Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blog Critique: Change the Topic

In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

Quick, go to Stay awhile because it's a pretty awesome read. Like them on Facebook too if you want entertainment in your daily feed, because, Change The Topic is pretty dang entertaining. And then meet below for a critique.

Let's just get this out of the way: I love The Real Birdman and his entourage and would read Change the Topic every day just because. Funny, crass, original, and actually there's some social responsibility too even though The Birdman would like readers to think otherwise. This is one of those blogs that wins with personality. Personality blogs can fail everywhere else and still be awesome.

I'm not saying that Change the Topic fails everywhere else. I just want to be perfectly clear that anything I say by way of suggestion is a bit of take or leave it. Because, Birdman, you got it going on already.

But if you'd like to hear what I'd suggest, just for kicks, read on.

  • I like your header, but I wish it was wider. Right now there's more focus on the Royal Flush book. This would be totally fine if Royal Flush was your book, but it looks like it's not. 
  • If you do want to keep promoting Royal Flush, and by all means do, just make sure it doesn't get top billing on your blog. Also, I'd have that open in another window so that people don't get away from your blog when they go to look at it.
  • We'd like to see more color. Though your blog is really clean, it's really monotone. Adding some variety in your colors will really make you stand out. Three or four total colors would be awesome. Like, you could keep the red for your blog titles, then add a coordinating color for your authorship and date stamp and another color for your Read More. Your sidebar titles could be a different color. 
  • Another way to add some color to your blog would be to put a background color on your sidebar. This would also help separate it from your posts. Right now it sort of runs together.
  • Your navigation bar to your other pages is just a bit buried. It took me a few minutes to find your About page. 
  • Okay, I love your Cerebral Cortex picture, but having it repeat on all your posts bugs me because of it's size. It also makes me feel like I'm seeing a post I've already seen and I almost skipped some. I don't know the answer. Maybe shrink it down and put it in your sidebar. Or put it below your header. Something so the same photo doesn't show up when people are reading your posts in Google Reader.
  • I think you could lose the word "here" in your "Sweet Jesus!" line. I hate how it wraps to the next line and it still makes sense without the word. Actually, I'd suggest cleaning as many of those links as you can so that they don't wrap. You could use a "&" instead of "and" in the "it's super easy and fun". 
  • The blogroll next to your tags is muddy. I'd prefer to see them in their own column.
All right, that's all I got. If I missed anything it was because I was enjoying reading your posts too much. Hope this critique was helpful.

Anything else you'd like to add, readers?


Jamie Gibbs said...

Great points, Laura.I'd add in that the sidebar looks quite squished and compact. Maybe widen it a little and give each element some breathing space?


Change The Topic said...

Thanks, Laura. I am actually in the process of building some more headers to break things up, like I did with Therapy Thursday. As for the columns and the main header; they are the size they are because of the theme I have. I don't know code, so until I do, or can afford to hire someone, that's how they'll stay. I'll look into the colour thing as well. I hope people aren't coming here for the aesthetics, but I do see what you're saying. I'll put it to a vote tomorrow. Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Definitely would like more color.

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