A few questions for the regulars:

>
Site Redesign

I want to clean the site up — its become way too busy, too many things going on. I am thinking about going to a simple tab-based format, moved to my own domain.

You hit a landing page, with 5 or 6 tabs:  1) The Big Picture; 2) The Apprenticed Investor; 3) Digital Media;

What might you like to see for the other tabs? Books? Music? Jobs? Managed Assets? Video? Quant charts? Commodities?  Other Research? PDF Library?

Tell me your thoughts, and I will consider this in the new design!

>
Advertising

At this point, the site is almost begging for real advertising. I’ve experimented with Google ads, and found them irrelevant, kinda ugly, and absurdly non-remunerative.

If I go with a real ad shop, it would allow me to generate real (as opposed to Google’s meaningless) advert revenue. From that stream, I would add an editor to fix my typos grammar and semi-colon issues, hire other tech staff, do additional programming, add features, eliminate more spam, and via the LLC lease an absurdly horsepowered vehicle that my wife would never otherwise permit.

I have several ideas as to how to proceed. Before you say go for it, understand what is involved. Any high end advertising firm is going want some things from you people: Real demographic information (age, income, net worth). No names or email addresses, but I know these folks, and they ask for serious personal shit. That’s what’s required for real ad stuff.

Also, I’ve never done any SEO work — but that’s another factor they will be harping on.

>
~~~

So? Site redesign? Advertising?

What say ye?

Category: Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

121 Responses to “Site Redesign / Advertising Questions”

  1. steve roy says:

    Sure, go for it. Why the hell not?

    You draw the traffic, you should prosper from it. I’ll be happy to cough up some personal info, but I needs some of my privacy.

    Good for you that you have a big, mother-grabbing blog that makes your ambitions doable.

  2. Norman says:

    “They” want personal stuff? Bye, Bye.

    ~~~

    BR: A survey on the blog about the usual advertising demo stuff. ANONYMOUS. No names, email or IP addresses. Just data . . .

  3. alnval says:

    You’re offering to improve the brand and make it more worthwhile to us shoppers. In return we have to give you data that will build a demographic so the brand will improve even more? Sounds fair to me.

  4. scorpio says:

    i lie about everything else, why not my personal info?

  5. B.B. says:

    Sounds good to me. It takes an incredible amount of time for you to do this, and the price for me to read all of this great info? So far free. All you need is some info from me? No problem. Listen the people who want to know about me already do so, whats 1 more. Even better is if you can make a few bucks from this. Then its a win/win. Thanks again for all your hard work.

    But I ask 1 thing, you will get rid of this stupid spam verifier. its so ridiculous, you cant even read the verification term then when you do, it stills rejects it. then once in awhile, long posts are not allowed.

    I like the tab idea, cause i agree this format is getting to busy.

  6. college kid Ted says:

    I like the absurdly horsepowered vehicle idea.

    Maybe an Insights tab for any insightful posts or emails that spur a new discussion (eg: the discussion about Norway)?

    Also, the thread “Who do you trust?” gave a pretty interesting thread of consumer sentiment, maybe a tab for that sort of thing.

    Personally I enjoy this site a great deal and have made it a part of my college education. I’m excited to see the direction you take it.

  7. rickyny says:

    no problem with adds as long as there is no e-mail nor name I don’t care about stunning you with my salary

  8. UrbanDigs says:

    check email Barry

  9. kd says:

    I think you have some potential on this site for a discussion forum or section of sorts for each posting or just topics etc. If you need any help el cheapo or pro bono let me know. I’ve done tons of sites and can forward my portfolio/resume to you.

  10. Lamar says:

    Barry,

    I find you site most informative, instrustive, honest. A diamond in the financial information field.

    Do what you have to do.

  11. Ross says:

    Only on one condition.

    That it is an Arrest Me Yellow Porsche twin turbo with tiptronic… “so Mrs. BP can drive it.”

    Hell, Fidelity sells my info and I don’t even like them! Today I received a 241 page glossy ‘Yachts International’ magazine.

    I do need a custom feed blender for my lil beef critters.

    Seriously, I think it is a excellent idea. Your blog is an excellent tool for the pro and the great unwashed alike. Not that I’m like the great unwashed ;-)..

    By the way, you don’t get into the Porsche. You strap it on. It is a Krouch Wocket! Talk about cruising the hood!

    Good luck.

    ~~~
    BR: When we were dating, I taught then Miss Big Picture to drive a stick. Ever since then, she has only driven manual tranny cars (330i is her latest daily driver, and the Z4 M Coupe may be her next dd).

    If I told her you said that she would run you off the road, then kick your ass.

    As my buddy Jan would say, “Never marry any woman who can’t handle a stick.”

  12. Whammer says:

    I’m not familiar with how the demographic info would be collected, and/or how do you avoid the “I lie about it anyway” comment above.

    I’d be happy to tell the truth, anonymously, it would be good for you from an advertiser’s perspective.

  13. DJ Johnson says:

    I come here because you have personality and share it. The site reflects that. I don’t need another big downtown style site. Leave things the way they are and put your other efforts on the blog roll.

  14. andy in NZ says:

    1) its yours to do as you please! As long as we get a BP discount card.

