Of Blog Design Changes and Looking to the Future

Of Blog Design Changes and Looking to the Future

Blog design

Sometimes, I feel as if I should stay away from vacations and personal downtime completely. Case in point – I’m on vacation this week and the thing I did first? Redesigned the blog.

But… there is method behind my madness. Here’s the lowdown, for anyone interested in the thought process behind a blog design.

I’ve written about the changing paths of this blog before. Whereas it was originally a straightforward social media-led blog, I’d like to think it’s grown into something more as I’ve grown as a blogger.

Whereas previously the content has (for the most part) been of the written kind, my future plans include more multimedia, videos, presentations, ebooks and more. This leads naturally to the redesign, and the switch from a traditional blog format to a more website-type feel.

Finding Your Feet and Walking Different Paths

I’ve looked at the blogs of people like Adam Singer, Jason Falls, Brian Clark and others, where the content has still been key, but there’s more to the experience for the visitor.

Sure, you can still read their blogs, but now there’s more to keep you interested and involved – digital downloads, resources and more. And it makes sense.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a “traditional” blog look and feel, the reading patterns and behaviours of web visitors is constantly evolving. And, from speaking with colleagues and watching the analytics of this blog, many bloggers are moving to a site framework versus a blog one.

There are several benefits of this approach:

  • Information hub homepage, where you can inform the visitor what they can expect.
  • Highlight your most important content, from blog posts to subscription details, books and more.
  • Clean call-to-actions, including digital downloads, webinars, partner sites, etc.
  • The visual appeal that a home page can offer, without cluttering your blog index.

These are just a few benefits. There are many more – the ones that matter to you are the ones that should matter on your home page.

Branding and Bigger Voices

Prior to my most recent redesign (yes, it was only a short couple of months ago – sorry!), I’d always had an image of myself in the header. With the design prior to this makeover, I removed that image and went solely for the name.

There are supporters for both arguments – Marcus Sheridan is a fan of the image approach, while Gini Dietrich is more of the name/company look and feel.

For me, there’s nothing wrong with either – a personal blogger may prefer an image to help him or her stand out, while a simple name or icon (without the blogger’s picture) can help extend the blog into something not uniquely attached to the blogger.

For example, both Gini and Jason that I mentioned earlier have regular guest bloggers, and their “name” approach means the blog is suited for that multi-author approach.

Gini’s even mentioned that the blog is bigger than her, and that’s why she doesn’t want it to be known as Gini’s blog. Again, for me, that makes perfect sense.

A blog is whatever the blogger wants it to be, while respecting the community around it that shapes it how they’d like it to be. It’s why I went for the name approach versus the image one.

For me, that’s going to see the blog evolve into what (hopefully) will be a repository for both content and downloads, to help you meet your goals, whether that be in social media, marketing or blogging (at least for starters).

Taking an image away from the header, as well as building on a website-type design, makes that goal easier.

We’re Always Evolving

It’s taken me a few iterations to get the result you’re looking at now (and if you’ve come straight to this post, hit the Home tab on the navigation to see the full design).

Some of my previous designs I was really happy with at the time, while others (in hindsight) were essentially a stop gap while looking for the design that I’d be really happy with.

While there will no doubt be more changes in the future, I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. Having found the look and feel I’ve been after, it’ll probably just be minor tweaks here and there (a logo versus just the name, for example, though still no image!).

But though the look and feel may change, the goal remains the same – to open up the blog to you, and let you continue to shape it, in the posts from guests as well as the awesome thoughts and questions you continue to share and push with when you comment here.

This blog is as much yours as it is mine, perhaps more so.

Designs may come and go – but the same old me will always be around, waiting to hear your voice. Here’s to continued growth and evolution.

Opt In Image
Get my latest posts as soon as they're published
and get your free chapter of Influence Marketing

Enjoy this post? Then join over 12,600 other smart subscribers and receive my latest posts as soon as they're published - simply enter your email below (I respect your privacy and will never spam you).

Alternatively, click here to subscribe to the RSS feed instead.

Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
147 comments
KRLRose
KRLRose

I thought I was in the wrong place, but after reading the content I realized  I was definitely wrong. I like the thinking process. I have noticed the shift. Brian Clark wrote about his thinking behind the redesign of Copyblogger a few months back. I think you are right. The improvements you mention bring more focus and ease of use. Offering other content videos, downloads etc on series of linked pages makes everything clearer. I have been trying to work out the best format for my blog so this was timely advice and of the usual high standard,. Thanks for sharing Danny. 

 

 

KRLRose
KRLRose

I thought I was in the wrong place, but after reading the content I realized  I was definitely wrong. I like the thinking process. I have noticed the shift. Brian Clark wrote about his thinking behind the redesign of Copyblogger a few months back. I think you are right. The improvements you mention bring more focus and ease of use. Offering other content videos, downloads etc on series of linked pages makes everything clearer. I have been trying to work out the best format for my blog so this was timely advice and of the usual high standard,. Thanks for sharing Danny.     

Ander79
Ander79

Good design that I liked I congratulate few people able to dare to make these changes focused on the evolution of blogging. I recommend your site.

 

greetings:

Ander

" Apuestas deportivas ":   http://www.apuestasdeportivasgold.com/

 

ClayMorgan
ClayMorgan

Late to the conversation but thanks for sharing this. I'm always fascinated by the thinking behind redesigns, especially at successful publications.

Latest blog post: Livefyre Conversation

ClayMorgan
ClayMorgan

Late to the conversation but thanks for sharing this. I'm always fascinated by the thinking behind redesigns, especially at successful publications.

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown Heads up, I actually fixed my problem with afterRead and Premise. I'm sure it was a very inefficient solution, but I created a completely new afterread.php file and then manually placed it where I wanted it in the functions.php. Honestly, I'm surprised I didn't break anything.Thanks again! 

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown Heads up, I actually fixed my problem with afterRead and Premise. I'm sure it was a very inefficient solution, but I created a completely new afterread.php file and then manually placed it where I wanted it in the functions.php. Honestly, I'm surprised I didn't break anything.Thanks again! 

Steven Hourston
Steven Hourston

Your opening paragraph reminded me of the line in Four Weddings and a Funeral - "I don't know what the **** I've been doing with my time." How can you possibly just knock a redesign off as an afterthought to your holiday? I'm beginning to question my personal levels of productivity. I can't add any more to the chorus of approval.

Steven Hourston
Steven Hourston

Your opening paragraph reminded me of the line in Four Weddings and a Funeral - "I don't know what the **** I've been doing with my time." How can you possibly just knock a redesign off as an afterthought to your holiday? I'm beginning to question my personal levels of productivity. I can't add any more to the chorus of approval.

TheJackB
TheJackB

If you aren't evolving than there is something wrong...

geoffreytalbot
geoffreytalbot

Hi Danny,

 

This is a great reminder that a blog is a living an evolving thing. What is your opinion on the effects of visual change on loyal readers? Do you lose or gain subscribers when you make changes?

 

I feel like a portion of readers "like it" when you make changes and others would rather things stay the same. I guess that reflects the populous's responses to change in general.

 

Have you ever involved (surveyed, questioned, got feedback etc) your readers about the redesigning or evolutionary process?

 

Perhaps that could make the change more palatable and increase their buy in.

 

Thanks Geoff Talbot Blogging & Commenting in only Seven Sentences

geoffreytalbot
geoffreytalbot

Hi Danny,   This is a great reminder that a blog is a living an evolving thing. What is your opinion on the effects of visual change on loyal readers? Do you lose or gain subscribers when you make changes?   I feel like a portion of readers "like it" when you make changes and others would rather things stay the same. I guess that reflects the populous's responses to change in general.   Have you ever involved (surveyed, questioned, got feedback etc) your readers about the redesigning or evolutionary process?   Perhaps that could make the change more palatable and increase their buy in.   Thanks Geoff Talbot Blogging & Commenting in only Seven Sentences

rdopping
rdopping

Wow. All the heavy hitters weighing in. This little guy loves it too. Now if I could only get my freelance web developer to actually finish mine I'd have something to spout off about. Damn.

 

Glad your mug is gone........;-)

rdopping
rdopping

Wow. All the heavy hitters weighing in. This little guy loves it too. Now if I could only get my freelance web developer to actually finish mine I'd have something to spout off about. Damn.   Glad your mug is gone........;-)

MSchechter
MSchechter

It pains me to say this. I really, really like it. Nicely done sir. Now get me my beer.

