Seeking Reader Input on (Modest) Website Redesign

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!

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    1. i on the ball patriot

      Agree! … and … maybe add an email contact … and PO box for those who do not do play the pay pal game

  1. central_scrutinizer


    I like your current layout; its clean and minimal, and it loads quickly.

    I wouldnt waste the time/effort to do much.

    ~Maybe~ pull the ads out of the header, and move them into the sidebar, still “above the fold” so you dont lose any $$ on ad revenue.

  2. Tiago

    Dear Yves,

    I would say 2 columns, if you ask me. Why?

    This is a blog where “content is king (erm… queen ;) ) “. By this I mean that the content stands much by itself. If you have good content, “junk” around can be distractive and adds little value.

    Lots of things around blog posts seem to me as a poor replacement for lousy content. You don’t need that.

    PS – Some blogs, especially ones where design is, in itself, really also a form of content might disagree. But, this being an economics blog, I would let content stand by itself.

  3. DR

    Please keep the current format but include a PRINT option! Maybe change the text header colors. Also, love your pics-have a separate archive for these if possible.

    Look forward to book-will it be available for the Kindle or ebook( B&N )?

  4. Siggy

    I like the current format. The ability to download/print would be nice, but not necessary. The Archives notation is unnecessary. The Blog roll and Topics headings are sufficient. I think your guide should be that less is more.

  5. Brandon

    A few thoughts:

    Feature #1 is content, or your blog “posts” – and that is something that you do very well. A lot of websites try to go for too much content (trying to monetize traffic – is one particular site that comes to mind). Don’t worry about SEO – write good content and better search results will follow. Too many people try to buy their way to the top with shortcuts but great authentic content will always win.

    Since content is important, I like the minimal design. Two columns work well for this site. As for column content, maybe put a side link to the most popular, most commented posts? There are many variations you can work with.

    Also, for any redesigns make sure you test the compatibility with the top RSS readers. I’m sure you have a substantial amount of “followers” that obtain their content in this format. If you redesign the site without testing the RSS feeds, and the RSS feeds get messed up you could lose readers.

    Additionally, how about redesigning the tip jar so that it visually “pops” out more. Maybe alternate between having on the column or at the end of each blog post? This is something where A/B tests would work well. If you have analytics set up this should be something you can measure quantitatively. Maybe default the tip amount to something lower like 5 or 10 dollars. It’s showing 50 for me right now and maybe you could nudge people to donate if the amount was lower?

    Best of luck!

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      Thanks, but you have it backwards, the SEO links service was going to pay NC for links (pretty well, I might add) on the part of other parties. But it was by category, and could not be implemented under Blogger (technical reasons I won’t bore you with).

  6. mark


    Your site is great and deserves little to no changes. I think, like CR, your site is concise and uncluttered. I am with Central Scrutinizer!

    Sincere thanks for the effort.


  7. Guest

    your site is great – the only thing I find frustrating is that the daily ‘links’ get mixed up with the articles under the ‘recent items’ heading – they need their own location (perhaps at the top of the page)

    The other thing that I find frustrating is that the lead article also appears under the ‘recent items’ heading

  8. Brad

    The current site loads very nicely into my iPhone; I’ve noticed some blogger enhancements (kedrosky comes to mind) that while well intended, actually hurt. There is no shame in retaining elegance in a world full of eye candy, especially since NC is substance not frippery. And if changes are about restoring a vitality for you, I’m in full support… This reader never sees letters from the gulag here (something you once mused about the current layout). :)

  9. jdmckay

    I like layout, wouldn’t change much.

    I would like to see a preview for comments, however. I frequently link, italicize etc. Sometimes I miss html mistakes, and a preview screen would eliminate that. WordPress has this feature.

    Moving from host 2 host shouldn’t be that big a deal, Yves. Other than DNS updates (doesn’t take that long anymore, 4-8 hrs maybe), it should be seamless. Might be worth spending a few $$ to a topnotch Web shop for more up to date advice.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I was referred to a supposedly top notch WP guy (but per a comment below, very few WP guys have experience with sites that have traffic like mine), and Ed was involved, has been doing the Internet before it was the Internet (he once ran mission critical systems globally for a top European bank). We still had massive problems due to the webhost. Would not allow us to monitor real time, kept shutting down the site. The transfer was OK, but getting shut down. We tried verifying that the site parameters would be fine before hand (were told yes), we asked for a monitoring tool (were told no). Having to go back to the old Blogger site, transfer posts manually, and lose comments (and this happened multiple times) was NOT pretty. Yes, we should have mirrored it, that’s a separate issue, but the experience was terrible.

      Given that our traffic and bandwidth use should have been OK and it wasn’t has made me loath to try switching again.

    1. Claire

      “Yves, as far as the logo, maybe we could have you in a bikini? No? Just a thought. Sort of like the Charlie’s Angels logo . Instead, you’d be holding the “weaponized-version” of a CDO/MBS document in your hand!”

      LOL–“Yves Smith’s financial fetiche site. More revealing than any 10K. We put the ‘naked’ in Nakedcapitalism”

      1. Stevie b.

        Claire – ”Yves Smith’s financial fetiche site. More revealing than any 10K. We put the ‘naked’ in Nakedcapitalism”

        best laugh I’ve had today – sorry, that should read best comment I’ve seen today. I’ve always thought NC was where the action was – hopefully I aint seen nothing yet!

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I have a different tag phrase in mind, but am saving it for T-shirts (if I ever get around to them): “Money Laid Bare”.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You asked about him before. Never heard of him.

            I was approached about doing a financial TV show (pointed commentary) in the late dot-com days. The problem, aside from the fact that the people who approached me were not well connected enough to get a program off the ground, was that in the dot-com era, no one wanted to hear anything contrary to “of course, trees grow to the sky” and in the dot-com bust, there was no money for no new programming.

