OK, I have been getting up to speed with WordPress, and playing with our new design for a few days. I’ve also gotten lots of feedback from everyone, nearly all of which was extremely useful.

There are some things I need to fix ASAP, and a few items that will have to wait for version 2.0. As always, your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Immediate fixes:

1. Set the Drop Down Menus default to open: A few of you suggested this, and it makes sense. I want people to see what is on the other tabs, but allow them to close the menus if they want.

2. Other WordPress Plug Ins:  I am told there are many way cool plugins — any suggestions? What are the way cool must have functionality/features plug ins provide ? What are the must haves, and the really-like-to haves?

3. RSS Feeds: Feedburner needs to be switched to the new domain. Doh! I thought that was an automatic, but it (apparently) requires a plug in. (Any suggestions?)

4. Separate Feeds for Cafe and Video:  Another good reader idea. I assume I can create RSS category feeds?

5. Vote on this post:  It might be worthwhile to track the top rated video and cafe posts, and display those votes elsewhere on the blog. (um, plug in?)

6. Archive calendar: My bad, I should have been more explicit to the designers. That needs to get posted on the main page. Categories also (let me guess: another plug in?)

7. Traffic monitoring:  A few things with this should occur
-Install Google Analytics on all tabs.
-Sitemeter Traffic code (all tabs)
- anyone know a good WP traffic monitor?

8. Bad URLS: There are a few bad links like this: http://thebigpicture.jobthread.com/blog/managed-assets/
Any others?

9. Media reviews should be separate (above or below) the expandable/collapsible menus.

Next version changes:

• I’d like the tabs to be simpler, less colorful. Instead of the various colors, I’d like the tab you are on as a solid, and the rest of them semi-transparent. There’s too much going on up top, and this will simplify it.

The biggest complaint of readers is the header: a) Its flash, and b) It takes up a lot of space. I assume we could offer up a static (non flash) version also, (flash/no flash) selectable by the user.

As to the size, I feel the nature of blogs is that you scroll down quickly, so you hardly see the header for very long. We will have to see if that grows on you as to whether we keep it or not.

Digital Media may not deserve its own stand alone tab. The content there could easily be merged into the video tab (Video & Digital Media) and market/economic related stuff could work its way back to the main tab.

I have been using it this week for all of the election related graphs/charts/tables/polls. This is not really a regular event.

• The Cafe header — was kinda a last minute compromise (I just wanted to launch already!). I was hoping for something that conveyed the idea of debate and discussion, a group effort, and I’m not sure that this does that.

I’d love to see some other ideas for this header.

• Navigation Bar (About, Contact, etc) I’d like to see this look more like buttons . . .

Category: Web/Tech, 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.

31 Responses to “Feedback on the Blog Design Change”

  1. rlux says:

    WP plugins: Share This and Statpress.

    Share This has a little more functionality that whatever you’re currently using for social bookmarking & discovery.

    Statpress is a WP stats package. Not sure how well it will stand up to your traffic but worth a look.

  2. EM9 says:

    Change Cafe to Forum
    EM9

  3. Steve Barry says:

    Barry,

    Has great potential. I like the look of the 16 square graphic boxes, but why do they have to spend time fading in everytime I comment or navigate through the site?

    I kind of miss the preview feature for comments. Also, I feel that I’m missing things…why do you segregate video? The old blog used to have great video content in the main blog. Personally, I would like it better if you had the tabs based on content, not media type. For example, why have market content in the BP tab, the video tab, the book club tab? After reading this blog for a year, my tabs would be Markets/Economy, Technology, Humor, Music, Other.

    One more thing…maybe it’s my PC, but graphics that link to other sources (such as the one today about Election and Economy) are blurry and hard to read…this was not a problem on the old site.

  4. Mike in Nola says:

    Another plug for a preview mode, if such a thing exists in WordPress. Would make inserting links and proofing comments easier.

  5. CNBC Sucks says:

    You need to put a huge link to your buddy CNBC Sucks. At least, you should put me on the blogroll. Hint hint, nudge nudge, beg beg.

    As a registered Republican (zombies crawl out of graves, raging at the tired old joke), I have to chuckle at your attempt at change. Your comments on both blogs have slowed to a crawl, almost to a rate as pitiful as my blog. That serves you right for your anti-American practices such as Communist-like attention to facts and data and un-Christian attempts to use reason. For whatever reason, you do not seem to share my Christian values, Barry Ritholtz.

    I received a letter in the mail from my party leader John McCain asking for money, complaining about there being too many voters in this election. Damn, we Republicans hate it when that happens. Can you please donate some money to John McCain to suppress the vote?

