks!
  • Michael Martin #

    That was one of the best designed bullet lists I've ever read through. Great work there! :) The one thing that strikes me to change would be to take the www. out of the logo. It's not part of your name, it doesn't need to be typed to get here and it looks blocky in the logo. (And I agree, recent comments in the sidebar looks cluttered usually. Too many links and too much text :( )
  • Rarst #

    @Pali Madra Yep, Helping is good but asking for feedback all the time may be noise to readers. That's why critique projects and long-term offers are great in my opinion. :) Thanks for confirming the buttons, I also got the checkbox impression but wanted some time for impression to settle. Remade them to more solid grid look. Better? By the way link you provided is awesome but those are not free for grabs. Showing others work without proper license on it may be ok for collecting but not for incorporating in your design. Don't want to end up known like "guy who stole bullets from NYTimes" or something, right? :) I see your blog using Statement theme too, so bullet advice applies to you as well. ;) @Tim Freeware Genius was one of the blogs that really pushed me to start my own so I am generally well liked by visitors from there. :) Still this is not a copy and I am not as focused as Samer. So software posts only a part of content here, feel free to pitch me question or topics if you are looking for software to do specific task or whatever. Bookmarked your blog to browse later. @Tony Thank you! This post was to demonstrate a bit that I am really working on feedback. I know the content is important, but isn't it nicer to read good content on good design? :) I hear you on email! Mine is like 8 years old, who needs those forms? But almost no spam which is strange considering how it is all over the net over years. Social tab is work in progress. I need to add more action buttons like I did with Technorati there and maybe some widgets. Still one of the rules I set from the start was - no social widget crap in sidebar. It plain doesn't fit in this looks. Also shows it's good to look for unusual solutions. People really notice and remember unordinary features especially when it provides value or usability to them. @Michael Martin Thanks! I am totally crappy at design so limited to tweak what I can trying not too break too much. :) I know the logo sucks. It isn't even logo just placeholder image supplied with theme to edit your details in. I decided not to invest in logo from the start. Started on free budget to research and learn where to waste money. Seems like time really came to invest in logo so I am working on that. :) Thanks for awesome RSS collections. Had you bookmarked for them them but read through last posts and subscribed as well yesterday. PS your logo looks awesome on gravatar, great design
  • Ben - frogstr.com #

    I like the changes you've made mate, it gives a little something to your blog. Still impressed by your 147 readers...I don't want you to think I'm thinking you're faking hehe :) Your new RSS section is great also, the RSS logo is a little unique and it's hard to miss. I say bring back the 125x125, I'm open to do a "banner exchange" with you anytime if you want to fill some space. The search is a great addition, every blog should have one. I would add the top commentator plugin as well, it helps drive some more comments. I have the same comment everybody have with the logo, but I know it's on the way so I will simply shut up. I would also say kill entrecard, but how know how every bit of traffic count ;) Keep up the good work!
  • Rarst #

    @Ben Yeah, RSS is good. On a cold weekends when traffic is dead I think "at least some RSS clients on computers that were forgotten turned on downloaded my feed". :) I'll think about 125 but at moment don't want to. I mean it's not like I need to have them to be a blog? Search was always there! Only its original design kinda sucked for contrast. I have issues with top commentator idea. I mean it's value for five readers out of hundreds?.. How is it useful for the rest? You know that I am dofollow on links - it's fair to everyone who comments. Turning it into competition isn't really so in my opinion. Logo... It's some kind of perverted reverse branding already. Not "Your brand rocks, man!" but "You rock, man! Get yourslef a brand already!". :)
  • ZK@WebTrafficROI #

    I am still working on your first suggestion :)
  • Rarst #

    @ZK You mean getting logo? :) Yeah, it's tough task. Not like you can go on flickr and find your identity.
  • Pali Madra #

    @Rarst. "Physician heal thyself" applies to me for sure. You are the inspiration sir. I would also not recommend using the images on the link provided as they are because as you said the images are illegal but the ideas are good ones and one can replicate them. Sorry if I gave the impression that you should use them. Keep the good work going.
  • Pali Madra #

    Another link with images which you can use without any problems or fears http://www.stylegala.com/features/bulletmadness/
  • Lyndi #

    I love the styling of the ordered list used in this post. I have also not found a popular post plugin that works properly. On my own site I have simply added a category called 'popular' with a bit of code to show the posts added to this category on my sidebar. This works well for me as I can now decide exactly which posts I show under 'popular posts' simply by adding or deleting this category from the relevant posts. Your theme looks nice and uncluttered. Personally I think all it needs now is a frog or two. :-)
  • Lyndi #

    PS, I just took a look at your social page - very impressive.
  • Rarst #

    @Pali Madra Yeah, it was bit unclear and I was sleepy so played it safe. :) Thanks for one more link, I'll check it out. How do you find new version of bullet? @Lyndi Hm. Nothing special about the list, really. I only cut some overcomplicated code theme had on it. It's tiny and simple CSS styling: .entry ol { padding:0; margin:10px 0px 10px 30px; list-style-type:decimal;} .entry ol li { background:#f5f5f5; list-style-type:decimal; padding:5px;} About popular... Tracking visits is pain. I think I'd like something like "X posts with most comments in last Y days". I am clueless in PHP, and hadn't seen plugin that can provide that. Maybe you could code something like that, Lyndi? Doesn't seem too complex. I am clueless in PHP, will have to read on it in the future as I progress in blogging.
  • Number One On Google #

    I read up on Rajeev's blog everyday. He has many great tips on blogging and social networking. Great guy! -Kai
  • Rarst #

    @Kai Can't say I am dedicated reader of his (I am getting tired of metablogging stuff lately) but I do drop by from time to time - quality blog indeed. :)
  • WordPress story of Rarst.net | Rarst.net #

    [...] three months illusion of few things to decide evaporated. Time spent looking on other blogs and piling up things I could improve turned blog from somewhere I sent posts into large project with many [...]