Benefits of a Blog Redesign
Two A-List bloggers have recently overhauled their site design in big ways. Both Problogger Darren Rowse and Dot Com Mogul John Chow went new from top to bottom with their designs. While both bloggers received mixed reactions from their fan base, there are a few perks that come with almost any new design. So, with two high profile examples at my disposal, I figured now would be a great time to discuss the Benefits of a Blog Redesign.
Before we get too far into things, let’s take a look at the designs in question. First up is Darren’s incredibly popular Problogger. He had announced that a redesign was coming and even offered a sneak peak of the new logo but I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for this dramatic change:
Next up is the still fresh, JohnChow.com redesign. John hadn’t, at least in my recollection, hinted much at wanting to redesign the site until earlier this week when he posted a screen shot of a portion of the new header. While it did offer a glimpse into the new design (for instance I knew right away he was going for a wider design), again, I think most of the readers were shocked when they saw the final product:
As I mentioned earlier, both new blog designs were met with somewhat mixed reactions. For example, on John’s site, many people felt that the header was now way too busy and didn’t put enough emphasis on the content. On the other hand, many others gave the new look rave reviews and one reader even mentioned they were so impressed they had already contacted the designer about redesigning their own site. Now that we’ve all seen these snazzy new designs, I’m sure many of us (including myself) are considering giving our site’s a facelift. What are the benefits to be gained? Well I’m glad you asked…
When you visit a website on a regular basis, chances are you’re a fan. When that website then does something as dramatic as a redesign, that’s going to get you talking. These two examples have been perfect examples as both sets of readers have been analyzing, critiquing, and discussing the new looks. People who normally read the content via RSS feeds are making a point of clicking through to check out the new look and feel of the site. Bottom line, after a redesign, whether good or bad, there’s a lot of buzz. Obviously you’d like that buzz to be positive in nature but you’re never going to please everyone.
In the online world we live in, buzz almost always translates into links. While these two redesigns we’re using for examples certainly weren’t done with an eye on linkbait, they’ve turned out to be just that. I’ve read about both new designs on multiple other blogs. Whether people love or hate your new design, chances are they’ll link to your site to when letting their readers know that they love or hate it. Shoot, even this post is an example of this. Again, you’re hoping that the bulk of the links are from positive reviews and people raving over your new look but in the end, the search engines couldn’t care less. In the offline world there’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad press. Well ladies and gents, I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing as bad links. (Note: I really don’t want to get into an SEO debate here, you get my point so roll with it.)
Renewed Ad Exposure
One thing that happens naturally over the course of time is ad blindness. Frequent visitors to your site know where the content is and they’ve probably already seen the ads on your site hundreds of times. Another benefit of a redesign, albeit a somewhat short lived one, is renewed exposure for your ads. It will take a while for your readers to become acquainted with your new look or layout and that means there’s a better chance of your ads catching their attention. As I said, this benefit won’t be all that long lasting but more attention placed on your ads, even for a short time, likely means a quick infusion of cash in your pocket.
Similar to the previous benefit, changing the appearance of your blog can have a very refreshing effect… on you! I don’t know about you but a few days after I put a site up (sometimes quicker) I start to see the little things that I want to change or a few things I’m not real fond of. It’s a bit like painting a room in your house. At first you love it because you’ve got the new color on the walls. As time passes you start to notice spots you missed or didn’t cover well enough. After a while, those little things start to annoy you and a while later they start to drive you nuts. The same thing applies to your blog. You probably loved it for a while but after a bit even the little things can drive you nuts. If you’re struggling with blogging burnout or just can’t stand to work on your site, a redesign might be just what the doctor ordered.
The last benefit I’m going to discuss is the one that’s most obvious. While you can’t see it in my small screen shots above, both the “after” designs are wider than their predecessors. As technology improves and prices drop, more and more people are viewing your site on larger and larger monitors. Not long ago, 800 pixels was the maximum width for your website if you didn’t want your readers to have to scroll to the left or right (and believe me, NO ONE wants to do that). Now, screen resolutions of 1000 pixels wide are common place if not the standard. You should always check out your stats before blowing out the side wall of your design and adding on, however, chances are you can give yourself quite a bit more room to work with. Now, whether that means more ad space or an extra row of navigation or just more room for your content, that’s up to you. Whatever you do with it though, extra space is always nice. Just look at the increasing size of our houses, I mean who doesn’t want to spread out a bit?
So there you have it. While it’s always a good idea to improve your site when you decide to take the plunge and begin a redesign, these benefits accompany just about any new look, whether it’s good or bad. As I mentioned the redesign bug seems to be going around and as you might have guessed, I’ve apparently caught it. I’ve been very happy with the theme from BloggingPro but I feel it’s time for some improvements. A new design is in the works and it will include (finally!) a Blogging Experiment logo as well. I’m not 100% sure when it will roll out but the target is the middle of next week. Now that I think about it, maybe I should make a big event out of it and push the new look out with the post announcing the winner of the Complete Blogging Package contest. We were up to 133 subscribers yesterday but have fallen back into the 120’s today. The goal of 150 is mighty close but if you’d like any of the extra prizes time is running out!
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