Its hard to imagine, but its been nearly 4 years since the present design of this blog was created and the switch over to WordPress occurred (October 2008).

I am getting itchy for a new look (its time to move past this Web 1.0 tab based layout).

I have a few ideas with this redesign:

-Make the site lighter, cleaner, less cluttered.
-Emphasize the “How-Tos” of investing and risk management;
-Make archived/previously fire-walled content available;
-Support more of my speaking / writing activities;
-Pull in a few other sites under this rubrik (including this one).

Last time out, readers numerous excellent suggestions. Any other ideas/feature requests/suggestions?

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.

61 Responses to “Blog Redesign: Ideas Wanted”

  1. philipat says:

    Please include an “Edit” function in the comments section.

    As a personal comment, please find a a way to prevent ALL (100%) of my comments being dumped into “Awaiting Moderation” purgatory, for no apparent reason.

  2. Tim says:

    - mobile access on phone and tablet

  3. I am looking at On Swipe for mobile iPad + iPhone versions

  4. J. Wenger says:

    Risk management for the individual investor would be fantastic, especially the how-to’s. Applying risk management to the process of building a portfolio can be difficult for the individual investor by itself. I think your point of view (i.e. macro influences) would provide a lot of added/profitable benefits.

  5. Frilton Miedman says:

    Agree with all the above, one additional idea.

    Crete a Message board format.

    With a search feature and categorized topics, like politics, trading, economics…or just idle off-topic chat, make old topics easily referenced & brought to the top of a “new posts” feature so members can add relevant facts or data as they come up.

    Make the content available for web search, and consider Google ads.

    As you compile searchable material, you increase traffic.

    ~~~

    BR: not a big fan of Google ads . . . kinda crappie

  6. Frilton Miedman says:

    philipat Says:
    August 8th, 2012 at 7:23 pm
    ” Please include an “Edit” function in the comments section. ”

    YES YES YES YES!!!

  7. Molesworth says:

    Please keep the QOTD.
    Yes, you could use a revamp, but it’s not that cluttered compared to many.
    Ability to Agree or Disagree with Comments and Sort by most recommended.
    ETF/Stock Screener to link to a good one.

  8. Zedpher says:

    I find this Word Press template looks good: http://demo.studiopress.com/eleven40/

    Maybe add a tag cloud of popular topics, as that would make it easier to see all articles on that subject. Would be great to see your contributing writers also have sections where you could browse their writings. And have links to all of you media appearance on Bloomberg and such. Now I have to search for those.

    ~~~

    BR: Great layout, nice on the eye. I am looking for something more customized . . .

  9. NoKidding says:

    Please be sure to keep the quote of the day.

  10. Frilton Miedman says:

    “BR: not a big fan of Google ads . . . kinda crappie”

    True, I figured a source of revenue, even if you sell ad space yourself, might help.

    The index-able Mess-Board format, like vbulletin, allowing better organization, search and reference is important IMHO, also the “edit” idea…..gawd I’ve littered this blog with typo’s.

  11. Zedpher says:

    Hey Barry, let me know what you have in mind and I`ll make some mockups for you. Am a designer by trade. If you`re interested, I`m volunteering :)

  12. gitanes26 says:

    How about a picture of yourself in the title block?

  13. JimRino says:

    How to pick a stock.
    Pick a stock.
    - Tell us your thinking, and your research, step by step.
    - No need to give us 100 steps in 1 day.
    - One step a day.
    - What sites to you data-mine…

  14. dbrodess says:

    Change is not always progress. A light touch on any changes to content please (that’s a compliment). Adding search and comment edit tools are fine but please don’t dive down the “how to” rabbit hole. The mix of content right now is the best on the web. Carefully forward please.

  15. Jojo says:

    Please don’t use that temp[late Zedpher pointed to. I hate those narrow content columns!

    Both Slate and The Atlantic seem to use a similar theme which I think looks good AND they both support threaded comments which I believe is most desirable from a modern site. Hell, it seems just about everyone except TBP does threaded comments (Mish, Naked Capitalism, Washington’s Blog, Atlantic, Slate, the NYT, …).