    2) Have you got the M3 yet, saw a red one the other day, very nice…

    3) 35, renter, drives 1989 honda civic, I dare them to try and sell me something…

  15. lux says:

    If selling ads will allow you to do more with the site & content, and you’re cool with the increased time investment necessary to take the site to the next level, then go for it. Getting the hell off TypePad and onto something real is a long overdue move.

    Changing domain names can mean a short-term hit to your Google juice if it’s not done right, but over the long haul having your own domain will only help you. There’s more that could be done to build out your SEO / online presence, but you’ve already done the hard part — you have a known and respected web property. At this point, it’s about greasing the engine you’ve already built.

    Stay true to your vision for this site, keep telling it like it is, and you’ll be fine.

  16. Philip says:

    Definitely have tabs for Books and Music. I was initially drawn to this site for your economic and market analysis. But….your eclectic taste in books and music is a real addition to the “technical stuff”.

    good luck!

  17. Bob says:

    One aspect of the current format that I like is the sequential nature of the “articles”. I start at the top of the page, and read downwards until I hit what I read on my last visit.

    Tabbing the site will scatter the “new material since my last visit” all over the place. A critical ‘critical mass’ of the site might be lost.

    Regarding ads, hey, your content is excellent, you should benefit from it.

    ~~~

    BR: I thought about that, and I like the sequential approach.

    However, if I tab content, I can keep the sequential nature of blog, but allow more content to be built out around the tabbed feature.

    Example: The first 3 paragraphs of a book review is on the main site, but the jump is to the book section. All of the book excerpts we’ve done would be there, in one place. Plus, there is some pretty robust software for discussion groups.

  18. steve says:

    Forget the editor. The present form is not all that raw, which leaves more for you. No need to raise your break-even, which might lead who knows where over time.

    Demographic info: feh. Privacy is all to scarce already and becoming more so. I’d say okay for blind demographic info, except it’s too easy to place cookies or read network card ID numbers and then cross track it with al sorts of other web activity.

    Would I hold my nose and just accept the loss of privacy? Not sure yet.

    Regardless, you are certainly entitled to some renumeration for the valuable service you are providing — for which we all thank you.

  19. Greg0658 says:

    I’ve grown accustomed to it as is.

    Since I continuely check if I need to follow up in a thread I posted to – I would appreciate feature like the Canopus (video card) site. It tells you if a new post is added to a thread since your last visit. So you need to be a registered poster for that feature.

    I always wondered how a thread disappears into the dark side. No one visited it today? Less than 1% visited it today? Just time to go?

    You know what else, if this place goes Huffington busy, I’d be around less. I visit there but hardly post, because 300+ posts. Conversation is tough. So I read the story a few bloggers and split.

    As far as ads go you can capture some revenue for your efforts. I like the right side book offers. No movement, small byte size pics for multiple drops in a crunching netneutral world. So your stuff should be on the left side.

    Advertisers: the books catch my eye enough without pissing me off the site. Ads in newspapers – only catch my eye if its a picture or BOLD few words.

    I think you’ve got a winner now!

  20. Ryan says:

    This blog is essential reading. I’ve got one foot in business and one still in school, and this is still the most informative reading I do on any given day…

    You do what you need to do, just keep the content coming.

    Any change that will make the obvious time that you put in to this more worth it to you personally, I say is a good thing. Just don’t change the core of site – your perspective.

  21. ben says:

    I’m definitely with the “Just Do It” camp, speaking as a Web guy with an interest in what a smart bear has on his mind. Per my Web chops, these are my impressions…

    “Tab-based” refers to the presentation level of a navigation interface, no more, no less. From the sound of it, you’d be revising the site’s current architecture and moving the navigation footprint closer to the bodycopy – the rest is just bells, whistles, and figuring out the architecture that will be most intuitive for your readers. There’s a technique called card sorting (look it up on Google) that’s well suited to your goals.

    Much of the “clutter” is down to the fact that there’s too much stuff, all wrapped within a layout that’s constrained by the way Typepad does things. Winnowing down your ancillary stuff and moving to your own hosting environment makes these problems a lot easier to fix.

    I recall that you have a Web person of whom you’re fond, and none of these comments are intended to disparage the work she’s done, rather just to point out that I’d do things differently if it were my account.

    As for advertising… the data from your current traffic analysis might get you an interim deal – there are too many domains suggestive of money in your logs for advertisers to ignore completely.

    Moving to your own hosting environment and making some minor changes to your RSS feed will give you yet more data to work with.

    If you do intend to move forward with this, you’ll also need to decide on a publishing platform; I would judge WordPress and Drupal to be the two best suited to your goals. WordPress has a reasonable learning curve and lots of plug-ins, but can get melty under high load.

  22. Chris says:

    Whatever you do keep the full RSS feeds. In my opinion there is nothing that can drive your blog into obscurity faster than switching to partial feeds.

  23. Pool Shark says:

    Agree with DJ Johnson…

    Don’t change a thing; it’s great the way it is Barry.

    I used to love Roubini’s site. I stopped going there last month when he started requiring registration.

    Hate to see you do the same thing.

    But if you have to change the site; I vote for annoying advertising over required registration.

  24. Winston Munn says:

    It’s your bar – if I have to rent my seat at the piano, so be it.

