26 October 2009

Seeking input from my readers...

When I started TYWKIWDBI almost two years ago, I was a total noob to blogging, so I used one of the convenient pre-set templates. This template basically has a header, a main column, a right sidebar, and a footer.

When I started the right sidebar was empty. It looked forlorn, so I started to add in some of the better pictures I encountered while surfing, although I did have some problems locating and/or inserting proper photo credits.

As the years have passed, the right sidebar has accumulated more items. It always had an intro, an archive, and categories, but now I've added an award badge, a search function, avatars of followers, feed links, and a couple blogrolls.

Perhaps the sidebar is too busy now. I've taken note of one comment (not posted here but rather on a graphic design-related blog) that cited TYWKIWDBI as having a garish presentation (re the old header and the pix in the sidebar, I think). The pictures are still sort of interesting when you see them for a first time, but I suppose they get old for repeat visitors. And the technology doesn't allow them to be magnified to fullscreen.

So I'm seeking advice from readers/visitors here. I've embedded a poll at the upper right in the sidebar with these choices:
a) Keep the pix because they will be interesting for newbies and they don't bother me
b) Gradually move the best ones to the main blog where they can be supersized, and then delete from the sidebar.
c) Just delete them as annoying and unnecessary to the purpose of the blog.
d) I don't really care. I'm an old timer; they don't bother me, and I frankly don't even notice them.

Update: After receiving almost 300 votes, about half of the respondents favored leaving the photos as they are, about a quarter wanted the best ones moved to the center column, and the rest couldn't care less. I'll be cutting some of the photos and moving others to the center where they can be supersized. Thanks to all who responded, and thanks for the other comments re the blog format, several of which I have already implemented.


  1. I have to say that I come here for the content. I may look at your Bio once and your archives twice, but as a daily visitor, it is your content that matters. Cute pictures of your followers, a listing of every article you ever wrote, etc. are just things that take up space.

    But I'm an old curmudgeon.....

  2. You can clearly post picture links (like the weblog award finalist picture, which you can click). Why not make a small, clickable picture that says "gallery" and takes you to, well, the gallery?

    The gallery can be a blog post where you post all those pictures (as clickable thumbnails) along with a brief description and credit.

    I agree with the post above that I come here for the content, and I don't particularly care for the followers list. However, the blog archive is absolutely necessary.

    last piece of advice: is the lower banner really necessary? is there anyone in this planet who doesn't know how blogs work?

  3. a and d.
    People love your blog Stan and no one ever erected a statue to a critic.

    And Anon, yeah, this is the only blog I read and things like the lower banner is good,- once I know a site or web page (and don't need things like that), I don't even notice it.

  4. @ Anon - You're probably right about that footer photo. I started this for family and friends, many of whom had never read a blog, so I included that directive so they wouldn't think this was a one-page deal.

    I'm sure it is irrelevant now. I'll plan to delete it as I do my next cleanup/revision of the blog.


  5. I like the visual impact the pictures provide. Do you rotate them sometimes during the year? I've only begun reading TYWKIWDBI recently, so I wouldn't know.

    What makes the sidebar busy are the many links (archieves, categories, blogroll), widgets and graphics.

  6. I, too, come here for the content. Daily.
    But I think there is definitely too much stuff in your sidebar : too many pictures - however beautiful they may be - and above all, too many archives : what's the purpose of giving the titles of the last 188 (!!!) messages ?

    However, may I suggest you add (héhé...) a link to your last articles on Neatorama ?

  7. @ Dominique - The archives can be collapsed so that they take up almost no room in the column. Perhaps yours shows up open?

    I suppose I could move them lower in the column if that happens to lots of people. I consider the "categories" to be much more important - especially for new visitors who probably don't want to wade through hundreds of pages of varying topics - but the archives also invite people to explore.

  8. I like simplicity and I like seeing neat pictures ... once. Just post the pictures to your blog directly, with a tag so someone can view just the pictures if they wanted to.

    I use Google Reader anyways (I follow 10 blogs), so I never see your actual website anyways, only the latest RSS feeds.

