Thursday, February 5, 2015

February Blog Improvements

I recently decided to come back and blog on this site which has been left idle since 2011. Because of this, I felt that I needed a new look and feel that would be more suitable with the current times. I wanted to improve the blog design, layout and navigation. So in the past two weeks I was working to improve my blog somewhat. This will obviously be an ongoing project as I won't have the time to update everything at one go. These are the improvements I’ve done so far:  

Blog design
My previous blog design was implemented sometime in 2010 and I thought a refreshed look was much needed to suit my current style. I cluttered my layout with so many widgets and links to multiple sites that honestly would not benefit anyone who visited my site.

I worked with a designer I found on Etsy and requested for a design that is cleaner and minimalistic. The current design that you see is the new look. What do you think?
I’ve also created different pages with information that is more relevant to the blog’s purpose. Pages I’ve created:
  1. An about page – This page gives a little more detail of who I am and the purpose of my blog.
  2. Policy – When I did research a lot of the bloggers advise that one should have a blog policy featured. My policy page is really a brief outline of my blogging principles and also just a few words to say that the blog content is mine nothing fancy.
  3. 2015 Reads and 2015 Reading Challenges – The whole purpose of my blog is to keep track of my reading habit and connect with other book lovers in the digital sphere. So I thought creating pages of what I’ve read and the status of my reading challenges so far would be of interest to other book lovers. The 2015 Reads page also links all my latest reviews for the year.

Widgets Column
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I use to feature so many widgets on my widget column. I’ve decided to review which widgets would be useful to keep and what should be deleted. I used to have widgets like number of people who visited the site, number of google followers, a live twitter feed, a grab button and also a Shelfari bookshelf that allows people to see the books I’ve read in the past.

First off, I don’t think people care how many visitors and followers you have on your blog except for you.

Secondly, if people wanted to read your Twitter feed or find out how many books you've read, they can follow you on Twitter or Shelfari.

Thirdly, no one wants your grab button or at least I don’t think they ever wanted mine. I assume if people like the content of my blog they can subscribe to my blog via the multiple widgets available to get updates on what I post.

I think the new widget column looks much cleaner than the last one I had. What I feature on the column now is:
  1. About Me –Previously, I blogged under the pseudonym Ms Ulat Buku (don’t ask me why, I just thought it was cool at the time). The updated version of the about me section reflects the real me. It has a short summary of who I am and automatically links to my google+ account and a link to a more detailed background of myself on my About page. I think this is better because all my other social media sites uses my real name and not a pseudonym. Hopefully it makes it easier for people to find me if they wish to link up.
  2. Social media links – the designer I hired designed all my social media links. This link is so much better that featuring my twitter feed or shelfari bookshelf.
  3. Subscribe to - allows visitors to subscribe to my blog and get updates on posts and comments. 
  4. Currently reading, currently listening to widgets – so that visitors know what I’m reading right now.
  5. Archives and a labels widget- so that visitors can click and read what I wrote in the past.

Obviously, there is still much to improve on this 'ol blog of mine. 

For example, I’d like to develop a contact page, add a search widget, post sharing options etc. All this will require some time for me to do. So it will be a slow process but am gonna chronicle all that I do so that I remember what I've learned. 

If you have recommendations on how else I could improve my blog, please do provide some feedback. I’m open to ideas on how I can make my blog nicer and easy to man oeuvre.

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