ProBlogger Community Review – Day 1

by Mark on January 14, 2008

Today was the first day of my ProBlogger community review, and it reminded of a quote attributed to former U.S. Chief Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:

"We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe."

The context was probably that of freedom of expression but it works here too.

You would think that it might be a little tough to take as the criticism I received was pretty pointed, but I loved it. If you don’t want to know what people think, don’t ask, right? 

Community Feedback and To Do List

To honor the rules of the program I need to leave the site as-is until next week so I thought I would start making a to-do list. Here’s some things that I picked out of the comments that I am sure that I will address. 

  • Check Site in IE 6 & 7 – I never use IE and so I don’t check my website in Internet Explorer – Thanks to Alan at Affiliate Confessions for pointing out my blog doesn’t look good in IE (the browser of choice for 31% of my visitors).
  • Adding a Featured Content Block – Thanks to esvl at From the Old I have some pieces that I think are more interesting than others and highlighting that content is a no brainer
  • The Blog Roll PageBlogging Beat doesn’t like it but Dan does. I think I will keep this page as it’s one of the most high performing content pages on my site. However, that could be a function of the being a top level link. 
  • HTML Validation – This is one I knew about but haven’t had time to fix. Anthony’s observation will probably shame me into getting that fixed sooner rather than later. He’s right it’s inexcusable for a geek.
  • Tagging – Anthony notes that I don’t use Technorati Tags per blog post (WordPress Categories do translate to Technorati tags though) I use the convention of tagging all my posts with the Tag: from my reading of the Technorati tag page it gives a spec, I suppose I should investigate a plug-in that adheres to the convention. Ironically my current tags show up as tagged in Technorati as in this example.
  • Better Subscription Options – I originally offered two options for subscriptions but after seeing that I was getting two types of readers one group interested in open source and one interested in online marketing I added a feed. However, I need to describe the options better and probably add the
  • Move About Widget to Top Level Menu – I should probably consolidate a bunch of the sidebar information into an About page and get rid of a column inspired by Martin. Maybe it’s time to move back to a two column format.

Key Areas for Improvement

Here are the message I am getting loud and clear.

  • Add Color - I am a WordPress design novice so I chose an off-the-shelf theme that was simple. It’s apparent to me now that the site needs some dressing up. I did get compliments on the color choices but perhaps I can use more blue to spice things up. Thanks to Hazel, Patrick, and Christy for politely pointing out my sterility ;)
  • Reduce Clutter – Probably too many widgets in the right hand columns, Tags and Categories are somewhat redundant I need to pick one, but not sure which. 
    • Badges – In an attempt to add color I added badges to my front page that are probably better reserved for a less prominent About page to Kirk’s point. I think it is important to include these links though contrary to some advice as it helps create my identity online.
    • Less Personal Information – I probably can move more of the personal information to my About Page. As I read the comments, I had images of a gaudy MySpace page. 
  • Fonts – I never realized how hard the site was to read until today, I am going to change to a higher contrast black font on a white background at a larger font size.
  • Statement of Purpose – I didn’t realize that my links to my book might make it look like I was trying to monetize the blog immediately. Maybe someday once my traffic rises I could sell direct advertising. I blog as a hobby and to establish myself as a subject matter expert that I monetize in other ways that should be clarified.
  • Invite Conversations – I don’t want to come off as intimidating or as a braggart and I realize from

I had a hard time picking a theme when I launched Socialized Software so perhaps it’s time to look for a designer (Suggestions are welcome). At the very least I have some actionable items for simple organization and some simple CSS tweaks that could make big improvements very quickly.

Thank you to everyone who’s provided feedback I do appreciate it and keep it coming. 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Lawrence January 15, 2008 at 7:38 am

By the way, you can check your site with dozens of browsers, including IE6, at http://browsershots.org/

Whenever I do anything funky I run it by that first..

Mark January 17, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Anthony, I will try that one out.

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