  25. AlB says:

    It seems time to grow the blog. Advertising – Is the “high end shop” going to provide relevant ads or just tampons, beer and prescription drugs? Done tastefully, and I think it can be, should be good or at least acceptable. Re real demographic shit – I suppose it is necessary and everyone else sure as hell does it – go for it.
    Re redesign – tabbed sounds like an improvement – managed assets; asset allocation; probably some I can’t think of. More importantly, effective professional redesign would probably do/permit some good things

    Thanks for a great blog

    ~~~
    BR: The run I have seen are: Audi, Fidelity, Cartier, BMW, British Airways, Schwab, Vanguard.

    As much as I love Google, the search engine, Google, the advertising agency serves schlock . . .

  26. Chuck Ponzi says:

    Agree with Norman,

    I don’t think I’d be a reader if “they” wanted “information” about me.

    Either you get the web, or you don’t.

    Some don’t.

    ~~~

    BR: See the answer to Norm above.

  27. mhm says:

    A few things:
    - don’t create too many partitions/tabs, it becomes hard to navigate (“where did I see that?”)
    - most of the right column can go to “about me” page. Or maybe one random selection each page load? Too many pictures loading from external sites slow down the page load for no added benefit.
    - easy on the javascript hitting external sites. It slow down the page load for no added benefit.
    - and please, no flash adds. It annoys the hell out of everybody (I use flashblock anyway…)

    Optional:
    - 800px page width? Some of us use 12in notebooks :)
    - a real forum instead of blog comments?

  28. Funkman says:

    Since you provide full feeds via RSS – I rarely read the main site and only read from Google reader. So a redesign is lost on folks like me.

    So if you are looking for more $$ from content. Place an ad at the bottom of the each article in the RSS feed.

  29. Frank says:

    For some reason, I really like the little Iconic Bubbles you have along the top, so I think you should keep them. They are both iconic and Iconic, if you know what I mean, and I barely do.

    I am also pretty excited about the inclusion of a section for both books and pdfs.

    As for the other stuff, I surely hope you can find an advertising situation that works for you. I love your stuff and I would like to think that smart people can actually make money off these here internets.

  30. Robb says:

    #1 Rule of Product Design: EMPATHIZE with the consumer…

    Why do I like the BIG PICTURE?
    –> Simply because it reads like a LAWYER is writing ECONOMIC ANALYSIS.

    I have no problem with supplying personal information, especially if it will result in an improved site.

    However, if you’re site redesign is as disappointing as thestreet.com, I bid you adieu

  31. Rock says:

    If you want to see what NOT to do, take a look at http://www.minyanville.com/.

    Their site is annoyingly slow and I think it’s because of the ads. I used to read it daily, but now just rarely. And I do have DSL.

    Why have registration? What’s the point in that except to sell my email address. I get enough junk email as it is.

    Mhm seems to have some good advice about java script and flash ads.

    Your’s is one of the better macroeconomic blogs. Make it classy like Wall Street, not glitzy like Las Vegas. You will get more of the people you are writing for.
    Regards,
    Rock

    ~~~

    BR: I wouldn’t do registration automaticaly.

    However, software out there will let you bypass the captchas if you register. I would consider that as an option — Register, no captcha; No register, captcha — simply to keep the span down to a manageable level.

  32. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Barry,

    Just remember that people are uncomfortable with change – even change for the better. I’d try to maintain some look of this blog, and introduce navigation/layout changes gradually. Other than that, your demographics are probably very attractive based solely on traffic and subject. Good luck courting advertisers – you have the eyeballs they want.

  33. pride says:

    Wow – you are pretty damn full of yourself!

    I’ve been meaning to remove you from my RSS since I think your financial insights are derivative & your critical reviews are passe bordering on lumpen.

    Now I have a reason!

    P

    ~~~

    BR: Hubris! Arrogance! Gall!

    Where do I ever get all that arrogance from? I am so full of myself that I solicit from readers input before I make major changes, relying on the regulars to collectively help steer the site towards where ever it will go.

    Where ever do I get the nerve from? What ego!

  34. eric says:

    site could definitely use a shake up.

  35. Ritchie says:

    Why not start with placing an Amazon and PayPal donation button on the site?

    Otherwise, gradual changes please. You will get feedback.

  36. Jeremiah says:

    I rarely visit the site proper other than to comment. Instead, I read it all in Google Reader.

    If I were your consultant (and I’m not), I’d say this: layout the site so it’s most useful to YOU as a *functional* extension of your core service. Organize it the way *you* relate to the world.

    That’s what I say! :)

  37. Eclectic says:

    I’m a little confused, but here goes anyway:

    Books, music, philosophical, research… science maybe??

    I’ll provide marketing info, but nothing to assist phishing or id theft.

    I’m all for you being compensated any way you want. I’d even subscribe for a reasonable fee.

  38. Jtil says:

    I’m not a finance pro, nor even an investor. Longtime business press reader from my old business reporter days, and I read your site regularly. You can mine my demographic data all you want. Go big, Barry. Get the advertising ’cause at this point you’re a known source and it seems odd as to why you’re not already tapping that revenue for yourself. You only need a little editing, IMHO (it’s never alot. A. Lot. You’re, your, whose, who’s, etc.) Nothing to say about the format itself. Works for me. Grade A content compensates for a basic design. But please, no flash crap. Just the facts, and the linkfest, and your occasional cartoon.

