New Blog Design Now With Comments

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After a much needed change, I decided to completely revamp my blog. The old one was good, but it was cluttered, too busy, and distracting.

I wanted to simplify.

I wanted to get rid of the clutter and look crisper, cleaner, and more focused. The previous one had too many ads, messages, social icons, etc.

I loved the overall design and some of the main design elements from Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, and Darren Rowse. So I decided to emulate them.

I realized that they use Genesis as their framework, but I’m in love with WooThemes. In fact, I wanted a WooTheme theme because all my other blogs have WooThemes, and I love their framework, their sidebar manager, their built-in shortcodes, etc.

I wanted those features on my own blog!

Lastly, I wanted to re-introduce commenting, but with a twist. I once used Disqus, which I liked a lot. But I wanted more social media integration. Recently, LiveFyre came along with full social networking integration and some good reviews.

So this is it! But I need your feedback on a couple of things…

What do you think? I’m still tweaking it, and I not 100% sure I want to keep it like this, including the comments. Let me know in the comments.

What else do you think I should add or remove? If you look at the bottom footer section, there’s nothing (compared to last time where I had the most popular posts, etc).

Brian Clark and Chris Brogran have nothing, too. But Darren’s blog has a neat footer section. Ideas? Suggestions? Let me know in comments below.

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98 thoughts on “New Blog Design Now With Comments

  1. Steve.Thelocalbizbuilder

    Eric Graham alerted me to this new format, Michel. Looks clean.

  2. Steve.Thelocalbizbuilder

    Eric Graham alerted me to this new format, Michel. Looks clean.

  3. CopywritingDean

    My question is, mostly, how do you do all of it? I’m very impressed.

    One thing I might like. I come back here every so often to read articles I remember reading years ago, just like I go back and read copywriting books. It looks like a lot of the “core” articles are under your “New? Start Here” category on the archives page. Now that I know where to look, I can find it no problem. But new visitors might benefit from an easier path to your classic articles.

  4. CopywritingDean

    My question is, mostly, how do you do all of it? I’m very impressed.

    One thing I might like. I come back here every so often to read articles I remember reading years ago, just like I go back and read copywriting books. It looks like a lot of the “core” articles are under your “New? Start Here” category on the archives page. Now that I know where to look, I can find it no problem. But new visitors might benefit from an easier path to your classic articles.

  5. I like the new design, and I think you have accomplished your goal (less clutter). About the comments, I use Livefyre as well and really like them (I looked at using Disqus and other systems).

    What plugin, if any, are you using to include the Google +1, Facebook, and Twitter buttons? That looks great!

  6. I like the new design, and I think you have accomplished your goal (less clutter). About the comments, I use Livefyre as well and really like them (I looked at using Disqus and other systems).

    What plugin, if any, are you using to include the Google +1, Facebook, and Twitter buttons? That looks great!

  7. Which Woo theme did you start with?

    Thanks for doing the hard work on LiveFyre … been looking for something like that. Hope it’s great!

    I like this design. Can I steal it ;-)

  8. Which Woo theme did you start with?

    Thanks for doing the hard work on LiveFyre … been looking for something like that. Hope it’s great!

    I like this design. Can I steal it ;-)

  9. @MikeSigers I used FreshNews.

  10. @MikeSigers I used FreshNews.

  11. @narcissus I’m using a plugin called DiggDigg. It’s the best. ;)

  12. @narcissus I’m using a plugin called DiggDigg. It’s the best. ;)

  13. Looks clean but I liked the old image of you up top Michel. I hate to say this is a bit generic amigo! :-) All that aside, it’s the great content that really matters. (Sorry, I hate it when I re-do something and people don’t love it)

  14. Looks clean but I liked the old image of you up top Michel. I hate to say this is a bit generic amigo! :-) All that aside, it’s the great content that really matters. (Sorry, I hate it when I re-do something and people don’t love it)

