I have a new blog design. Yay!

I just got back from Washington, DC where we were meeting about the future of Brazen Careerist. The only time you have big company meetings for a startup is if you have no money or a lot of money. We just got a lot of money.

Usually I bring something to do during Brazen Careerist meetings because I get so bored. I don’t get bored when I talk. But I get bored when I listen. Unfortunately the only way to hear new ideas is to listen. So I try.

We brought in this guy, Michael Mayernick, from the company Spinnakr. Here’s a picture I took of him meeting with us.

He has this great product that can tell where someone is coming from, and then you change your home page to appeal more to the type of person that would come from that site. Really big companies use this technology already, but now Michael’s company makes this technology for smaller companies. So now, for instance, all of you who come to my blog from porn sites can get a version of this photo with Michael naked.

When Michael wasn’t there, I furtively worked on my site redesign. Not like I did the designing. Melissa did a lot of it. If you think the design sucks, here’s her twitter handle: @melissa.

I like the design because there are now more than 1000 posts, and this design is meant to help people get to them. I spent most of my time in DC drawing lists of ways to think about navigation.

And peppering the conversation with bright ideas about where Brazen Careerist should go.

I did not tell anyone in the company that I was taking the title Brazen Careerist off of my blog. I think it is time, though. This is a good design for a period when my career is in transition. I can change the categories and the links all the time until I figure out which parts of the last eight years of writing are best to highlight now.

I hope you like the new design. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas of what to do next. Thanks.


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  1. Dips
    Dips says:

    The design looks great. Maybe you can reduce the starkness of the ‘How To’ and ‘Biggest Career Mistakes’ headings. They are just BOLD and BIG and BLACK. But they are eyecatching – if thats what you aim at!
    I read your blog thru reader, so I really dont care much about the site design, except when I am searching. And this is definitely easier to search on.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      I agree, that one area is the only thing that sticks out to me as “ugh”. I general I’m not thrilled with the redesign but I don’t hate it, but in that particular instance, it just looks way too bold and in your face.

  2. Abi
    Abi says:

    It’s a bit harsh – you need a third colour to relate with the black and the orange. I would suggest going with some of the blue that you had before – also for familiarity.
    Also your tab headers and your article headers can’t be the same colour – they’re too close together. Maybe darken orange of the article header a a few shades.

    I felt like I’d been smacked in the face so if you could get rid of the constant caps in the sidebar that would be great.

    Your pic @ the top of the page needs darkening a bit too – it looks like someone has been trying to erase your nose.

    Maybe the “featured articles” section could have a bit more colour too? Also the font size of the “How to” and “Biggest career mistakes” is too big for the page. Come down 2 sizes.

    And even if you just use the picture of your book it needs to be more prominent than it is – I don’t come down this end of the page that often. I would put it under the search bar on the right – I would make it down that far when I occasionally read the comments.

    All this from the woman who has a blog of her own and barely posts to it…I feel like I’m being really judgy – and I’ve not had caffeine yet and I’m not a morning person – maybe that’s why it all felt so harsh.

      • sophie
        sophie says:

        Graphic and web designer talking here.

        Soften the black just a touch. Instead of #000, take it down to #333. It will have the same look but subconsciously be easier on the eyes.

        And yes, the sidebar headers are a bit too big. There’s a design rule of thumb: The more you try to emphasize with bold, italics and size, the less anything one thing is emphasized.

      • sophie
        sophie says:

        Oh, and one more thing. Like someone said above, show a picture of your new book. Definitely show a picture.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Thanks, you guys. I love all the input. Sophie, the part about changing the black is a really good tip — reminds me of the interior decorating tips I learned from the color expert in that you can change the color without really changing the color.


  3. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I like the headers at the top listing romance aspergers finance ect, although I feel the font may be to large on them, only because “finance” seems to be migrating a bit, and it makes that area with the coffee cup look – disorganized? -un purposed? Something like that.

    Good job on re-organizing the archives. I wish you’d done that a few months ago when I decided to back read your blog entries….le sigh.

  4. Peter
    Peter says:

    I really like it, overall, but the dropdown menus aren’t doing it for me at all. For some reason, the colored background on the menus aren’t even, which really distracts me when I’m trying to read through them.

  5. Irina I
    Irina I says:

    I like the layout, but I miss the old color scheme. Orange and black is a little harsh. Maybe you can make it just slightly warmer?

    Also, you have “Asperger’s and Sex” and then you have the “Aspergers” tab and the two aren’t consistent in how Asperger’s is spelled. Do you want to make it consistent, one way or another?

