January 27, 2010

Deposit Comment Cards Here!

I've had this blog up and running for roughly three weeks now.  According to Google Analytics, apparently there are 60-70 of y'all who stop by on a fairly regular basis, which is at least 3-4 times what I expected this early in the process.  Hopefully I've entertained you to some degree!

I openly admit I am a novice with what a lot of bloggers take for granted when it comes to formatting and web design.  A lot of formatting and design have turned out to be pretty intuitive, or can be learned by following examples from a variety of sources, or by simple trial and error.  But I appreciate your patience with me as I get things squared away.

All that being said, I certainly welcome comments and suggestions from readers as to things they don't like, or things they think could be improved upon with this blog.  The layout and design features you see now were essentially selected by me after a lot of trial and error, with the final product being simply what looked good to my eye.  But, that doesn't mean the rest of you agree with my decisions.

In a recent post, an anonymous commentor posted the following suggestion:

Hint: This black text on dark grey background doesn't work very well on some displays.
My response was:
What kind of displays are you referencing? I've viewed the blog on four different computers (all using IE7 or IE8), and my iTouch (presumably Safari?), and have not noticed a problem. I went with the current color scheme in part because I felt it was less stressful to the eye than the usual "black on white" set up. But if readability is a common problem, I would be happy to play around with the color schemes and see if I can improve readability.
I would welcome any other comments or suggestions as to layout and design flaws any of you may find.  For example:
  • Readability
  • Location of page elements
  • Color scheme
  • Font type / size
  • Common blog widgets not in use you would like to see added
  • Blog widgets in use that you dislike
  • Linking issues
  • Whatever else annoys you (besides my writing style--you're stuck with that)
I'm designating this blog post as my "official" Comment Box for all non-content related suggestions and complaints.  Since I am somewhat a newbie with tech stuff, if your comment is technical in nature or requires a technical fix, please be as specific as possible in providing me as much technical detail as you may know, or a suggestion as to resources I can consult to better understand the issue.

All suggestions and criticisms are welcome--if I don't know something bugs you, I can't fix it.  Of course, I may or may not act on your suggestions. Please do not be offended if I decline a particular suggestion; at the end of the day, it still is my blog, and I have to be satisfied with the final product that y'all see.

Thanks again in advance for all of your suggestions!


  1. Not the original readability commenter, but I have a tough time with this on my work laptop with privacy filter. (I have a similar problem with other low contrast stuff there).

    Other displays aren't a problem.

  2. I'd much prefer to be able to read posts right in my RSS feed, rather than having to click through to get past the first paragraph.

  3. I'll second Rakewell. Please change the RSS feed to show the full post.

  4. I mostly read the start of your posts in an RSS feed too. If you use Feedburner, you can gather stats on that as well. Full text renderings rock.

  5. Thanks for the feedback so far. With respect to readability, I will try to adjust background and text colors this weekend to see if I can find something more readable to all users that still looks the way I like.

    As for the RSS feed issue, I have a couple of questions. I looked at Feedburner, and it wants me to select a format: Atom or RSS. Which is preferable and why?

    Also, with respect to single page views, my posts currently have a standard "read the rest here" format since I tend to write longer posts. Can I keep this option yet have an RSS/Atom/Feedburner feed that doesn't make readers click through to a new page to read the rest of the post? If so, how do I set this up? I really would prefer to keep the "read the rest here" option for my blog main page if at all possible.

    Thanks again, and please keep sending comments and ideas!

  6. Following up on the feed of full posts, I found a setting for "short" and "full" feeds within the Blogger settings. I have adjusted the setting to permit "full" feeds. Hopefully this helps with the RSS feed issue identified above by several comments. I will also keep looking into Feedburner, and will likely add that function in the next few days.

  7. I'd second the comments on the color scheme. I find the burgandy on grey to be a bit straining.

    Also, I'd like to see the whole post, and not click through to read one more paragraphs. Maybe if you widened the post text window a bit, or shifted the margins (i.e. about me or the #taserlist) so they were only on one side, it would be less busy. Maybe think about the simplicity of the Google homepage. Plus, when the inevitable ads come, things will be more crowded (although I know it is not your focus).

    Think of CK's posts, which also tend to run on the long side...

    Otherwise, I really enjoy the content...

  8. I like the way you write, very interesting and funny too. I agree color scheme has got to change, margins too. Great start though,


  9. I guess I'm the only one who likes the color scheme you already have. Something to do with my nocturnal lifestyle, I guess. Dark is good ;)

  10. First, thanks for all the feedback. Please keep dropping by to follow up on things you've already posted, or to post new things you've noticed.

    Now, on to the comments so far. Although I like the grey/burgundy/black sort of scheme I've been using, I can certainly understand the annoyance of poor readability. So, since the longest posts I'll have will be the main posts, I have adjusted the background grey color by three shades lighter. You will note the side list background colors have remained the same, but are now darker than the main post in the middle (the reverse was previously true). I've also changed the comment box colors by making the text black and the background color lighter (while still allowing for some contrast).

    Those of you who have noticed readability issues, please let me know whether these changes helped. If so, I'll lighten up the lowerbar color scheme a bit as well.

    As for the margins, that will take a little more effort. I went with this template as it gave me a lot of flexibility (particularly compared to the basic templates provided by Blogger), but I'm less than thrilled with the size of the main post column. Unfortunately, my HTML editing skills are very basic at this point, so adjusting margins/layout in this template will probably be difficult. However, I have found another template with a better layout, which is essentially much the same as the current template, but eliminates the narrow right column and expands the main post area to the right. However, it has a few features I'm not really thrilled with. I'm going to play around with it this weekend to see if I can mix and match layout elements from the two templates to create a template I like. If not, I may have to keep looking for a better template.

    As for the RSS feed issue, as noted above, I adjusted the settings in Blogger to allow "full" feeds. I should be posting something this evening, so please let me know if that adjustment has fixed the issue. I am still looking at Feedburner, and I'm leaning toward adding that option. Of course, I'm assuming I'm understanding how to do it correctly, which may turn out not to be the case.

    Finally, with respect to the page jump function on most of my posts, this is a tough issue. As a writer, I do have the tendency to never use two paragraphs when six will do, so most of posts will go on at some length. I try never to have a jump to a page with only one paragraph. Maybe this issue will be alleviated with a new template. Also, I may look at switching to a smaller font, though again that raises a possible readability issue.

    So there's where I'm at in the revision process. Again, thanks for comments and suggestions, and feel free to post more of them.

  11. Well, that was easier than I had imagined. I've revised the layout to essentially eliminate one column of gadgets and use that space for posts. I like the new layout a little better than the previous one, a little less cluttered. On the other hand, it pushes a lot of stuff further down the page. I'll probably need to move things around a little more before I'm happy. Let me know what you think.

  12. IMO, the lighter background helps.

  13. This site would look better if you took all the ugly ass huskers stuff off of it!!!

    Just a suggestion

  14. Following up again, I think the current layout and color scheme have met with enough approval that I will leave them in place for the time being. Please continue providing comments, though, as I will re-evaluate again in a few weeks.

    I have also switched over to Feedburner for those of y'all who want to subscribe. I'm not certain if earlier subscribers will need to "resubscribe" via Feedburner or not. I did set the Blogger option to reroute feeds via Feedburner, so maybe that takes care of things automatically. From my view of the Feedburner feed, subscribers should be getting full posts now, rather than short intros.

    As for the Huskers "stuff", it is amazingly cool and will remain in place. The Blackshirts are back, baby!

    As always, still open to additional comments, criticisms, and suggestions. Fire away!

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