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Open Reply to Sandy Carter | socialmediasandy.wordpress.com

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Hi Sandy,

I really appreciate all that you do. You are a wonderful person that far exceeds the influence of many, including myself. I became aware of your influence while reading a Gitomer book, Social Boom. After reading the chapter mentioning you, I did simple research to look at your Twitter profile and blog.

The Twitter profile started with more tweeting than I'm used to but apparently you were at a function requiring the amount of tweets. I didn't have time to thoroughly consume at the moment so I saved it until the next day. When looking again I was surprised to see you announced a redesign of your blog. Further you asked for opinions.

Being a semi-pro and having gone through this process numerous times with clients, I was hoping you'd allow me to offer a friendly critique.

Here's the current design:

start

It's certainly function but there are areas of improvement that I'd like to list out and show progression with explanation.

BACKGROUND

The current background is black with white lettering. I suggest to reverse it to a white background with black text. The issue is that people have a hard time reading white text on black background. I probably could link to a usability article explaining this or some stats that could offer numbers to help support the decision but I'm unable to provide this at the moment.

Examples would be any media outlet such as cnn.com or yahoo.com. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a significant media outlet without a white background and black text.

Here's the result of changing the background:

backgroung

WIDTH

The current width is 1280 pixels. I think it's a fluid design. I suggest to narrow this down to a standard of 960 pixels. The issue is that people have a hard time reading text the stretches too far across the screen. They lose the line and have to start at the beginning of the line again. Think in terms of a paperback book. It's easy to read because the width isn't too long.

Here's the result of changing the width:

width

SIDEBAR

The current sidebar is the same color as the main body. To break it up, I suggest changing the color. In this case, we'll keep the same blue as the current blue (#002A53) and reverse the text to white. This works because people aren't reading the text as much as they are scanning the text.

Here's the result of changing the sidebar:

sidebar

FONT SIZE

The current paragraph font size is 12px. I suggest raising this to 15px. While 12px is plainly accepted, the issue is that people have a harder time reading text that is small. Enlarging the text allows your readers to have an easier time reading the blog.

Along the same lines, the title font size is 18px. I suggest raising this to 38px. The issue is that having a small title font size doesn't break up the blog posts enough for the readers. Having a larger title font size allows for readers to easily determine between the articles.

Here's the result of changing the font size:

font_size

ARTICLES ON A PAGE

Currently, there are numerous articles on a single page. I suggest limiting the number of articles to 10 per page. The issue is that people have trouble finding an article in a long page. Limiting the articles to 10 per page allows the readers easily digest newer articles from older articles.

REMOVING UNNECESSARY ITEMS

Currently there are a few unnecessary items on the page. For example, the menu bar below the header. If it doesn't serve a purpose, I suggest removing it.

Here's the result of removing the menu bar:

menubar

PICTURE & YOUTUBE SIZES

Currently the pictures and youtube videos are all different sizes. I suggest keeping all the photos and youtube videos the same size... say 550px. This serves the purpose of having a uniform layout and is pleasing to the eye.

The result of having all the photos the same size is above.

OTHER ITEMS

There are items I may suggest. For example, you like to have your picture in the header. In truth, most people don't like to see it. Not that it's unimportant, it's just that you may think it's more important than the reader thinks.

The header may be a tad bit smaller as well. This goes with the classic story of an ad agency with a client who always says, "Make the logo bigger." It truth, as above, most people don't think it's that important.

I'd be more interested in redesigning the header. The image is kinda weak and the words blend into the background.

CONCLUSION

All of these items together help give the reader the impression that you're serious about your blog. After all you only have 50 milliseconds to make a good impression.

Take care and thank you for allowing me to hand a friendly critique to hopefully strengthen your web presence.