Every so often I feel compelled to redesign this blog. The first redesign was in 2007, followed by another in 2008. It’s been a couple years since the last redesign, and this one is a big departure from the last. It’s still a work-in-progress, but I’d love to get your feedback.
I really wanted to go simple and lightweight. Strip out unnecessary elements and focus more attention on the content. I eliminated a lot of the sidebar noise; which I think most people ignore anyway. It’s still perhaps a bit too noisy over there – but I added a list of categories and a tag cloud in an effort to draw attention to older, but still valuable and relevant content.
The home page now only shows one post, with links to a few other recent ones. This is to shine a spotlight on the most recent post.
I put a “related posts” plugin back in, again hoping that it gets people digging further into the content. My bounce rate is quite high, and time spent on the site is low — I’m looking for ways to improve both those metrics.
I put the “subscribe” options at the top but also part-way down the sidebar. My goal is to increase subscriptions (via email, RSS or Twitter), and people will notice the colorful icons as they’re reading a specific post.
The footer (for now) has almost nothing in it. I’m still not convinced there’s anything meaningful you can’t put in the footer of a blog that increases key metrics like generating traffic, engagement, etc. But I’m open to suggestions.
I think the design is more personal, even though it’s a bit starker. The tagline is personal, my picture is more prominently displayed (although I need a new picture too!) The “contact” link is also more prominent. In some ways (at least to me) it feels more welcoming. Less can truly be more.
This wasn’t a rigorous re-design process. I went looking for a premium WordPress theme, found Minimal and decided to give it a try. I’ve made some modifications (I always enjoy hacking around in WordPress), but they haven’t been drastic. I do believe it’s important to have great design for your blog. In 2008 after redesigning Instigator Blog I wrote a guest post on ProBlogger about the experience. Design matters. But there are so many good premium themes out there that you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch.
I’ll be tweaking here and there for the next little while. I’m not entirely satisfied with everything on the site, but I’m very pleased with the overall look. It speaks very well to how I feel right now and to my near-term goals. I’m trying to simplify, clean up, discover, free myself and focus. Instigator Blog has always been a reflection of me; and I welcome you to its new look & feel.
All comments and feedback are welcome!