  9. I use google reader too so it makes no difference to me.

  10. @ Dominique - Forgot to add that I do plan to post links to my Neatorama posts here in the blog. I did it once a few weeks ago -


    There have been another 12-15, so it's time to do it again.

  11. I vote for a) they are nice pics and easily ignoreable.

  12. The sidebar is just stuff.
    The only things I look at in sidebars are profiles, (who what and why), and links.
    If I'm reading a website that interests me, then maybe the links will take me to other places that will interest me.
    All the other stuff is filtered out, I just don't notice it.

  13. However, unlike a couple of commenters, I don't use google reader, and I read a lot more than 10 blogs.
    I like to go to the site, the colours, layout, all of these are part of the presentation.
    They say something about the blogger.

    I'm not sure what mine says of me!

  14. I'm a regular reader for quite some time now. I love photography, so I enjoy the photos on the sidebar and they don't bother me. It is also kind of an adjunct to the "Things You Wouldn't Know..." as "Thinks You Wouldn't See..." Maybe keeping a few and doing a gallery for the rest and you can add to it as you find more of those really fantastic photos. I'd keep the archive, too. The banner at the bottom doesn't bother me and everyone is a newbie to blogging at some point, so maybe it serves a necessary purpose. I guess my vote is a.

  15. I use Google reader, like Rayna, so the visual presentation doesn't really bother me. Just here for the content :)

  16. I didn't even know the photos were there, but they look interesting. That's why I voted for making them into a blog post and then deleting. And, yeah, I'd definitely shorten the archived article list.

  17. I would like to be able to supersize many of the images at the right, but I also do not consider this blog garish. I no longer notice what is in the right sidebar.


  18. I have your blog open up directly on my browser and do not use Google Reader, so I see the full page.
    I'm unfamiliar with the template you use, but is it not possible just to choose another template/layout to represent the same information? I use a Googlepages blog myself (private) and I can mess with the layout and the content just shifts over automatically. In your case,you might just add a left sidebar and move either links or photos there.

    The only "ugly layout" factor I see with your page is that the center column is so narrow, but I do know that's a current trend and blogger.com in particular thinks it's a good thing.

  19. I made use of the sidebar when I first started reading the blog a few months back, but now I don't notice it at all. I'd suggest you do with it whatever you determine is most useful/attractive/interesting for new
    readers--whatever is most likely to induce them to stick around.

  20. @ Purr - I've seen some wider main columns, which I also prefer because it doesn't require so much scrolling and allows larger photos. But I'm still too much of a noob to tackle changing the template, for fear of losing everything posted so far.

  21. How about putting the pics or your blogroll in the left sidebar? That would at least cut the scrolling down in half...

  22. I actually *love* the photos but find it irritating that they are not hot-linked to the source or to an enlarged version.

  23. @HeavenlyJane - only the five most recent additions (macros) are hotlinked; the others were added before I understood how to do that.

  24. @ktpupp - I don't think there IS a left sidebar...

  25. People keep mentioning that the archive is too big. While it doesn't bother me, you (stan) might want to make it so that blogger archives your posts by day instead of by month. That way, people would only see only the titles of the posts of today, and the rest of the posts would be collapsed.

    As for being afraid of changing the template- don't be. You can preview any changes you make to the template, and you can save the template on your computer before you many any changes. Making changes to the template shouldn't screw up your posts (permanently), but there is software out there to back up your blog if you want to (takes AGES though).

    I believe it IS possible to have two side bars, but that probably involves changing the template. You might also be interested in changing the dimensions of the side bars/posts though, having a wider sidebar would make it shorter.

  26. Changes made so far -

    Blog archive moved way down the sidebar.

    Footer photo/instructions deleted.

    Two pix moved from sidebar to main column and discussed.

  27. I love your blog, and will trust you to do as you think best.

  28. i for one love the pics even if i've seen them 20 (or more) times. they're grand

  29. I use Google Reader, but that giant header image with the text all spaced out and hard to read makes me a little embarrassed for you.


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