Sprucing Up Social Media Explorer
Sprucing Up Social Media Explorer
by

Welcome to the new design for Social Media Explorer. I know, it doesn’t look all that different, but I needed to put a new coat of paint on the walls and move some furniture around.

Since the majority of you reading this might be interested (not many first time visitors or newcomers will care), I thought I’d tell you a bit about the changes and why. Perhaps it can inspire some ideas in rethinking your own blog or website. If you don’t care much, just skip this post and thanks for stopping by.

Thesis WordPress ThemeThe biggest change you’ll see on the front page is the layout is less blog style and more menu-driven. The latest story is presented with a synopsis and an option to click through to read the full post. Below that are the latest headlines organized by category. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds of just those categories if you are, for instance, only interested in topics related to PR. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted readers to have easier access to more posts from the front page and long, never-ending wads of body copy flowing down the front page always annoyed me about blog design. Second, most of the readers of my blog either subscribe to the RSS feed or find specific content through search or referrals. This means they go to specific posts, not the front page itself. So making the front page more of a menu and less of a destination seemed right.

There is a bit of white space at the bottom. I have some plans for that which I’ll roll out soon.

The design elements are more consistent with my logo, look and brand, if you will. Adam Helweh and the gang at Secret Sushi helped me polish the design to be more clean, consistent and crisp. Those guys rock and didn’t bat an eye when I sent in a change list upon first review that probably made them think, “Yeah … he’s a typical client.” (Heh.) I still have to tip the cap to Kevin Price at Doe-Anderson for designing the logo. Love it and don’t intend to change it anytime soon.

The part you don’t see that is perhaps the more important part of the refresh is that I’m now using Thesis as my WordPress theme. Chris Pearson has simply built one of the greatest online publishing mechanisms in the history of the world. (Okay, a bit strong, but he’s from Louisville so nanner nanner nah-nah.) I’ve personally witnessed Thesis help a single blog post win search for a competitive term in 48 hours with the right settings and some inbound link help. If you haven’t looked at it, you should. I’m excited about getting to know more about how to use it effectively and DIYThemes, where you get Thesis, offers great support, tutorials, videos and more. Most of it is actually done by Chris himself. Yeah, it costs a few bucks (ad here is an affiliate link, FYI), but it’s well worth it.

As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Anything you like/don’t like, etc.? Just pass it on in the comments. I’m sure the Secret Sushi gang would love another change list. Heh.

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the web so often. I do, so much, appreciate it.

  • Qigaihu

    Like a man's life, but for a woman to do two things:
    Beyond her imagination than her vision of good and bad.
    A woman with his good to forgive his bad.
    If one day they can not be together, not him too bad, but she was too good.
    Our lifetime, we must remember and to forget things as much.
    Memory exists in cells of the body inside, and the body and never to destroy it, is equal to crash and burn.
    However, some things must forget, forget about the pain, forget the love of the people hurt you, so be it.
    Lapel Pin
    forklift

  • Qigaihu

    Like a man's life, but for a woman to do two things:
    Beyond her imagination than her vision of good and bad.
    A woman with his good to forgive his bad.
    If one day they can not be together, not him too bad, but she was too good.
    Our lifetime, we must remember and to forget things as much.
    Memory exists in cells of the body inside, and the body and never to destroy it, is equal to crash and burn.
    However, some things must forget, forget about the pain, forget the love of the people hurt you, so be it.
    Lapel Pin
    forklift

  • Looks great. Thanks

  • Looks great Jason, congrats!

  • I like the “More Articles By Category” on the home page… being able to see a variety of posts within each category makes the previous articles much more accessible to those who arrive via the home page. Segmenting the RSS feeds by category is a nice touch as well.

    The other thing which jumped out at me was the “Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:” question at the bottom of the article. Hard to miss, and it even gives you options. :-)

    Nice changes Jason.

    • Appreciate the feedback, Doug. Thank you!

  • I really like the footer, actually. I like the way you give credit to the designers of the theme and logo. Nice touch. Plus, the CC blurb is great. You don't see that so much really.

    I've always been fond of this colour scheme. Great work by all involved.

    • Much appreciated, Jon. Thanks for the input.

  • Nice. Much cleaner in the right. Very interested to see how your Articles by Category tool performs. Please report back on whether your average pages per visit goes up.

  • Looks good, I like the More Articles by Category box on the home page a lot. It'll be interesting to see how that changes user behavior on the site.

    • Good thought Adam. I'll watch the analytics with great interest and
      will probably post something about them once I've got enough data.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • To be honest I can't even tell the difference, so its successful in my book.

