Friday, June 17, 2011

Blog Redesign Questions

Happy weekending all...

I'm thinking about doing some redesigning here at The Ape. I've already installed Disqus for more robust commenting; finally I'll be able to respond to your comments inline and you can directly respond to others should you wish. So I'm excited about that. (If you run into trouble commenting with the new system, please shoot me an email: readingape AT gmail DOT com).

A couple of specific questions in addition to whatever thoughts you have about the blog design as it is:

1. The dark background with light text is relatively unusual for a blog. Is the blog hard to read? Do you think a more conventional dark text/light background would be an improvment?

2. I use orange for blog titles and links. What do you think about a color change there?

3. I've also been thinking about using a "read more" strategy, which would show the first part of a post and then require a click-through to see the whole post. Mostly, this would make scrolling through the most recent posts easier. I write some long-posts and they can dominate the home screen for awhile. Do you like this strategy on other blogs?

4. What have you added/changed to your own blog that you really wished you had done earlier? In other words, what have you done that I should shamelessly steal?

Thanks for any ideas here and I'm sure I'll be asking for some feedback when or if I change things up.

Cheers,
The Ape

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38 comments:

  1. Dark on light text would be preferable.  I'm out. :]

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  2. To be completely honest, I read your posts through Google Reader, so I wouldn't notice pretty much any of the design changes except for when I click through to your blog. So as long as commenting remains easy and user-friendly, doesn't really matter to me. :-)

    But! Please say that the "read more" link will only be on the website? I really hate it when blogs use the "read more" thing in their feed, and try to force me to click through to their website every single time I want to read something. That's pretty much an automatic, 100% way to make me unsubscribe from a blog.

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  3. 1. No, I like the dark background with white text. As long as there's a strong (and monochrome!) contrast, I think you can do whatever you please.

    2. A color change from orange would be fine. Because of your otherwise monochrome palette here, any color would be fine. I personally like the orange myself.

    3. I find the "read more" option ridiculously useful for keeping the blog clean and allowing readers to gloss over entries they're not particularly interested in. If you use it, I don't think Blogspot will do what Carina fears—the only time I've encountered seeing "read more" links in my RSS Feed app (Vienna, if you'd like to know) is when I've specifically subscribed to a short link RSS Feed among options including a full link feed.

    4. A review directory was enormously useful for me, and I hope my readers as well, though you might simply organize posts based on thoughts on a certain book rather than straight reviews.

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  4. I find the light text dark background difficult to read.  Orange is a bit tough for me, too.  

    I don't see what the problem is with scrolling.  I typically read the first post, maybe the second one and then move onto another blog.  I figure if I stop by two or three times a week, I'll get to everything I'm interested in.  On my own blog, I've found almost everyone reads only the first post.   Once a newer post goes up, that one gets no more comments.

    I am going to check out Disqus myself.

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  5. I'm fine with the light on dark, but I wouldn't be opposed to the opposite.  It wouldn't be The Ape without the orange :)  However, switching up to dark on light might require something else.  Love the Disqus!

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  6. 1 and 2 I used to write for a blog with a dark background, light text and we also had orange/green for the links. So I don't mind the changes.

    3. I read your blog on Google Reader and if I want to post a comment, I click on the link. So, if the "READ MORE" is posted solely on the blog, I'm all for it. I think it's a lot cleaner and viewers can see more stories on the front page. On Google Reader, I hate having to click the link because that's what I have Google Reader for, to read everything in one place. 

    Hope that helps.

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  7. 1. The white font should be bolder or switch to a black on white font.
    2. Orange is good but whatever.
    3. Please do not do this. I rarely ever read posts that require me to make an extra click. I'm a skim reader. I want to see the whole post, skim it, and decide if I want to slow down and read the whole thing. That's how I read on the Internet. If I am forced to click...well, I'm probably not going to read the blog at all. It's just too discouraging. But maybe I'm weird.
    4. Pages with tabs at the top for things like special posts. Also, an "about me" page would be nice. I like to know a bit about the person behind the blog.

    Good luck with your changes!

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  8. I changed to a pure white background with black text-it is the easiest to read by far-I do find the current color schemes on your blog a bit harder to read than black on white might be-here is what I do-I have my real blog and I also have a private test blog-I am also a blogspot blogger-I try new ideas on my test blog first-I do not like the read more link as it takes me out of Google reader-you might try adding the linkwithin or popular post widgets to your blog as it helps to keep old posts alive-I really like your discussion posts-

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  9. I'll be interested to see what people say about light text on dark as that's how my blog is and an author of an extract I posted commented about reading white on black made her go blind on twitter (not mentioning me but I got the hint). I do think if reading a blog post in any colour hurts your eyes, you should get them checked out but I do want to be reader friendly. On the other hand, most regular visitors are using an RSS reader which makes the formatting a moot point.

    I don't like the read more option, more often than not I just skip the post unless it sounds really interesting. I'm pondering changing my commenting option too as people have reported issues but then I see problems with Disqus on other blogs so you can't always get it right for everyone.

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  10. I have always liked reading dark/light combos, providing the contrast isn't too great. Reading on white backgrounds all the time makes for some blinding reading I think. 

    I should have clarified that the "read more" option would just be for the blog: RSS would still show full feeds. If that can be done, I guess.

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  11. Test blog is a clever idea. I am going to do that and post a link for people to weigh in on. Thanks.

