Behind the Scenes of My Redesigned Blog

This last August I visited Atlanta to interview Andy Stanley about his new book. While I was on the North Point Community Church campus, I called John Saddington, who is on Andy’s staff, and invited him to a spur-of-the-moment lunch. To my delight he was available.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mariusFM77, Image #4940465

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mariusFM77

John is a tech wizard. His company, Milk Engine, designed my first WordPress blog last February and successfully moved me from TypePad, my previous platform. This was no trivial matter. But thanks to his good work, my Web traffic more than doubled in six months.

While we were having lunch, John suggested—to my surprise—that I should consider doing another re-design. He explained, “I think we have both learned so much in the last several months. I’d like to put it to good use. I think your readers will like it.”

Sidebar: My personal philosophy is that if you aren’t continually reinventing yourself, your company, and your brand, it’s only a matter of time before you become obsolete, irrelevant, or go out of business. So, something about what John said, resonated with me. Plus, I just like change.

Part of the reason, I like working with John is because he let’s me roll up my sleeves and help. I am a wannabe designer and weekend coder, so it’s kind of like going on a fishing trip with a professional guide. I get to do some fun stuff, knowing that if I get in over my head, I have someone to rescue me.

Planning

A few weeks after we met, Gail and I went to Florida on vacation. I used this time to plan out the new design—not the details, just the big picture. I wanted to accomplish three things:

  1. Simplify the design, making it less cluttered.
  2. Provide a way for new readers to discover my existing content.
  3. Maintain continuity with the previous design and keep the best features.

In a nutshell, I wanted something evolutionary not revolutionary.

To convey my vision for the blog, I created a “wireframe design” for John using Apple Keynote. Admittedly, this is a strange tool to use for this purpose. Normally designers use something like Adobe Photoshop. However, I am intimately familiar with Keynote, and it allowed me to create without letting the tools get in the way. (You can click here and download the PDF if you are so inclined.)

Design and Development

Next, John collaborated with his creative team and, with my design goals in mind, came back to me with several options. We discussed each one, debating the pros and cons. I showed them to a few people whose design judgment I trust. I went back and forth a few times with John and then finalized the design.

Over the next few weeks, John began coding. Rather than starting from scratch, he strategically choose a template from WooThemes that had some of the elements I wanted to incorporate. This saved me a good deal expense and minimized the time for complete development.

We set up a separate server as a test site. We replicated my existing blog and then John began transforming it. Amazingly, within a few weeks, he had a basic working prototype. It was fun to log into the site and see the work progress.

At this point, we discovered that a few things I had envisioned weren’t going to work out. Either the technology was too complicated or the design was at odds with my original goals. Regardless, we adjusted as we went, until we had it something we were excited about.

Testing

In order to finish the site out, we had to move it to the live site. This meant taking my current site down and letting my readers know that we would be working behind the scenes. John found a clever countdown landing page that allowed us to update our progress in real time.

This was the most time intensive part of the process for me. We had to stress test all the components and adjust the style sheet on the fly as we worked through the archives. It’s amazing how many different style elements you use in just one blog. “Nested lists” (e.g., bulleted lists within numbered lists) gave us some fits, but we eventually worked through it.

The main challenge was to download new images for my most popular posts. We went from three columns to two, which made the main content will bigger (570 pixels wide compared to 430 pixels in the previous version). You can size images down, but it’s difficult to enlarge them without distortion. I still have a good deal of work to do here, but I have the rest of the week off to work on it.

Launch

As I have written previously, there eventually comes a time when you have to launch. That time for me is NOW. I am sure we will go through a few more tweaks, but I am very happy with the overall design and especially enjoyed the process. John is absolutely great at what he does and is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with.

Question: What do you think? What do you like? What do you think still needs work? Be honest. I can handle it!
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  • http://www.brianbaute.com Brian Baute

    Thanks for letting us peak inside your process. Some great leadership on display too, as always.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    Looks great. I'm a fan! It's so clean and easy to navigate. I found myself watching the slider as all ten post in the scrolled through – to see what was featured.

    Glad you jumped off the cliff!
    My recent post Fa La La La La

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Lindsey. Unfortunately, the site is running a little slow at the moment. Supercache is caching all the pages behind the scenes. We have a little more clean-up to do, but we're getting there!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    Congrats on the relaunch. Thanks for giving us an inside look at the process. For those of us who don't remember all the elements on the previous design of your site, can you list what's changed? I'd be curious to know what specifically you've added/removed/changed/ moved in order to accomplish each of the 3 goals you set out to accomplish.
    My recent post 10 Things I Learned from the Online Church Blog Series

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Sure. Here's a brief list:

      • Went from three columns to two
      • Updated the logo
      • Changed main body font from sanserif to serif
      • Added a "Featured Posts" carousel
      • Added "pull quotes"
      • Added more white space, so everything feels less cluttered

      There were a dozen other minor things but those are the major ones.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

    Great design. You did evolve it and not revolutionize it. I was hoping that would be your goal.

