OK, it’s a new year, and I have some tweaks I want to make to the site. (If any Word Press programmers want to contact me about this job, send an email to thebigpicture -at- optonline -dot- net, with your contact info, some site examples or work, estimated time to completion, and rates).

Overall, I like this basic design since moving from Typepad in November 2008. However, a few flaws I want to fix/tweak/upgrade:

1. Layout: I have five items for this:

a. Move the Flash header to the Café (lose the Café header); Develop new graphic for TBP main page.

b. Yes, the Header is too large (The crowd has spoken!) – it needs to be 20-30% smaller across all blog sections.

c.  Either kill the dead space above the header image, or structure it so it could hold a 728 X 160 leaderboard. (Perhaps make the top a “Frame” – content below scrolls, top horizontal stays stationary).

d. Cut the 6 Tabs down to 4 – what I would prefer to see is the Tabs being less “busy” looking. Make them transparent except for the front one, all flush right. (See Mint as an example). Lose TBP tab (redundant, as the far left logo serves the same purpose); Lose the Jobs tab (it’s a ghost town), combine digital media with video. Rename the 4 tabs as follows:

. . . Think Tank . . . Book Club . . . Video & Media . . . TBA

e. Add Category and Calendar Archives to lower right column

2. Modifying Design & Structure: Right now, the sidebar is identical across all sections. I want to be able to customize each one differently.

3. Special Content: I am totally jazzed about a new person coming on board – they will be a regular in the Café/Think Tank. He cranks out 5 -10 very short comments a day. I want to add a box on the front page, and pull the first 100-200 words of these comments into that box. Clicking on the text takes you to the full post. There needs to be a way to automate the entire process, preferably via email, to post and excerpt.

4. Advertising: In the sidebar (right hand column) I need to add another 250 X 300 ad unit into the “above the fold.” The main column shows the 10 most recent posts. I’d like to add a 728 x 160 after the 3rd and 6th post. A prime leaderboard ad slot goes up top.

5. Video: There is a ratings plug in for posts (5 stars); that would be useful for the video section.
Then on the front page, I’d like to list a box with Favorite Videos of the week and month

6. TBP RSS Feed: I need an RSS feed for just the main page content.

>

If any Word Press programmers want to contact me about this job, send an email to thebigpicture -at- optonline -dot- net, with your contact info, some site examples or work, estimated time to completion, and rates.

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.

16 Responses to “Planned Tweaks & Changes to The Big Picture”

  1. gloppie says:

    Just a comment, Barry: I don’t like 1.c, it’s only removes vertical reading space.
    Other than that, your Blog rocks. Thanks for your hard work.

  2. karen says:

    Hope you are keeping “Quote of the Day” and wish it could sit more prominently at the top. Thanks for the good news, btw; we needed it!

  3. Steve Barry says:

    Personally, I’d rather see tabs split based on subject matter, not on media type.

    Tabs: Economy, Politics, Technology, Lighter Side (Cartoons, jazz, etc.), Breaking News/Open Threads

  4. Lose TBP tab (redundant, as the far left logo serves the same purpose)

    Did not know that though you probably told us that when you redid this. You might want to indicate that in the logo somehow so people don’t get frustrated trying to figure it out or clicking their back button to get back home(idiot proofing; and I hope no one is insulted, as you can see, I was one on that too)

    I suppose you can keep the main logo on the front page and add some sort of ‘home’ reference on the other pages

    Four tabs would work perfect for my browser as that is all I see when the page is loaded(my fonts are big though because I sit back a distance from my computer to protect my eyes). Hopefully, the digital media links will get more response. I think most people are missing that wealth of content if the comments in that section are any indication

  5. Bob A says:

    The header isn’t so bad, it’s just too damn big.

    Just shrink every element 65% and get rid of the fizzy on the pictures.

    Would be better still if the pictures were dynamic and linked to most recent posts.

    Look at Huffpost… you don’t need frames for the header. why try to recreate the wheel?

    I have BP on my.yahoo and if it didn’t show the stuff in the other sections, I’d probably never
    know they are there… because…

    I don’t have timexxxx attention span* to click through the different sections… I can barely stay
    focused long enough to read past the first paragraph of the post that got my attention on the yahoo page usually.

    And I still say get rid of the khaki background color… and use instead some shade or pattern of black

    Also……….Why not brink back the book pictures. Adds some color. Never bothered me in the least. Didn’t that bring in some click money too?

    ok then… good luck with it. thanks for all you do

  6. Mike in Nola says:

    Sounds good, except frames are so late 1990-ish. Plus, they may cause a problem with small, mobile screens.

  7. “…they may cause a problem with small, mobile screens.”

    whatever the redesign, I think this is an important consideration..

    or, for more fun, TBP could create a .mobi ‘twin’

    LSS: wi-fi, wireless in general, is moving into, evermore, mobile apps: GPS, Autos, etc.

    as a +, if TBP keeps its .com ‘lite’, it leaves more ‘bandwidth’ for BRIPTV..

  8. mike j says:

    Barry,

    Speaking of mobile — on the G1, I’m having an odd issue where when I try tapping the Comments link for a story, sometimes it highlights the whole page and goes to Amazon while other times it goes to the Comments — I don’t know if this is site specific, wordpress specific or Android specific (I haven’t tried Opera on it yet). No complaints, really, perhaps just something to look into during refinement.