    • Sweet! It was more a technical redesign than graphic, but if it's
      better yet seamless, we pulled it off. Thanks, Craig.

  • It's clean, easy to navigate, and professional; well done.

    I like the concept of a single post on the first page. I mostly read SME posts through Google Reader, but like the simplicity it presents for the times I decide to visit the site directly.

    As a side note, I think it would be interesting if someone would experiment with a Google Reader 'list' type view to present their posts. In other words, it could default to have the latest post already open, and then list posts below it, which could be clicked on to expand and read. Would make it dead simple for me to scan through posts on a site.

    Good stuff, Jason.

    • Awesome idea. Pretty close to what I've tried to do here. Great minds
      and all. Heh.

  • Ok, 3rd comment. Get a life right? Design is my background, what can I say. Felt like getting a little granular.

    My favorite additions:
    – the “More Articles By Category” layout on the front page is very nice, RSS and all
    – the “Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:” at the end of each post is quite simple and stands out just enough to cause action.
    – sidebar flows great now. nice simple icons on the top for the important calls to action

    Friendly Suggestions:
    – should there not be more blog posts featured in full on the front page than just the one? Was this conscious or something that you plan on tweaking?
    – I noticed no more about section up top. should there be at least a tagline or something to give new viewers a sense of the site content? probably not 100% needed as they can peruse the categories. just a thought.
    – In the future (and I need to do this as well) you might want to add some personality to the footer. It is a good place to surprise people. Give them a little something extra.

    Keep on keeping on.

    • All good thoughts, thanks.

      The one article on the front page was conscious. Most people read RSS
      or find specific content by search (at least according to my
      analytics). So the front page becomes less relevant to the majority of
      the audience. Plus, I HATE never ending streams of blog posts so that
      the page is eight miles long. I want a menu, simple choices, etc.
      Hence the design this way.

      I do agree I need more of an “About” section to fill in the new
      visitor to the home page, and will work on it, though.

      Footer … I've got some ideas coming for the white space toward the
      bottom, too. More changes to come.

      • “The one article on the front page was conscious.”

        That in itself is a pretty cool discussion to me. You have given me something new to think about. To be continued…

  • In all seriousness. Looks great. I am actually switching over to Thesis soon as well. Just finished another project on it. Takes a little more time on the front end than most wordpress themes, but once you get it up it is a smooth machine.

    Definitely like the little improvements Jason. They make a difference. And always happy to see a shoutout to the designers who helped. Good luck and keep on keeping on. AdAge top 5 her you come.

    • Thanks, Jason. Appreciate the feedback and encouragement.

  • Glad to see the new management cleaned things up around here. Thank goodness you got rid whoever use to run this place.

  • Chris tweeted this out (nice to have friends in high places dude:) site looks awesome J! You wouldn't be able to guess it was thesis at first look.

    • Thanks! That's the great thing about Thesis. You can make it what you
      want if you've got the right developers. (More props to Secret Sushi!)
      Thanks, Big Mac.

  • Looks nice, Jason.

    Here's a tip about E-mail addresses. If you didn't make your E-mail address a link because you're afraid of spam bots finding it, use something like Enkoder (http://hivelogic.com/enkoder). Visitors won't have to cut and paste and reformat your E-mail address.

    • Thanks for the point, David. I'll check it out.

  • Looks great Jason! I'm such a huge fan of Thesis, and I agree with you- the logo by Doe Anderson is great.

    • Thanks. Kevin is an awesome designer. He's done some fantastic work, my logo notwithstanding.

  • Jason, this is very well done. It's slick, professional and it isn't as cluttered as before. Keep it up!

  • cherylharrison

    I'm really into the new layout, Jason. I've been trying to figure out how to reorganize my blog – because my current layout is pretty horrific from a user standpoint – but I couldn't find anything that I thought really made sense. I think this makes a LOT sense. Kudos.

    • Thanks. I hope that's the majoritive reaction. Heh.

  • Thanks for the shout out and the opportunity to work on this with you Jason. You made it easy for us to get the job done. Enjoy the fresh coat of paint.

  • Thanks for the shout out and the opportunity to work on this with you Jason. You made it easy for us to get the job done. Enjoy the fresh coat of paint.

  • Brian Wallace

    Looks better – now just re-categorize the Uncategorized and I'll be happy ;)

  • Brian Wallace

    Looks better – now just re-categorize the Uncategorized and I'll be happy ;)

    • Ha!

    • Great point, B-Dub. Thanks for the reminder. I'll go fix ASAP. (Didn't realize there were any. Appreciate it.)