Personal Log: Upgrade Time! Inside The New Software Insider Blog V4
Unveiling The New Software Insider Blog
As many of you know, the old blog was just old. Dubbed as "The Ugliest Tech Blog In The World", I hoped that good content would make up for the lack of design sense, functionality, and well, very old WordPress template (See Figure 1). The good news, most of you just took the RSS feed, retweeted the links, and avoided telling me how dated the site was. I did find out who my real friends were when they pulled me aside to say, "Ray, it's time for a blog refresh!" Your real friends are the ones who tell you the unvarnished truth, especially in passive aggressive Silicon Valley.
Figure 1. The Software Insider Blog From July 13th, 2014
Blog Refreshes Provide Opportunities To Refresh The Brand Promise
In building the new blog, I took a step back to think about the design challenges and opportunities. It had been quite some time since I had looked at the blog. At first, the goal was to modernize the experience. After looking at over 100 other influencer sites, I realized that I had to answer a few questions on my own:
- How would I not only keep my brand promise but also improve on it?
- How could I improve the overall visitor experience?
- How do you simplify content delivery. Could I filter and present massive amounts of content in a pleasing way?
- What were the top visited content of visitors? Were there any key patterns? How could I improve the experience?
- What new visual techniques and technologies should I adopt?
The result was a new blog that addressed the design challenges in a unique manner (See Figure 2).
Figure 2. The New Software Insider V4 Blog
Keeping The Brand Promise In A Digital World
Form does follow function in the new blog. Here are design elements used to address the challenges of the previous blog
Flickr slide show
This captures the latest images from the Flickr stream. It's tagged and the first 20 images rotate through as well as a few billboards that can be added. The rich images reinforce the brand of extreme engagement, unique events, global coverage, and breathtaking experiences.
The goal was to take the top content requested and make it easy to access. The top categories searched included Posts, MyPOV (Twitter Stream), Trending, Monday's Musings, News Analysis, Event Reports, and Disrupting Digital. Those were quickly made into tabs that visitors could quickly filter against.
The tiles visually present information and enable social actions. While they take a bit longer to load, the tiles bring the content to life. This does require better images with each post, but tiles with images tend to receive four times more click through.
Featured reports drive interest in the overall coverage areas of Constellation Research. The reports also reflect important content viewers may want to go deep into.
The quotes highlight key sound bites over the years. They also provide an easy place to reference quotes that are often "stolen" without attribution. This is a common occurrence in the valley.
Responsive design and mobile
The site traditionally sucked on mobile. Now with a responsive design, the design point should go from the smallest iPhone to the largest screens.
While comments have gone down in general in all blogs, I felt it was important to standardize on a commenting platform that would make it convenient for power commentators. I truly value the dialog in the comments of my most loyal visitors.
With over 50 paid keynotes and speaking engagements a year, visitors often sought videos or interviews of me in action. The dedicated video page addresses the need to cover this important medium.
Arguably the heart of the blog, the ideas bring together the concepts that drive my research. The objective was to distill the top ideas and concepts in each of the key business themes.
Bottom Line: Take The Time To Refresh Your Blog Often, Don't Wait Too Long
When you start your own company and attempt to write a business book, there's really no time to sit back and think. Yet, the blog is so critical to your personal brand. A refresh to the blog should reflect the design point for a refresh on your personal brand. Neglecting the blog for over five years is two years too long. As I enter a new chapter in this journey called life, I hope this blog reflects the refreshed brand. While I haven't lost business, I have learned to improve how often I update my blog as it will improve business in general.
Now working with a good partner helps. The blog team at Computer Courage did a great job in translating my abstract ideas into a concrete design. The process took about 10 weeks from concept to delivery. Kudos go out to Hart Farrell Hedberg, Kyla Rossi, and Jacob Rex for putting out something unique and not a copy of another template.
More importantly, I want to thank you, the visitors and readers for all your loyal support over the past fourteen years. You've put up with the design despite the content. I hope now the design matches the quality of the content and the personal brand.
What do you think of the new blog? Anything else you'd improve? Thanks in advance for your feedback. Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.
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