  6. RyanT says:

    I love the new site design, its much nicer than the old one. I’d watch adding too many new plugins, on the old site there is thousands of little thingamabobs along both edges that are completely useless. I like the new header a lot but I have to throw in a vote against flash.

    I really have nothing against flash and I think its a neat little use that doesn’t detract from the site but there are some serious issues:
    Most browsers have plugins to disable flash, for example, I’m running adblock which sticks a “Block” button beside it. As well, flashblock leaves a blank space there until I click it to enable it. All the flash does is leave a gaping hole at the top of the blog.

    This would be perfect if it were a static picture that the server dynamically generates, but flash has too many restrictions and is not guaranteed to work on everyone’s computer.

  7. Uncle Al says:

    With any changes, please keep Blackberry users in mind as well.
    So far looks good.

  8. Coruscation says:

    I love the blog and I’m delighted you’re excited about it and investing in making it better.

    Keep the goal of simple, light, and fast.

    Saw off the top 4 inches and put them on a spash page ritholtz.com/I_have_time_to_kill

    Read the blog youself on a netbook (laptop with 6 to 8 inch screen and cel modem), or blackberry on the train. Do you ever have to scroll past unnecessary fluff ? Then delete. Repeat.

    Add a mobile mode with only the content.

    For widgets, add some ‘most popular/most comments/most recent comments/best-editors choice comment/ and best of the past/ teasers.

    At least add a link from the top of the page to the start of the content so I do not need to scroll down 6 pages on my blackberry.

  9. Coruscation says:

    Also, for commenters, add in a preview and some hint of what the allowable html links are
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/11/feedback-on-the-blog-updatedesign-change/#comment-124249

    previous conment, continued from.

  10. Mythiot says:

    Here’s a important request. Please bring back your pooch, which looks to be a Schnauzer. How about in one of the monitors?

    Do WordPress format commands work in Comments? If so, it would be useful to link to them somewhere. Testing bold. Testing italic.

  11. EDF says:

    The new format is excellent, but (and you knew there one would be one) when you quote something/somebody, the font is too light for easy reading. Thanks, Barry.

  12. Gary says:

    How about putting a label right at the beginning of the articles section? We can can then bookmark http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/#label and your blog would open directly at the top of the articles, the header being already scrolled above the screen.

    New visitors would see the whole page, and the regulars would use the bookmarked label to go directly to the posts. Also very useful for people on Blackberrys and other small-sized devices.

    And another thing: I’m sure you have your reasons but forcing people to log on to comment would translate into fewer posts, less spontaneity – it’s just a hassle.

    ~~~

    BR: Exellent idea about the label bookmark — perfect for Blackberry/iPhone users. As to the registering, it eliminates a lot of the spam, assclowns, and trolls.

  13. gc says:

    Well done on the many changes. To go further, you might press your designers toward the work of Ed Tufte on the graphical presentation of quantitative information. I would have thought his books would have made your recommeded lists that were on the earlier sites side panel. There seem too many remaining lines and graphic touches that provide no information, and an entry or so had offputting use of greyscale. But really, thank you for all the stuff done right.

  14. coler says:

    Barry, no one has really answered your request for plugins…

    If you’re running WordPress on a linux box, check out http://www.awstats.org. It’s one of the better free web stats systems out there and it’s a piece of cake to set up (for a guru). It’ll track ritholtz.com as well as sub-folders of the site (like ritholtz.com/blog). It’ll also track browsers used to contact your site, IP address countries of origin, tracking per month, day, year, hour of day, etc. But there are plugins that will also count stats.

    As for plugins, check out (if you haven’t already): http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/plugin

    If you link to a lot of YouTube stuff, take a look at WP YouTube: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-youtube

    For voting, you might check out: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/vote-it-up (there are others).

    For using FeedBurner with WP, check out: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_FeedBurner

    The archive calendar should be available as a standard calendar widget (under your admin dashboard, I believe it’s under the Design / Widgets tab section).

  15. ThomasK says:

    I have been following your blog for quite a while and always enjoy reading your commentary. The new design has come out very nice.

    I do, however, agree with those mentioning the big flash board and how it’s wasting valuable space. When I load up the front page on my monitor, the new content is all the way at the bottom, and I can’t really tell if it’s new as I only see the headline and not the shape of the post. It’s much faster to tell if things are different by checking shape than by doing the reading.

    The list of links (About, Contact) etc. also appears out of place. I came to the blog to get to the posts, not to get the opportunity to go somewhere else already.