  39. Mich(IXIC^1881) says:

    I say…SLEEP ON IT!

    Observations
    1-I want to clean the site up
    2-The site is almost begging for real advertising

    Quick Answers
    1-) To clean the site up:
    - “Worth Perusing” section has gazillion objects, delete all but the TOP 3
    - Blogroll section has gazillion links, change TOP 5 every week, keep the list in another page with a comment for each (what you think of them, how often do you use them, etc.)
    - Ditto Category Cloud
    - Ditto Favorite Links
    These will help you reclaim (clean) 80% of the left and right handside columns.

    2-) Advertising:
    Before you spend money on “high-end firms”, try putting 3 boxes where the “favorite posts.. 2005 2004″ is
    Within each box, type “Premium Adspace Available for rent, click for details”
    In the details, write the program rules:
    - Closed-envelope bidding open until Feb 29,2008
    - These are (and will be) the only 3 areas to host advertisement on TBP
    - You will be bidding to host your ad(s) for a full month
    - Box sizes will be the same size as the “Ritholtz R&A” box on the left hand side.
    - The highest bidder will get the top shelf with 2nd and 3rd advertisers right below
    - Bids for the following month are due on the 25th of each month

    If there are as many business people to read this blog as I think there are, you won’t need to hire a firm to have the ad money coming your way on its own.

    Lastly, I would say this, think of the unexpected consequences too:
    1 – Does new site, new domain bring more readers
    - If it does, will it be good for the site
    - I am sure yahoo message boards were great at one time, where people were sharing thoughts about the stock at hand, but look at them now. How can you be sure, more people, more messages will be good for the site
    2- Will you still have time when you get your Quattroponte and get money coming up the wazoo? Will you start hiring people to get the discussion started? Would you still care about the economy as much as you do now? Will you miss your blog and your readers, when 2 years later the whole TBP goes to oblivion due to losing its edge?
    3- People were attracted to the site, because ppl saw the economy going into ruin with nobody, especially stock market not caring and continuing its ascend…What happens in 2 years when the worst is over…For happy-go-around news, CNBC will always be there, what will be your differentiator then? (If you too think the blog will go away, by all means, monetize NOW when you are able to)
    4- If you really like blogging (which by definition is supposed to be amateurish sharing of thoughts), and want to create a community of like-minded individuals (or not-so-like minded individuals with meaningful discussions), how will you be able to attract, retain and expand?

    It’s your site, your call, wish you the best.

    Mich

  40. steveax says:

    One word of advice: don’t drink too much of the SEO koolaide that’s bound to head your way. Good material and well-constructed, semantic html is all you really need to worry about.

    -S

  41. sarge says:

    You know, I actually like the site design – at least try to retain the palette and clean graphics – it’s chill (as opposed to the corporate feel of your premium content page)

    Not sure an editor is necessary either – it’s sort of antithetical to the whole blogosphere ethos. And don’t bury the personal stuff either. Art and music are part of the big picture – if you can recognize quality in different forms then you’re just adding value to your blog.

    I have personally gained from your posts and want to chip in myself, but would prefer to share my skills rather than my info -if you need any photo or video work just say the word (I’m just over the bridge).

  42. If you go the tabs route, I definitely like the books and music aspect of TBP…

    You have also done well at adding comedy and the occasional rant to spice things up. Here’s my creative thought: Why not have a “WTF?” tab and/or a “Rant” tab?

    Of course, I am partial to philosophy as well but I suspect a “Know Thyself” tab would not get much traffic…

  43. Felix says:

    Yeah editors and ad shops are both very expensive, not sure why they’re necessary…

  44. That Guy Drinks Beer says:

    Please don’t break the site for mobile phones.

  45. Vermont Trader.. says:

    Don’t sell out.

    What does that mean?

    This is your blog; trust your own instincts to decide what it means.

    Full disclosure

    I own an Audi. Perfect car for VT.

  46. Ernesto says:

    Go for it. I also find your content valuable and will be willing to give some info in exchange.

  47. Drew says:

    Hi Barry,

    Great website, I enjoy visiting here, and appreciate the effort you put into each posting. Some free advice from the peanut gallery. :)

    Having created and run websites that generate several million in revenue annualy, I can offer this advice:

    “If it ain’t seriously broke, don’t fix it.”

    In other words, make any changes slowly, while taking into consideration customer reactions. You may also want to work directly with your CURRENT provider to get the changes you want rather than trying to go it alone.

    It’s really easy to get carried away with a commercially-viable website…don’t cook the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    Good luck!

  48. JT says:

    Keep it clean and simple.
    The essence of the blog is the typos and mistakes and critical analysis of yourself and everything around you.
    I understand the need to cover cost of running the site just be careful, please.

  49. Growler says:

    I second Drew & Vermont Trader’s comments

  50. Eg says:

    If it does not hurt your content, go with whatever fits your needs best.

  51. Emmett says:

    Barry,

    I got hooked on your BP blog via linkfest from thestreet.com. I just cancelled my subscription to “realmoney” because BP was better.