            In discussing the concept with one of the producers, I said “naked capitalism” in passing, and she jumped on it, and said, “That’s great, that’s what we’ll call it.”

  10. SpottyDog

    Yves, I’m with all the other posters. Little if any changes. I’ve read many blogs, and this is the one I keep coming back to. Why? Because the content is good analysis, not blather. And that’s what’s important.

  11. Claire

    1. More easily printable pages.
    2. Given how extensively you quote others’ texts, a different font colour or type or size to distinguish your text from that qhich you quote would be nice.
    3. I would use the RHS sidebar for either a link to other articles or user comments (or another column). I don’t think the blog roll, etc serve that much use to regular readers–why not put it somewhere on the bottom, and use the real estate for something of more day-to-day relevence?

  12. Paul H

    Yves, without any hesitation the first thing I would say is a massive thank you for all the time and effort you put into the Blog. I agree with the others that content is the most important element and that great content, as you always offer, will always be the most important driver of success.
    But changing the look and feel of the Blog, even slightly, has to be done very carefully.
    The starting point is to define as carefully as you can the profile of your reader. Once you have this ‘mythical’ but representative person defined then you will have a clearer idea as to how to ‘talk’ to them via the Blog.
    It’s a strange process but it’s the same as writing a direct mail letter. It’s written with a very clear image of the single recipient – because that produces more powerful prose – and then all of those out there in your audience who share that profile also think the message is directed to them personally.
    Happy to offer my aged (pro-bono) assistance if you want to contact me offline.
    Happy New Year to you,

  13. Stumpy

    Yves: I don’t think the site design is bad at all. A more memorable logo might be nice, but this might take care of itself with a little contest where the winner gets an autographed copy of your book. I do not perceive the terrible urge you do to “Do Something.”

    The one thing you did mention that is very worrisome is that you do not own your domain. Should Ed Wright die still owning the domain, you might find it difficult or impossible to retrieve, and discover that a decade or more of URL brand equity was suddenly in the hands of extortionist domain squatters.

    You need to work with Ed/Wrightlab (owns the domain) and Tucows (your domain registrar) to move registration of to your own name or entity ASAP. A tip: if Tucows is less helpful than you’d like, consider moving to another registrar. You may find another company more willing to deal with the minor hassles of registration transfer if it means a new revenue stream for you. Tucows domain registration business does not appear to be very end-user oriented – they seem like they do most of that business through other entities, so you might have that problem.

    Email me if you need more.

  14. Viral

    I like your blog as is. You could make it look spiffy and “modern” but to what end? Craigslist still works after all these years. Also adding all the bells and whistles come with maintenance costs which will take time away from blogging.
    Love your insightful posts…
    Happy New Year.

  15. jm

    I think the site is great just as it is.

    I come here for words, not eye candy.
    (But I do enjoy the animal photos, even though I’m congenitally very much not an animal lover.)

    I believe one of the reasons Google won in the search site competition is its spartan, practical, quick-loading home page. My other favored site is Calculated Risk, also a minimalist design.

    The graphics at, e.g., The Big Picture to my mind serve no purpose and only waste space.

  16. Doug

    As an i-Phone devotee I prefer multiple columns
    like the huff post format. I can expand a single
    column with a double click and scroll through
    without squinting.
    It makes a big


  17. Michael

    The one thing i’d like to see on all blogs is a resizeable interface (e.g. mine as above – although it doesn’t resize ideally, it’s better than nothing). This one is fixed to a certain width, and since I override the display to use larger/specific fonts it can make it a bit narrow (it doesn’t fill my screen either – and i’m not even using a wide-screen monitor). Or too wide on a lower resolution screen – which is no doubt more of an issue these days with so many devices which can read the net.

    Other than that (oh and the fat-belly adverts), the simple style makes it a lot easier to read than a lot of other blogs (zero-hedge is unreadable), and I just don’t like wordpress (and given your already poor experience i’m puzzled you’re even considering it). I do think you could use some sort of branding though, logo, colours/borders, or at least something.

    AFAICT blogger lets you edit the style sheet – you could make it look like just about anything you wanted it to – and that should include a completely different stylesheet for printing (from the same visible page). You just can’t add features which it doesn’t have; archives and the like. Stylesheets are a hassle but less hassle than getting wordpress to do what you want it to.

  18. Kevin Smith

    A lot of us also read CalculatedRisk — if you clone their feature set we will have a consistent user interface, and it will save you from re-inventing the wheel.

  19. MarcoPolo

    Your content is your image. Myself, I suscribe via rss, view it in my phone & rarely see the whole HTML.  Perfunctory is good enough.  And slow pages….yech. 1) robust 2) easy to maintain 3) fast

    That said, change is needed and it isn’t coming from the top. So, how do you organize it from the bottom?  Blogs aren’t particularly well suited. As soon as an idea is developed it scrolls off into archive purgatory.  You aren’t the only one with this problem. Sooner or later someone will find an avenue to real colaboration.  Social networking?  I was at a seminar a couple of weeks ago where this guy presented himself as a “social networking strategist”.  ROFLMSocksO. Careful, don’t hurt yourself. But in all seriousness somebody’s going to get this right. Be ready.            

  20. jason in tahoe

    I’m a Web developer specializing in UI work and a frequent reader.

    It sounds like you’re mostly wanting input on the 2 vs. 3 column design decision. Best (cheapest) thing is to just find some other sites you like and try to emulate them. The Angry Bear design looks good and works well technically for reasons I’ll explain below.