    I like the colors and the general feel of the new site. Congratulations on the new design even though it does seem to borrow at least a couple visual ideas from http://www.bnet.com

    ~~~

    BR: When I 1st sat down with the designers, I showed them many sites I really liked — and a few I hated. Good eye: One of the examples I used was the B-School within B/Net: http://blogs.bnet.com/harvard/

  16. FT Woods says:

    For what it’s worth, if it’s at all possible…I’d love to be able to access all of the day’s posts from all of the different sections in one place. “Recent Posts” kinda does this but only shows the last 5 posts, not an entire days worth.

  17. tom says:

    here’s some wordpress links that might be of interest…

    WordPress SEO

    11 top wordpress plugins every blog should have

    I see you have registration enabled for comments, disabling it will probably invite more comments, but if you do, i suggest you check out wordpress discussion filters

  18. Steve Barry says:

    I like FT’s idea of an ALL Posts Tab…also, how about a running open thread for comments on specific topics?

    So my tabs would now be:

    All Posts…Markets/Economy…Technology…Humor…Music…Open Threads

  19. Mike in Nola says:

    “BR: Exellent idea about the label bookmark — perfect for Blackberry/iPhone users. As to the registering, it eliminates a lot of the spam, assclowns, and trolls.”

    Ok, Barry. Continue to ignore all of us uncool WM users :)

  20. Our man in Helsinki says:

    Vau! (Wow! in Finnish)

  21. bulgyeyes says:

    I like the new design think it’s great – would possible stop the windows white-noising on every click through the site. Also please do a less graphics-intensive one for iPhones.

    The anal-yst in me is really irked by one typo though – you spell the name of your company as “FuisonIQ” in the link to it in the middle of the text in the “About” page – (http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/about/) – you gotta spell your own company name right!!

  22. seobook says:

    Your page title does not put the most relevant parts of the post at the beginning..if it did then it would be easier to tell each page apart when many tabs are open, your pages would rank better in search engines, and people would be more inclined to click on them in the search results since your keywords would be near the beginning. This plug in fixes title tags
    netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin/

    Another tip is your blog is not up to date, and your theme’s header.php file is showing the version of wordpress you are using…making it easy for hackers to hack into the site and add spammy links to your blog. you can fix this by removing the part from your header.php file and by keeping wordpress up to date.

  23. seobook says:

    oh, and once you get more posts, you may want to use a plug in that shows related posts near the bottom of the content…this plug in does it automatically and does a nice job of relevancy matching
    http://wasabi.pbwiki.com/Related%20Entries

  24. Cristina says:

    Great restying for the blog!

    Here are some recommendations for wordpress plugins:
    - For your book reviews the Now Reading plug in from Rob Miller.
    - For stats I simply use the WordPress.com Stats plugin
    - To improve usability: wp-print and wp-email
    - To improve visibility of your best/most popular/related content Yet Another Related Posts Plugin and Popularity Contest.
    - To get better rankings in Google: All in One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps, and for searches from Google: Landing pages

    One plugin I find cool but you might not like iit if you don´t like Flash si Featurific for WordPress

  25. batmando says:

    Barry -

    First, thanks for your solicitude in getting the site right.
    Second, a lot of the commenters are obviously much more savvy about up-to-date widgets than I, but for my 2 cents worth:

    RE Password – As noted in my email to you, the ability to change one’s password from an assigned, random gobble-de-gook sequence to a mnemonic would be much appreciated.
    Your reply “I am just getting up to speed on WP, so Im clueless – try logging out an reregistering under a different name”
    Can somebody out there with WordPress savvy, provide the info Barry needs to fix this relatively minor but aggravating issue?

    RE Archives – I find the calendar a frustrating affordance as most often I can’t even guesstimate the date of an earlier post that I want to find. A chronological, retro-order scroll list of post titles would be more this trogolodyte’s cup of tea.

    RE header – you replied “I thought about the header size — but the nature of the blog is you scroll past it quickly — it almost doesn’t matter whats there”
    Who is the “you” in that sentence?
    Consider what Splash page objectives should be, in light of two audiences:
    - first time viewer: where am I? what is the site about? how do I use it?
    - regular users: efficiency/utility of affordances, e.g., links are buried at the bottom of the page, could/should be at the top also.

    Evaluate everything on the splash page in terms of “what information is conveyed?” and utility.
    e.g., the row of pretty pictures in the header? Info quotient, near zero; utility quotient, zero.
    If I have to scroll past it, it’s in the way. If it slows download times (for us viewers in the boonies with dial-up ISPs), it’s in the way of my efficient use of the site.