    Editing should be supported for a short period of time, say 5 minutes after posting. Thumbs up/down would be nice.

    Keep the print function with the list of URL’s.

  16. Arequipa01 says:

    How do you bridge the gap? Right? How do you get from ‘free’ samples to paying customers? Design is a valuable tool in creating the passage but, I guess, I would encourage you to develop your new look in function of transition from free to paying. Now, many are seeking to create ‘apparatuses of capture’ but I recommend an invitation approach, with accurately priced products and options. Pricing correctly a digital product is an crucial skill IMHO.
    Take for instance the old line publishers and their insistence on 12.99 e-books- crazy. Doomed to failure. Contrast that with what Louis CK is doing as well as others…

    Set the prices at points that make it easy to say yes, and once they get a taste of the play at the backroom table, going back to the slots won’t seem like much of a choice…

  17. rexex says:

    Agree that a redesign should be done with a light touch – lighten up your color scheme and tone down the gradients. Most mobile sites look alike because of reduced screen real estate – and mobile first, responsive design is the new black. Just have to customize templates.
    Most important, don’t clutter it up. Your site is one of the best around because of the content and because you’ve built trust and community. I’m here every day because of what you say, not how the site looks, and site design is my business. Not angling for business, just my .02.

  18. The Window Washer says:

    Second:
    QOTD
    Ability to Agree or Disagree with Comments and Sort by most recommended.
    Please include an “Edit” function in the comments section

    A more robust Think Tank and better notification of other’s post. Invictus is tired of being called Barry.

  19. DiggidyDan says:

    get rid of mobile site or make it actually work worth a crap. Right now when i log on my android it never recognizes my preferences correctly even when i log in and tell it not to go mobile. Sometimes you go back a few days and it switches back to the 1st page on mobile. . . . and the tabs, pagination and post order don’t correspond, mobile is all chronological, so it throws you off track. This has annoyed me enough not to bother on more than one occasion!

    Second, get a code guru to quicken it all and get rid of the slow responding ad servers. Right now if you check alexa or other analytics you will see that 93% of all websites load better than yours does. This isn’t a problem for most of your desktop users with hi speed internet, but all those folks on the train or at the airport or at lunch at the coffee shop with their tablets or smartphones are frustrated as hell with crap adserver waiting on those banner ads at the top and midstream that doesn’t let the page load at times. Yeah it’s just seconds, but do you really want to be in the bottom 7% of all websites?

  20. Rich in NJ says:

    FWIW, I prefer the desktop version of the blog on an iPad to the default mobile version.

  21. DiggidyDan says:

    And BTW. . . I would heartily agree on all the above comments of Keep the QOTD and the Content! Your content is awesome and will always keep me coming back no matter what the wrapper!

  22. DiggidyDan says:

    another though would be an idea to favorite other members/commenters so that you can easily see or find a comment that you may find valuable or interesting. Especially in your space, some of the opinions here are good fodder for point, counterpoint in investment and sentiment decisions and calls!

  23. kangarouge says:

    Frankly I think the site is just great and if you don’t change a thing it will be fine with me.

  24. inthewoods says:

    One phrase: response design. Find a template that works in both the web and mobile formats so I’m not looking at some reduction of the design via a plug-in. And I love the blog. :)

  25. zdog says:

    Threaded comments.

    Big NO to thumbs up/down, star rating, etc. I don’t really care in any shape or form what other people think of someone’s comments. Ratings lead to meta BS and post-whoring.

    Easier to engage other content currently “hidden” in the top menus.

    Mobile that doesn’t suck.

  26. jvin248 says:

    Change away from ‘gotta log in to post’ and use a chaptka plugin instead. Look at Slashdot posts, you can either leave comments as yourself or ‘anonymous coward’. Most sites I leave as soon as they present the hassle of forcing to log in to post and I know I’m not alone. Same with paywall sites btw – often many sites with equivalent content out there (this means you WSJ – I guess I won’t click on any ads in their article I’m not reading).