    1. I expected the first feature article to be the most recent blog post. I know the blog posts are just south of the featured item block. That's a hard balance I go between myself. One minute I like it, the next minute, not so much.

    2. Your twitter feed it below your advertisements. My thought is that community / connection should always come before advertisements. I'd put it below the popular posts block.

    3. The quote on "Abba Joseph" that is "on mystery" strikes me as weird. Quotes are fun to add to a site (inspirational, educational) but that one seems out of place.

    4. I miss your photo at the top. The blog has your name. But it's not until i scroll down the page (below the fold) that I see anything about you.

    5. The search option should either be near the top (below the twitter/feed icons) or at the bottom. Anything in between makes it hard to find.

    Pro's:
    1. I like the white border all around – gives a clean look.
    2. I like two-columns.
    3. Blog post ideas have always had a nice structure (blog/link love/related posts/comments) and I'm glad you've kept that.

    A bit of a warning perhaps…the featured posts at the top…how often will those change? Is it automated? In short, you could have the same 10 featured articles for three months and that can indicate to visitors your content has become stale.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your comments. A few thoughts:

      I am still not sure how I will use the Featured Posts. I'm still trying to get used to it myself and playing with it.

      We almost took the Twitter feed out entirely, since my most recent Twitter post is at the top of the page. It definitely won't go ahead of advertisements—unless Twitter starts paying me. ;-)

      The quotes are randomized, so whatever is in the Resource category and is tagged Quote will appear there. That is a strange one, but part of who I am.

      All my old photos are on my About page. I just felt like they were a bit too much for the home page. Check it out and see what you think.

      Good input on the search box. Maybe we will put it at the top of the sidebar, directly under the social icons.

      Thanks again for your input. I appreciate the candid feedback.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

        Ah, advertising.. :)

        What if you used a single static photo of yourself? Your insensedebate profile pic would be a good one. And don't make it huge. Make it half the column with the "about me" details being to the left or right? Just ideas.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephenbateman stephenbateman

    Wow I like it!
    The magazine-esque blockquotes are…nothing short of beautiful haha.
    Anyway can't wait to see you make the most of you're new look!
    My recent post Primal Released today

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/scottvandam scottvandam

    I love the new site! Its is absolutely beautiful and certainly a work of art. I must admit I had a lot of time to read blogs over the Christmas break (Your blog was dearly missed) Glad to have you back online blogging again!

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    Michael, I think your blog looks great! I really like the look. Clean. Lots of white space that makes this easy on the eyes. The blog seems easy to work with for the reader. I like the way you have arranged this. Well worth the wait for your readers.
    My recent post Seeking to Be Liked (Chasing After an Elusive Prize)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Michael, good to have you back online. I like your new design, but it differs considerably from your old version. As someone contemplating a new blog design, here are my first thoughts.

    PRO
    1. Larger images and simpler design
    2. Rotating subjects above the fold in the "Featured posts" section
    3. Latest tweet at the top in plain view
    4. Six subject areas and well laid out social media buttons
    5. Easy to read type font

    Con
    1. Much less information above the fold
    2. Your great BW pictures are now below the fold
    3. Your advertisements are now way down the page
    4. Your title bar now is much larger taking up valuable space
    5. Your previous posts area takes up a lot of space with gravitars

    Overall it's a mixed bag for me. I liked your old design because it was well laid out and I could find things quickly. The B&W photos of you and your family which gave your blog a personal feel are now hidden. I think those should be moved up and your top box ad should be moved down. The overall readability is probably better, but so many things are now below the fold that I feel a little lost.

    Your blog reads well on my Droid phone and my iPod touch, but the inline pictures and category buttons span a little farther than the text. Possibly the addition or tweaking of a mobile phone plug-in might help.

    It will be interesting to see how the new version plays out in your bounce rate. The old version had a lot of pop on first viewing with lots of things to click on. This new version requires a user to scroll, which might keep users on the site longer but may cause a higher initial bounce.

