I thought a good use of this slow news period would be to solicit some reader input on website design.
By way of background: we went to the trouble of going to WordPress and not signing up with an SEO link service (very long shaggy dog story here, probably a bad decision, but too much went awry) which had been the sole reason for the conversion hassle (which was considerable). WordPress, it turns out, does not scale well and requires a lot more administration that Blogger, and the net of that means I hardly had to think about managing the site, and now it is a problem now and again.
But the positive feature of WordPress is that offers a lot more flexibility in visual design. As much as I like the letter from the gulag look of the site, as other sites have upgraded, the gap between the appearance of NC and everywhere else is growing, and I probably need to Do Something.
Yes, I know the first priority should be getting rid of the truly awful ads. But the guy who was helping on tech and took care of that sort of thing before, Ed Wright, has stage 4 cancer and has been in the hospital for the last seven weeks. The new tech guy, Alex, conceives of his role more narrowly, and I don’t have the foggiest idea on that front. So that will probably get fixed later rather than sooner.
On the redesign, I don’t want to change the look that much. This will be a text-dominated site, the logo is critical, and I like the colors. A big question is whether to go to three columns, and what the pros and cons of two versus three columns are.
I’d very much like to get your input. That does NOT mean this is a democratic process, and some good ideas may turn out to be too difficult to implement. But I will certainly give serious thought to all suggestions.
I recognize there are also things that need to be fixed, the most annoying to some readers the broken “Older Posts” feature. Older posts can all be viewed under the Archives. The current problem is a WordPress issue that may not be fixable until I move to a new webhost, which is a MUCH more painful process than a site redesign (we are in our current set-up precisely because we moved to a commercial host who kept shutting down the site because our bandwidth and DB use was too high. Basically, third party webhosts do not like high traffic blogs, they consume too much in the way of resources, and I cannot afford to be in a setting where the site can be shut down (I now in a temporary set up, and it is working better than any commercial host I have had, they were all nightmares, but the Older Post problem is the result of a weird caching problem). Plus Ed who is in the hospital controls the URL (I bought it through him nine years ago), so that is another barrier to switching hosts.
That is a long winded way of saying a redesign can be done in place, and is easier than fixing the Older Posts problem, which will involve a lot of pain and drama.
So please tell me what features you think should be added, made more prominent or less prominent. I know we need a contact feature; I had my e-mail address as part of my profile under Blogger, and the WP profiles don’t allow for that to be included. Other ideas and suggestions are welcome.
It would also be helpful to point to sites that have very clean, streamlined designs as possible models. I find most blog designs (meaning ones that are not simple templates) way too busy. I do like the Angry Bear redesign. Any other good examples be very useful.
I will also be adding an order link to Amazon for the book. (As an aside, I have been advised by authors against having a separate site for the book. Publishers push authors to put them up at their own expense,. Even authors that are well known and do not have their own websites that would compete for traffic are very negative about their experience. I do have an idea for a fun video montage somewhat related to the book, but since I can’t even figure out how to do more than basic site admin, that seems a tad ambitious).
Oh, and do not get your expectations up re timing. As much as I want to move things along quickly, my experience is everything related to changing this blog takes 3-10 times as long as I think it ought to.
Thanks SO much!