    Do go through the free wordpress themes in detail. Color selection, images, and fonts play more of a roll than the framework. The framework is important but the other details present the feel. http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ Even the default 2011 can be modified so much that two sites can look and operate differently and it is quite streamlined/simplified already.

    The forum idea is good. I’m familiar installing and using phpbb (as well as wordpress) and looked up integrating phpbb with wordpress and found this option http://bbpress.org/ that looks nice. Low tech is to set up phpbb and just have a link from the blog over to that software (if you do put near the top of right column)

    Widen the main column and narrow the right hand side column.

    Keep your logo – that’s a good one. Keep RSS feeds (that’s how I monitor your site btw)

    Look into A/B testing (4-hour workweek guy’s blog Ferriss had a few posts a couple of years ago about his work with this testing for a practical discussion, other sites will give the ‘how to’).

    Strive for fewer buttons/pages. Under the QOTD (which is nice) put your own advertising block (your books/speaking schedule/amazon wish list/etc) then your google ad block. take out most of the text list (don’t worry about tag cloud noted elsewhere) and drop the text things like ‘contact me’ to the bottom panel.

  27. chris says:

    Hey Bar, Life is full so make it easy.Find a way to give the reader(user) an option but not an obligation to vote on each story or article and keep the best posted at arms length.Good to see you all over the map and keep up with that diet. Chris

  28. mike23w says:

    > -Make the site lighter

    this item is huge.

    content is fantastic, usability of the site is awful. pages are very slow to load.

    i read your blog every day, but man, it takes forever to load the page and eats up all my CPU. when i scroll the page my browser gets stuck all the time (becomes non-responsive) for a few seconds. the user experience is horrible.

    some things to consider:
    1) shorten the home page – a lot. i hit the page-down key almost 30 times to get from the top to the bottom of the home page. way too long.
    2) when i click on an article, the comments are not paginated. again, a page with lots of comments is unreadable because it takes so darn long to load.
    3) the images, as much as i love them, are the other reason the page loads slow

    i’m on a 1.5 year macbook pro with 8gb memory using firefox 12.0.

    i tried safari and chrome and they are much faster than firefox. seems like it’s mostly a browser issue….
    but i would still hope for us sad FF users, you might throw us a bone.

  29. gloppie says:

    3D?
    Moving seats ?
    How about scratch-n-sniff smell-0-rama so we can all puke when the shit hits the fan?

  30. stonedwino says:

    I agree with a few posters above & have some suggestions BR:

    - Mobile access a must, but response design is ideal
    - searchable message boards
    - new web design to include quick links at the top of the page to a set of desired websites like for example http://www.marketwatch.com. Go to the site. See the quick links to all the other WSJ owned website right on top? I like that for navigation purposes.
    -open sites (as many as you would like in tabs) as soon as you go to ritholz.com
    -ability to edit comments

  31. bear_in_mind says:

    Hey Barry,

    I like the general direction of your plans! Here’s some other ideas to consider:

    • Lighter main nav bar = yes! The tabs take way too much screen real estate and don’t utilize the tabs nearly enough to justify their footprint.

    • Access to full feed of new, daily content on the site. Only way to get this now is via the daily digest e-mail.

    • Full text and graphics RSS feed!

    • For an improved mobile experience, check out the new format Bill McBride is employing at Calculated Risk. On a smaller device, it’s SWEET.

    • Edit feature? That’s really a second-order concern IMHO.

    • Post threading? I guess, but frankly, it seems to invite pissing matches and other incivility so I’m on the fence about its utility.

    • I like how the current site coding loads images as you scroll down the page.

    • Moderation of posts. I’ve never used any of the seven words you can’t use on TV, don’t recall any ad hominem attacks (though admittedly impassioned w/ guest posts from Mauldin, Boockvar, and Invictus), and generally try to contribute something cogent without being a douche. So, if there’s a way to curb or modulate the moderation a bit, that’d be welcome.

    • Maintain focus on your content — maybe even use of some graphic element (thumbnail photo) to distinguish your authored posts versus guest / contributor content.