    I find your irreverent insights very interesting… especially the chart porn.

    I’d pay, say $100/yr to subscribe and avoid annoying advertising to get the same content.

    I normally give demographic info when I value a site. I never give income or asset information. I can’t believe anybody would ask that today.. but they do!

    I like the typos. Go figure. Edgy, real, personal. Keep the free-flow consciousness thing going. Top to bottom chronology is good. Your audience reads fast, so the scroll-like format is OK.

    I especially like the linkage you have in the left column. I prefer text over graphics, excepting charts.

    I hate advertising. If I see a Fisher ad I’ll puke. I’ll pay you not to put ads up.

    Ease up on Ben Stein.. who cares? He’s a nice boy.

    Thanks for the site. It’s my fave.

    BTW, TSC is boooring… and too much mousing to get to the end of an article.

  52. JWC says:

    I don’t have a problem with ads. I love the blog and it must take a ton of time. Agree, no E-mail address or name, but I would give them the personal data, such as it is.

  53. Dave M says:

    Calculated Risk took on ads recently after having not had them and there have been “loading issues” that have forced them to turn the ads off some times. They may be a good source of insight if you go that way as your editor may need to be web savvy too.

    Social media, in general, is setting new standards in judging quality of info sources. I believe more people are happy to skip over your typos and experience raw quality opinions than go for “Kudlow-esq” production standards and highly directional opinions. The content isn’t in th new ties or the great charts. It’s in the value of the diverse insights. Messy is more real.
    Also, didn’t you quote Barry Diller recently about media not being likely to apply the advertising business model to social media…..if it wasn’t you it was somewhere else.
    Either way, I’m a reader. Thanks!

  54. Leawoodblues says:

    Design:
    Ads, tabs,…… go for it.

    It’s all about the ‘tude:
    I think one of this blog’s best qualities is the ebb and flow of attitude. From the Fri. night Jazz to the rating agency rants.
    (btw, beef up the music to include more blues. It’s America’s legacy to the world)

    Keep it simple – Simplicity is elegance:

  55. Street Creds says:

    WIth regards to the LLC and lease an absurdly horsepowered car, remember, drive it like you stole it.

  56. Joe says:

    Barry,
    You dont need SEO, your articles are informative enough to stand out. All SEO will do to you will occasionally get you hits from major financial news sites or generic sites like Google News, perhaps.

    Think about why people come to this blog – I come b/c i know your stance, appreciate your diligence, and desire your perspective.

    I’ll still read your writings, no matter what you wrap around them.

    Good luck in this business decision.

  57. Keith Harrell says:

    Barry,

    I am a regular reader and enjoy your posts. They are informative and often humurous, both of which I appreciate. I don’t have a problem with the current site, but as others have indicated, you should do what you need to do since your readers value the content. I agree with some of the other posts that the advertising should be selective. There are a lot of garbage investment sites that I hope to never see another ad from again.

  58. Howard Veit says:

    You need co-conspirators who will link you virtually every day. Note that Reynolds links to Amazon almost every day and he collects vig from them. He also channels links to Pajamas Media on a one to two times per day basis and since he has partial ownership of the site he collects if traffic he generates actually clicks through and buys. The problem with all web advertising is that click throughs are low and those that do click don’t buy too often. I have a friend with a porn site that’s been up for two years and he says his traffic is down big time over the past four months or so. A snuff site might be big for a while til some nosy women’s group starts sniffing around but aside for a few ads for clubs and whips there might not be much there.

  59. Parker says:

    Tabbed re-design sounds great.

    However, I am opposed to turning over my personal info for just about anything, but like scorpio, I have no qualms about lying to marketers.

  60. Barry,

    Add a social networking feature! Microsoft will buy you out for $195 million.

  61. Dave says:

    I almost never read or participate in the comments, so go nuts. I do agree that you should keep the full RSS feeds. Just keep putting ads in them.

  62. rdub9000 says:

    Hi Barry,

    I come here for the content. Not the aesthetics. You do a great job. Short of giving you a monthly fee and/or my social security#, I’m down for whatever changes you choose to make. If it is hard to get to the content, then I may think twice about visiting.

    I think Marcus Aurelius and the first part of B.B.’s post pretty much say it all.

    Best of luck

  63. zero529 says:

    Thumbs up on tabs BUT it would be nice if you had a tab for “Today’s Content” (which would include all of that day’s economic-musical-bibliophilic gemische that we’ve all come to love) to keep the sequential aspect. Maybe each blog entry could then be mirrored within the tabs (Macroeconomics, Linkfests, Commentator Shenanigans/Ben Steinery Gallery, Books, Music, Other Topics/Digital Media) for those with more specialized preferences.

    As for ads, you deserve to be rewarded for your work and I would be willing to answer questions anonymously. But believe me, you won’t be impressed.

  64. I’ve been waiting forever to say this. WHERE’S YOUR FREAKIN NAME?

    Dude, that goes at the top! (Also, if it’s not too much, please remove the second “t” from your name considering that I always forget it.)

    You’ve got a few too many bells and whistles on your homepage. Migrate as much as you can to a nav bar. If you ignore the content, this site is extremely well designed. Simple, clean, soft colors, large font.

