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A Brand New Searchblog

By - May 22, 2008

I started FM three years ago because of what I learned starting Searchblog. And today, FM is giving back to this site. One of our engineers, Ivan Kanevski, who along with many others has helped me troubleshoot the site in recent years, told me that he’d done pretty much an entire redesign of Searchblog in his spare time. I looked at the comps and loved it. I was about to ask him to just push “publish” when I thought, wait a minute, I better ask my readers!

So here’s the comp. What do you think? I for one love it. But I said that already, sorry.

Brand New Sblog-1

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45 thoughts on “A Brand New Searchblog

  1. John,

    Yes, it is nice and simple.

    Active topics is a good idea. My concern is always about finding ways to keep material on my site available to readers (other than just through search). For that reason I incorporated a directory in my most recent redesign. Have you considered that kind of functionality?

    Glad you are keeping the photo of your office window!

    Tom

  2. John Battelle says:

    Thanks Thomas. Yeah, it’s clean.

  3. mjc says:

    love it, but I read your blog mostly from the RSS feed.

  4. Agree with previous comment: it is nice and simple. But still not professional enough (well, even in this light still better than old one).

    I’m not talking about functions at the moment, just pure visual appearance:
    * no unified appearance, it kind of falls a part
    * content is scattered, hard to spot important parts

    Conclusion: there is lot to do before it will be ready to primetime.

    I could help a little bit if you are interested, just let me know – Digital Fruit has pretty extensive experience in web and information design. As far as I can see there are couple of things there can be done without major effort to get better results.

  5. Ship it — looks great.

  6. tobto says:

    Nice, clean with big room and air. I like it – especially white background, 3 columns (such way as Ivan did), almost no borders, simple (sainted simplicity). Probably Archives should be at footer. I don’t agree with Mr.Tonisson – design visually like solid mag ;) Some ppl thinks design is a ton’s of cool brigh pics.

  7. Site redesign looks good… more open. Gets my vote.

  8. Looks great but do you know what percentage of your reader just use a RSS reader to read you ? I never access your site, just use Google Reader.

  9. I like the new design but I most often read your blog in Google Reader.. Where is the button where we get cash back for reading your blog like on the new improved MSN Live Search ?

  10. Phil Bradley says:

    Just how many adverts does one page need?

  11. coxy says:

    I like it, it’s a far better job than what Last.fm have done with their beta. I do have some comments, though.

    The strip containing the navigation and search box just looks like it’s floating on a larger resolution, since it appears to be a fixed width design. I think quite a lot of the header just looks like its floating, actually – but this could be something you’ve considered already and have a solution to.

    I’ve quickly messed up about with the design so you can see what one possible solution is. I’ve also moved the search box over to the right.

  12. Suresh says:

    I like it. Nice an Clean. If you notice here most of us visit for the content and read via Feeds and reader. If the site is clean, user friendly and easy to navigate thats all everyone will expect.

  13. Adam says:

    I love the look, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was on your site… I LOVE (repeat love) the blog, but read it in Google Reader and search for stuff in Google Reader as well…

  14. Ted says:

    Looks fantastic, and vastly more professional. Publish it. Everyone likes to have an opinion about design, but I would disregard any “design by committee” comments above. Ivan, you have a good eye, and should run with it.

  15. pete says:

    I like it — and I go to the site not just for the posts, but to read the ensuing conversation and comments. I used to use a feed reader, but found it easily over loaded and that I wasn’t keeping up with what i needed to. I use live.com as my aggregator but always go to the sites if i see something i likes after using the preview function.

  16. Steven Finch says:

    Yeh i for one like it very much. It is simplistic but also keeps the basic branding you already have here on the site.

  17. Anon says:

    Love it…and, it’s about time.

  18. Claudio Ibarra says:

    I think it looks sharp. Very newspaper-y. If I get a vote, I vote a thumbs up for the change.

  19. Anthony says:

    Let me be a lone dissenting voice. I like certain elements of it, but the design looks a little unfinished.

    Actually, I take part of that back. I really like everything below the masthead. The name of the site gets lost next to the banner, and the buttons just look like they’re floating in space. I’d leave the banner as is on the current site(CTR be damned) and maybe draw a border around the masthead.

  20. Kumar says:

    You carry advertising on your current layout. Will there be any issues if your layout changes in a way that reduces visibility for some ads and increases visibility for some others? What will the advertisers who have already signed up say? Just something to consider…

    The new layout looks much better than the old one.

  21. Kerstin says:

    I like it; it’s cleaner, it’s less cluttered.

  22. JG says:

    Pete writes: “I like it — and I go to the site not just for the posts, but to read the ensuing conversation and comments.

    Like Pete, I also very much come to the site not only for the posts, but for the ensuing conversation. And I think this new design is a small step backward with respect to the conversational element. In particular, with the new design there is now only one “recent comment” above the fold. I would have to scroll down every time, to see the top 8-10 recent comments. Not good.

    This is web 2.0. It’s all about the people/conversation. I would suggest bringing the recent comments back up.

  23. Jonathan C says:

    Two thumbs up. I typically read via RSS, myself, but whenever I visit I always think to myself, “This blog needs a redesign.” Glad to see someone step up to the task and create something so easy on the eyes. Though I do agree with JG–there should be more comments listed on the sidebar.

    Nice job, Ivan!