  15. Anyone who knows me knows I like simple and clean when it comes to blogs.So I like what you have done :)My suggestion : keep the comments, very important, and use the footer to take care of business,ie main contact info, privacy policy etc

    Peter

  16. Anyone who knows me knows I like simple and clean when it comes to blogs So I like what you have done :) My suggestion : keep the comments, very important, and use the footer to take care of business,ie main contact info, privacy policy etc

    Peter

  17. Anyone who knows me knows I like simple and clean when it comes to blogs So I like what you have done :) My suggestion : keep the comments, very important, and use the footer to take care of business,ie main contact info, privacy policy etc

    Peter

  18. It seems the move these days is toward a minimal, simplitsic blog presentation. Which reminds me, I gotta redo mine when i get a round tuit.

  19. It seems the move these days is toward a minimal, simplitsic blog presentation. Which reminds me, I gotta redo mine when i get a round tuit.

  20. Looks good Michel. We are in the same process over at our site. “Overwhelmed visitors are less likely to return.”

    We are actually considering replacing Disqus with the WordPress native commenting system. Question: What is it about livefyre that caused you to go with it for now? What social features does it offer that make it better than Disqus in your view?

  21. Looks good Michel. We are in the same process over at our site. “Overwhelmed visitors are less likely to return.”

    We are actually considering replacing Disqus with the WordPress native commenting system. Question: What is it about livefyre that caused you to go with it for now? What social features does it offer that make it better than Disqus in your view?

  22. Looks good Michel. We are in the same process over at our site. “Overwhelmed visitors are less likely to return.”

    We are actually considering replacing Disqus with the WordPress native commenting system. Question: What is it about livefyre that caused you to go with it for now? What social features does it offer that make it better than Disqus in your view?

  23. Hey @michel.fortin the site looks great! I’m a fan of clean design, and I think you have all the right components in the sidebar to encourage more interaction. Let us know if you have any questions or feedback about Livefyre, we’re excited to have you in the network!

  24. @Travisnow I suggest reading the review I linked in my article. But in short, the main thing is because it brings social medial together with commenting, and brings the conversations back to your blog but connects with social media.

  25. @Travisnow Hey Travis, Jenna from Livefyre here. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the platform. As @michel.fortin stated, we’re all about making your content the central hub of conversation and a place where you can build community. I’m interested in learning more about why you’re thinking about switching back to WP comments. Every community is different and it’s great to learn from other people’s experiences. Thanks!

  26. I also like the new clean design @michel.fortin , and I’m a big fan of WooThemes too. I vote for keeping the footer clean and simple. Nice work!

  27. @michel.fortin @Travisnow I was going to ask the same question. Only thing is this essentially forces the user to register or sign-in rather than post as a guest like Disqus does, but I can understand since this can keep out anonymous hecklers. :)<p>Michel, I noticed before that your post titles once used some kind of WordArt font, and I liked it. How’d you do that?

  28. @michel.fortin

    I noticed before that your post titles once used some kind of WordArt font, and I liked it. How’d you do that?

    I was going to ask the same question about Livefyre. Only thing is this essentially forces the user to register or sign-in rather than post as a guest like Disqus does, but I can understand since this can keep out anonymous hecklers. :)

  29. @David Z It’s still the same (not WordArt). I use Google Webfonts and the plugin for that. I then style it with shadows, etc.

  30. I’m voting with X… we want to see your mug! Very clean design though. Sweet. :)

  31. Is this better @jasonleister?

  32. @michel.fortin @jasonleister I LIKE That!

  33. @michel.fortin Yeah… I LIKE that!!

  34. @jennalanger @Travisnow @michel.fortin Jenna, I think Livefyre looks great. Feels so much more ALIVE than other comment plugins. Just a question: If you have more than one account, it looks like you don’t know which one you’re logged into and posting as until you press post comment. Did I miss something?

  35. @jasonleister Hey Jason, so glad you’re enjoying the system. You can see who you are logged in as at the top comment box, but you are correct that there is no view of the avatar or username you’re logged in as in replies. We’ll do some brainstorming for how that can be fit into the UI. Thanks for the feedback!

