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Will You Reboot on May 1st?

cssreboot

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

There’s been an unofficial holiday on the web for the past 6 years or so. It’s called the May 1st reboot and it refers to the date that web designers have chosen as “spring cleaning” day. The day is used to go through websites and apply a new design, or cleanup artifacts that have been left lying around the site. In just a handful of days, the blogosphere will play its own part in the May 1st Reboot and it’s being organized over at CSS Reboot. While I’ve already done my reboot a few weeks early, there are currently 1,319 signed up to participate in the CSS Reboot which offers no rewards save tons of exposure and potential for traffic. From their about page:

The CSS Reboot is a community event for web professionals. May 1st, 2006 at 18:00 GMT Rebooters from all over the world will launch their web standards-based redesigns simultaneously, bringing traffic, interest and a little respect to their sites. There are no prizes or arbitrary winners, just great exposure and the knowledge that we all participated in something great.

Of course, to reboot you don’t have to join up with the official site. Perhaps some spit and shine on your own or grabbing a ready made theme will do nicely.
[Read more…]

Blog Credibility and Blog Design

This post is part of a series of posts on building blog credibility

I know that there is a variety of opinions on the value of blog design within ProBlogger’s readership so this might generate some interesting discussion but in my opinion blog design does matter. It is not the only or even best way to establish credibility as a blogger but it can definitely help.

First impressions count and in a world where there are millions of people pitching themselves on virtually any topic you can think of you need to seriously consider how you’ll stand out from the crowd and present yourself in a way that will draw readers into your blog.

Experience, Expertise, Longevity (and every other principle that I’ll talk about in this series) are great at building credibility once a reader makes a decision to actually explore your blog but there are a few crucial seconds that happen before this decision is made and blog design can play a big part and communicate a lot.

Ask yourself:

  • What does my blog communicate about me?
  • Do the messages I’m trying to convey get lost in the clutter or are they just not there at all?
  • Can people tell within a second or two what my blog is about at a first glance?
  • Does my design fit with the message that I want to convey?

I am not saying that every blog needs a professional design or that we should all spend loads of money and/or time getting our blogs looking right (in fact some bloggers get terribly distracted from the core business of writing quality content by constantly ‘tweaking’ their design) – all I’m arguing is that whether you like it or not people are making judgments about you and your blog every day based on many levels simply based upon how it looks.

Landing Pages for TypePad Blogs

Since writing my post on The Importance of Landing pages last week I’ve had a number of bloggers email asking for advice on how to make them – especially from bloggers not using WordPress (which has a ‘page’ function). Those bloggers using TypePad who want to work with Landing Pages should check out TypePad Hacks who has a post landing pages especially for you.

The Importance of Landing pages on Blogs

Nice post over at Seth Godin’s on “Landing pages” which coincidentally was something I was working a little on this afternoon on one of my blogs.

I’ll let Seth say it because he’s the master of this kind of thing:

‘A landing page is the first page a visitor to your site sees…..

A landing page (in fact, every page) can only cause one of five actions:

  • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)
  • Get a visitor to buy
  • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.
  • Get a visitor to tell a friend
  • (and the more subtle) Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback’

Landing pages on blogs are really important IF you have a desired outcome in mind with your blogs. If you’re blogging aimlessly with no real goals then don’t worry about them.

What I’d recommend bloggers consider are some of the following questions:

  1. What are the goals of your blog? What outcomes do you want of a reader visiting your blog (one or more of the above – or others)?
  2. What pages do most bloggers enter your blog on (most statistics packages will tell you this)?
  3. Are these landing pages optimized for your goals?
  4. If not how can you either change what appears on these landing pages to help you achieve your goals OR how can you get readers to land on other pages that have a better chance of converting?

Here’s a couple of case studies from some of the work I’ve done lately with blogs:

[Read more…]

Akismet for Moveable Type

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

Late last year, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, launched a brash new anti-spam product for blogs called Akismet.  Of course, at the time of launch, I took the product to task but quickly changed my tune as I understood the system better.

When I installed Akismet at Technosailor, I was truly amazed at how well it handled spam.  Literally, I went to maybe one comment a month that needed to be moderated.  That was with no comment moderation enabled (save Akismet’s), and only Akismet installed as an anti-spam plugin.  I was truly amazed.

So when I heard about Akismet being released for Movable Type last week, I had to go check it out (even though I only own a sandbox Movable Type blog).

[Read more…]

Tips for Probloggers from Getting Real – the new e-book by 37 Signals

Hi! This is Rachel Cunliffe. I’m a blog designer from New Zealand and I thought I’d share with you some problogger tips from 37 Signals’ new e-book, “Getting Real” (which is selling very well).

If you haven’t come across 37 Signals’ products such as Basecamp, Backpack, Tada, Writeboard and most recently, campfire, it’s worth your time to find out what they offer. I’m finding Basecamp invaluable for managing my blog design clients.

As I read the e-book I realised that there’s also a lot of insight, encouragement and tips for (pro)bloggers. In fact, 37 Signals recommend their book for anyone who is an entrepreneur, designer, programmer or marketer working on a big idea. Their thoughts echo many of Darren’s posts here at Problogger too.

Here are 10 tips from the book along with some comments. [Read more…]

Movable Type Style Generator

Movable-Type-StyleBlog Herald just pointed to a way to get a simple template for your Movable Type blog at Movable Type Style Generator. You start the process by choosing a layout and then have the ability to adapt it by changing colors.

The layout is pretty simple and not amazing in terms of style but it will be useful for beginner bloggers who want a quick and easy way to get a blog up that doesn’t have a default style.

Simplify your Blog Design for Mobile Viewing

Regular ProBlogger reader – IO ERROR – has written a post titled Give your blog design a spring cleaning which might trigger some interesting discussion. He does so after designing a theme for his blog that can be read on a smart phone or other mobile device and realizing just how poorly designed many blogs are when viewed in this way.

How to Create a Blog Theme from Scratch

ProBlogger.net’s blog designer Rachel Cunliffe has started a series of posts that I’m sure many of you who love to play around with your blog’s templates will enjoy. In her post Creating a blog theme from scratch she outlines where she’d headed with it. Her 7 steps are:

  1. Consulting with the client
  2. Constructing a wire frame
  3. Constructing an initial design idea in Fireworks.
  4. Converting the design into the (WordPress/MovableType) template files
  5. Tweaking the design to suit
  6. Re-addressing the blog’s design after it’s been used for a month or two
  7. Blog maintenance

While I’m no designer (and suspect I never will be) I’m looking forward to reading more on how a pro blog designer does it.