  24. Andre Torrez says:

    I love it. Wow, nice job, Ivan. How’s the about page look?

  25. Tom Nocera says:

    Call me old-fashioned, John, if you want, for I choose to visit the Searchblog directly when I thirst to drink from its fountain of information. Before offering my take on the proposed design, readers should know that when I was in graduate school for the arts and sciences of communications, one of the most important classes focused on how our ancient “hunter’s” brains have been wired to assimilate information. It is a key build block for engaging an audience. Although videography was my then favorite communications medium, many of those same fundamentals apply to websites as well as the design brochures for print.

    That said, my take is that your current design has a more “intimate” feel to it. This “feeling of intimacy” comes in part from the right hand position of the photo of your office view. (We who read English, are conditioned as toddlers, to “read” pages from top left to right. So it makes that particular location one of the key points for setting the “tone” of a website.

    What is preceived as clean – to me is more impersonal – and slicker – like machine generated, or popped out of some cookie cutter for blog design.

    Your “masthead” in the new design shares the top screen with an ad. To me this cheapens you – makes you appear to be their shrill. Sell your advertisers the above the masthead with the white space, but don’t put them on an even footing with your content.

    Next, I find it engaging to see the comments made in the far left column set off against a darker color. However, would not use that particular blue. Color may be one of the factors which should be tweaked on the current site and tested.

    A final recommendation is to consider increasing the size of the type in your tagline. Remember, “Fortune favors the bold”. And also that “opinions are like assholes – everybody’s got one.”

  26. t o n x says:

    I’d aim bigger on the “Searchblog” logo, but otherwise its extra crispy and good.

  27. Tom Pimental says:

    Honestly, does it really matter what a site looks like anymore with full text RSS feeds? I consume your content daily, but can’t remember the last time I visited your site.

  28. John, You have my permission. Thanks for asking.

    Duke

  29. Michael says:

    I only see your post in google reader but this layout is crazy awesome!
    Simple and nice.
    Do it!

  30. Peter says:

    launch it. a vast improvement and especially impressive as it was a side job.

  31. Dave P says:

    The overall look is great. The logo blends in too much with the top add and is not nearly strong enough for a man of your stature.

  32. nmw says:

    LOL – I’ve been busy the last couple days creating something quite similar for my thousands of high traffic keyword domain names (online properties)… so this is just an explanation of why I wasn’t the first to reply! ;D

    Anyways: I doubt that the reason people engage here is not because of the color scheme or this / that bell & whistle (though the other day somebody said they were frustrated with very slow page loading (indeed, one of my longest held usability mottos is: “I hate to wait” — more than 1 second for page load, and then I am usually no longer interested).

    So if the page load is faster, then it’s better — I’m a very functional sorta guy!

    But first and foremost is not really “site design” but rather community focus, engagement, … conversation (do you get what I mean?)

    “Markets are conversations” — but it’s not possible to have a conversation without a language (and it’s the languages of conversation — the community’s jargon that will ultimately be the strongest glue holding together web communities). This is something “one-size fits-all” social networks — e.g. myspace or facebook — have not been able to master (though at least the facebook design has been oriented towards creating “sub-communities”)… — I’ll be interested to see what CBS comes up with for their new properties (and if you know someone there who might be interested in *ADVICE*, then go ahead and give them my “number”, OK?)

    :) nmw

  33. nmw says:

    That said, I might make a couple very minor adjustments:

    - put the “thoughts about” above the search box (unless your looking for “accidental clicks” ;P

    - also switch right columns (same reason — I have also been a long-time proponent of right-side navigation: years ago people though I was *CRAZY* ;D [they apparently didn't that the mouse is usually on the right for scrolling anyways, but now it seems like more & more people are realizing the "natural" advantage of having the navigation at the right])

    - if you could offer keyboard navigation of some sort (e.g. code the “next” and “previous” stories with hotkey (“accesskey”) tagging, that would be very “forward thinking”.

    I notice I’m “pushing the envelope” here a little, so I’ll shut up now.

    :) nmw

  34. Konteyner says:

    thanks you tom. Very nice and you have a good ideas.

  35. hekim group says:

    yine yardırmışsın John ne bun bi bok anlamadım.

  36. Looks great… much cleaner than the old (current) template…

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  38. I like the design. It looks sweet and simple. One of the problems with your existing blog is many times it loads too slowly. I hope you would take care of that on a priority basis.

  39. ben says:

    boring, boring, boring… better than current, yes. but very slightly. why bother?

  40. Scott Elkin says:

    It’s like going from a 6 year old design to a 2 year old design. I’d like to see something a little more current or forward thinking to match your writing.

  41. Ian says:

    This looks great. Huge improvement. Ivan is clearly a brilliant designer John.

  42. Omar Khan says:

    I think that it is just okay. A bit lighter and more modern than the earlier design, but a bit too advertisy, not that professional looking. I agree with the comment that there is no solid info hierarchy. That said, the key to a blog is the writing and content not the look, and I assume that should remain fine.

  43. jf says:

    i miss the photo of your office. is there any chance you could put it back up on the top left?
    that photo makes your site more personal and less anonymous/corporate.

  44. John says:

    I diddo the clean design, maybe less ads would help it even more. Maybe do a photostream in the upper right instead of single static shot of your desk (the images could change based on your mood, time of day or latest topic du jour)

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