    Overall you kept us all on the edge of our seat for 4 days with a very well planned out conversion and you have presented a bright new shining face to the world. Great Job!
    My recent post A Simple Christmas Tradition

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

      John, excellent points on the ipod and droid. "Back in the day" is was all about browser compatibility. Now designers have to consider hardware compatibility.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        Chris, so many sites just don't work on Mobile phones that it has become a major concern. For example, I was overcharged at a Chipotle restaurant a while back. The local manager said it was corporate policy to price things the way they did. I wanted to contact the corporate office and let them know of the experience that I had while I was at the restaurant. I loaded up their website on my mobile phone, looking for a phone number. To my dismay, their website required flash to be able to view it. Very few mobile phones have the ability to view Flash animations. The site didn't have a text alternative.

        As a customer I was upset about being overcharged, but I was furious when I couldn't get a simple phone number from their website. When I finally did get the contact info, I was informed by the corporate rep that their site would always be Flash based. To me, any company with a web presence should have basic information available for Cell phones and older computers.
        My recent post A Simple Christmas Tradition

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. These are great comments. If you click on the About page, you will see all my old B&W photos. I felt like it was just a little too much for the front page, plus it took up valuable ad space.

      We are still debating the sidebar. I think for the sake of the advertisers, the ads will need to come up and the popular posts widget moved down.

      It's a “work in process.”

      Thanks for your encouragement.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        It's funny but the B&W pictures of you and your family made your blog real to me along with your Twitter posts. Merridee's and the Red Pony restaurant are definitely on my list of places to visit if we ever get back to Franklin, Tennessee.

        As far as advertisers go, it is always a space challenge between content and ads. If you put an ad in my face I may click on it but you may irritate me in the process. I like the sidebar placement with the 125 x 125 icons that you have used. Hey, I've even found some useful stuff there…

        Your site looks good in Firefox, Chrome, and IE8. I did get a 404 error from a previous category link. (http://michaelhyatt.com/category/life-balance) You probably will want to create a custom 404 page that gives a list of your new subject areas since many people may have specific category links.

        Your upgrade has given me a better handle on the current WordPress update process. I'll be upgrading my blog soon, and now will allow at least a few days for the process. Thanks for bringing us along during the process. And hey… after four days of coding/changes, your wife is still talking to you… Good news indeed! :-)
        My recent post A Simple Christmas Tradition

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner BLichtenwalner

    Great work Michael, John and Milk Engine. I believe you've achieved all three goals. I am particularly fond of the image / post link list in the sidebar.

    I agree with Brian as well – there is a good leadership lesson for all bloggers and relevant site redesign work. Keep it up.

  • http://twitter.com/robdale @robdale

    The site looks great!

    I'm curious, what is the plugin you're using for the "Popular / Latest / Comments / Tab" widget?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's actually part of the WooThemes them we used.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/charv Chris Harvey

      I'm not sure it is a plugin. I believe it came packaged with the Woo theme that was then customized.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner BLichtenwalner

      That would make a great plugin – if anyone is using one similar, please do share.
      My recent post The Servant Leader’s Night Before Christmas

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JenniferLKing JenniferLKing

    Tweaks aside, I love the simplified board. It's readable, a place to spend time, not dash away because of visual complexity. In the spirit of change is good, congrats! And Happy New Year to you and your family.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/rodlie rodlie

    Yup. I like it. It's clean, professional, and simple. I really like it a lot. Three cheers to you guys!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    This was worth taking a time out from the family trip to check out. It looks great Michael!
    My recent post The 10 Best Things from 2009 #1: Cross Point Church

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    This was worth taking a time out from the family trip to check out. It looks great Michael!
    My recent post The 10 Best Things from 2009 #1: Cross Point Church

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    This was worth taking a time out from the family trip to check out. It looks great Michael!
    My recent post The 10 Best Things from 2009 #1: Cross Point Church

  • http://www.ronlane.wordpress.com Ron L

    Looks great. I am still exploring the whole thing and waiting for the new leadership series of blogs.

  • http://www.kimmirich.wordpress.com Kim

    I like it, Michael. It's clean and simple. It loaded up fine for me. Oh, the 'check spelling' is great.
    My recent post Tackling The Four C’s With A Dash Of Color For The New Year

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'm glad to hear that! Speed is (almost) everything.

  • http://twitter.com/RichDailey @RichDailey

    Something you hit on, intentionally or not, perhaps, is that the look and feel is snappy, even though load time is slow at the moment – a great reader experience…Rich

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/charv Chris Harvey

    I like the theme and redesign of the blog, especially the featured slider.
    I do agree that the redesign of a theme, like with Woo Themes, saves on time and cost and yet doesn't lack in quality of design.
    Now if the designer would only do they same for more of us on a smaller platform. ;)

    My recent post Merry Christmas 09

  • http://caddyinfo.com/wordpress Bruce Nunnally

    I like the design. It looks clean and well-organized.