    Most importantly, don’t be a slave to a design. Take what you already have and work the design around it.

  65. ChuckieBit MyToe says:

    Everybody gets 5 minutes of fame. You can capitalize it but it’s still only 5 minutes.

    Ads suck ass. Everybody hates them. Millions have been spent on software that blocks them. Yours will be blocked too.

    To value an internet site as you would brick and mortar is a newbie mistake you’ll only make once. Internet time is measured in milliseconds and clicks are fickle.

  66. mark says:

    Barry
    How COOL of you to ask!
    For me, I like the infrequent mistakes,
    and random curse words, feels kinda homey
    makes it real. LOVE THAT,

    K.I.S.S.
    mark

  67. badhaikuguy says:

    It’s the Yankee way.
    It ain’t broke so fix it NOW!
    New, Improved Version!

  68. badhaikuguy says:

    Time to move along.
    It was fun while it lasted.
    The end begins here.

  69. Bedemere says:

    I like the fact that all your content is in-line with the new stuff at the top. A few tabs would fine, but please don’t break the new content into too many pieces or I’m likely to stop looking for it. I hate ads, especially the ones that flash at me, and will immediately enter your advertisers into an ad blocker in Firefox. No offense and I’ll certainly understand if you decide to go for the money, but if the ads move or flash I’ll never see them. If I can’t make them stop I’ll just go away and never come back.

    I don’t mind giving out personal info as long as you don’t use it to spam me. I lost my privacy years ago and am under no illusions that advertisers aren’t tracking my every move via my IP address anyway.

  70. P-A says:

    Redesignign is fair, **but**
    1/ Feedburner / Blogline readers might not be to the liking of your Ad company.
    2/ Somehow the value add to the reader seems slim. Readers mostly like your style and thoughts, not perfect grammar or pretty stuff. These are nice to have that are not your main “selling points”. Therefore, having ads that only help to improve those non essential points is not a good idea.

    Careful of the invasive-ad-monster, but by all means experiment with it!

    P-A

  71. DavidB says:

    Does this mean I have to change my bookmarks? The WORK you impose on us Barry!

    I trust your instincts for change. Make sure that editor does the linkfest first and foremost! That should be priority #1. Linkfest is the weekly newsmagazine of TBP and as long as you are directing the links you can have the editor put the stuff together

    You need to look into a brawling corner. It may become the most popular spot but a place where there is a no holds barred cage match that people can go to vent their political and religious differences might make the need to police other parts easier. A whole tab for open discussions in other words is probably the only other thing I’d add. At least one open thread per week.

    And one final point. Don’t get greedy. Most good ideas are lost when they are sold for the cash and the original vision is lost. If ‘they’ come in telling you to change things it will lead in the wrong direction. You may still make hay but what you had will be lost and you’ll be just another NY Times magazine. Is it worth it? Or do you still have a message for the world? Consider that, keep it in focus and trust your instincts. They got you here…..and let the wife help with the final decision. Don’t sell out for cardboard cash

  72. bluestatedon says:

    I second Drew’s and Ben’s comments, among others. I’m a graphic designer by day (and many nights), but believe it or not I hardly notice or pay attention to anything beyond your articles and the comments. That’s the meat that draws me here.

    • Keep sequence.
    • Tabs are fine within reason.
    • Simplify rather than complicate.
    • Typos don’t bother me much.
    • Category cloud doesn’t do anything for me.
    • A music tab would be great.
    • No problem giving out info.
    • No ads that float annoyingly across the page, or announce that I’ve won a goddamn ipod.

  73. Jeff Martin says:

    Say NO to the redesign. Keep your blog real. Lose that and you lose its allure. Let your expertise, frankness/directness shine through your blog, which keeps people coming back to it. Use your blog — like you likely do now — to promote your firm (logo in the top left corner). Go commercial (e.g. TheStreet.com), and you you’re changing your entire biz model. Think hiring not only an ad firm, but an internal online marketing team — that costs $$$. Know how many visitors you need a month to charge ad rates that support your additional overhead, then know how much it’ll cost to drive the needed traffic (SEO, paid search, display ads, blogging on other sites, video ads, viral marketing campaigns, biz dev deals, email marketing campaigns, etc.). Did I make my point! Maybe add a strong call to action link underneath your logo and after each blog post, to monetize your exhisting traffic. Or, get an ad firm/biz dev shop/intern to call prospective companies and offer them an exclusive sponsorship of your entire blog. For example, Top nav, put “Presented By Quicken Loans” or whoever is willing to pay to put their name in front of your monthly average visits. Need help, feel free to give me a call. I think you can accomplish what you’re trying to do by first tweaking your exhisting blog (maximizes your upside with minimal downside risk).

    Jeff Martin
    Sales Driven Marketign LLC, CEO
    http://www.SalesDrivenMarketing.com

  74. bthunder says:

    the site structure should not be more complicated. take a look at GOOG home page – the definition of simplicity. and i suppose people like it that way.
    if it takes forever to load (thanks to the ads and active crap”, or more than 1 click to find the “content” – i’ll use the site less often…

  75. Rodrigo says:

    Lets not kid ourselves: The only reason you have regular readers is because of the quality content. If you keep up the content, while making it easier on the eyes, its a WIN-WIN for your readers. We are creatures of habit, so we’ll get used to the changes.

