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Experimenting with Blog Design April 13, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in blogging.

Today, I have been updating the design of my blog.

That first step of setting up a blog is so easy–click a couple of buttons and then you have a blog. But now I’m ready for that next step where I really think about what features I want on my blog and how I want it to look.

I’ve been participating retroactively in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog series that Darren Prowse ran last August. I discovered this excellent series from Michele Martin’s Bamboo Project blog. And through the Building a Better Blog community that Michele set up on ning, I’ve been working with a few other people who have the same goal.

After about 3 months, I’m still stuck on Day 2 of the 31 Days. I think my experience will be more like 31 Months for a Better Blog, and hopefully not 31 Years!  But then again, hopefully I am still blogging and trying to make a better blog in 31 years (if there still is blogging then).  On “Day 2,” I conducted a Reader Audit of my blog, that is, I had friends, family, coworkers, and other bloggers review my blog and suggest improvements. Many thanks to my husband, my writer friends–Marlies and Heather, and the good people in the Building a Better Blog community who took the time to look over my blog and provide thoughtful comments.

As a result of those comments, I have:

  1. Changed the theme. If you’ve been here before, you probably noticed a startling change in look-and-feel. Someone told me that the image on my initial theme made her think of Princess Diana’s death–not something I want associated with my blog. Plus, I thought this new theme was a bit cleaner and made it a bit easier to find things. And I like the font better. What do you think?
  2. Added my picture. So readers can know more about me.
  3. Added an RSS feed. So that interested readers can subscribe to my blog–just scroll down to the bottom of the right sidebar and you’ll find the RSS buttons.
  4. Updated my About page.  To make it a bit friendlier and less “me” oriented. And to add my e-mail address.
  5. Added a disclaimer. To formally state that the opinions on my blog are completely my own.
  6. Added recent posts. So, you can see at a glance what I’ve been thinking and talking about most recently.

So, what do you think? What works well for you? What do you think I could do to improve it even more?



1. Dan - April 13, 2008

I have to admit, the initial visual appeal is better. I have never been a big fan of light greens like you had in your previous design, but I did not feel it was detrimental either.

You still need to work on your feeds. Right now all your feed links do is launch the .xml. For many users this is not a problem as all one really needs to do is copy the xml address into their aggregator of choice. Many people however do not know how to do this.

I do not follow too many blogs so yours is the first I have clicked the subscribe button to. I was expecting the 1 click does it all functionality that I am accustomed to with podcasts (my addiction).

What I recommend you do is go register your blog with an engine such as Feedburner. When you have done so, Feedburner will send you a chiclet with the proper embedded code that will make subscribing to your feed a simple operation. You will need to place that chicklet, with the code, into your blog page, or replace the code in your current chiclets with the code that Feedburner provides.

This is not truly a one click option – it’s 2 clicks. The Feedburner link you provide your users will offer the users a menu of the most popular feed aggregators to choose from. The user then clicks on the aggregator they use and they are fully subscribed.

Also, I recommend placing the feed links at the top of the page. Things can get lost at the bottom.

2. Dan - April 13, 2008


It’s nice that you have posted a picture. It looks cold. Were you on a skiing trip at the time?

3. cjescribano - April 15, 2008

Thanks, Dan! I wasn’t sure about the Feed, so I really appreciate the feedback on that. I will definitely try Feedburner.

The picture is a GREAT story. I’m so glad you asked. That picture was taken in the Ice Bar in Stockholm, Sweden. Bob S. and I were in Stockholm on business. Our client took a big crew of people–from numerous countries–out for dinner. And at the end of the night, some of us ended up at the Ice Bar. The whole bar is made of ice. Even the TV is set into an ice frame. The glasses are ice. The tables and stools are ice. You have to wear these silver coats when you enter the bar to protect all that ice from your body heat.

So, in answer to your question, I guess it was cold in there. But the silver “adventurer’s coat” was more to protect the bar than to protect me from the cold!

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