Help me improve my blog design (be nice!)

Nothing is perfect. But like most people would, I was insanely proud of the current design for my blog when I released it, and I thought it was perfect.

A bit over a year later, I’m noticing bugs, or thinking about how I can improve the overall UX – that is, user experience ;) – of my blog. But instead of doing an overhaul and just deploying something totally different, I’m going to do this incrementally, pushing small changes every now and then, and I need your help.

As someone with a data science background, Nick made me get bloody Google Analytics up on my blog again, something I deleted a few years ago because I didn’t care about stats. :P (Considering my work history, that’s probably a big no-no…) So now, let’s just say I care about stats. And caring about stats means that I’m going to make small changes here and there, and see how they affect things. It means that I know whether my work is (or isn’t) making a difference, which makes me a better designer/developer/engineer, right?

(Nick, I give you permission to butcher this post and change my words if I am incorrect.)

So I’m going to come right out and admit that I have had some constructive feedback from my visitors so far, as well as from myself:

  • The teal is too bright.
  • The layout is too “blocky”.
  • No search bar on mobile.
  • Formatting should be disabled on search results.
  • The archives page is massive.
  • Too much pink.
  • Post summaries are too long.
  • Contact form was hard to locate.

It’s just a quick list, but I am working to improve all of these. I am sure there are other issues or bugs that you may have noticed but felt afraid to point out.

A while ago, when more people visited my blog (and I did have GA, haha), someone who had recently chatted with me thought I was a snobby know-it-all from the way I wrote, and were pleasantly surprised to find that I was really a nice person who actually interacted with fellow bloggers. So what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to let me know what you think, even if it isn’t entirely positive. I’m not inviting you to start hating on me though. :P

Even though I am welcoming criticism, you are free to let me know what you like as well. I’m looking at this from a design/development point of view, but if you have comments about what I write, and really enjoy reading certain segments over others, let me know. I value your opinions and want to address any pain points you might have.

My goal for July is to give my blog a new look and feel, but without completely changing everything. I’ve decided to keep some form of the teal for branding purposes, and because a lot of people have associated that particular colour with my blog.

So like I said – small changes – because a little goes a long way. ;) Let’s discuss in the comments!

Comments on this post

Oh exciting! :D I really like the design you have, it works great on my work computer, home computer (one’s a pc and one is a mac with retina display) and my iPhone and iPad. The pink is cute too. I think people are so focused on everything looking similar thinking it looks nice but yours is unique and I like it a lot. The one thing is the contact form though, I can see why that comment was made. :) Hope this venture goes great for you!

Thank you so much! I have a retina MBP myself. ;) Nick said he loves the iPad/tablet view (the one without the sidebar) so I am trying to make my whole layout a bit cleaner like that.

My main thing with websites right now is legibility. Small fonts, poor visibiity colour, narrow line height, and lack of paragraphs will all drive me crazy and will turn me away from a site quicker than saying “hi”. If I cannot read a website, I will leave.

Thankfully your site is easy to read, has a good colour scheme, and is pretty well-organised. I don’t find your site to be blocky at all, but that’s just me :)

I really cannot point out any constructive criticism about your blog . . . if I ever do need to point something out, I will let you know!

I guess that’s the downside of blogging for so many years – a massive archives page! I use a collapsible system for my archives which does save a lot of space, and then the visitor only has to look at the months they want to look at.

I really like this layout, and I’ve always admired your work designing websites, so it’s hard for me to find anything wrong or that I don’t like about this current layout. If I’m being picky I might say that the colour of the text used in the sidebar for your bio is a little hard to read against the teal background, but nothing else really stands out to me as an issue.

I used to have a collapsible system, but because I had way too many posts for it to handle, it would take a while to load the JavaScript, so I ended up displaying it all in one go. I’m thinking of listing categories and years/months.

Thanks Holly! I do have to agree that because the teal is so bright, it is hard to get a good text colour for that area without making it look like massively high contrast. I think my sidebar fails accessibility tests because there isn’t enough contrast between background and text! :P

I actually love this layout, maybe because I like the teal colour. I agree with Holly, though about the side bar thing. Your headings in the sidebar could have been highlighted in a better way!

I am really looking forward to the new layout (and I hope I finish my own layout as well!)

Thank you! The teal is gonna be hard to let go of, so I’m happy to say that it will stay. I definitely agree that the sidebar is a bit hard to read, and I have had similar opinions on that, so I’ll try and make it better for sure. :) Good luck with your own new layout!

I really don’t see anything wrong, except for the teal on teal background for the bio. That’s about it. Your designs have come along ways, just like most of us have.

I really like the set up of your layout. I think that you made the most of all of the space on the screen which is great, and sometimes difficult, across browsers.
I do agree that colors are a little bright but I could never say too much pink. You’re extremely talented!