  36. Has your bounce rate changed? This is a simple layout, I like it.

  37. I like the clean design. Too many blogs (and websites) put to many competing elements and mute their message in the process.

    John

  38. WealthSecrets

    Hi Michel,

    Looks much much lighter and I really like the light scheme.

    I think there is a shift generally towards these lighter and clean and crisp looking themes, although I did like your previous layout and scheme.

    This layout and theme is so much better though to the eye and also browsing aound the content of the site is much much better.

    Still not quite sure about the top though, the previous layout seemed to brand you much better that this one – this one seems too general in terms of branding , but then I guess as a Top Marketer you are not in need of branding as such, it;s just that whenever I arrived at your site – I knew instantly it was Your site. This one as much a I do like it seems to lack that special individuality that you had with the previous one.

    Take care

    Hope Sylvie is doing well – Have not heard from her for a while.

    Hamant

  39. I like the overall design but particularly like the font you’ve used. I had a stroke about 7 months ago which resulted in a loss of vision which has been slow to return and the font you’ve chosen is much easier for me to read than most.

    Dick Jacobson

  40. Remove the WP Touch plugin. It’s not set up correctly. Turning “off” on iPhone fails so can’t really comment on look and feel. Sorry.

  41. So you’re saying it’s a bug with the WPTouch plugin? Or LiveFyre? @vtmiller

  42. I like it! What widget are you using for the Subscribe box/social icons box above?

    Not crazy about having to create an account to post.

    Regards to Sylvie! Howard

  43. @michel.fortin – it is strange, now it’s showing web based site on iPhone and I scrolled down to try to turn on the WP Touch switch to see the mobile version. It didnt change. So now I see the full site but couldn’t before.

  44. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller

    Michel, Looks good. Then again, I liked your old blog too. Just one quibble–I might be older than most of your readers. So I’d like a larger font size. Of course I can adjust it myself, or use readability.com. But if you’re asking for druthers…. However you design it, the main thing is WHAT you say. And that’s always worth reading. All the best, Morty

  45. Looks very good Michel, love the spacing so easier to read your posts. Very interested to read of your suggestion of using LiveFyre. Hmmm, will consider too. Am looking at your header and wondering if your designer could integrate it more with the rest of your site? The dark header contrasts with the zen page. Perhaps that’s your intention? Perhaps a larger photo of you and copy to fill more space. Just some feedback. Wishing you the very best with your new look!

  46. VasilisPasparas

    much better Michel. minimalistic is always the best for us publishers and readers as well.

    thumbs up

  47. Clean and uncluttered is always better – most of us run away from the cluttered sites. I like the footer you mentioned, too. Keeps stuff on the page but corralled neatly where it doesn’t interfere with the content people seek. Nice job. Say hello to Sylvie, too, please! :)

  48. You have inspired me to change my theme. I have been looking at the clean designs also and am definitely ready to leave mt thesis theme behind .

    I also love the studiopress theme but I’m very impressed after seeing your site with the woo theme.

    Looks great… I’n fact so good that I want to imitate what you’re doing.

  49. Yes! I like the new look, it is easy to follow and find topics, definitely uncluttered is better. I also like ind right side bar wider then usual, it is probably part of the theme.

  50. I like it!

    Sleeker and better readability.

    Clean and classy – that’s the way it should be.

    Cheers

  51. Simple and focused. I like it.

  52. I removed WP Touch because all of the people who saw it told me they’d rather see my sites as they are, not the generic theme of WP Touch.

  53. I think 14 is the new 12 as far as type size is concerned ;-)

  54. I love the email alerts from LiveFyre. I can Reply or ignore very quickly.

    I wonder how this would work with a site behind a membership wall, such as WishList Member? If it works as well there, I’m a bigger fan than LiveFyre will ever know.

    Just the fact that I can rid my life of anonymous fools, trolls and assholes makes it tremendously fantastic!!!