    As for SEO, %80 of that is taken care of by the great content (keep it up, please) and the text-based design of the site. Most of the rest is the performance of the site, both perceived and real. For the latter, Google does take into account site loading time in its search results. For this, you need a good host with fat pipes($), and a optionally a Web developer that can work on things like caching, images, etc. (more $$). Perceived performance is also very important to keeping readers, as it’s hard to read a page that is loaded but not displayed, or where content jitters around as ads, etc. get loaded. For example, this page will load completely rather quickly, but the _display_ can be delayed significantly because inline scripts such as Google Ads block page rendering until they are loaded. (And so, if Google’s having a bad day, then your site is having a bad day too.) You don’t want such delays, but you want the ads, so the best thing would be to position them in the HTML at the bottom, then use CSS to bring them up where you want them, but not before the content, as the layout would jitter when the ads load. (See or for good examples of how NOT to do this). Angry Bear keeps its content first (also good for SEO), then ads and feeds which load secondarily are off on the right in columns where their delayed loading causes minimal jolt to the reader.

    Well, basic stuff like spiffing up your menus or moving the ads around, I’d be glad to do it as a ‘donation’. For more serious work like changing hosts, layout, performance, etc. – you have my email.


  21. mo

    I agree with those requesting minimal changes.

    As I was reading your post I thought to myself – “ooh – I hope she DOESN’T make it like Angry Bear” – oh well.

    I agree that Calculated Risk is a better model.

    It’s funny – I find that once a blog transforms, I tend to read it less closely. It seems that the blog re-design is accompanied by some changes in content – e.g., additional contributors. Things become too busy and I lose interest.

    Yves – you are so busy – don’t spend too much time on this – your content is the most valuable part of your blog.

    Thanks, Happy New Year and good luck with the book – yours is one that I will buy.

  22. Oversized Novelty Check

    First, thank you for the financial insight and Antidotes Du Jour (love ’em)!

    At the risk of sounding like an ad, one design option could be to move the blog to and ditching the need for major tech support. Not free, but perhaps less headache for you.

    *Easy* design editing, and a “Seamless Blog Importer”:

    Got the idea from “This Week in Tech”.

    (I have no affiliation with TWIT or Squarespace. Thought the info might help.)

    Hope this helps. Looking forward to the book, and good luck with the website tweaks.

    FYI: Also here via Calculated Risk.

  23. Roger Bigod

    simple + graceful = classy

    I give your site an edge over CR, although it’s also good. The coloring and typeface are a subliminal reminder that I’m reading yves’ stuff, so there’s a certain feeling of comfort and familiarity, without busyness.

    I think if you check, the column width on the content column is greater than recommended for publication. The documentation for the layout editor TeX has some guidelines on this. Tufte may have commented on it as well. A wide column slows the reader down a little in jumping to the next line. But that may be a feature. Some of the material is meaty and repays careful reading. On balance, I’d keep the two-column format and width.

    I am not into cute, and proudly so. But I confess I look forward to the animal pics with I click on the link. You have tastfully drawn the line short of LoLKatz.

  24. John

    Why do you ‘Need to Do Something’ in regards to web redesign? I don’t get it. Do you think you are not bringing in as much traffic as you would be with a different design?

    I’m fine with this site the way it is. I like the two colum design because then I can shrink my browser down to cover only half my screen and have something else in the other half.

    The main difference I see between your site and the Angry Bear’s site is that I don’t see any ads on that site. It doesn’t sound like that’s feasible for you?

    One thing I would like to see a blog site do is totally open the books. Let us know how much this blog is costing you to run and how much you are bringing in from ads, donations, and such and such. Wikipedia does this a bit with their donation ‘goal’, but I have no idea where that money is going. I personally would be more likely to donate to a site who’s books were totally transparent.

    The only other change I would recommend is fixing some of your links. The link to Zero Hedge is still pointing to their old blog.

  25. Ben

    Fixing broken things is a good idea. Changing layouts, colors, etc. is annoying. It doesn’t matter that it’s easy to do – people prefer consistency to good design (when it comes to web sites), and of course having both is optimal.

  26. Kalpa

    Yves, thanks so much for all that you do as yours is one of my favorite sites. I esthetically agree with you about simplicity being an optimal goal. You are quite simple already. A site I admire is this (Buddhists know simplicity best)


    In achieving simplicity, the reddish brown font color for your accents might be changed to dark gray, black, or a blue.

  27. Ed

    I’m also one of the minimal changes crowd. I think the design works and emphasizes content.

    I also think most websites have gotten too busy. If you have to make a change, I’d suggest leaving the archives and blogrolls heading as links, or maybe those things that can expand if you click on the plus. The long column of text on the right distracts from the main content of the blog, in the left three quarters of the space.

  28. Fed Up

    Can you make the current month posts/latest week posts list latest to earliest so that posts are easier to find to reply to?

    I was going to reply to your comment about my comment on the USA vs. Argentina/Latin America, but I couldn’t find it.

  29. SalmonRising

    I really appreciate you blog…and you are obviously doing something right as its popularity has increased.

    As a financial neophyte, I find some of the content beyond me, but I am a fan of good design and there are two financial websites that I find more user friendly. I like Zero Hedge’s visual layout at the top of the page where I can read summaries and click on the articles I want to read. In terms of overall design, I like Big Picture which has good separtion of articles by 2nd color headers, and uses offsets to delineate quoted material from the author’s opinions.

    But, whatever you do, do not drop the antidotes du jour!!!

  30. Gloppie

    thanks a lot for all your good work. I am with the majority, do not change much. Eye candy is a waste of bandwidth good only for MSM, you’re above that, your content is what matters.
    When it comes to columns, keep the (growing) mobile viewers in mind. (Carl Denninger’s mobile layout comes to mind as a good example)
    Keep up the good work, and a Happy New Year to everybody.

