You might have noticed that the Big Bad Blog has undergone a recent redesign.
Now we are here with the redesigned site — hopefully, bigger, badder and better than we were before.
If you are a long time fan of the Big Bad Blog, you might be asking why we would make a change to our beautiful home.
Truth be told, we were fond of the old layout, but it was beyond time for a change. The idea that I should redesign actually first occurred to me over a year ago, when I read this piece by Adam P. Knave. In it, he posits that websites ought to go through a redesign approximately every year.
It was pretty much the Big Bad Blog’s first birthday when I read that, and the proximity of our anniversary caused it to resonate. I had been looking at the same design for a year, which is a long time in Internet-land. But I had work trips coming up, followed by Karen’s pregnancy — there simply was no time for a redesign.
The thought of redesign was shelved.
But now the blog is two years old. That’s a very long time on the Internet. And while the old design had aged better than many, it was getting stale and I was itching to make a few other modifications. So a new design was born.
What has changed?
The big question, of course, is what has changed. Beyond the basic layout, of course.
We used to have a few Google Ads in the sidebar here. They were here because of a delusion — we have been cured of the delusion, and they have disappeared.
The delusion, of course, is that the ads might offset the cost of the site. While it is not expensive to keep the Big Bad Blog up and running, we do have costs. The hope of paying for domain renewal, or even hosting costs for a year has kept Google Ads in the sidebar for approximately eighteen months.
The reality is that we are a small website, without a well defined topic that ensures that people who might want to buy hiking boots, airplane tickets, or trivia board games might actually visit the site and click on an ad. The amount Google owes me slowly ticks upwards, of course, but the minimum £60 to pay out is still over a year away at the present pace.
On top of that, the ads mar the layout — moreso in this new style than the old one — and are too often for things that I would not care for my readers to purchase, and the statistics from Google Ads push me to write for things that “make money” rather than things that I enjoy writing about.
So, no more.
The ads have never paid for the space they occupy, so they are gone. They should never have been.
Comments are now threaded!
Seriously, people. I have been meaning to add threaded comments for years, but have only got around to it now. I am still not happy with the comment section for the blog, but this alone improves it massively. There are a short list of things that I kind-of-but-not-really want:
- The ability to vote comments up and down
- The ability to comment using any of the following:
- Your Facebook account
- Your Twitter account
- Your Open ID
The question with the first option is whether I do this for the articles as well, or just the comments. I love seeing what people enjoy, and lurkers are far more likely to hit a thumbs-up than leave a comment. On the other hand, that might take away from my new Facebook button, which would actually share my writing with more people, which would be an even better thing.
For the second option — I hesitate to use Facebook Connect. It requires that I have a Facebook Application, which reads some of your public information. I have no reason to access it, but it still seems a bit crass. And, on top of that, if you were trying to delete your Facebook account, accessing the Big Bad Blog would inadvertently re-open your account. Seriously. I hate that.
So, halfway through installing Facebook Connect, I stopped. The current commenting system allows you to paste in your Facebook URL, if that’s what you want. People from Facebook can comment. So we left that out. And then wondered at the point of including Twitter and other options.
So for now, those have been left out. Leave a comment if you feel cheated by this — the options are out there.
We ever so briefly had the Disqus commenting system enabled here, but I didn’t like it much, and it seemed like a bit of a shortcut to the functionality actually desired. So … nested comments, that will get a thumbs up option soon. Just let me know (in the comments) if you want to be able to “like” the posts themselves.
Social media integration
We used to have this cute little set of icons at the bottom of each post, courtesy of Sexy Bookmarks. They were great — little animated icons that would allow you to share our content using various tools in any and every corner of the web.
Only problem was that nobody used them.
Seriously. Not a single button-push other than me testing them because I was worried they did not work.
On reflection, we believe that Sexy Bookmarks does not mesh well with the way in which people use social media. For instance, I submit things to StumbleUpon occasionally — using the toolbar I installed on my web browser. I’ve submitted things to Reddit the same way. I tweet things (using Tweetdeck). And so on. In fact, it seems to me that most people who are active on these sites are not going to use them. They certainly did not use them here.
So those links are gone. In their place is a handy Facebook Like button, which (if you are currently logged on to Facebook) works just like liking things on Facebook itself. And a Twitter button, which is mostly a counter, but can be used as a shortcut to Tweeting about articles here, if that’s what you like.
The hope is that the more familiar icons and reduction of choice actually gets more people participating.
Saturday’s “weekend coffee” post will be the last of its kind.
We will probably do an occasional one on Christmases and Halloweens and the like. But it’s mostly gone.
And as of last week, the morning coffee has a new format that includes fewer links and a bit more typing. We like it that way. Don’t diss it.
The rest of the Big Bad Blog remains as it ever was — four posts each week, on whatever I think is important enough (or funny enough, or interesting enough) to bother to write about. Far too many of these will be bad, but we hope there will still be an occasional gem in the mix.
Is that all?
For now, yes. But we are still ironing out a few things, such as the make-up of the menus and the composition of sidebar. While we fiddle, inspiration could strike, and things could take a quick turn to the left.
We need to do something a bit more interesting with the 404 page.
We also invite you to give feedback in the comments — some of you people out there reading are far better at this so-called “design” stuff than we are — any idea that seems to have the remote possibility of being good or interesting will be considered.
But the bulk of the changes are in place. Let us know how you feel in the comments …