New year, new look

If you’re visiting the site rather than reading this post through a feed reader, you’ll notice some changes to the look of the site. I’m using the Excellence theme from BlogOhBlog with some tweaking. While the theme enables ads, I’ve decided not to offer ads on my site. In place of the ad images, I’m using some excellent hand-drawn icons for links to my profiles on various social sites.

My new profile photo was taken last fall by the same photographer who took my last set of profile photos, Beverly Demafiles Schulze. She has a great eye for interesting backgrounds, and we wandered around The Domain in Austin on a nice sunny day in Austin.

I’d love your feedback, especially on the “Read more” links to get the whole post and the comments.


  • January 2, 2010 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    I like the hand-drawn icons from your image, but I see only one of those icons…. feedburner next to your twitter feed.

    As I read through an email feed, and then click to come to your site, I’m not affected by the “Read More”.

  • January 2, 2010 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    Anne, I really like the look of your new site. It’s fresh and visually appealing. And I like that you maintained the green color of the nav so that it still looks similar to your old color scheme. Nice job.

  • January 2, 2010 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks Michele and Tom! I appreciate people on different computers and different platforms taking a look.

    Michele, I’ve emailed you separately to troubleshoot what you’re seeing.

  • January 2, 2010 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    One thing I recently did to my site that I’m pleased with is to remove the WordPress search and replace it with Google custom search. The search results are night and day different

    Also, I like your pic on the front page. It gives it a personal touch.

  • January 2, 2010 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Anne, like the new look. It seems to express your personality better than the old theme. My only suggestion would be to make the left column a little wider. The main content seems a bit squeezed to me. Then again, I’m mildly claustrophobic …

  • January 2, 2010 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Scott, that’s funny, I noticed the width of the column immediately too! I’ll see if I get used to it. It’s around 7-12 words per line which is supposed to be a good readability range.

  • January 2, 2010 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Looks very nice, slick, professional, modern and your new photo is fab!

    Like Scott I think the left column is a little to thin, visually unbalances things a bit (readability be damned! LOL).

    Great redesign and all the best for 2010!

  • January 2, 2010 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Re the main column being too small, from what I’ve read, the reading area is supposed to take up 75% of the layout, but not be more than 55-80 characters wide. The problem is, if you want to insert a video or image, you need about 580 pixels in width or more. One of the standard youtube sizes is 580px. I agree with the other commenters that it would look better if the main column were prob. 100 px wider.

    Kudos for making a legible font. It is very readable.

  • January 2, 2010 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I love the new look, Anne, and especially the way it jives with your new profile picture too. Awesome. I did notice the narrower width of the “content” column immediately as well. It will be interesting to see what you decide to do about that, once we’ve all got used to it. 🙂

  • January 2, 2010 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Nice! Nice colours, nice new photo, nice theme, nice line spacing… nice everything.

    But like the others, the left (content) column seems too narrow to me — I think it should be the main focus.

    Have a great 2010, Anne!

  • January 2, 2010 - 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got to agree with you there, Gordon. Sometimes, you just have to say damn (or, at least, darn) the readability and go with something that just looks good. If only to keep folks like you and me happy!

  • Amy
    January 2, 2010 - 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Love the new look and the picture. The hand drawn icons are nice, too. Looks great! No opinion on the column width – either way is great for me. 🙂

  • January 4, 2010 - 12:50 pm | Permalink


    I like the new look, the new photograph, and the hand-drawn icons. Great way to start the new year.


  • January 5, 2010 - 6:05 am | Permalink

    Hey Anne,

    Haven’t checked up on you in awhile. Came at Tom’s directive through his FB status. I like. I like.



  • January 5, 2010 - 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Although I generally love the look and feel of this new theme (and your website in general), I’ve noticed that:

    1)while magazine-style themes provide a better overview of your content, it does so at the expense of readability. Do people read one post at a time on your site or do they read several? The thinking here I guess is that turbo-readers look primarily at RSS feeds and don’t need to look at your actual site. Unless you are posting 5x a day, I think you lose a lot by not putting several complete posts on the home page.

    My new thesis theme lets me have half and half (half magazine layout, and half full posts). (by the way, it is a commercial theme framework, not available for free).

    2)what the heck is the deal with tags and wordpress? From an information design point of view I understand the appeal of it, but in blogging it just seems to duplicate the function of categories (after all, these tags are created by the creator, not the reader).

    I know tagclouds were the big thing for a while, but aside from providing extra metadata to technorati, I don’t see how it helps the reader.

    It is extremely easy to create categories in wordpress. Usually when we think of categories, we think of 5-7 top categories. Actually though, I have about 50, and I am using wp pages as “uber-categories” especially because they are hierarchical and can be hidden or displayed more easily. Last night while trying to deploy my new theme, it occurred to me that wp pages in general should be created TOCs of posts (whether created manually or automatically).

    Another problem with tags in wordpress is that you need to create them manually. Aha, I see that the wp- rich text editor lets you choose from existing tags but Live Writer does not provide such a capability. If you had the ability to choose from existing tags, I guess I can see the purpose (but I do all my content creation in Live Writer). Still, it seems redundant.

    I think your layout and design is very compact and succinct and focused. People know where to find things easily, and plus the comment widget is user-friendly and space-saving. Ironically though, I feel that the new look makes me less likely to visit the home page to catch up on my reading. This design tries to hide its blogginess.

    What is “blogginess”? Some characteristics:

    1)frequent mixing of personal with professional content and social commentary.
    2)a very cluttered sidebar, especially with recent comments. That allows readers to see where the action is.
    3)An overall casualness in tone. (See #1). Typos, off the cuff remarks, rambling. Actually what I mean here is that typos and off the cuff remarks are there on the front page, easy to spot.
    4)Rapidly changing home page, with emphasis on what has happened in the last week .

    Your blog doesn’t do any of that (more or less). Although the post summaries will vary over time, I don’t expect your home page to have much different content on it. (We can assume that readers will be most interested in going to things in your sidebar or navigation bar).

    Let me speak more of typos. When you hide full articles from the home page, you reduce the possibility of typos standing out to the first time reader. You can only see typos when you view a single post. That is something I have grappled with. My tendency is to publish rapidly (and worry about typos later) even if it reduces the professional look of the site. But as a technical writer, I can’t help wondering if this is the wrong approach. It’s like you’re begging people to see your sloppiness.

  • January 6, 2010 - 12:14 am | Permalink

    Thanks Robert! Good analysis. I think you’re right on about the lack of a full post on the first page. Agree with the lack of “bloginess” assessment, though I might try a solution that lets me have a website plus a blog. Hm. Going to have to think on that some more.

    As far as 2) goes, I read a post by Lorelle a while back about categories vs. tags for WordPress and I think the conclusion was that tags help with search (and Technorati, as you mention). But, that post is nearly five years old now. Dang. I think tags are more effective when you’re using rather than hosted WordPress, with the idea that people can browse at or subscribe to searches and see related tags at Anyway, I ditched the tag cloud with this changed layout. But, I hadn’t noticed how it changes the reader’s experience to have the tags listed first rather than last. I can change that.

    Thanks again! Big help.

  • January 6, 2010 - 12:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks all for the comments – I got nice instant messages and emailed feedback from all around, too. 🙂

  • January 6, 2010 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I like it!

  • February 5, 2010 - 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for using my icons and back link too.
    Your site looks nice~~

  • Leave a Reply