    I like the tabbed presentation of most popular / latest / comments / tags. Very efficient use of space. I wonder if the default page for that should be set to comments vs most popular? I suppose it would depend on your analysis of your audience. I like the idea of encouraging comments by showing them clearly on the sidebar.
    My recent post Roadtrip Dec 2009 Texas to Carolina

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'll give this some thought. Thanks for your input.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    Looks Great…
    John is the man.
    Not only is he a genius wp designer but he is also a great guy.
    Churchcrunch.com has provided me some great community and support over this last year.

    Glad the blog is back.
    My recent post Primal-Mark Batterson

  • Heather Adams

    Ooooh, it's so good, Mike. Not too long ago I found myself searching the site for a post I needed to refer a friend to. It was difficult to find and ultimately I e-mailed you to locate it. Not the case after your redesign. I'm thrilled with how easy it is to navigate. It's clean and smart. You and John have done a great job in making an already good blog even better. And, I know this will help grow your traffic even more. Well done. Two thumbs up.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Heather. I appreciate your kind words!

  • http://twitter.com/BillWhitt @BillWhitt

    I like the "evolutionary" approach, as opposed to "revolutionary." It's beautiful! Your wireframes were awesome. I had no idea keynote could do something so advanced…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I didn't either. I started with Photoshop, but it was two cumbersome. Then I went to OmniGraffle, which is great, but I am not that familiar with it. Then I thought, Why not Keynote? The key (no pun intended) was to set a custom page size. It basically gives you a canvas to paint on with simple tools.

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  • Pat Alexander

    Mike, I like the cleaness of it. The grays and blues are very pleasing to the eyes. Also, the alignment to the left of the blog itself is beneficial to the reader. I am working on a site design using Thesis and approaching this minimalist approach. Good job.
    My recent post My Love Affair with New York City

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MichaelSGray MichaelSGray

    Looks great! I'm sure that with some continued minor tweaking that you'll have one of the most pervasive and streamlines blog sites out there in no time!

    Admittedly, in the past I have had a few issues with your RSS feed coming to me via Bloglines. It seems that your new site has resurrected that same problem. It may be an issue with Bloglines, but I'm getting a communication error again. You might want to look at your feed in case the revision created some problems.

    On a similar note, what RSS reader do you use? I'm sure you've posted it in the past, but I don't remember where.

    My recent post A Company of Heroes

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MichaelSGray MichaelSGray

    Looks great! I'm sure that with some continued minor tweaking that you'll have one of the most pervasive and streamlines blog sites out there in no time!

    Admittedly, in the past I have had a few issues with your RSS feed coming to me via Bloglines. It seems that your new site has resurrected that same problem. It may be an issue with Bloglines, but I'm getting a communication error again. You might want to look at your feed in case the revision created some problems.

    On a similar note, what RSS reader do you use? I'm sure you've posted it in the past, but I don't remember where.

    My recent post A Company of Heroes

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'll check into that. The RSS wasn't working earlier this morning. We forgot to turn it back on, so that could have been the issue.

      The problem may be on the Bloglines side. The feed is a valid RSS feed.

      I personally use Google Reader.

      Thanks!

  • Judith

    Michael,

    I'm disappointed. The opening page, with all its large elements is messy and distracting. I have no "home" to return to when I've gone away from that page. I found it difficult to navigate, and hard to read because of the large distractions.

    My prejudice is for clean, straightforward sites. I'll continue to work with this, but I'm not sure how much reading stamina I'll have. You have a lot of good information. Why complicate it?

    Judith

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your input. Hopefully, you will find the individual post pages easier and less distracting. (For example, they now only have two columns rather than three.)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks. John is awesome. couldn't have done this without him.

    I also love ChurchCrunch.com.

    How does he find the time to do it al? I swear, there are TWO of him!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

      Behind every great man is a great women. I think that is where his success comes into play, really it is sue that is doing all the work. Well, maybe. John is a machine, he does not sleep.
      My recent post Dinner Conversations

  • Jeromy

    The new design is a big improvement over the old. I especially like the magazine style block quotes. Clever.

    One issue with the block quotes is that when reading the piece in google reader the quotes just look like ordinary text, making it look like you are repeating yourself. When I read this in gReader I thought the piece was just poorly edited. I'm sure there is any easy fix for this, but I would definitely fix it. It's a little distracting.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Shoot. I didn't think about that. I'll have to double-check the code. Thanks.