    Regarding the ads, I think it’s about time you monetize all the time you’ve invested on the site. If I were you, I’d experiment with the ads under the current format…Regarding the wheels, you should seriously consider a bike: a Ducati Monster would be my choice. Have Mrs BR take it for a spin, and see if she can handle it.

  76. Drewbert says:

    I love the look of this blog already, and you have 6 tabs on the top left :)

    Just move it to your own domain, and fine tune the look of the google adverts so they don’t stick out like dogs balls.

  77. Peter says:

    i have no probs giving some info out, but maintain some degree of privacy

    Peter

  78. Douglas Crockett says:

    Tabs sound good.

    Ads OK by me.

  79. Steelduck says:

    a. I would keep my blog-identity as it is. It has been good to you, and I would not change much except some minor cosmetics.

    b. Hosting TBP under your own domain may alter that blog-identity.

    c. Look at your traffic. It grows exponentially. People vote with their clicks. They like what they see in its current form. The opinion of the 100 or so people that are going to leave comments to this particular post may NOT be representative of your readers.

    d. You want to make money with advertising?
    Watch your traffic grow at the same rate as subprime losses go through the roof, then advertisers will come to you.

  80. Diarmuid says:

    Firstly led me hold my hands up and admit I’m a techie by profession!

    Barry, a word of warning people are very closed in their attitude to change. Many strategies exist to help overcome change and change management has become an art in itself.

    Furthermore, change in IT is even more complex than general change. Rather than simply asserting ‘yes, I like it’, ‘no, I hate it’ approach, users consciously or unconsciously consider issues such as

    (1) Usability (evil design, stupid deign and lazy design – all 3 are different! Navigation is also a critical factor of success)
    (2) Speed (consider homepage & search times)
    (3) Interoperability (cross-browser, screen-resolution and links with point 5)
    (4) Content (well we know this is top class!!! But worth considering how much your content is being picked up by Google and other search engines? Are you performing as well as you can?)
    (5) Accessibility.

    Following from this, tabs are often considered poor with regard to usability design unless deployed correctly. I’d encourage you to do some serious thinking before (a) selecting a website design team and (b) making any changes.

    You’re not just looking for a good web-design team. While a graphic designer can make most things look pretty can he/she top the class when it comes to usability? Is the richness and clarity of crisp images going to impact performance? You need a technical team to work very closely with the graphic designers to blend their strengths.

    If required, I can recommend a good web design firms that charge extremely reasonably (I’m not a stake-holder). Note of warning – they do charge euro / sterling not dollars!! I also know a few usability firms but their rates I’m unsure of.

    Finally you own domain address would be a giant step in the right direction with regards to usability. Just remember to run the new and old address in parallel for at least 6 months before retiring the old address.

    Drop me an email if you want anymore tips. I have done web critiques in the past!

  81. MarkM says:

    We only wish to remind you that sales of “The Sweater (TM)” were to create the revenue stream you desire and that certain material failures by the principals of your Limited Liability Company are responsible for the shortfalls that have become evident. We refer to to the Complaint we have filed in Federal District Court, Manhattan Branch, paragraphs 24 (a), (b) and (c) entitled “Ritholtz Breach” for your perusal.

    Sincerely,

    Mark McCormack, President
    “The Sweater” Marketing Group LLC

    P.S. In other words, sounds okey-dokey with us.

  82. Rich Kursman says:

    we are an excellent application/web design firm that specializes in user centered design. Before you can make any intelligently informed decisions for a redesign, you will want to conduct some form of user research to define or better understand your user requirements. I will be happy to discuss in more detail if you like-just drop me an email.

  83. Jean Loup Allemann says:

    Your work is great, I also manage a blog, therefore I realise the effort you have to put in. It would seem more than fair to me, to just have to fil a survey to access the information you provide. Plus I dont see why, will all the visitors you have, this blog should not provide you with an income.

    Keep doing a great job…

  84. Pequinio says:

    tabs are good idea, you might want to create different tabs for different sectors of the economy/finance.

    I understand that you want to benefit from the traffic from your website by adding proper ads. But i will not give personal information.
    Sorry.

  85. Note: I don’t pay the Advertising firms, they pay me. However, the more premium ad networks require some of the surveys, etc, mentioned above.

  86. It would be very worthwhile if you had information that was pertinent to small businesses – calculating startup costs, raising capital, getting business credit etc.

  87. JasRas says:

    I am all for the redesign, but I also reiterate the request to keep full RSS feeds. The feeds are the easiest way for me to see when you’ve added content.

    If you do advert, please, please please do not do the active ads! These things drive people nuts on RealMoney and Minyanville. I know the revenue may tempt one to accept any type of advert, but these active ads are big turn offs.

  88. cinefoz says:

    The contrarian that I am, here’s some other viewpoints …

    1) I enjoy my anonymity. Would the change affect that? My finances are private. Period.

    2) I don’t mind the clutter. Better organization wouldn’t be a problem. But too slick might be if it ends up looking like TheStreet.

    3) This blog is for thinking people. It is a rarity. Would the character change by a poor (too slick) reorg?

    4) Ads … ok. But let me warn you. I use Flashblock and AddBlock Plus as Firefox addons. I probably won’t see what you are posting.