    Also, as far as tabs, just a UI note to point out: it seems like you’re suggesting making the “active” tab float to the left while laying “inactive” transparent tabs to the right. From a UI point of view, I would think it more natural for tabs to maintain their positions at all times, active or inactive. Of course, I could be easily confused (it happens often).

    Still love it,
    Mike J

  9. Mike in Nola says:

    The site as it is actually works as far as I’ve seen on Pocket IE on WM6.1 . It seems like it strips out the formating and I just have to scroll past the header to get to the posts. I did have problems with frames on the previous version of PIE which I was using until a couple of months ago.

    As to frames, PIE looks like it works ok with some old navigational frames navigational frame on the left, but gives a very narrow content frame. Example,

    http://www.colonialcountryclubno.com

    Others don’t work as well, e.g. http://www.msdn.com/library/ which uses divs. Don’t know if it detects I’m using a mobile browser and changes the page or it just doesn’t work right, but it just loses the left navigation frame entirely.

    I was just trying to find a site with a top static top frame and scrolling bottom frame to see how it works, but haven’t been able to find an example. If anyone has one, please post the url.

  10. Bob the unemployed says:

    > . Perhaps make the top a “Frame” – content below scrolls, top horizontal stays stationary.

    Please, please, please do not do this.

    That would make the top third of my browser active area locked with information that does not change as I scroll or even from visit to visit.

  11. That would make the top third of my browser active area locked with information that does not change as I scroll or even from visit to visit.

    space hijacking

  12. David Merkel says:

    I would just like a way to select the data I receive by RSS — I don’t watch video or listen to audio often — inefficient ways of learning.

  13. batmando says:

    Ackkkk! just thumbled-fumbed the keyboard and lost my comment text!!!!
    Heretofore didn’t think much of a preview function but now understand its utility.

    Lost input was along these lines…
    Search capability is prime.
    The Calendar is a cumbersome affordance as one (this one, at least) usually can’t even remember the approximate post date and spends too much time clicking first one date and then another.
    MUCH prefer the ability to access a scrollable reverse chronology to scan rapidly for the desired post title/topic.
    When Seeking Alpha re-designed their site, there was so much negative feedback on tabbing by topic/subject area that they added back an alternate view option for a scrollable reverse chronology (e.g., ” I’m finding it disconcerting how difficult it is to find articles once they get scrolled off of the front page”) Might be worth reviewing the feedback (http://tinyurl.com/9dt8g5) David Jackson received during that process.
    One highly valued Seeking Alpha affordance is their Comment Stream link next to each commenter’s handle that takes me to all posts by that commenter. Would love to be able to click on a link next to leftback, Karen, KJ, AT et al and immediately be able to scroll through their gem’s of insight to find just the one I want to read again or quote.

  14. DP says:

    Still think a general discussion forum behind TBP would be awesome. The shelf life of discussion blog posts is very short and there’s always a daily post that goes off topic into more on that day’s trading activity and what people are doing (which I often find much more interesting than the on-topic comments, btw).

  15. batmando says:

    Ditto DP, however as this is TBP, its primary focus is the Market, so I’d prefer an on-going “The Market Today” forum applying TBP inputs from Commenters on the current market. Sort of a macro/micro POV?

  16. Darrell says:

    I absolutely agree with the last two posts. There needs to be a dedicated area to comment on today’s market action. People end up putting these comments on whatever article is near the top of the home page near the close, which confuses the discussion of that article. How about a tab called “Market Action” that takes the user to to a discussion that rolls over each day at midnight. There could be a calendar at the top of the page with the closing price of the DOW, S&P, and NASDAQ printed on each day. The user could click on a day to read, or add to, the comments for that day of the month. The default would be the current day. I, for one, would have that page up in a window all day, every day.

    While I’m at it I’ll second the comment asking you to please not lock the header into a frame at the top. That effectively shortens my screen. I want to scroll that stuff off and fill the window with content.

    I think it’s a mistake to remove the BP tab at the top of the screen. I’ll bet most people don’t know they can click on the logo to get back to the home page. People expect all the tabs to stay put at the top of the screen when one is clicked. All you need is something to indicate which tab the user is currently viewing.

    I like all the video being hidden in its own tab. When I view the site from my iPhone video boxes take lots of space and time to load. Generally, I just want to look at the articles when on the road and save video for when I get back home.

    Changing “cafe” to “think tank” is a good idea. New users will be less confused by that terminology.

    You should have a permanent ad (and occasional free samples) for your paid services on the home page. I keep meaning to look into them but they’re not in my face enough, so I haven’t bothered yet (and I’ve been a reader for 4-5 years). You provide a great free service here. I don’t think many of us will complain if you promote your paid services a little harder. Just don’t plaster the home page with brokerage ads and other junk from doubleclick. I’ll use an ad blocker to filter that right out (just like I do at realMoney.com). I’ll put up with ads that come directly from your site because I feel like I owe it to you. You’ll make more money selling me a subscription to something valuable than by maybe getting me to click through once or twice a year. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with telling us, “XYZ was up 15% today! If you used Fusion IQ you’d know that because we recommended it last week. Click here to learn more.”

    Hope this helps. Thanks for all the great content.