MSchechter
MSchechter

It pains me to say this. I really, really like it. Nicely done sir. Now get me my beer.

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

I love this new design, Danny! It's clearly that time of year as I'm fresh off a new redesign myself that will give me a lot more flexibility to explore media forms other than rapping out a blog post.  I'm noticing some design elements that I need to incorporate, too. :)

 

Latest blog post: The Podcast

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

I love this new design, Danny! It's clearly that time of year as I'm fresh off a new redesign myself that will give me a lot more flexibility to explore media forms other than rapping out a blog post.  I'm noticing some design elements that I need to incorporate, too. :)  

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @KRLRose It's funny, mate - I definitely took a lot from the decision that copyblogger made re. site design. Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to become a media empire like Brian's created - but, it does make sense to think about the bigger picture.   Cheers, sir, great to see you around here!

wmwebdes
wmwebdes

 @jonloomer  @DannyBrown  Did you ask on the Premise forum Jon? Your solution is not one many average guys could do.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @Steven Hourston Haha, in fairness, mate, I've been pottering about with Genesis for a while, so the majority of the backend was a breeze to set up. The main amount of time was spent getting the homepage just so.

 

So, not all that impressive after all - but great movie to remind me of! :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @Steven Hourston Haha, in fairness, mate, I've been pottering about with Genesis for a while, so the majority of the backend was a breeze to set up. The main amount of time was spent getting the homepage just so.   So, not all that impressive after all - but great movie to remind me of! :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @geoffreytalbot Hey there Geoffrey,

 

Great question, mate. I have polled readers before on their thoughts about preferences, etc (mostly through my Facebook page, as I find not being on the blog while asking the question ensures there's no visual bias to tang the answer). 

 

But at the end of the day, while I definitely have the views of my readers at the forefront of any design change, I'm the one that has to "live with it" each day, so I tend to have the very final say, if that makes sense?

 

Also, I use analytics to define what readers are doing while on the site, and that helps me determine where the user experience needs improving, and how to do that.

 

Hope that helps, sir!

Latest blog post: Jugnoo presents: Social Mix

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @geoffreytalbot Hey there Geoffrey,   Great question, mate. I have polled readers before on their thoughts about preferences, etc (mostly through my Facebook page, as I find not being on the blog while asking the question ensures there's no visual bias to tang the answer).    But at the end of the day, while I definitely have the views of my readers at the forefront of any design change, I'm the one that has to "live with it" each day, so I tend to have the very final say, if that makes sense?   Also, I use analytics to define what readers are doing while on the site, and that helps me determine where the user experience needs improving, and how to do that.   Hope that helps, sir!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @rdopping Thanks, sir - and just saw your email re. post, popping over soon to check out other thoughts. :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @MSchechter Dude, sucking up puts your beer even further away from New York...

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @MSchechter Dude, sucking up puts your beer even further away from New York...

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @jasonkonopinski Very cool to hear, mate - let me know when it's live, would love to check out the new digs!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jasonkonopinski Very cool to hear, mate - let me know when it's live, would love to check out the new digs!

rdopping
rdopping

Thanks @DannyBrown hope you enjoy it. Thanks again for contributing.

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @DannyBrown  @MSchechter Send him some Rickard's Red. I hear he loves the stuff. 

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @DannyBrown It's up now but the development side is slow, since, you know, I'm working on a big ol' project for some fine folks. :)

 

I'm treating this design process as an exercise in patience. 

Latest blog post: The Podcast

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @DannyBrown It's up now but the development side is slow, since, you know, I'm working on a big ol' project for some fine folks. :)   I'm treating this design process as an exercise in patience. 

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @jasonkonopinski Just checked the site out - very swish, love the big and bold approach, and very clean design already, mate, nice job!

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @DannyBrown Thank you, sir. Mucking through the CSS has been fun and maddening all at once. 

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jasonkonopinski Just checked the site out - very swish, love the big and bold approach, and very clean design already, mate, nice job!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jasonkonopinski Wait - worse than @ginidietrich ??

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @DannyBrown They're bloody savages, every last one. 

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jasonkonopinski Popping over now to check - hope these fine folks aren't slave drivers! :)