    5) Having said that, I don’t want to be selfish. If you can make some money on this, run for it.

  89. macuser says:

    If you don’t need the money to survive, please don’t take on adverts. Thank you.

  90. alexd says:

    My two cents.

    Have an indicator perhps using color or a minor pop up to show the “freshness ” of the discussion when placing the pointer over the proposed tab.

    Have a function that based on survey/ feedback only shows me ads that are for things I say I am interested in buying/using.

    Perhaps to regiser, the reader completes a very small survey that indicates what kind of product/ or service they are looking for )

    Have a deal with the mafia (or use the jewish one, the KosherNostra!) that if an advertiser lies or promotes an inferior product or service then…….

    No ads for financial services. I would rather get an opinion on that via consensus then take their word for it.

    Can I get some shares in the operation? I am really asking.

  91. Bob A says:

    You could switch the big buttons on top for tabs and it would work better. I’ve rarely if ever clicked on one of the tabs. They don’t look like tabs so it doesn’t click in the brain that’s what they are.

    Huffpost made a nice transtition recently and added some advertising without ruining it. I rarely click on their tabs either. But they mix items from different sections on the front page, and when you click on a frontpage Item it takes you into the relevant ‘section’ which seems to work well.

    The ads you now have on the side columns are unobstrusive and ignorable which is the way they should be.

    When you tried google ads in the comments the other day, that would truly ugly and annoying ala Real Money… THE SINGLE MOST ANNOYING WEB SITE IN THE WORLD which I suffer through only to follow one of the blogs, the commentary being almost entirely drivel.

  92. JS says:

    It all depends on your goals. If generating more income via the blog is your goal by all means go for it. This is a real defensible goal and one not to be ashamed of. But please, if this your motive please don’t try to sell it to us any other way.

    I, for one, come here because the content not over editorialized. Its a simple fact, the more people that get involved the more that will be lost. Sure the blog might be a little too busy but who cares.

    To me it sounds as though your mind is already made up. And you just threw the topic out there to introduce the survey idea to readers.

  93. JS says:

    It all depends on your goals. If generating more income via the blog is your goal by all means go for it. This is a real defensible goal and one not to be ashamed of. But please, if this your motive please don’t try to sell it to us any other way.

    I, for one, come here because the content not over editorialized. Its a simple fact, the more people that get involved the more that will be lost. Sure the blog might be a little too busy but who cares.

    To me it sounds as though your mind is already made up. And you just threw the topic out there to introduce the survey idea to readers.

  94. I have no problem with ignoring ads in the future as I have ignored them in the past. As long as they don’t flash at me. That would cut down on my traffic.

    I’ll give marketers whatever fictional data they want from me. True information — not so much.

    The site in Blackberry: no huge navigation section to scroll past — Yay! Partial dark blue background with black type — Boo! Change that part.

    3 rules for SEO:
    1. Write stuff that draws people in. Already done. (Don’t undo it by outsourcing your voice.)
    2. Clean, valid code behind the site.
    3. See rules 1 and 2. Everything else is evil.

  95. Bob A says:

    p.s. … best think I ever did was switch to auto trans. Check out any VW with DSG trans. V6 Passat will burn your bmer

  96. Tom says:

    I like the tabbed idea, and you can include as many topics as you write about. If we don’t like it, we don’t click it. As for sequential stuff, you could do an “All Posts” tab, too. The forum would be a hit or miss proposition, it depends on the quality of the contributors. On a site this popular, you would likely need a full time moderator. Advertising is a fact of web life, so no problem there.

  97. Mark says:

    I think you should add a tab for “reading” too. Links to other columns/articles you have linked to within the blog (Linkfest and otherwise).

  98. Mark says:

    I think you should add a tab for “reading” too. Links to other columns/articles you have linked to within the blog (Linkfest and otherwise).

  99. Scott says:

    Survey: hey, this blog brings a decent amount of value to me, if I have to punch through some info to get that value back so be it. As long as there’s something clearly spelled out (cookies, registration, whatever) to keep me from filling out the same survey every time I’m here.

    Tabs: I think you’d be better off combining books, music, and the like into a “Multimedia” tab. I can read the econ/markets stuff more easily, and click over to the other tabs when I want to hear about your taste in unrelated content. Maybe another tab for archived or linked content like talk show appearances, and all that?

  100. GK says:

    Barry,

    I really enjoy your blog and the economic insights you provide. I think that giving up a little information anonymously is a small price to pay for the free content that I and your other readers enjoy.

    I also subscribe to your marketletter at Ritholtz Research & Analytics. I am employed by a legal publisher as an editor. I provide legal information to the banking and investment industry, and I value your site for the timely topical analysis. Are you considering publishing more of the information currently provided by Ritholtz Analytics on the blog to increase your ad revenue by drawing even more regular readers?

    I was thinking that by eliminating the superfluous information currently listed on your blog, you may have room to devote a portion to chart analysis, economic trends, policy, etc. In other words, keep the main part of the blog as is (that’s what we come to read anyway, right?), but then maintain a portion for those looking for more detailed technical analysis and market insight. Just a thought. Thanks, and good luck.

    P.S. There are software options readily available on the market for internet publications that are reasonable and work well.