Reader Poll On The New PFRE Blog Template

January 21st, 2012

I left the new PFRE blog template up overnight on Friday night and got some negative feedback. So I thought I’d do a reader poll this weekend to get a broader input.

Update 1/22 8:00 PM Pacific: On Sunday (1/22) evening I took down the Poll that was up for most of the weekend because I got the input I wanted on Sat and most of Sun.

Here’s the problem I’m trying to solve:

  1. The PFRE blog is going on 1500 posts. Many posts are unimportant but many from years past are still useful.
  2. The current theme basically highlights the current post and about 10 of the past posts. Once a post falls off the front page only the diligent readers find that content.
  3. The current theme does little to expose the fact that there are many tracks, business, technique, marketing, video etc.
  4. Also, this is an old style theme that doesn’t use many of the newer features of the current WordPress software.

Sat and Sunday I got a bunch of great feedback (most of which is still in the comments) that made it clear that the theme that I was testing up to late in the day 1/22 was too cluttered and had the problem that the current post was not high enough on the page. Sun morning Nick De Clercq of Gent, Belgium pointed out a theme by a designer named Kriesi called Newscast. When I saw it it was immediately clear that this theme did a better job of solving the problems I was trying to solve with this update so I purchased it and put it on my test siteI’m still working at getting the theme working like I want it (there are still some image sizing problems and Menu issues that I haven’t gotten solved yet), but I’m optimistic that you all will like this theme much better and it will solve the problems I’m trying to solve.

I was impressed and stunned by the amount and quality of advice I got this weekend in a matter of about 12 hours. It demonstrated to me yet again the amazing power of mass collaboration. I show have asked for your collective input earlier.

Thanks especially to Nick for pointing this theme out to me! More on Nick on Tues.


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22 Responses to “Reader Poll On The New PFRE Blog Template”

  • Not a fan. I thought it was more cluttered and harder to find what I wanted.

  • Larry has alot going for it, the new, but if I could make a couple suggestions (my real job is UI designer)

    the top header area is a bit hit n miss (text links) grouping items into a menu structure would be preferable (if the system allows you too) like Equipment>sub menu, Business Advice > sub menu, Tips n Techniques > sub menu — something along those lines

    I might also want to consider showing the first 10 blog entries below the scrolling images, then the 4 areas of photo technique, video etc below that. the reason being is usually you want the most current relevant information “above the fold” if the system you are building on is really robust, you could put that block of 4 after the 1st 10 posts, then have another block of posts below that. Of course, if that block of 4 is always going to contain the most recent posts, then that is the best place for it

    Finally, on color and background, I’m just not feeling ‘high end photography’ in the site…

  • I don’t know if it’s because you chose old articles to test with or not, but when I saw it yesterday, I couldn’t figure out where the current articles were supposed to be.

  • Difficult to figure out the latest article

  • Larry, If it is not broken, why fix it. I have always enjoyed the ease of using the original. Not to say improvements should not be looked into, but try to keep the same overall format.

  • I agree with the above comments that content is harder to find. The new look is more pleasing to the eye. I suppose it will take time to grow on us and maybe over time content can be organized in a different way. One thing I had a problem with was when I looked at the site with my smartphone, the screen would show the Facebook like, Google +, ect… panel floating over the content I’m reading. When I close it, it refreshes when I choose to read comments. Found it annoying. Hope this is helpful. I enjoy the blog and look at it several times per week.

  • I’m a big fan of having the latest article at the top and easy to find. I don’t like having things being separated into different sections.

  • I like the new theme, but like the other people above, I would like to see your recent blog posts above the fold. I come to the site just about everyday for your new posts and like them up top!

  • I know what you were trying to do – bring relevant older items forward that are buried. Guud concept crouping by subject, but way too busy. Like others mentioned, I looked all over for new content. Saw renent articles leading the various groupings, but couldn’t find where new was. Now back on the old format,can see that there wasn’t any new content, as the LR4 article is immediately below this. With that in mind, I didn’t see an area where new content would go.

  • I say keep the old style but see if there’s a way to tweak it for better functionality and usability. One thing that needs to go in my opinion is that social floating bar thing on the left. Not very pleasing and pretty buggy for me (OSX, FF9)

  • I have to agree that the new theme suggestion is a bit busy. I think that a new magazine style theme would be nice for the site. Why not try a theme such as the Newcast theme by Kriesi, it has the ability to create lists in the header (101, …) and feature popular articles and the latest post is visible above the fold. (This is just a suggestion of a style/lay-out).

  • I also could not find the latest article and the significance of any individual article seems diminished when mixed with so many others.

  • Change is often hard. Seems most complain when such online changes occur to something we’re all accustomed to using daily. But I applaud the progressive thinking and am open to the change.

  • I agree with Charlie Dresen. Change is hard for many people. I, too, am open to changing to a new, improved look that highlights some of the “older posts.” So, I vote yes to your proposed change, so long as the most recent blog post is prominently at the top.

  • I like the new format myself. I felt more engaged in the content for some reason. The old one is like a nice pasture to graze in and the new one is more like a strip mall with all these stores in one convenient location! I like it!

  • I also like the new format as the information and posts are readily available to scan and to click on to read more. Can I assume you checked out multiple themes before settling on this new one? This one has a lot going on which has both pro and con elements to it. It’s nice to have articles divided into sections (photo technique, video, business, etc.) but there is a lot for the eye to take in. I do think it is easier to find content in this new format and that seems the reason you went looking for a new template.

  • When I logged on yesterday and saw the new theme, I thought something was haywire with my computer. “Busy” doesn’t begin to desccribe what I saw. It looked like a house that had not been de-cluttered prior to a photo shoot. I hate it, to tell the truth. Way, way too much “stuff” going on. In an age where people want to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, this new design makes no sense at all.


  • Larry,
    Although the new design looks more contemporary and up to date, I found it very hard to know what the post of the day was. If you can overcome this aspect which most comments seem to be pointing to, then I like the new design. I don’t’ think the new design is too cluttered, I think your readers need to figure out how to look at it and where to look for things. Personally, as a business owner trying to sell something – I found your store and items you sell and the photographer directory which bring money in to you were very easy to find. I also like having things sectioned into areas of interest for finding specific older posts that I remember or subjects we might be interested in at the moment.
    Everything new takes time, everything new eventually becomes refined and usable and hopefully you will be able to come up with a solution for new posts. I would like to suggest one of the boxes be: Current months posts – no matter what the subject – with the most recent post being the top level post.

  • Why not make better use of your widgets to extend the current theme? I see no right / left column widgets that support “most viewed posts / articles”, “most commented on articles”, or even articles / posts by subject, tag, or date / month / year etc. If you want to bring forward relevant posts / articles from the past, allow and most importantly encourage the average user to be explorative in a more open structure rather than closed. The only “open” structure you currently have on your site is the front page article feed with pagination / ability for users to go back, and a “recent comments feed” widget on the left side. All other links are closed, and are either through the menu system, direct ads to your books and own personal services, your “other links” and “PFRE Flickr links”, and your “PFRE Photographer of the month” links.

  • I do like the new look in general, though it is too cluttered for me. And I agree with the comments that the most recent post should be easy to spot, which would mean above the fold.

  • I did like the new design better as well.

  • Don’t change what it works and its great. I just have a suggestion. Some posts organization would be good, by category etc, to help us find what we look for. Not even links organization. Metatags would do. For example if I want to find all aerial photography posts I could click the metatag or search for it.

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