  55. @MikeSigers Hey Mike, feel free to shoot me an email at jenna at livefyre dot com and I can give you more info about our custom domain product – it offers SingleSignOn and we’ve had some people start doing integration with private user communities. Glad you like the product!

  56. @Mordechai (Morty) Schiller Thanks, Morty. And nice to hear from you again! I think the font can be a tad bigger. I’ll see what I can do.

  57. Right but the comments still use 12 it seems @MikeSigers I might play with the CSS (it looks like it might be stylable).

  58. @htiano Right, and the spammers and one-shot commenters are not crazy about it either. That was one of the reasons why I removed comments before in the first place. I was sick and tired of them. But this, however, helps a lot.

  59. @vtmiller Hmmm. Not sure what that is. Unless you were pulling from a cache or something. I also use Cloudflare to speed up this site: http://Cloudflare.com

  60. Well, I’m my own designer @TinaCook and this is a customized version of a WooTheme called “FreshNews.” I specifically chose the dark header as a contrast, which is to emulate Copyblogger.com and Chrisbrogan.com. I might test others, but I like the contrast. We’ll see…

  61. I would love the Copyblogger look, with different colors, as you did here, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know how you took Fresh News to this.

    You’re the man! seems a little less than what I should be shouting ;-)

    I’ve asked 30 other people to do this, but I’ll ask you as well:

    If you create a site/course that shows how you did this, step-by-step, you’ll make a nice chunk-o-change from that effort.

    I will be the first to signup and will be glad to help with any interviews or teleseminars!

  62. @MikeSigers I’m thinking seriously about doing such a course. ;)

  63. @jasonleister @michel.fortin I agree – that’s better!

  64. Nando Morales

    Nice and clean, doesn’t make the content look overwhelming. This will work especially well for some of your longer posts.

  65. Bonsoir Michel! I prefer this look sleeker, simple and foucused. I feel comfortable when reading it. À Mercredi! Claire Labrie

  66. I’ve been after theme designers to do this for 5-6 years.

    Most designers aren’t sales types, so they don’t understand that to sell more of your product all you need to do is teach the prospects how to consume it.

    If they’d hold weekly or monthly webinars, showing how to mod their themes, they’d make more than the web devs who take their themes and create designs for way too much money.

    Just the other day a guy that is an Affiliated Woo Worker wanted $2500 to mod one page. Can you imagine? One page for $2500? Seriously?

    Even tho we operate 30+ sites, I’d be delighted to help in any way with interviews, teleseminars, webinars, etc.

    I always thought whoever did this would need input from someone like me who has to have everything done by someone else.

    Fortunately, I have my wife @JoiTaniaSigers to do most of my work, but we have to pay for some things like mods, solely because we’ve never seen it done and have no real concrete idea as to where to start, where not to start, what to do, what to not do, etc.

  67. Looks simplified to me.

  68. SmallBusinessBranding

    Nicely organized @michel.fortin Michel, I get what I came to read without so much distraction.Looks like I am going to have to do something like this with my blog.I have been using Discus as well but I like the function that I see here.I like the ability to comment as well as long as it is not overwhelming on the admin side.The e-mail alert was nice as well.A definite thumbs up from me.

  69. Mary E. Ulrich

    The white background really makes your text pop. How about some explanation for “37 people listening”? –not sure what that means. Michel, if you have over 54,000 subscribers, you have already proven you have great instincts and skill. Asking your readers for feedback is why you are a pro.

    •  @Mary E. Ulrich Listening is a function of the Livefyre commenting system. It refers to active Livefyre profiles “following” the conversation here on this post.

  70. Looking at it in mobile and wondering if there isn’t a way to add a little of your brand in this view? Perhaps through color and branded buttons?