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  12. I agree with the "read more" link only appearing on the website.

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  13. Yea, I hate partial feeds too. Are you listening NY Times? Just one of many things they do wrong on the digital side.

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  14. Tabs for different pages. Good note. I do have a few recurring topics that I could group. Nice idea.

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  15. I changed the links to yellow and the girlfriend freaked out. "But that's not what the blog looks like!"

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  16. Thanks for the feedback. So far, I am really happy with Disqus, if only for the ability to respond to individual comments.

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  17. I'm thinking that the READ MORE option is good for the people who frequent the blog just by typing in the URL or doing a google search. They can quickly see what's new and click through on the posts that interest them. Probably the first paragraph or two would appear for each post. 

    Everyone who subscribes through RSS or email just see one post at a time anyone.

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  18. Yup, read more only on the blog. It seems to me that most are in general agreement that partial RSS feeds are terrible.

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  19. Alright thanks for the note, Jennifer.

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  20. And that you can have them auto-post to twitter!

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  21. I also like that Disqus lets me go back and edit a post after posting.  Point in case, the above post I inadvertently posted with an emoticon before remembering a tweet by the ape hating on emoticons, so I removed the offensive happy face.

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  22. Love your blog, but yes, it hurts my eyes when I read for a while. If you love the orange, keep it!

    I really really don't like the "read more" option, and often, unless the post is one I really want to read, I won't do it. I don't mind scrolling at all.

    I am still working on changing my blog, but I like keeping track of my reads in the sidebar with links to reviews.

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  23. One of the things I added to my blog is putting up a picture for every post. I think it helps draw the reader's attention to a post better. If there's no book cover to post, I usually do a search on Wikimedia or flickr for Creative Commons or public domain pictures to illustrate my posts. It's been interesting to find pictures to illustrate my posts on some of the short stories I've reviewed like "My Oedipus Complex or "The Rocking Horse Winner"

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  24. I like the colour scheme you have at the moment (love the orange!) but honestly, prefer black/dark grey on white. It's the whole "whitespace rocks" theory that's been going on since... well, forever. 

    As for the "read more" - umm... personally, am not a big fan of it, as I prefer skim reading a post first, and then re-reading in detail, so... of course, you could change your layout to that of a magazine or something, and then it would fit, but... 

    Weekly Geeks did a meme about something similar a long long time ago (2009). Here's the link to my post and here's a link to the meme itself. 

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  25. *crosses fingers that this will work, as Disqus generally hates me*

    I'm not usually a fan of the white-text-on-dark-background thing, but I read your blog in my RSS reader, and I think it looks pretty this way, so who cares?! Okay, you might want to pull a switcheroo and go for black text on light background, but I do, for the record, like it this way.

    2. Keep the orange. It suits you.

    3. I started using the "read more" strategy about a year ago, and I lurve the hell out of it. Keeps the home page less cluttery, allows new visitors to see more posts at a time, and doesn't disrupt your RSS readers who still see a full feed.

    4. Gotta say I wish I'd bought my domain and gone self-hosted sooner (really, from the start). So much more flexibility with design and plugins, and you own your own content then.

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  26. Great of you to ask. I do much prefer a dark font on a light background. I find light-on-dark very hard to read. (Your good material helps keep me in place.) Orange headers are fine, though they may want dark backings to show up on a lighter field if you make that change. Cheers.

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  27. I'm sure I'm not using my sidebar to full effect. Do people use your sidebar? Or is it more for your own use?

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  28. I should probably make more of an effort to use pictures, though sometimes I feel like it would be forced. Still a good reminder to use something if appropriate.

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  29. You know, I never really thought about it, but the blog design really is most important for new users; subscribers of various stipes don't really care what your blog looks like, they've already bought in. This makes me think that I should consider going more neutral as the current design isn't perhaps the most welcoming.

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  30. I think your view represents the majority. People read "despite" the design more than because of it. Though, who reads a blog just because they like the look of it anyway.

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  31. I like the dark background/orange links - it's quite individual to you and memorable. My husband finds light on dark much easier to read. Read more would be fine as long as the full article still shows in Google Reader. 4 - Lots of categories!

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  32. I think you should keep the orange. 

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  33. I do not like the click here to read more - I find it interrupts the reading experience. Typically I also do not like black backgrounds and white type but for your blog it works for me. I like the crispness, the clean lines and the few colors.

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  34. Thanks for installing disqus.

    1. I don't mind the dark backgound
    2.  Keep the orange
    3.  Read more click only on site
    4. You could do more with the sidebar
    5. Pictures would be nice

    Love your blog regardless.  Oh, test every change.

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  35. Patrick O'ConnorJune 20, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    I've always loved your template, Ape.  At TLM, we experimented with light text on dark background for a while and found it very hard to read.  We've recently returned to the standard dark text on light background.  I don't mind the orange and have even come to associate it with your blog, but a change might be in order if you go to a lighter background.  As for the "read more" strategy, I think it is a good idea if you will continue to post frequently, which you certainly have been doing as of late.  Best of luck with it all.   

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  36. I like the dark background with the orange, but not the white text.  It's too much contrast for my tired eyes that wear reading glasses.

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  37. Actually, I think they do. I have a lot of visits where I can tell the person initially clicked one post but saw another review in the sidebar and clicked. Unless they scrolled through several pages, which I don't think happens often. 

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  38. that is a good idea. I keep a test site that I use to test drive everything new on my site.

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