  • Shellie (baylormum)

    My only complaint is that I think your pic & who you are should be back at the top. I like to connect with a face. Otherwise it looks great. Love the slide show on the "best of" posts.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You can find my pics on the About page. Not quite as immediate, but I got tired of looking at ME!

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    I like it but really liked the old site too so both are winners to me. While I do enjoy a nicely designed and easy to navigate site, your content is what ultimately draws me again and again. I do miss your BW photos scrolling towards the top. Always enjoyed those, made the blog feel a little more personal being above the fold… however I'm sure the top ad block can be a more premium space now.

    I'd be curious as to what "under the hood" type improvements were made beyond just the look of the blog to make it more powerful. Any new plug-in's you can share with us?

    My recent post DanielDecker: No Fear in the New Year! A motto to live by. Great article with tips here

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I have had that comment about the pictures a lot. They are on the about page, albeit smaller.

    Much of the change is coming from WooThemes. However, I am using the following new plug-ins:

    • Sexy Bookmarks—these are the social media icons that pop up under every post
    • PagePeel—this enables the corner peel feature in the top right
    • ShowTime Slideshow—I am using this on my About and Speaking pages to rotate photos without requiring the user to refresh the page

    If you want, I can list all the plug-ins I use, but these are the new ones. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Beaconhillnw Jim
  • Valerie L Smith

    I miss your picture. It was like a welcome mat. (and I mean that in the nicest way.) This blog format seems too clean, sterile, like all the flavor's been boiled away. I know you put a lot of time and thought into this, but I liked the old one better. Sorry!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No problem. That has been a common complaint. Even my wife warned me against not having those pictures! I may have to revisit.

  • http://www.thinknextnow.com Mark Cox

    I love the new design. It seems to comprise all the elements you wanted. It's significantly less cluttered and visually interesting! The thing is, I come to your blog for content, so I'll be here either way, but good job on the reinvention :)
    My recent post Repost: Save Christmas For The Camps

  • http://twitter.com/gpleroux Gabriel Le Roux

    I’m not a pro, but love the clean design and featured posts! Also like the professional looking yet stylish logo. Congrats!

  • http://www.nathandcarrie.com/nathan Nathan Duvall

    “I am a wannabe designer and weekend coder, so it’s kind of like going on a fishing trip with a professional guide. I get to do some fun stuff, knowing that if I get in over my head, I have someone to rescue me.”

    Haha, love this! It’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m fairly new to the blogging/twitter world and recently stumbled on your site as well as ChurchCrunch. Looking forward to getting to know you from your new blog this year.

    I thought I recognized this theme from Woo, but John did a great mod of it, love the clean feel to it all. Also love the ‘click here’ feature in the corner, nicely done.

    One thing I would mention, there’s a lot of text to read… and you being a writer that’s to be expected, but for people that aren’t familiar with you or your work, it’d be cool if you had an introductory video outlining some of the key things going on with the blog or your work/writing, etc. Also just an idea for your placeholders, maybe a event calendar type plugin? Just a thought.

    Great site, amazing really.

  • http://www.nathandcarrie.com/nathan Nathan Duvall

    "I am a wannabe designer and weekend coder, so it’s kind of like going on a fishing trip with a professional guide. I get to do some fun stuff, knowing that if I get in over my head, I have someone to rescue me."

    Haha, love this! It's good to know I'm not alone. I'm fairly new to the blogging/twitter world and recently stumbled on your site as well as ChurchCrunch. Looking forward to getting to know you from your new blog this year.

    I thought I recognized this theme from Woo, but John did a great mod of it, love the clean feel to it all. Also love the 'click here' feature in the corner, nicely done.

    One thing I would mention, there's a lot of text to read… and you being a writer that's to be expected, but for people that aren't familiar with you or your work, it'd be cool if you had an introductory video outlining some of the key things going on with the blog or your work/writing, etc. Also just an idea for your placeholders, maybe a event calendar type plugin? Just a thought.

    Great site, amazing really.
    My recent post Support St. Jude’s – Recycle Your Christmas Cards!

  • BG Allen

    Looks great! Really appreciate the content that you share with us. We have used some of it in teaching sessions for our staff.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/quinnschilling quinnschilling

    I love it…really clean for so much content. I have to say though, I do miss your picture at the top!
    My recent post The Christ of Christmas Download

  • http://mosaicmercy.com David

    I want to use the share the love bookmarks you use but it messes up my sidebar a bit.

