Self-challenge: redesign WordPress site

Written on 4 January 2012, 11:28pm

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In March 2008 I started a small WordPress site, targeted for the Romanian audience, where me or some friends of mine were posting things that made us laugh throughout the day. The main goal of this website is mostly to have an online playground, allowing me to have a better perspective of the online media and the associated challenges.

For monetizing the website, I used (in the increasing order of revenues) Google Ads, a Romanian online store referral mechanism and a banner linking to my hosting company. The latter allowed me to have access to a server with a dedicated IP, unlimited bandwidth, space and number of hosted site. All in all, I can say that the website made enough revenue to cover its own expenses.

For the user traffic, August 2011 was the best month, with a number of 65.000 unique users and 185.000 page views. The website saw a redesign in the beginning of 2010 (WordPress theme update), and other small improvements/additions were performed since then.

To finish with the statistics, I will add that at the moment, the website contains almost 5000 posts and 400 comments (averaging to a considerable 100 posts/month or a little over 3 posts per day).

The reasons for the redesign

Enough with the presentation, now details about my self-challenge: the website redesign.
I first thought about this aspect last month, while reading Smashing Magazine’s article Clear Indications That It’s Time To Redesign. Let’s browse through the 5 indicators telling me if it’s the case to redesign or not:

  • It’s Been More Than 12 Months Since Your Last Refresh – Yes
  • The Tech/UX “Debt” List Is Longer Than Your Forearm – Yes
  • It Just “Looks” Old – Not quite (in my opinion 🙂 )
  • Your Users Tell You It’s Time – No
  • Metrics Are Down – Not quite – December 2011 is in top 5 overall

So, only 2/5 indicators tell that I should redesign. This means there is no pressure, and I can take it easy. It’s true, the first indicator tells me that the redesign is long overdue (last redesign was 2 years ago). I entirely agree with the principle behind it: The redesign will breathe life into the brand and show your user base, the press, your investors and staff that you’re committed to keeping the experience fresh and top of mind. But in my defense, I will add that every now and then I added something fresh in the design: a holidays greeting, removing one of the biggest ads and other small but important improvements.

The most important reason why I want to perform the redesign is that I want to put in practice some of the things that I learned over the last 12 months. The web has changed, and HTML5, responsive design or mobile first are no longer fancy buzzwords, but the reality.

In the next post, I will outline the main goals of the redesign. They are too many and I think they deserve a separate post.

A beginner’s guide to start blogging

Written on 6 March 2011, 11:54pm

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So, you know you want to start a new blog, you bought your domain, set up the hosting and are ready to go. You have a lots of ideas about how your blog will look like, what kind of articles will contain, what friends will be in your blogroll. What’s next?
Here is a quick checklist which you will find useful when setting up your blog.

Image credit: Trey Ratcliff – Morning Fog in Jester

1. The content

  • The content is king. You probably know this already: the content is the most important part of your blog. No matter how cool it looks, how many likes you have on facebook – the content is the one that will determine the success or the failure of your blog.
  • Bring value. Quality content doesn’t mean rewriting the same idea with other words. If you found an interesting topic somewhere, don’t write a post to duplicate the content. You have twitter for sharing. On your blog you must express your own opinion: be creative, think about the same topic in other ways.
  • Know your audience. You need to know what is your target audience and tailor your style accordingly.
  • Always spell check your posts. Forgetting or ignoring this is simply unacceptable.