Thank you Danielle! The brightness seems to be a common opinion so I’m happy to work on that. I have to admit I am not a big fan of pink myself, but I know others have favoured it… I will find a way to make it all work. XD

Perhaps [some, if not all of] the bugs are due to some of the recent updates to WordPress? The one I have for What Liz Eats at the moment needs fixing/replacing, thanks to the release of 4.0, or whatever number it was. I can’t keep up anymore. :s

I actually sort of like the blockiness (unless that doesn’t mean the use of squares, in which case… I don’t know what it is) of it all, but if it were mine, for example, I probably wouldn’t want the columned footer, mostly because it feels rather uneven, and I am… well, I like things that are even. I think the contact form would be difficult to find if I wasn’t a regular visitor. The teal-on-teal is pretty, but it isn’t sensitive eyes-friendly, as I do have a difficult time reading the words sometimes. But really… I know what the footer and sidebar says by now, so… I kind of just know where everything is now?

I also like the use of pink; it feels rather bubblegum-y to me—like, if I gave you this music video, I feel like this is what would be thrown up? Heh. XD

The only thing that feels off to me is the featured image, because it’s small, whereas the blog title is larger. I mean, it’s not bad, and I don’t know how it could be improved?

But again, I know what the text says now, so that no longer bothers me. I liked this theme a slight bit more than your red theme, which… well, that one is hard to compete with, methinks. >.>

(And I also personally favored the post summaries’ lengths? I dislike when they’re so short you can’t work out what the post will be about at least a little bit, but… blah. I like the lengths you have. Kind of envy you for it, actually.)

I have actually never had a problem when updating WordPress. It has never affected my site negatively, and I upgrade with confidence every time. Most of the bugs I mentioned are my own fault, stemming from the development of my theme or something I just implemented in the first place.

That said, I have to admit the footer was a little rushed and I didn’t think it through, which is why the text in the footer is a bit useless. As I mentioned in one of my previous replies, the teal-on-teal fails an accessibility test for readability, so I’m aware it is quite harsh on the eyes. When I built it, I didn’t think I would be putting much text in there at all, so it acted as a sort of fail-safe for not having a sidebar (ha).

The featured image really is only meant to be a small thumbnail to add some kind of interest to the header section. In my defence, it was supposed to be twice the size but I reduced it to cater for retina displays as I had not considered it for the post thumbnails at the time. I would not go back and change all the thumbnails for all my posts just to make them bigger… that is a mistake I made in the first place, though I would consider writing some logic to pull in a large image or photograph from the post if there is one.

I find that the red theme is a bit hard to compare with because it was also exceptionally different – not just in terms of colour but in terms of style and what I prioritised for the content. I made the thumbnails quite prominent, as well as the site title, and it was bold and I didn’t want to display that much in terms of content. I want to display more this time, so this is why I’ve reached out – I’ve got a bit of a clash between the information architecture/design and how I imagine the visual design, and on top of that, considering UX. It’s good to get opinions. :) But like you said, it’s possible that others may simply be used to how my website looks.

To be honest, I find that the post summaries depend on the written content itself. I have sometimes struggled to find a good breaking point for the text, whereas in other situations I find something good to write.

I’ve loved this design from the moment you put it up, but I might be biased as turquoise is my favorite color (I find this more turquoise than teal). I cloned the Github repo and poked around the source at one point.

I can’t really offer any criticism. I’m not a fan of pink, but the amount of it is reasonable to me, as is the shade. I don’t think the overall color is too bright but maybe it’s overwhelming because there is so much of it. I’m guilty of preferring minimal, mostly white designs lately, though.

As for the archives page, is it necessary to have a list of every single post? When you have that many, I think a list of categories and tags is most important and perhaps a list of either your favorite or the most popular entries.

Hope that helps, even if I can say overall I’ve liked this design very much. :)

I think a lot of people are loving the colour, but I have to admit that since day one, I felt like there was heaps of bright turquoise going on. It’s good that you don’t have much criticism but I was hoping you did. :P I’m not a fan of pink either, but I did base the colours off a poster that had pink in it, so I went along with it. I’m hoping to use a white background for the sidebar and include the turquoise in small amounts.

If you have anything to suggest from a coding point of view, feel free to send me a pull request. ;)

You’re right, I don’t think it’s necessary to have all the posts listed. I definitely want to bring more attention to some of the categories, and maybe just the last ten or so posts is enough. For the past two years I have picked out some favourite posts so it might be worth linking to those on the archives page too.

Thanks for your suggestions Hannah!

Glad to help! I’m finally really getting into Git and Github so maybe I will submit a pull request, who knows. :P I know for sure the theme(s) for my blog(s) are going on there too!

I have to say also, I’ve been using SASS and I can’t believe I didn’t use it before. I’m not afraid of the command line but I’ve been using CodeKit and I love that I don’t really have to do anything but hit save.