    • Bloomberg Radio mobile app is boffo, but they must have had a MASSIVE budget and don’t know if many elements are transferable to your needs and audience.

    • Possibly remove main navigation tabs, but not sure if rotating images or slider makes sense with the way you utilize your site. Not to mention the back-end administration for content updating.

    • Better access to archives = muy bueno!

    • A method to search for the most popular or commented-upon articles.

    • Hosting of E-Pub versions (fee or free) of Apprentice Investor content

    • Don’t think you want to invest the time and moola in converting to Drupal, but you might find it has some feature controls that would make the expense and learning curve worthwhile.

    Keep up the great work!!!!

  32. Eliza says:

    From a graphic-design consumer perspective, this is one of the easiest and sharply designed economics websites. Graphically, it is very easy on the eyes.

    And, then. It goes ahead and offers some of the best analysis. Anywhere.

    But …the times… the are a changin’”

  33. As long as the iPhone version doesn’t still suck I’m happy.

  34. digistar says:

    Barry,

    Your blog is great in the investment wisdom/insight department.

    But as the breakdowns/scandals/corruption keep mounting in the financial markets, including the stock market, many of your non-pro readers, like me, have decided to get to the sidelines and stay there.

    So, for us, the reasons we keep coming back here are your engaging personality, your passion to restore integrity to the ‘system’, your sense of humor, your use of language, your legal insights, your curiosity and wonder about other fields (music, astronomy, cars, computers, technology, etc.), your honesty and the many interesting/thought-provoking links you give us to explore. These are the things that set your blog apart from the crowd.

    Okay, one more thing. The comments from many of your readers are also really interesting/informative. So, if you really, really just HAVE TO make some change, give the comments section more/better functionality.

  35. Jim Birch says:

    The worst visual on the site, for me, is the “b” logo. Second is the large amount of black at the top of the page. Lighten up :)

    Other than that the site is ok already but a style refresh would add, well, freshness. Good sites have been trending towards a lot of (off-)white space.

    That said, I come for the content.

    Cloud login via Google (etc) would be a bonus if that’s doable.

  36. hawleyl says:

    1. I like the “headline” format of the mobile versions that show a title, author and tags.
    2. The fact that iPad and iPhone don’t have flash is annoying.
    3. Inform us when you feel a change in allocation of stocks/bonds/cash is appropriate and why.
    4. Some criteria for making changes:
    a. Make changes of significant value; small changes at the margins can be counter-productive and introduce bugs.
    b. Remember to MISS A KISS is Make I Simple Stupid A Keep It Simple Stupid. Yes, we need a comment editor.

  37. Kesteloo says:

    Hello Barry,

    I agree it is time for a refresh…

    My offer from 12/6/2011 still stands. See my comments back then. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/12/time-for-a-site-refresh/

    Offer:
    1) free website + all features you require for a successful blog site
    2) mobile + desktop
    3) focus on clean design and usability
    4) friendly for bloggers (easy to post, SEO, revenues) and…
    5) friendly for readers (search, overview, fast loading etc.)
    6) analytics
    7) revenue models thru ads, amazon, e-store, email newsletters, subscription, etc.

    We have built many (blog) websites with designs that work on desktop and mobile devices. We focus on usability and functionality, meaning for instance that you and other co-writers can admit articles online to 1 large blog article database but have these articles come up in different sections of the website (ThinkTank, How to, etc).

    *snip* advert deleted

  38. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Okay, this is off-topic……. but I just saw this posted under the “Media Reviews” portion of the site. Funniest thing I’ve read all day!!!

    “Revisionist Drivel . . .”

    -Joe Kernen, CNBC’s Squawkbox

  39. Sam says:

    Guilty confession, I rarely log onto the website for updates, I mostly read updates via google reader.

    I’m not certain that a refresh would necessarily make it more likely that I would log on, but I do think it’s a good idea. It might encourage new followers.

    However, I might be more inclined to go to the website if you did have sections on investment “how-tos”, access to archived content and information on your public speaking. Maybe make these sign-in only.