  31. asphaltjesus

    As far as the technical recommendations go, I don’t think any of them have the know-how to work with Yves’s volume.

    That’s not meant as a disparaging remark. For example, In most cases super-cache is a great solution. There are other critical bottlenecks that come up because of her traffic volume. She has ‘quality’ problems 95-98%% of sites don’t have. Therefore, the number of people capable of handling those problems is equally small.

    I’m with the group of people who like the blog as it is. I’ll go so far as to suggest getting some style changes, like a logo and maybe a color scheme related to the logo. but you are pretty much good to go with your two-columns.

    If you need help talking with your new tech guy, let me know. I’m happy to help. It’s a way I can give back.

  32. asphaltjesus

    I forgot to add a mobile-formatted subdomain would be great. Though, it will be a bigger project than you probably imagine and similar in experience to your efforts around using WP.

  33. Myles SG

    I thought the new format for blogs at Reuters, with clear, large font for sectioning, and simplicity and logicality of layout, is quite brilliant. Perhaps you could draw some inspiration therefrom?

  34. CrocodileChuck


    the thing that is annoying about the angry bear ‘re-do’ and Rolfe’s/Felix’s on Reuters is the need to ‘click through’ to read anything on the sites. All the page loading slows down the user experience.

    ‘Letter from the gulag look’: don’t lose it!

  35. Ted K

    I don’t care much, as long as you keep the same podcasts feature. I think James Kwak’s site has great layout. Maybe you can copy him slightly with a different color scheme. If I was you Yves I would just ask James Kwak directly how he would handle it, I think he has some knowledge about computers. I would rip off Kwak’s layout +podcasts +new color scheme.

  36. ee

    Don’t bother.

    Anyone who truly cares about how the site looks, uses an RSS reader, and has it configured how they want it.

    I’ve never seen the site until today when I came here to comment.

  37. Mark

    One thing I always recommend: Increase the line height.

    A bit more spacing between lines makes for much easier reading. Take a look at the New York Times. The space between lines is a bit more than the height of a capital letter. Serifs are nice too.

  38. Jojo

    1. Whatever you do, DO NOT get involved with JS-Kit! Mish is stuck with them and the site is a mess. JS-Kit is why I don’t go there all that much.

    2. The ORANGE print bothers me here. It’s not dark enough and it is orange. I’d rather you try using something like a darker blue in place of the orange.

    3. It would be nice to be able to thumbs up/thumbs down specific posts like can be done on Marketwatch, and others.

    4. The Big Picture blog has a nice print feature and I think they use WordPress also.

  39. bob goodwin

    The advantage of 3 column is to get more content ‘above the fold’. This is necessary if (and only if) people have short attention spans, and you want to get them more navigation choices quickly. I think your site has a 99th percentile attention span, and the writing is what matters, so I would vote against a 3rd column unless you were ambitious about creating wide navigation options. Your second column is not well maintained, which says to me it is not a priority already.

    Hope my 2c is helpful.

  40. Dennis Labeau

    I must admit that NC and CR are two sites I jump to when I wake up. Both have great content, have simplicity, allowing the goal of the sites to be apparent to anyone who would stumble by.

    1) Simplicity is an ideal that can not be underestimated. A three-column format for this site I think would be a distraction. What would be in the third column and is that class of information important enough to have its own column?

    2) I agree with one commenter above that it might prove very enlightening to play with line height and paragraph spacing to improve legibility, especially on the more lengthy posts.

    3) I don’t think Angry Bear is a good model, period. The background is a distraction and tends to dominate, hampering “ease of use,” which you do so well.

    4) For some reason or another I don’t completely understand, sans-serif typefaces work best on the web.

    5) Keep up the great work you do! I don’t know of much I personally would improve.

    1. Jojo

      “I must admit that NC and CR are two sites I jump to when I wake up.”

      Still jumping to sites? Hmmm.. You need to learn about RSS where all site updates (that you choose to subscribe to) are pushed to you in an RS reader (like Google Reader).

      This way, you don’t have to chase content. It comes directly to you automatically!

      Check out:

      Video: RSS in Plain English

  41. Doc Holiday

    1. The logo/Heading of naked Capitalism needs to be enlarged or upgraded; it’s too simple and too small. A new logo is not required but maybe just new typography.

    2. The blue ad-stuff right under the heading (lines 3 and 4) is unattractive, chaotic and all wrong. It adds clutter in the wrong place and is a distraction to the main content. If this was a book cover, I’d not read beyond the title.

    3. Content, content, content and then content on the landing page. Hyper links and mechanisms that point people away from the content (here) is a great way to mess up traffic here.

    More later?

  42. claudia

    please do not make the text in a narrow box in the center of the page.
    Please. If I increase type size on many sites, I have to read only
    a few words at a time. I like it now!

  43. Stocks on Wall Street

    Agree you should change design all-together. I switched from Blogger to WordPress a while back and it was the best decision I have ever made. You will not regret this move I can guarantee you that.

  44. emca

    Very kind of you to ask.

    I agree with /central_scrutinizer remarks. I would add that I would like to see the sidebar smaller (only one please), if possible, to maximize space for posts and comments. And while on the topic, for my own wish-list, I would also like to preview my comments and have some idea of WordPress capabilities/formatting from my end.

    If a logo is an issue its not. I may be telling you what you already know, but your text is the logo. Despite its mundane font, its application is clear and unique enough to stand alone…and after all, what is ‘Naked Capitalism’ if not unadorned?

    I don’t have any problem with colors.

    Maybe this is too basic, but you may want to mirror the site locally to experiment with any changes in appearance you think need to be made. That way your not committed to continual online changes to get the ‘right’ look.

