Yesterday, Dave Lucas left a comment on my blog post about OneTrueFriend. As comments go, it was a pretty good one. It inspired me to write this blog post. The gist of his comment was that he’s looking to redesign his blog and wanted suggestions. I’ll probably add a few of them towards the end of the post.
However, in his comment, he mentioned receiving a comment from someone else that said,
"... your site has far too many things going on. It’s difficult to navigate and everything seems so random. There are odd links all over mixed with Google Adsense ads and widgets that don’t seem to be relevant to your topic.
The color schemes don't match, your profile picture is of poor quality, and there are simply too many distractions.
Also, the donate button is the first thing people see. I would move it to the end of your posts. If people see value after reading your article, they might be more inclined to donate. Seeing that in your sidebar like that is a big turn off.
To be honest, when I see a site like this, I just leave. Readers want a simple, easy to navigate site. There are so many good blogs out there that when they see one that is structured poorly, they lose interest immediately...."
Now, I don’t know who left that comment on Dave’s blog and if the person is currently, or perhaps was formerly a friend of Dave’s, or if Dave paid to receive that comment. I am going to guess that the person was not a friend and that the person was not paid to make the comment. Based on this, I would suggest that the comment is worth about what Dave paid for it and if he politely ignores it, he will not lose a friend, or probably anyone that he wants as a reader.
I mean seriously, who in their right mind would leave a comment like that? I could see leaving a comment something like, “Dave, is there some reason you that green background? It looks weird to me” or “Dave, I always have problems finding the Recent Visitors widget you have. Do you think you could make it more prominent?” or even, “Dave, I thought I used to be in your blog roll, but I can’t find myself there any more.” These could be helpful hints done in a friendly manner. Personally, however, the green color and the position of the Recent Visitors widget aren’t really things that I’m all that interested in.
No, my guess is that the comment may have been from some self appointed “expert” in websites wishing to demonstrate their expertise in a manner that is unwanted and unwarranted.
That said, Dave did ask for recommendations, and I’ll toss out a couple, which other people might want to think about as well. First, why did you pick the colors you are using? I chose mine to match the color scheme of the house that Orient Lodge was named after. Very deliberate. I try to use the same color scheme as many places as I can. Sure, a person with a better graphical eye might have better suggestions, but it meets my purpose. So, Dave, got a reason for the colors you use? If not, see if you can come up with a reason, or shift colors around till you get a color scheme you can tell a good story about.
Dave’s site currently has two columns; one for content, one for widgets. He’s got a lot of widgets. If I were Dave I would consider cutting back on the widgets, or at least setting up a second column to spread out the widgets a little better. In my case, I often add and remove widgets. I move them up or down depending on how important they are to me, where I want them place relative to other widgets, etc. Some widgets I move out of my template and put in widget graveyard pages. The same thing for awards and stuff like that. I’ve even started using different blogrolls depending on which part of the blog people are looking at.
Related to that, I’d make the content wider. By the looks of it, Dave’s site is designed for people with monitors as small as 800 pixels across. My site was designed for people with 640 pixel wide screens. Then I expanded to 800 pixels, and now my target is for people with screens 1024 pixels across or wider. Granted, all of this is likely to change as more and more traffic comes from cellphones, but if I were Dave, I might consider making the whole page wider. That is, of course, unless his mom is reading it on an old monitor, or some other good reason for keeping it smaller.
As to readers losing interest and leaving, it’s their loss. Dave writes some great content and I’ll keep reading it no matter how he redesigns his website.