    Question: Did your blog start to increase once you moved from Typepad to WordPress or was it more of the design of the site? Combination of both maybe? Also I think one of the main reasons you get traffic and loyal followers is because you write articles we want to read.
    My recent post I’m Right, You’re Wrong And Why It Doesn’t Matter

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I don't think the increase was just a result of moving from TypePad to WordPress. Seth Godin is using TypePad, and he is one of the most read bloggers on the planet. However, I think I got more serious about SEO when I switched and better utilized the tools that are available.

      Thanks about your kind words about my writing. In the end, this is more important than design.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/btravisbrown btravisbrown

    I love the new blog design. As always, your choice of picture drew me into reading your post after the title captured my attention. Someone earlier said that putting your Twitter after your advertisements was a bad idea. I think not, because your most recent update is at the top. The look is totally up-to-date, modern and sleek. As usual, your content is killer (which is why I read your posts). Now your updated design provides an aesthetic gateway to that information, which is the way to do it for sure! Great job!

  • Justin Vance

    Michael, I really like the new design. The scroll on the front page makes your content more accessible. Your content is great and allowing us to access it more easily only makes sense.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/vinthomas Vin Thomas

    Nice and clean. You've gotta love John's work. And with AdBlock plus I don't need to worry about where you put your ads. They all get blocked anyway

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I hate to hear that!

  • http://twitter.com/StevenHodson @StevenHodson

    I really like the new – evolutionary – look Michael but then I'm a big fan of the clean and crisp look which this does in spades. Kudo to you and the folks who help pull this together.
    My recent post I hope I live long enough Doc

  • http://generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp

    Mike, I am curious about your bigger web picture.

    You are an excellent blogger, and do a great job of running the blog as a marketing effort. However, you really only use a blog and twitter. Most authors who are running a business online want and need to use the web as their online business platform, not just as a blogging tool.

    WordPress has some simple ecommerce and email solutions, but they are "tagged on" as second or third party applications. None do message boards, on-the-fly forms, event registrations (paid or free), or really any of the business-oriented things that would make the web site "more than just a blog."

    I know WordPress is a rapidly exploding world, but most of the people I know using WordPress are primarily attracted to the price: meaning, free. Your use of WordPress is remarkable, but you HAVE a business that is behind your scenes, namely Nelson. What about authors who are increasingly more responsible for building their own brand, developing their own business paradigm, and making money online?

    Love the redesign, btw!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Mike, so far, I have found WordPress to do everything I need. I know you sell a separate solution and it is something worth considering. I just don't have any experience with it.

      By the way, the notion that WordPress is free is a common one. The truth is, you will spend some money to get it to do what you want.

      • http://generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp

        We do WordPress sites, and it is the best cms out there in the niche. But clients tend to be attracted to what they perceive to be the free price tag, and then have a long list of things they need and want their site to do that WordPress doesn't do out of the box.

        That's why I asked if you had any thoughts on this, because as you point out you don't need the non-blog functions — namely ecommerce, email, site membership, message boards, registrations, forms, etc.

        Do any of your TN authors use WordPress with an integrated ecommerce system?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

          I am not aware of any. I know there are some plugins, but you are right: to get that kind of functionality is an additional cost.

  • http://www.joetye.com Joe Tye

    For an amateur fisherman, you put out an amazIng blog! I imagine I'm not the only one who wonders about how much the site redesign cost – can you share at least a ballpark range?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      If you want to email me privately, I can give ou a range. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/davidteems @davidteems

    To use your own word, WOW!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Indie_Business Donna Maria

    Congratulations on your launch! Everything looks really nice. What a great way to start the new year — with a new blog design!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/BillSpinks BillSpinks

    Definitely cleaner and, near as I can tell at this point, easier to use. Maybe a glitch…the peel ad teaser is present even though it disappears when hovered.

    Have enjoyed reading you occasionally for several months. Thanks for all you contribute…your prodigious work ethic is amazing and inspiring.

  • http://lynnmosher.blogspot.com Lynn Mosher

    Love it, Michael! Great new site! Kudoos! However, there is one drawback for me…and this may just be me. I find it inconvenient and frustrating when I am finished a post (on other sites as well) and I have to scroll back to the top to post a comment. It sometimes discourages me from leaving a comment. Overall, you get an A+!
    My recent post Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Hmm. I'll have to reconsider that. I thought just the opposite would be true—people don't want to have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the comments to leave a new comment.

      • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

        Maybe having a comment link at the top and the bottom? @loswhit usually includes a manual comment link at the bottom of his posts in the form of some sort of question in the actual post text. I like that. Could be as simple as you converting your ending question into a hot link for comments (but then again the actual comment box is only a short distance below the end of the article anyways if read from the actual site).