  45. tomk

    I agree with minimal change. One thing I like about Glenn Greenwald’s is that the links automatically open a new window. An easy print option would be good, and easier access to the archives. The look is fine though, and as so many have pointed out, that’s not why we’re here. The content is simply the best. Thanks so much.

  46. BuzzP

    As a long time reader and obnoxiously compulsive Antidote contributor, I must join in with the “no change” crowd. Yes, there are things I might like changed (e.g., body copy runs very long, so my index finger gets tired scrolling down), but overall the site has the look and feel of the serious content it contains. CR’s design is for “more short posts per day” – and green stripes (AB) are a little too busy for me at 2AM.

    Thus, and with all due respect to our gracious host and intrepid leader, the small glitches underscore her individuality and her passion for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

  47. Thomas Barton,JD

    Please do not make it look like Angry Bear which looks more like a dyspeptic bear. I like the look of Jesses Cafe Americain. A little more graphic color is always helpful in a visual environment.

  48. Doc Holiday

    Another thing I’d change is the ARCHIVES section, which needs to be nested into a simple structure. As it is now, you have about 40 months to choose from and there is no reason to have all the months open, going back to January 2000; I think it’s enough just to have a hyper-link to ARCHIVES and then nest it all off the landing page.

    I also don’t understand the need to have so many links to other web sites, but this seems to be an internet thing that in some way helps traffic; I find it to be useless and distracting.

    I have liked the recent comments section, but maybe expand that a bit beyond the last 5 comments; I’d rather see more recent content than a long list of Archives and the blogroll.

    The Topics list is also somewhat un-important, because I think people are looking for recent content and probably seldom use the topic list; they also can use a search engine to filter by topic, so this seems redundant — I F’ing hate redundancy, but would like to re-state and reiterate that I F’ing hate redundancy and inefficiency!

    In that regard, the Subscribe|blogroll| Topics|Archives||Videos|Contrib|Search section is on the landing page 3 times, so that is redundant and since it’s the holiday season, I’ll say no more.

    What about a little bit more about WTF Yves is, who are you, where are you, what’s your purpose here, some history; is that here? I never did get the Aurora thing, but differentiate yourself a bit more!

    I know this steps on toes, but I’d like to see more Yves and a little less outside editorial stuff, or even some co-authored stuff. many of the submissions do need to be edited a bit more, but over-all the quality and depth is great and the reason why people come here, so maybe just limit the length somewhat.

    I’d like to see the most recent video on a sidebar and have that as a more active feature, versus all the blogroll stuff; that sort of happens at CR, but just the link to video should be fine-tuned….

    Ok, done for now.

    I’d also like to see a bit more color with a sidebar or divider; I don’t know why, but maybe you also need a flag, flower, song, bird and other state-like iconic/symbolism……

  49. Doc Holiday

    The video link does not even work, so … maybe that got spaced out at some point, but that fix is an opportunity to focus on. I’d carve out a nice space for that on a sidebar and look for news stories that have a video-link, or obviously it would be nice to see more of Yves on video. What about a ross-link between CR and Yves and a weekly bitch session via webcam?

  50. Hillary

    I like having two columns for simplicity. The page feels much less cluttered that way and it’s easier to focus on the text. I’m also very grateful you don’t do mouseover popup ads.

    Blogs that are “fancier” and probably have newer designs feel much more dated to me than this one. The only thing that looks out of place to me is the font on the visitor count.

    Right now the sidebar and header/footer links are mostly duplicates – is that necessary? For me blogrolls are verging on dated. Do users click through there or just when you link to one of the blogs in a post?

    I agree with Claire on quotes – it would be nice if they were more easily distinguished. On the RSS feed I usually can’t tell which text is quoted and which is original.

  51. SteveK

    You’re not blogging for the home & garden channel, here. It matters little how pretty it is. The most important thing, aside from the content (which is usually outstanding, btw.), is that the page is easy to use and understand. I despise web sites full of flashy stuff that adds no actual value, the cruft just slows me down. Look at, for example. It’s the ultimate in simplicity, and yet it’s popularity dwarfs that of its competitors. I suggest you leave the look alone. Just focus on fixing the problems, and find a way to make the administration easy for yourself again.

  52. craazyman

    We need some get rich quick advice that really works. Something the little guy can hit the lottery with. No market timing nonsense or option strategies that only drain your account. I’m thinking “micro-cap stocks ready to soar”, where you can put, say, a hundred grand down on Tuesday with A VERY SHALLOW STOP LOSS and cash out with a a mont or two later with $1 million — from a ten-bagger.

  53. craazyman

    Yes and don’t use whatever Mish uses.

    When I load his site I have to go run errands or do my workout so I don’t kill too much time while it loads. Seriously.

    And also, seriously, thank you, for real, for all your good hard work. Please keep it up.

  54. Danny

    I really like the blog as is, the only issue I can think of is when I click on a posted link, most sites will open it in another window or tab, but this site always opens in the same window. I figured out how to fix it myself by right clicking and choosing the “open in new tab” option but it’d be cool if that happened automatically (since I forget sometimes and then have to reload the page).

    Sorry if this is something I need to fix on my computer and not a blog formatting issue… I’m internetarded.

    Thanks very much for a fantastic blog and happy new year!

  55. Doc Holiday

    This site reaches over 142K monthly people, of which 102K (71%) are in the U.S. The site appeals to a more educated, primarily male, middle aged following.The typical visitor reads, subscribes to Rolling Stone, and watches PBS Online.