  71. Mmmh, I ran webpage speed test: 6.89 sec for document to complete, and then took more than 60 seconds to fully load (though that’s not noticeable on the page). Page has a lot of HTTP requests, a bunch of them from livefyre…. what’s your thoughts on load speed? When you go into Google’s webmaster central, it will tell you that your page is 90% slower than most pages:

    http://www.webpagetest.org/result/110620_A0_W5Z0/1/details/

    [1] In your experience, where’s the balance between load speed and how that affects Google ranking vs. good social media integration? I know you had a bunch of social media plugins enabled on your last site.

    [2] In the same vein, should you use the wordpress social media plugins right out of the box, or use a more streamlined manual custom-integration given your site’s traffic? Let me know your thoughts on both questions.

  72. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller

    My pleasure. I’m an old fan.

    I didn’t notice if you have moderation on, but you might want to take a lesson from past experience……

    All the best, Morty

  73. Not sure how to answer the 1st question as I’m not an SEO expert @uiserloh. But I do know this version loads a lot faster than previously. That’s why I use W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare CDN.

    But as far as plugins are concerned, I use DiggDigg, which pulls the code directly from the providers and adds it to this site (it’s more like shortcodes) — rather than double scripting like ShareThis or AddThis (I used to have ShareThis and it slowed the site down considerably).

    Not sure if this answers your question, but you seem to knowledgeable enough — what do YOU think? Is this something I should take up with LiveFyre?

  74. Personally…I liked your old design better. I guess cause it made you look more authoritative and distinctive. But that’s just one man’s opinion. I read your blog even if it was on yellow lined paper (hey. there’s an idea)

  75. Hi Michel

    The light gray background with dark gray copy hinders readability.

    Far better to have black copy on a white background, even though this looks less “designed.”

    I’m sure Jakob Nielsen would agree!

  76. Looks much better now!

    Larger font size and black text on a white background.

    I now read your copy with ease. Very nice blog, Michel.

  77. i think…<a href=”http://www.meetmedaily.com”>.</a> the old blog was much more nice..anyways the new is also not bad…

  78. @michel.fortin Let me know if you might need any help putting together such a course. My core business at the moment is doing advanced WooThemes mods.

    Here’s a write-up I did recently for WooThemes (this one was for Canvas) –

    http://www.woothemes.com/2011/05/the-butterfly-circus-a-case-study-on-advanced-canvas-modification/

  79. Funny, I was actually hunting around trying to figure out which theme you were using.

    I love it…

    Which theme is this if you don’t mind me asking, and did you hire a programmer to modify, customize it, or this right out of the box?

    My only complaint is the difficulty in leaving this comment…shouldn’t have to jump through so many hoops to contribute to the conversation.

    Thanks,

    Justin

  80. Hey Michel,

    How you doin? Just wanna say that I’ve been using disqus before but now i switched and i think i made the right choice.

    Brenda

  81. Your blog is looking more cleaner now than before and I love it. You made a great points here and thanks for sharing it!

  82. I just love the clean and simple design, I’m sure you have made the right decision when you changed for this ;)

  83. I’ve become one of the few users of my network of folks using Genesis. It has been a very sobering system to learn and get used to.

    I may have to venture into Woo For a few future projects.

  84. For now I like your design.More clearer and tidy.Thank you for including me here.Keep it up!

  85. How about some explanation for “37 people listening”? –not sure what that means.

  86. Hi Michel, the overall design looks crispy and nice! adding Livefyre adds power to comments, I can say this as social commenting and makes your blog so lively, Cheers!

  87. Design looks perfect, the simpler the better. :) With this I’m pretty sure your readers won’t lose track of what they were reading or looking.

  88. Your new design has many improvements from the old one. I like the simplistic feel to it which makes it very easier to browse and read.
     
    Keep on the good work!

  89. Now it is simple to expresses our view points…Love you Livefyre

  90. Good website! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I might be notified when a new post has been made. I’ve subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day! @ http://tinyurl.com/7fnadk2

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  92. I really like the subscribe and follow box on the right, is that a separate plugin or a function of the Woothemes template?
     
    Hard coding mine is a pain.

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