    Also if you could simplify the sign-in procedure that would be great. If would be so much easier if it were possible to sign-in via facebook/twitter/google.

    Finally, one regular update I really enjoy is seeing what other big picture followers are reading. Maybe there is some way you could expand this function?

  40. joinvestor says:

    This blog is incredibly useful and chock-a-block full of wonderful content. That said, we are a visual species; we absorb the majority of data about our world visually. And you are right, the visual layout needs updating to as you put it “Make the site lighter, cleaner, less cluttered.”

    All content considerations aside, here are links to two blogs which seem to be on the right track visually:
    http://www.ozon3.com/
    http://mealsandmiles.com/

    And finally for the purposes of contrast, here are two blogs that seem to be on the wrong track visually:
    http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/blog
    http://modernfolktales.com/happiness_principle/equality-in-happiness/

    (Of course this visual critique in no way constitutes comments on content for these example blog sites. )

    On color choices, you’re probably used to the gray weather in the big city, but cooler hued, blue-gray backgrounds can be a bit starchy to mildly oppressive when used exclusively. Something with a warmer hue might be less noticeably stiff. Best of luck on whatever you decide to do visually.

  41. Malachi says:

    This is my favorite website on the entire web.

    So don’t change much.

  42. jus7tme says:

    Be VERY careful about changing the layout at all. This blog has one of the cleanest and most easy-to-read designs of any one I have seen. It is very likely that a redesign will be for the worse and not for the better.

    Concentrate on fixing stuff that is under the hood, such as the much desired “edit comment” function.

  43. DSS10 says:

    Do not add any internal flash or java content with the exception of perhaps a ticker page. Use consistent fount (Sans please) and keep color to a minimum.

    Please…

  44. Low Budget Dave says:

    I actually like the current design. I think the only thing you should change is to emphasize the activities you engage in for profit. Blogging opinion is interesting, but it is a hobby.

  45. Eliza says:

    Jim Birch,

    The worst visual on the site, for me, is the “b” logo.

    I love the logo, page design AND the black header. Visually, it is neutral. At least, to my eyes. I even love the advertisment windows. It is a clean design, which hooks the viewer and then the analysis is superb. And, Mr. Ritholtz’s recent disclosure of BP pageviews, show the site has a great deal of traffic.

    I imagine mobile users need a different format, though. I have no suggestions for technical IT changes, to address these sets of issues.

  46. bm says:

    I would like to see the ability to edit comments and to like other people’s comments. I like the design but would like a tab, i.e. think tank, where you put your daily reading posts (in addition to having them on the main page) so that we can refer to them at a later point in time.

  47. 1. Get rid of ‘moderation’ – I am sure BR has enough work as there is
    2. Use more data and signals (etc) from FusionIQ, your company. Sell yourself. Sell your services
    3. Give your blog more direction with respect to your next book. I assume you’re putting something together so maybe you can align the content developed here to a theme for your next book.
    4. Consider using twitter-based login ie DISQUS in place of wordpress. Prior to finally remembering my password i would not comment because i kept forgetting my wordpress password!
    5. Consider making a bigger presence on Google+. My followers grew from 90 to nearly 500, but the click rate on content presented over there to my own content isn’t high yet. Still, consider some kind of g+ usage on your site.

    Other feedback:
    As the only playbook (RIM) user, GEEReader displays mobile and light content without any issue.

  48. jschmitz says:

    I’d love to see a more advanced search results. Like the ability to sort by date or search just the header of a post.

  49. socaljoe says:

    The current layout is great… I wouldn’t change it.

    Content is key.

  50. DeDude says:

    I would love to have the list of “Recent Comments” include the last 50 rather than just the last 5 (even if it opened as a separate new page).

  51. Laocoon says:

    I generally like it as it is. Clutter could be reduced by shrinking home page view of each article, without loss of the key points. Maybe half as many article links, although they are usually all good. I hate using OnSwipe – it’s really hard to read and move around on my iPhone.

  52. jus7tme says:

    DO NOT use some external password validation service. I do not approve having my identity spanning multiple site. Using twitter or facebook or google or any other big service is especially bad.