    The people who visit are also likely to visit these categories and sites:

    > Obviously there is a very clean look with these sites and the use of hyper-linked headline to take you to the news/comment/content on another page. I have mixed feelings on a landing page that immediately sends you off on a wild goose chase; when people come to NakedC, they are hit with the text and meat of a current issue/story/content, and in a way, I like that approach better … but the problem in that, is that if the immediate story is not on-topic for someone, they will probably not take time to find other material of interest. The Traffic Frequency here shows that 37% of regulars make up 47% of all visits. Furthermore, the site (ranked at 14950) caters to a more educated, primarily male, middle aged following.

    The redesign should be used as a way to build traffic! It seems to me that you could easily grab more traffic and move far closer to which has a rank of 14,519, or which is ranked at 14,382 and of course those really suck and why not just shoot to take out ranked at 13,895… sounds like a F’ing goal for New Years 2010!!!!!!!!! Face facts, RGE is not that amazing, but, let’s review that site:

    Once again, clean headline-driven content that offers links to content versus the in-your-face approach. RGE also has that nasty and retard thing of becoming a client, as if they offer something you don’t …. that sort of retarded approach is so 1950’s and reminds me of the exclusive golf course crowd that used to meet at the country club drinking martinis — these are old, aging dino’s that are on the verge of extinction and Roubini is done, and the site is in a death spiral – and your for the taking, in terms of content, audience/traffic and and all that other shit that goes with kicking ass.

    Ok, back on topic, is Yves enough to drive the content, or is a re-design ultra important? Your gonna hate me (even more) but your book is not critical in terms of traffic; I thought you lost growth here when you needed to focus on your book and that was when the guest editorial stuff sort of drove me away … ok, I read lots of stuff, but the focus by Yves was lost and the site does need updated ASAP.

    Ok, enough about my problem, back to you:

    The topic of >>> Regulations and regulators (1166) this has been a focus; and then 555 guest posts. The topics area provides you with AMAZING marketing data — you need to focus content on stuff that matters and not let guest posts take away from your focus; the traffic is coming here for a reason, so build on it …. is this delusional? Just adding my 2 cents, hope it doesn’t piss anyone off, as I’d like to see Yves expand, grow, explode, excel, etc…

  56. mitchw

    Aside from the content, I feel the look of the site needs a refresh just like a hotel or retail store. I come here pretty often and it just tires my eye to see the same old format. Small things, like brightening or enlarging the orange text, making the antidote du jour link ‘pop’ a bit more. Maybe highlight good comments. Freshening just keeps things from feeling old. Now, what do I do about these extra ten pounds?

  57. Katherine Calkin

    Please don’t add any more columns. The more a blog resembles a newspaper, the harder it is to look at. You might consider some borders between the two columns and at the far left side. Boders lend an organized and contained look to text so it doesn’t so much resemble a “letter from the gulag.” Be sure to leave a small margin around the text so it isn’t jammed up against the borders. That, too, is hard to look at.

    Love your blog.

  58. Vincent

    I too am with the minimal redesign crowd.

    Do keep the black type on white background. Do not use white letters on a black background. That becomes very difficult to read on some monitors.

    Do not make your site like Angry Bear.

    Do ensure your site loads quickly.

    Do not clutter the pages.

    Do not optimize your pages for mobile devices. Have a separate version optimized for iPhone etc. Similarly do not use a layout that displays correctly only on a wide screen.

    Do ensure that the site continues to work correctly with feed readers. The Economist’s site recently had this problem with their redesign.

    The two column layout works fine.

    Do not add links to the n latest posts from m blogs. This slows down loading, adds to clutter and makes the page less responsive. The last point is most obvious on low powered machines.

    The two most imp points: Load quickly and stay uncluttered.

    And finally, before launching your redesigned site, try testing it with as many machine/browser combos as possible, including IE 6,7,8, Firefox, Opera, Old PCs, netbooks and mobile phones.

    Happy New Year and all the best.

  59. Doug Terpstra

    I’d second the comment preview others mentioned, which helps one catch stoopid typos (or tone the umbrage on second proof). also allows logged-in posters to edit (their own) already posted comments for a limited period (slick, but not so essential for eloquent commenters on this site).

    A trivial point on spacing: a line or two between ‘reply’ button and next comment would avoid occasional out of sequence responses.

  60. Mster

    “Yves, I’m with all the other posters. Little if any changes. I’ve read many blogs, and this is the one I keep coming back to. Why? Because the content is good analysis, not blather. And that’s what’s important.”

    – Hi Yves,
    you’re_the_best. I prefer the 2 instead of 3 columns look. I like the “letter from Gulag” style.

    The only thing I would recommend a bit different would be to personalize the blog just a bit more photography; here, some art direction could be fun, perhaps exploring the “naked” theme, for instance;

    we’re adults. We can take it.

    This is my most favorite blog.

  61. Dan

    Mish Shedlock’s web site is extremely easy to read and is extraordinarily UNcluttered. His text is too big for your text-heavy site (not a criticism — I like all the text!), but I don’t see why it couldn’t be tweaked to fit your needs.

    * * *
    “This site reaches over 142K monthly people, of which 102K (71%) are in the U.S. The site appeals to a more educated, primarily male, middle aged following.The typical visitor reads, subscribes to Rolling Stone, and watches PBS Online.

    The people who visit are also likely to visit these categories and sites:

    Hmmmm. I’m a middle-aged male, but don’t like, have never subscribed to Rollling Stone, and think PBS has become a crock. And I got tired of The Economist’s smugness about 15 years ago. The economic blogs I visit daily are Naked Capitalism, Mish Shedlock’s, and I really love Zero Hedge.

    1. tim

      i like the second logo. except, expand the architectural thing completely underneath “naked capitalism” and “think” naked capitalism text is “the emperor has no clothes” sitting on top of architectural element.

      then, simplify simplify simplify all of the detail away until you get the same vibe. use an architectural element that screams “wall street”.

      great work cullpepper !