  • Brooke

    I like the cleaned up new blog site. I'm all for simplifying. Great job!

  • http://twitter.com/awordsmith @awordsmith

    Very nice Michael. I love clean, crisp sites like this one. I also miss the photo at the top of the page and love the magazine-style quotes. Great job!

  • http://www.queenofthecastlerecipes.com Lynn

    I love your willingness to keep changing, and your quote about continually reinventing yourself so as not to become obsolete. What I don't love is that your "about me" box is not the first item you see in the upper right hand corner. Makes for a more cluttered look, IMO. Thanks for an always interesting, always thoughtful blog :)

  • http://endlesslyrestless.blogspot.com/ Les Hutchinson

    I like it – it's clean, crisp and elegant, BUT… since I read your blog via GoogleReader (as recommended by you!), the design aspect isn't an issue. Which makes me think about amy own mundane blog!

    Anyway, I always enjoy your content, in whichever format I read it. Thanks
    My recent post Snowy Perth

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/brianfalexander Brian Alexander

    I love the new layout. Everything is easier to find. There are a few formatting problems for me inside of google reader though. I am loading the page inside of Google reader and it's just the fact that my window isn't wide enough. The Go Search button is below the search field and blogroll is below the left column instead of on the right side. Probably only a problem on my computer. Overall, great work Michael and John
    My recent post Merry Christmas

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, I love pull quotes. In magazines. It gives you something to scan.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Bill Do you know what browser and version you are using? I haven't yet had that complaint form anyone else.

    Thanks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BillSpinks BillSpinks

      I mostly use Chrome 3.0. I checked your blog with my old IE 6.0 and see the same thing…the top-right corner page peel is showing and animated until I bring the mouse pointer over it. In IE there is an audible click as the peel disappears. Once it's gone, it's gone for good unless I refresh the page.

      I also just tried it in Firefox 3.0 with same result.

      I have been having some Flash problems….(some sites say I don't have it installed, but I do….very frustrating!) so it could be my machine. If John sees nothing fixable and others (whose machines don't have this stupid Flash problem) are not reporting, it must be a Flash anomaly.

      -bill

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BillSpinks BillSpinks

      I just checked it in Chrome on another computer (from the same internet access point) that doesn't have the Flash problem. Same response…animated page peel disappears when hovered.

      Unless there is something unique about how an ISP (Verizon, in this case) renders websites…..?

      Please reply if @human3rror finds something to fix.

      -bill

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

        Bill, are you using Chrome on a PC or Mac? I just tested the site on Chrome 4.0 for Mac and it looked identical to the way FireFox 3.5.6 renders it.

        Sorry for the hassle.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/BillSpinks BillSpinks

          Mike, no hassle at all. Pleased to be in the conversation, but sorry it's a hassle for you!

          I'm on a PC, WinXPProSP2. My wife's Mac shows the same problem in Firefox 2.0 (she doesn't use this browser much so it is an older version?) but her Safari browser peels down the page to show your eBook ad.

          My Chrome (on the XPP-PC) says that it is up-to-date. I'll log in as Admin and look for updates, and get back to you. I'll reply via your email.

          -bill

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/BillSpinks BillSpinks

          Ok, did the updates, even the Chrome Beta for PC. With latest versions of IE8, Firefox3.5, Chrome4.0, I see the same behavior.

          It seems to be a Win-PC issue. Hope this was helpful.

          -bill

  • http://seekingtheking.blogspot.com Alan Crookham

    Looks good!

  • http://www.raisetheeup.com/blog Michael Holmes

    This is really awesome!

    I am considering to redesign my book website/blog. I want to move it from book website with a blog to blog with a book (or upcoming books) as a resource.

    Again I like the new design :)

  • http://twitter.com/mommy668 @mommy668

    LOVE it! brilliant in its simplicity <3!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    I love the two columns. Previously, I would only read your posts and nothing else because the busyness was overwhelming. Now I can meander down your blog, enjoy some of the sideshow, and stay "calm." I know when I chose my Word Press design, I wanted it to be as simple as possible. There is so much noise in our world that an easy-to-read site is welcome. And, I also would like to have the "post a new comment" at the bottom of the page. Many times I read through the comments, so it is somewhat annoying to have to scroll up to write my own. Maybe it's just a matter of perception, but it seems to be easier to scroll down than to scroll up.
    My recent post #23 UNDERSTANDING CHRIST: HIS WALK ON EARTH

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Patricia. I am continuing to ponder where to place the new comment block.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DerekDRobertson DerekDRobertson

    I like that it still has some familiarity to it but some new twist. I also like the fact how you have yout latest tweet at the top right. Congrats.

