Splashpress Media

The Blog Herald Gets a Facelift

Posted on Mar 16, 2009


The Blog Herald has evolved through many design changes since its inception in 2003. As it says in the about page:

Duncan Riley, the site’s founder, first had the site on a design inspired by the then homepage of the Movable Type blogware. Version two was launched later that year and took on a new three column standard blog layout and started to develop more commentary and included for the first time new contributors. Version three was launched in March 2004 in what saw a period of “The Blog Herald” portal which moved away from a standard “blog” look to embrace the look of a blogging portal, fresh with separate events features and separate topic headings. Editorial developed during this period and started to become a core feature of the site, as did further self help tips and other advice for bloggers.

Version 4 was launched in October 2004 and saw a return to a more traditional blog layout and the adoption of WordPress as the blogware of choice.

Version 5 was launched in June 2006 and saw The Blog Herald rebranded with more of a newspaper look and feel. The design was completed by Chris Pearson.

Version 6 was launched in May 2007 with a new design by Brian Gardner. Along with the redesign came a re-conceptualization of the Blog Herald to focus more on the different facets of blogging. The new grid layout also highlighted columns and opinion pieces, while providing a regular stream of news and other updates.

The current version was launched in August 2008 by Thord Daniel Hedengren, editor of the Blog Herald.

And so we’re at it again 🙂 We have been brainstorming for a few months now how we could better organize the flow of content on the homepage in such a way to highlight the various “series” of featured posts that we run weekly such as: Lorelle’s WordPress News, Billy’s Movable Type Mondays, Jonathan’s legal advice or Dee’s Sunday Morning SEO. We felt that our readers would want to quickly access these popular “series”, despite the tag system we recently introduced and the usual category navigation and we wanted to add such highlighting in a way that also broke up the monotony in terms of the “rolling out” of posts, with news or such categories as editorials mixed up. And we hoped to push the guides in a more prominent way. The largest change we decided on was obviously shifting the design from a 3 column into a 2 column and getting rid of all the “clutter” by doing away with the left sidebar. This is all part of an evolving plan to keep the Blog Herald fresh with a cutting edge look and feel!

Thord announced the first phase of the current design upgrade at the end of last month:

You might’ve noticed that things are looking a bit different here today. If not, then you’re probably reading in your RSS reader or need to clear your web browser cache (Ctrl+F5 in Windows or Cmd+R in OS X usually does it).

So what’s new in this upgrade?

  • Three headline posts on the front page.
  • Popular series graphic pushed to the right of the headlines.
  • Wider content columns, perhaps not ideal for reading (fine-tuning will follow), but great for images.
  • Sidebar cleanup.
  • The hot topic tag listings have moved from top left, to the sidebar.

There’s more to do, however, In fact, there are two more phases in this design upgrade. The second one should roll out next week, and involves the Guides section. This is one of the reasons I’ve decided to widen the content column: To fit better descriptive images.

Please report any bugs or weirdness in the comments. Hopefully there won’t be that many of them, but surely some. And if you, like me, think that the top of the front page look a bit messy right me, don’t worry. This should work better when phase 2 rolls out.

Thord then followed this up last week with the announcement of the second phase of the design upgrade:

If you’re reading this in a feed reader, do visit and take a look at the design upgrade.

As you can tell, the site just got upgraded again. You might want to make sure you don’t see cached stuff right now, by reloading the page (Ctril+R or Ctrl+F5 in Windows, Cmd+R in OS X). If things look weird, you might need to close your web browser, or clear your cache any other way.

Right, so what’s new in this second phase of the Blog Herald design upgrade?

First of all, there’s been some tweaking since phase 1, and there most likely will be on phase 2. Things happen, things come up, and things could always get better, so do share your thoughts in the comments below so that we can make this a nice upgrade.

This is new in phase 2:

  • The Guides section got a bit of a brushup. We’ll highlight popular series on the page, as well as possibly do some other things to help you get the best of the archives..
  • Also, Guides posts are presented to the right of the featured post section. That means we won’t have Guides posts as featured posts, they get excellent exposure anyway.
  • Search moved to the menu bar.
  • Ads were added to the front page, below the authors list in the sidebar.
  • We’ve removed a lot of ads on post pages. Some might come back, but hopefully we can continue to keep it this clean.

That’s about it. Some small fixes as I said, but those are the main things. Do share your thoughts in the comments, we’re always happy to hear what our readers think, and I personally want to make your visits her enjoyable both content and design-wise.

Phase 3 is as much of a content addition as it is a design upgrade. It is a week or two away though.

As Thord mentions, the third phase of the design upgrade will be about adding content as well as design changes. These include a “resources” section which will include: information and updates on blog conferences, to be managed by Easton Ellsworth using a Google Calendar, a “network” information category featuring all the best affiliate and ad programs for bloggers, a page on recommended web hosting for bloggers with genuine, personal reviews and feedback (rather than just pushing ones to make a commission!), a ping list, a blog platform comparison category and a section on the various services for the problogger.

There’s lots more to come of course, but this is a start…..;-)

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