  62. Argel

    The clear consensus is that things are mostly fine the way they are. And people reading via an RSS feed will only see your site if they want to post a comment or read comments. Would like to see the antidotes archived off separately.

    Anyway, it sounds more like *you* are getting more tired of the current look than your readers are! (^_^)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hah, that’s a fair comment. Part of it may be feeling pressured by looking at “slicker,” more commercial looking sites, like The Big Picture and Clusterstock. But I never intended to appeal to the stock jockeys, and that is where busy sites seem particularly popular.

      Yes, traffic is down due to book (less posting), continuing book tasks, post book burnout, and frankly less meaty topics. The crisis was right up my alley, as was the early reform head fake. There has been less of the sort of material I gravitate too, and how much can people stand hearing how corrupt the system is? I get depressed covering it, and I am sure readers can stand only so much of this sort of thing in a day.

      There are some good suggestions re feature tweaks and ideas to help readability. I will look into those further.

  63. dlr

    I have a minor suggestion: increase the number of titles included in your “recent items” listing at the top of the page. Right now you always have the most recent 5 titles, more would be helpful (for orientation, ie, making sure I haven’t missed some). Or maybe you could have a longer list of the titles of recent items over on the side.

    Other than that, I would enthusiastically second the motion on adding in the capability to vote on people’s comments (thumbs up/thumbs down). Some sites even allow you to reorder the posts to read the highest rated posts first, which can be very helpful when time is limited.


  64. Bill

    I like it as is.

    Re: 2 vs 3 columns, ZeroHedge has 3, but I never pay attention to any but the main one anyway.

    As others have said, less is more, and content is king.

    Once I learned that the comments are listed directly beneath the post only if I open the topic in a new tab, the only problem I had with the site went away.

  65. Jim in MN

    Another vote for leaving mostly ‘as is’. My one gripe, and it’s my fault for having a Blackberry, is that sometimes I can load the site and sometimes I get a ‘page requested too large’ message. If there was a page break for long (guest) posts that would help…me. Other sites have a seperate site for BBs/cell phones, but that’s probably a whole other level.

    On content, I say mining the truth is supposed to be a bit lonesome at times. When it gets crowded, something is wrong. When its quiet is the time to sharpen all the tools in your toolbox. Maybe you could start a little ‘gold nugget’ box with the insights that YOU think are really worth something from the work and community here…just dump ’em in real time and mabe sort a bit on occasion…then trot ’em out during crisis waves. That’s how we learn! Make some of the content ‘sticky’ to use the jargon.

    I absolutely 100% risk free AAA promise, it will get crowded again.

  66. psychohistorian

    I would make some of the small fixes suggested previously and leave the rest alone. Content is king. Not 3 columns, please. Don’t go too far down the naked road or it will take on a life of its own away from the opacity and transparency interpretations, IMO.

    Thanks for your efforts.

    1. Ted K

      I agree, 3 columns is like soooo annoying. It’s like the PE exercise in middle school where the PE teacher tells you to run back and forth touching lines on the basketball court. Your eyes are darting back and forth and your not getting any more information/knowledge than you would if they just typed it essay style.

      Frankly anyone who goes to 3 columns, I’m finished with that site.

  67. Brick

    The more complicated the site is the longer it takes to download and more bandwidth it takes up. Keeping it simple helps compatability and makes it easier to maintain.
    I am not a particular fan of columns and prefer drop down menus from the top, unfortunately this probably means using some javascript which is notorious for displaying differently on different browsers.Using the DHTML menu from the open source package struts might be an option although something like UDDM might be easier to implement.The reason why I am not keen on columns unless they shrink as you resize is that not all screens have the same resolution and those with poor eyesight will often choose to have a low resolution.
    As for which sites have a clear layout then I would point to Brad Setzer’s old blog which although it has three columns the content is clear. I also like FTAlphaville’s layout although I suspect despite its clear layout is rather complicated underneath. I also like Michael Pettis site at china financial markets,David Merkel’s aleph blog, and bronte capital. Since I suspect bronte capital is using the same blog engine it might not be too hard to implement.
    One last thought is that you might want to avoid reds and greens and close derivatives of those colours because they are the colours typcially affected by colour blindness.

  68. LeeAnne

    The site just as it is works really well for me. Its easy to read with no distractions; like a letter (I think someone else said). It would be nice to have the ‘preview’ feature back. I really miss it.

    Some features of the 0 site are worth considering (it actually seems inspired by NC):

    1. all reading is down the center of the page with a link to comments at the end of each article. The center accommodates faster reading that could work for an increasing number of NC comments.

    2. The font, Lucida Grande Regular, is easier to read, given the same line spacing (leading).

    3. The list of articles for the day on the horizontal could allow a prominent spot for author’s notes on the upper right-hand corner, like maybe: new book published, petition, fund raising.

    4. Posts of the day on 0 are laid out like NC, but listed horizontally, each with a link that opens center-of-page. The right-hand column is on-site navigation like NCs; the left-hand column includes sign-on, links to other sites, and ads. A three column layout accommodates center-of-the-page reading.

    But having only a left-hand column pushes the reading to the center of the page also. Jesse’s is like that even though his blog is only 2 columns.

    Jesse’s content, great style, smaller font with extra spacing between lines is the easiest reading for me; 0’s the fastest.

  69. rhys

    Hi. I like the simplicity of your site format in its current state. My one suggestion would be to add a monthly audio podcast with your (or a guest) latest thoughts. I guess this would probably involve quite a bit of additional work for you but with so much to read these days a good podcast is welcome break for the eyes.

    thank you, I really appreciate the work you put into your site.

