For as long as I can remember, I've always been attracted to good design. I'm not a fan of over-engineered website design. It leads to bad a bad user experience and people won't come back. Not only that, they won't crawl your website when they're on it in the first place.
I promised myself that when I started to blog on a serious level that I would keep not just my content fresh, but my site design fresh as well. As a result, every so many years (2-3 on average), I introduce new design elements into my blog. I take a good look at what is working, what needs improvement, and I really hit the UX hard.
I decided to go with a theme that took me out of my comfort zone. When it comes to Wordpress themes, I'm a pretty minimalist kind of guy. However, my last theme went a bit beyond minimalist - it was borderline sparse. I decided that in my quest for a clean, intuitive design for a positive UX, I needed a bit more flash.
Enter Graph Paper Press. My wife - chief designer in our business venture - suggested I take a look at what they had to offer. Since we have a development license for their themes, I decided it couldn't hurt. Most of their themes are for creatives (photographers and artists) to showcase their work. However, they did have a few good themes for bloggers.
What sold me on using a Graph Paper Press theme was the fact that it's highly responsive. I'm not a Objective-C kind of guy, so coding my own iOS app was out of the question (maybe some day). If you visit this site on an iPad or iPhone, you'll get a mobile version of the user interface, all the while keeping the same UX.
Visitors of my blog now get a say as to how they'd like to see the most recent posts. If you glance in the upper right part of where the image blocks reside on the main page, you'll see two different groupings that look like this:
The 'block of nine' icon is the default. It will display each posts' featured image and with a mouseover, it will display the title information for the post and the post excerpt. Simply click the title to enter the post. The 'four lines' icon will display a wide version of the same information: featured image on the far left with an excerpt of the story on the right. Again, simply click the title or image to enter the post.
The best part? You don't have to keep setting it. Close the window and come back to the main page and your browser should recognize your previous settings and show you the layout you previously chose.
Some may say that a tagline for a blog one of the less impactful elements. I disagree. In the span of a few words, you can have a great impact on what your readers expect from your blog. A good tagline can also help keep you honest with your content. I use mine in that same way, asking myself, "Sure I want to write about that, but does it really belong on my blog?"
Previously, my blog was defined by "Design, technology and a dose of reality." It laid the framework for my content, but in retrospect, it wasn't nearly as bold enough. You could have guessed that I wrote about good design and technology, but what the hell is a 'dose of reality'? It was time to get more bold.
I decided that I needed some adjectives. "good design. awesome tech. philly passion."
I write about products that incorporate good design elements, awesome uses and innovations with technology, and I do it all from Philadelphia. The goal is to write about things with a local twist and while that may not always work out, I'm starting to encompass more and more posts with local flair. Over the coming months, you'll see me write about all sorts of things related to those three things - design, tech and Philly - here and contributing to other popular blogs.
Cleaning Up My Newsletter
Most visitors don't know that I publish a newsletter. Did you? Probably not, and that's completely my fault.
I haven't done the best job of promoting it. I've had a lot of carryover when switching from previous projects to my blog, and in doing so, I've managed to keep some of the subscribers to those email groups interested enough in my blog to receive emails about my content. Being reliant on the status quo has done nothing for my subscription numbers, and subscription numbers mean eyes on your content.
Starting April 15, my newsletter will be released every Monday at 7am (just in time for those getting into the office from a morning commute and take their minds off the fact it's Monday for a split second with some interesting content. It will be a weekly newsletter regarding all the posts I make from Monday through Sunday.
If you're so inclined, I'd really appreciate a subscribe from you. Try it out, I promise you won't be disappointed.
I hate ads on a website. However, I've come to realize that they are a necessary evil in this day and age. Good content doesn't come cheap and for a semi-professional blogger to maintain a website with solid hosting, well, it can get pretty pricey.
In offering a space to brands that I like - local companies, venues, non-profits and businesses that I frequent and would suggest to friends and family without loosing sleep over putting my reputation behind it - I wanted to have total control over what would appear on my blog. It's not just my reputation at stake, but I don't want Google shitting up a brand new layout with ads that have absolutely no relevance to my readers whatsoever.
You may have already noticed some suggested image links below the menu of the left sidebar. These are businesses, organizations and other entities that I have hand-picked to appear on this site. As of right now, I won't charge for placing an image in the rotation. All I want is good content in this section. If you have an entity that you think I might be interested in, please contact me. Start a dialogue with me about placing an image in this section with a link back. If you shove an email in my direction with a bunch of image attachments, you'll get deleted. Fair warning.
So that's pretty much it for the redesign. I'm always open to hearing from my readers about their thoughts and opinions on what I did, what I didn't do, and what I have in store for the future. If there's something you'd like to see on CY, leave a comment. I make an attempt to reply to everyone and usually manage to do it completely.
I hope you like what I've done here and will continue to do in the future. If it wasn't for my audience, this blog would have no purpose.