New Blog DesignTa-da! It’s my new blog design. This is a big moment for me because when I started blogging, I never dreamed that it would matter so much to me that I would actually pay to have a custom blog design.

There is an important lesson here about starting something new. Many people who have successful businesses say that if they had known how much work it was going to be they never would have started. I found this was true with the companies I’ve started. And at Get Rich Slowly, a personal finance blog that has grown astronomically in the last year, JD has a nice description of this process of growing in unexpected but exciting ways.

Meeting our goals might depend on being ignorant of how much work it will really take. If I had thought I was going to post six days a week I would have procrastinated every day forever because the amount of work would have seemed unbearable. But in fact, once you fall in love with what you’re doing, like any small business, the long hours don’t feel so long.

In some cases, though, you cannot help but know that you are about to start something that will be a lot of work. That’s how I feel about adding photos to the blog. I never expected to have photos, but my designer, (Rob Brown, who I really liked working with), showed me that the photos add a lot.

The only way I could get myself to agree to make the photo leap is to live in denial — a tactic I used for starting many clearly difficult projects. This means that we are launching a new design, but I have still not learned the ins and outs of photos. So this photo of workers at a desk is what Rob picked as a demo. But it looks good, doesn’t it?

18 replies
  1. Eric Hill
    Eric Hill says:

    Penelope,

    Congratulations on the new web-site design…it looks great! Combined with your new column at Yahoo! Finance and your upcoming book, I know it must be an exciting time for you.

    You’re right about the huge amount of work involved in starting any new project, but it’s also a lot of fun creating something that other people value.

    “Find a job you like, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

  2. tamar
    tamar says:

    Congratulations on changing the look and feel. Dusting off inevitable cobwebs, upgrading the user interface, and using new technologies are good things to do. Change brings reactions, and in the spirit of enhancing what ain’t broke (the content), I offer some feedback to you and Rob.

    The new site lost its former, warm feeling. Maybe it is the smaller size font (the date preceding each post is waaay too small). And, the prominent placement of the stat on Number of Subscribers undercuts your consistently modest, gee-whiz-did-I-accomplish-all-this? persona (supported sometimes by your own heartbreaking personal stories we can relate to easily — and gratefully). The photo is neither funny nor interesting.

    Some other content organization/placement suggestions: Cut back on the long scroll per page by nesting the Archives by year, move your Email link to the top or at least higher (its current placement is not friendly, which YOU ARE — another disconnect between new site and “old” writer).

    Looking forward to your continued messages broadcasting practical tips and wisdom, occasional gentle “lashings” with a “wet noodle” (from the toolkit of Ann Landers’ — another clever, caring, wise woman), and honest reporting on real life in both fast and slow lanes.

  3. Recruiting Animal
    Recruiting Animal says:

    Maybe you’d like to do a column about paying for a blog. How to choose a designer. Things to consider. Prices.

    I’m suggesting it because someone asked me recently if the quote she received was fair and I didn’t know.

  4. Noel Jensen
    Noel Jensen says:

    Wow, I am impressed. I actually did a double take when this came up tonight. At first I thought my link may have become corrupted. This is extremely polished and professional. I think that you got your money’s worth!

  5. Gautam Ghosh
    Gautam Ghosh says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Great design. The top banner looks tighter and I like the blue fade out to the white from left to right.

    Would like to see the “recent posts” section moved below popular posts and above categories.

    Best wishes !
    Gautam

  6. Joe Sheehan
    Joe Sheehan says:

    Great re-design, it looks really good (and much more current). The content is what really drives me here though. Design and pictures and layout – I’ll goto Yahoo for that. Raw content from Penelope Trunk – this is the best place.

  7. Tom McKay
    Tom McKay says:

    I always read your stuff through a feed reader, Penelope, so I had to actually click through (how exhausting!) to see your new design. It’s really excellent. Kudos to you and your designer.

    Re: photos. As a sometime designer (and fulltime copywriter), I agree that the right photos can really enhance a document. On the other hand, many lame-o stock photos add nothing, and can actually detract (distract) from the message. Kathy Sierra is an excellent example of someone who’s doing it right, imho. She’s picked a particular style of photo (retro) then enhances them with funny captions. They definitely reinforce her message!

    I — and your other faithful readers — expect no less from you! (Uh-oh, pressure!) ;-)

    * * * * *

    Tom, thanks for clicking through to leave a comment :)

    I appreciate you weighing in on the photos. I am still trying to figure out the best way to go, and it’s helpful to think about how Kathy Sierra has done it. You’re right — very smart for her branding and her message.

    For right now, it’s a miracle when I can actually get my photo sized right, let alone making it a grand expression of my ideas. We’ll see, though; I have big photo aspirations.

    –Penelope

  8. Diana
    Diana says:

    Love the new design. Very clean and inviting. Your comments on starting a business, not realizing the work involved, is pretty true. I’ve often belived that naivete is actually the REAL mother of invention.

  9. Ted
    Ted says:

    I don’t know…I like the look, but it is a little “Madison Avenue”-ish for the Penelope I know and love. There was something rather endearing and “one of us”-ish with your old photo and design. I guess that’s what getting a Yahoo nod and a big time book deal does to you. I remain a huge fan, though!

    * * * *
    Hi, Ted. I appreciate your comment. The design is only a veneer. It’s the same me :)-Penelope

  10. annaig
    annaig says:

    Beautiful new design, Penelope!
    Clean. The other one looked a little bit over-crowded to my taste.
    May I only ask that you stay away from stock photos? Any photo by you would work better imho.

  11. Working Girl
    Working Girl says:

    Lovely, clean, and easy-to-read revamped blog design. Great new photo of you! It’s a fantastic change, and worth all the work that I know it was. Congratulations!

    On using photos: They are nice but I feel that when they’re done too often, just for the sake of having a visual, it can be a bit off-putting. It makes me feel the person is trying too hard. They should be used only when they add true content.

    My two cents’ worth. . . . .

    Thanks, Working Girl, for the advice about the photos. And thanks to all the other photo advisors here as well. I see I am a little off the mark with the photos. Have to rethink things. Hopefully over the next few days you will find the photos less annoying. But if that’s not the case, I’m counting on you to tell me :)

    -Penelope

  12. Matt Maupin
    Matt Maupin says:

    Looks great! Just remember, I come here for the content, not the look. You’re doing a great job.

    As for the photos, if you go stock photo, it seems more effective to go with something that says “icon” rather than “action.”

  13. Scot Herrick
    Scot Herrick says:

    Any chance you can give some publicity to the designer? I think we all would love to have a good roster of names to choose from for our own blogs…

    Thanks…and a really clean, nice design!

    * * * * *

    Thanks, Scot.The designer who did this blog is Rob Brown. You can find him at angrylittledog.com.

     -Penelope

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