  70. Reno Dino

    If you want to see the absolute worst design for a financial website check out Minyinville. Total nightmare. Must reflect their state of mind.

  71. Jason C. Rines

    I built our network to solve all of the inherent functionality and lack of support flaws of Google and WordPress. When you want the help, I encourage you to pick up the phone. I give websites FREE including support to people sacrificing to help educate the public.

  72. Rdan

    Hi Yves. Thanks for the mention of AB. The comments are instructive. 2 or 3 columns for me remains ambivalent, and I think depends on who are the most active readers. You will never satisfy everyone. The striped background is optional so I opted to leave the color first to see how it played.

    I am watching how the commentary and blogroll lists work in a dropdown format to avoid clutter. AB had a flexible width in the last incarnation, fixed this time around to help with mobile use.

    I have found people read blogs in a highly personalized manner…many people like a single, strong personality projected from the page, some prefer multi-author or multi-point of view content. Go with the audience you prefer and your own strength, and cherish the people who actually add to the dialogue with thoughtful comments and even time.

    The time involved to deliver product is always much more than many realize, 24/7. You are the best. Dan

  73. Mr_Rines_Is_A_Hustler

    I give websites FREE including support to people sacrificing to help educate the public.

    Haha! Your bandwidth bill for hosting NC would kill whatever money you you make now.

    And then there would be the 64-bit multi-core, dedicated hardware required to host her site to any reasonable service level.

    And then the maintenance required to keep the server’s drives from filling up and services falling over would soak up all of your time.

    Maybe you’d like to work for me for free? I’ve got some torrent hosting I’d like to do. I want to host Linux distros. You know CD/DVD images. Let’s see how long you can tolerate ‘free.’

  74. gmanedit

    Regardless of how one may feel about Lawrence Auster’s content (, the site is handsome: the blue of the heads; the spacing between posts and within post elements; the serifed typeface for text and sparing use of sans-serif, bold, and muted color to set off elements; the type size and leading (line spacing base-to-base). Easy to load, easy to read.

    I come from book publishing, and it looks me as if a real designer did this.

  75. Thinking Nationalist


    I read you daily as well as CR and ZH. I am also a blogger but more on “political economy” issues than pure finance/economics.

    Of all the layouts of the finance/economics/politics
    blogs that I follow I like CR best, followed by the re-designed Angry Bear (their previous design was unreadable).

    CR’s design is minimal but also a bit more feature-friendly
    than most – you might contact them and see what their particular issues with the site have been.

    On content and SEO – don’t worry about it- good content
    will win out. As another reader pointed out, BE SURE that
    any changes you make are compatible with the various RSS Feeds.

    Best wishes for 2010 and keep it up..

  76. Bob Alexander

    I think you have a great blog content-wise. The object of any redesign is to get the content even more visible, even more “front and center”. We built our blog on a wordpress platform, and it’s pretty good; the tech guys were not that excited about WP, but it does a good job and can be customized in many ways. In our last redesign, we worked from a “news magazine” template available for free and made changes to that to meet our requirements. It definitely has a “magazine” feel, which suits us well; you might find it works for you as well. Thanks for your reporting! Happy New Year. Bob

  77. Bob Alexander

    I think you have a great blog content-wise. The object of any redesign is to get the content even more visible, even more “front and center”. We built our blog on a wordpress platform, and it’s pretty good; the tech guys were not that excited about WP, but it does a good job and can be customized in many ways. In our last redesign, we worked from a “news magazine” template available for free and made changes to that to meet our requirements. It definitely has a “magazine” feel (, which suits us well; you might find it works for you as well. Thanks for your reporting! Happy New Year. Bob

  78. bob howard

    I’m a Daily visitor.
    Make minimal changes.
    Content, content, content. Especially Yves own.
    Separate buttons for “Print Post Only” and for “Print Post With Comments.”
    A bit more on how individuals can provide appropriate solutions for problems analyzed, and provide useful responses for predicaments discussed.
    A bit more on the interrelationships between financial/economic issues and energy and environment.
    Thanks for your outstanding work, Yves!

  79. Peter T

    I would like to see the name of the author of a posting higher up, maybe under the title of the posting. Otherwise: Keep up the good work – reading the blog can be depressing sometimes but I rather know the truth.

  80. Chris

    Some good comments so far. As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. You have a very successful blog already so there is no need for anything drastic.

    Definitely don’t go to three columns – the whole idea of columns is a holdover from print media that doesn’t translate well to online (in my opinion). The problem with columnar formats on a Web site is that the columns are seldom the same length – typically the outer columns are used for links and navigation and are much shorter than the middle one of content, with the result that when you scroll down a bit you end up with large amounts of whitespace. For example on Mish’s site about 70% of the screen is whitespace if you scroll down far enough.

    Rather than three columns I’d consider going minimalist and consolidating to one. Most of your sidebar content could be presented easily in menu format using minimal space and/or moved to separate pages accessed via links. If you want to give the content top billing, that’s a good way to do it. Really though I think the current two column format works fine (whitespace on the right bothers me far less than whitespace on both sides).

    Keep it simple and don’t neglect hosting, upkeep and maintenance costs (including time). If the value is in the content, spending too much time on layout is counterproductive. A standard layout that’s familiar to people from other sites and requires minimal customization and upkeep will probably meet your needs nicely. With your volume of traffic, browser compatibility is a potential issue for you, and that’s another argument for standardizing. We all come here to read your commentary and it would be a shame if you ended up spending all your time on Web site work instead!

    I would like to see a clearer visual distinction between recent posts and links, and clearer differentiation between authors, especially as you like to include contrasting views. Other than that I like things the way they are.

Comments are closed.