    Suggested first cut at re-design of the splash header:
    - Lose (or at least reduce in number and/or size of) the two rows of graphics and the Flash
    - Take the descriptive copy out of the TBP logo in the upper left and spread it across the top of the space now occupied by the graphix
    - Gary’s suggestion re a bookmark http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/#label is a good compromise though

    Love the idea of drop down menu open as the default

  26. osmif says:

    As a daily reader and a big fan, I would like to echo the observation made by others. The info-bang to screen-real-estate-buck ratio of the header (div#header) is quite low. Strictly from a reader’s point of view, I get to the site via the RSS feed, so it would be great if the links in the RSS feed pointed to the proposed “#label” named anchor, and skipped that chunk of the page 100% of the time.

    But from the point of view of a web professional, fully 130 vertical pixels at the top of the page that deliver neither content nor functionality: the most important ones, to boot. While it’s a matter of taste as to whether those pixels are aesthetically engaging, I would submit that nothing that holds no content or functionality is worth that great an expenditure of prime screen real estate.

    The category tabs across the top, and the BP branding are the only elements of value, and those could be made lighter-weight and more space-efficient. I hope not to offend with this input; it’s offered in a spirit of support, not one of negativism (nor nattering nor nabobbery).

    Thanks.

  27. dead hobo says:

    1) Thanks for the password reset and nickname page. Passwords and registration are ok, but considering how easy it is to set up anonymous email accounts, I don’t understand the ultimate reason for this control. Having said that, if I saw the world from your side I might see why control is necessary.

    2) As someone who has spent a lot of time with software designers, I have a few professional usability comments for you. Hopefully you will condifer them and implement as you feel appropriate.

    I have an appointment soon so I probably won’t finish the full list of observations.

    I will be blunt. Please do not take this personal. If I wanted to be rude, I would be more creative and colorful.

    Overall, this site appears to have the look of a design for personal (your) fulfillment and not for usability. Basically, you have to press too many buttons to get anything done, existing buttons are not clear in purpose, appearance is valued over usability, it is slow to load,content is spread over too many pages, and content is not obvious.

    In olden days, in usability testing, I would surround myself with people who would tell me the truth and ignore people who would tell me what I wanted to hear and those who wanted to take things over. They would be told of the objective and be asked “what’s wrong with it” with the expectation of honest answers. Once trust developed, problems were identified with abandon. I get the feeling here that your team learned the appropriate range of disagreement and then stayed within it.

    Have to go now. If you want some examples, go to some popular sites and compare theirs to yours. If you want to make yours better looking than theirs, then fine. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  28. Gary says:

    Re: changing your password
    When you’re logged in at the bottom of the comments you’ll see this:
    Leave a Reply
    Logged in as batmando. Log out »
    And a rectangle box for text entry.
    Click on your username right above the box – and you can change your preferences, including the password.

  29. dead hobo says:

    OK, back a it.

    I’m sure some of these suggestions have been already been noted. I’m not claiming originality.

    1) Move the menu column on the right to the left and narrow it up. Add a little color for visual interest.

    2) Move the quote of the day to a dedicated box: Maybe link it to a second page that lists the prior 30 quotes of the day, with the oldest rolling off the bottom each time a new one is added.

    3) Put blog post TITLES in the main screen, with links to each individual one on another page. Then you can have a rolling view of maybe the past 7 days of blog post titles, with links to each. Maybe some kind of archiving system could keep older blog entries segregated by month automatically, with a drop down box somewhere that links to a menu page of archived titles, with the ability to link to the individual post by clicking on the title. This would allow you to reuse code from the main blog screen.

    4) Replace the little header boxes with one big picture. Maybe rotate the pictures daily if you need the variation. Concentrate on fast load over visual interest.

    5) Drop the little tabs above the title boxes They are redundant and incomplete.

    6) The links to your business should more prominent and dignified, but more subtle. I’d put them in a box that has a nice background color, CSS rollover color text, and probably in the blog header or another place impossible to ignore, but not boorish in you face blatant. It’ll be a balancing act, but it should non verbally state you are open for business and a class act.

    I haven’t looked beyond this stuff, but it should be enough to get you started.

  30. Jonathan says:

    My company’s IT agreed to allow your domain through our firewall. Score one for justice!

  31. morgentd says:

    Love your site. My requests:
    1) I can’t find past “quotes of the day.” I wanted to pass on the one from a few days ago, but I can’t find it. Can these be logged somewhere?
    2) Navigation to past entries — The only way I found to get here was by scrolling backward. Could the entires be indexed by date?
    Thanks, and keep up the great work!