  • Christianne

    Congrats on the redesign, Michael! From your early announcement about shutting down the blog to following your Twitter feed the past few days, I could tell this was a major commitment for you and something you were really excited about. How cool that you're opening the dialogue up to the community for feedback!

    Love the cleaner 2-column layout with lots of white space. Love the Twitter updates at the top of the page. ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE "CLICK HERE" PAGE PULL-DOWN FOR YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL E-BOOKS! That is hands-down beautiful. Total wow factor there that made me go, "Whoa." With tons of admiration. : )
    My recent post A Bit of Housekeeping Detail

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/skeggsjp skeggsjp

    Michael, thanks for sharing about your experience. Were there any times during this experience when you guys "butted heads" over anything? If so, how did you guys reach a resolution/agreement. The designer/client relationship is a somewhat interesting beast at times and I am always interested in how such situations resolve. All in all, very nice work here.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No, there really weren't. John and I have worked together before, so this wasn't our first experience. John is very good about presenting me with options, giving me his opinion, and then letting me (as the client) make the decision. He is also super-responsive. It probably helps that he and I tend to see most design and tech things from the same worldview.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/skeggsjp skeggsjp

        That's good. And yes, I would think that your perspective on design and tech running through the same filter is/was a big plus there.

        I really appreciate the content that you share here. Blessings to you and your family for 2010 and beyond.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/skeggsjp skeggsjp

    Michael, I would say, from a usability standpoint, that perhaps the addition of simple and subtle footer navigation might be a nice enhancement for a future revision. My thought there is that because you get so many comments on your posts, there is a lot of scrolling to do to get back to the top of the page and then click the Home navigation link again. It would be nice if, when near the bottom of the page I could just go there and then navigate rather than scrolling all the way back up to the top.

    Just a thought… still taking the redesign in… and loving it!!

  • http://www.studentlinc.net tim

    "Beautiful! Clean! Love the new look!"
    With all of the ways that you are able to get your information out through social networking sites, I often miss the pure beauty of the website. You have created a great place to call home on the web. Thanks for raising the bar once again and sharing the process with us.
    My recent post What Matters Now Ebook – Free Download

  • http://twitter.com/DaveAnthold @DaveAnthold

    Love the clean look of the site as well as the emphasis on the graphics which really compliment the text. I like that the major topics are at the top, so if I just wanted to read thru leadership I can head there. Great job!

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  • http://www.ribeeziemedia.com/blog Ricardo Bueno

    Hi Michael, just a quick note to say that I really like the new design! It's simple, clean, easy to navigate… I can't think of anything that I don't like which I think means you've nailed it!

    Pretty cool to read about the design process between you and your design team. Sounds like you have a unique relationship which is pretty cool because not a lot of people get along like that. Anyway, congratulations on the new site design! Looking forward to hanging around and joining the community here…
    My recent post Do You Outline Your Blog Posts Before You Write Them?

  • Bill

    Scrolling required to see new post? I definitely enjoy the enhanced access to older posts, but I do not like that when I arrive at your page, I have to scroll to see if you have a new post…atleast with my browser settingsscreen size, etc. I guess when I get to a point where I stop visiting idividual blogs and rely on tweets or a feed to bring content to me, this will be less of a hassle.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I get your point. I debated it in my own head. I wish I had a better solution.

      Obviously, if you subscribe via RSS, you will not have to visit at all and will only get my new posts as they are posted.

      Thanks again.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laurinda Laurinda

    It's more peaceful. I love it. Don't know why that's how I feel about it. I didn't have a problem with your previous design. Maybe it doesn't seem as cluttered with the 2 columns instead of 3.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SynapticLight Phillip Gibb

    Very Nice.
    I; too, am redesigning my blog; send me John's number – please. lol, just kidding.
    Always great when people talk about the motivations and the process – helps guys like me.
    I know what you mean about the stylesheet – crazy.
    and the uncluttered approach is great – less for more [hey that sound familiar ;)]
    Phill
    My recent post Happy New Year – but no Resolutions

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  • Colin

    Which WooTheme did you start with?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      We started with Daily Edition.

      • Colin

        Thanks

  • http://www.soulapps.com William McNeely

    Michael:
    I really appreciate what you are doing and admire your blog. My wife and I are building a blog now. My question is: Did you use a plugin for the social icons in the "Share the love" social icon bar above. If so, what's the name of it. We are using Sociable now, but I like the look of yours. Thanks again for giving me inspiration to move forward.
    My recent post 2010 Faith!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it's a plugin. It is called Sexy Bookmarks. Thanks.