    We like our privacy, thank you.

    And I assume you are already salting and hashing the passwords to seventh heaven. We sure as heck do not need our passwords to be crackable in case of a break-in (cf. Yahoo scandal, in June 2012, was it?).

  53. Would be nice to get notification of new posts to threads viewed to save time going back … or forgetting.

  54. MikeDonnelly says:

    Still the best econ/finance site on the web, so little change is needed. Have you considered a podcast feed for your occasional video / audio stints you do ?

    I like Calculated Risk’s charts & most content and hate nearly everything else. BTW: CalRisk comments section is an utter putrid mess, so keep doing whatever you do. Your comments sections are 90% worthwhile.

    Not a big fan of modeledbehavior but I do like the ability to see a bunch of posts quickly without moving down the page. However I read nearly everyone one of your posts, so much much need for this.

    You have an excellent Twitter feed, nice use to get me to jump over here.

  55. TM ME says:

    how about something that I can read at the office, all of the ads etc make it really difficult to get through my bank’s extremely strict firewalls

  56. DiggidyDan says:

    Barry, I thought of a crazy late suggestion today for the redesign: rebrand to RITHOLTZ.COM!

    “The Big Picture” is rather generic from a brand standpoint, especially considering your area of expertise, finance. (I am sure you know this well from when you went to register your domain!) It is rater vague and explains nothing about what you actually do and the content you provide. The logo is just okay, although i visually remember it because it is ingrained as the first top left visual I have seen from logging in daily for multiple years. You could easily alter it to showcase a big “R” and not miss a beat.

    Your name, RITHOLTZ is a much stronger identity than “The Big Picture” and this is already your URL, so I am sure current users would not get lost trying to find the joint. Plus, you can meta advertise with your media appearances, books you write, and twitter feed and convert your public persona as your brand (which I feel it already is).

    If you really still feel strongly about keeping “The Big Picture” associated with this blog, I would suggest using it as a tagline, not an identity. Such as Ritholtz.com. . . The Big Picture perspective on Finance, Investment, and the Rest.

  57. nicholasteague says:

    Don’t be afraid to use this blog as an advertising vehicle for fusion iq from time to time. Have been reading this blog for years and still know little about the company. Thank you for sharing, have learned much from these pages.

  58. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    My suggestions for the redesign:

    1) content is excellent, don’t change that

    2) please allow preview of comments before the “save” for posting :)

    3) allow some way to look through old posts at the headline level. For example, I knew there was a recent post about “Near Miss”. If I could just scroll through old headlines, I would have found it much more quickly than I did having to scroll through the actual full posts via the “older entries” link. The ability to search just headlines of the posts would be wonderful.

    4) occasionally, I see the mobile version (just the headlines) as the main page on my desktop. I’ve never been able to find a rhyme or reason for that. Randomly it just happens.

    5) please allow preview of comments before the “save” for posting :)

    6) echoing what someone else mentioned, please do not use an external authentication service for this site. I also do not want to be tracked across multiple sites via such a service.

    7) please allow preview of comments before the “save” for posting :)

  59. mrwallace says:

    Something for young people that want to get started in investing.

  60. illoguy says:

    My two cents since I work in the design field:

    1) Your content is the most important thing. The design should be “invisible” so content is first. For example, the clunky design of Facebook’s timeline distracts from the content. If you think about ease of accessing content first most of the the design will solve itself.

    2) I think you’ve mentioned your love of charts. The design should be clean so charts and images pop out in your posts. Some designs “recede” with images, some fight with the image for attention.

    3) Not a fan of the current mobile version. The type does not reformat in a readable font size. Way too small. I used to have the mobile template for WordPress your site is probably working. Took it off because navigation took more steps than the normal desktop design.

    4) Bob is right about the mobile appearing randomly on the desktop. Needs to be fixed.

    Frankly, I would read this site even if it used the a butt ugly template. The content is that good.

  61. [...] mentioned last month that I was getting ready to do a major update to the [...]