  6. Kenosi
    Kenosi says:

    I agree with previous comments. Layout OK, Large Font NOT, Colors NOT, Your Picture NOT. It’s too much for the eyes to take in and constantly adjust to.

  7. Burcu
    Burcu says:

    I really love your new design, if you have a question in mind you just need to look for it. It´s just more structured now and I love structure

  8. TwistedByKnaves
    TwistedByKnaves says:


    I REALLY like the layout: that banner gives a great precis of all the content you can find. It lured me into your article on phone interviews, so it seems to work well.

    I do find the colours harsh. Black, white and almost any colour other than that rather biting brown. Also, not sure how well the soft blue backgrounds work with the new scheme. Maybe if they were pastel brown it would work better?

    On the other hand, it’s really to early to tell: I’m still in shock. Ask again in a couple of weeks.

    I have to say that the naked photo didn’t work for me: are you sure you’re covering the Danish sites?

  9. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    The pic of you at the top is too bright. I saw this on the other site design and it was much better, someone over brightened/lightened contrast whatever it was they did. Other than that, good design for what you want it to do.

  10. Sara
    Sara says:


    And that’s too bad, because I really like the way you’ve structured them.

  11. Anna
    Anna says:

    I think it needs a bit more work. The CAPS are a bit harsh and the orange & black is tiny bit similar to another well known blogger- TF!

  12. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    Orange is my favorite color, so I like that. And I like the crispness of your header. I kind of think it’s appropriate that your features are in all caps, because it reminds me of all the really poignant advice you give. Things like, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT START A SECOND BLOG. Which of course I sort of did. And it’s not really working. So yeah, maybe I do need shouting at.

  13. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’m really glad you’ve taken this leap to make some necessary changes to your blog design. Taking off the title of Brazen Careerist and improving the navigation links are the most notable.

  14. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    I don’t like it. I won’t repeat the comments above b/c I agree with them. Basically, it doesn’t have any polish to it. It looks like it was done by a non-professional web designer. I think the elements are great. Their presentation? Not at all. Just my two cents.

  15. Bonnie Jeffers
    Bonnie Jeffers says:

    Ameteurish design in my opinion. You can achieve what you are going for in a more sophisticated way. Keep working on it.

  16. Christa
    Christa says:

    Didn’t you write in a previous post that you are SUPPOSED to eliminate the Brazan Careerist from your blog title? Isn’t that probably part of what your meeting was about? Are you cloaking secrecy?

    • JJ
      JJ says:

      @ Christa – exactly. It seems the ‘raw honesty’ is reserved for sex stories, and mistreating her kids.
      But she needs to make a living, so let’s give her a pass.

      • Christa
        Christa says:

        LOL~! Will do. I enjoy Penelope and her stories. I wish she would write MORE often. I just saw an inconsistancy and wondered what that was all about. More power to her and I think she is a marketing genius. Just don’t play me for an idiot! Things didn’t make sense RE: the new blog, company meeting, etc.

  17. Jenn Sutherland
    Jenn Sutherland says:

    Keep working on the design, Penelope…I think crowdsourcing your new design this way is a great approach to moving the look and feel of your site in a new direction, just keep playing with it as the feedback rolls in.

    I’d agree that I like the old site design better. This design screams at you in too many different directions, and the black treatment of the features in all caps – it’s too much. It turns me off immediately. Even the gradient gray footer is kinder on the eye than the heavy black above.

    But more than anything, the new site design feels jangly, unsettling. I’m coming here to THINK with you, but this design sets my nerves on edge and makes me want to leave. I want to hear your thoughts above the din of the design.

    The new design looks like the cookie-cutter Gen Y WordPress career blogs that you see everywhere. You are NOT cookie-cutter, and your site needs to reflect that. Be the unique thought-leader that we know you are.

    • Chickybeth
      Chickybeth says:

      I totally agree with all of this comment and most of the ones above. The new design almost reminds me of those fake pages you go to when you type one letter incorrectly into the browser and it is trying to sell you stuff related to that topic.

      Also, your picture looks terrible! The softening is way overdone to the point that you look plastic and the separation between you and the background is too much which gives the illusion that you were photoshopped into it! I loved the picture before, so it’s sad to see it like this.

  18. Jen
    Jen says:

    I don’t like the black and orange together…and the headers are so big that it looks like a 12 year old designed it….you paid a lot of money for this?? Why? LOL

  19. Dannielle Blumenthal
    Dannielle Blumenthal says:

    Like the color scheme. Font is fuzzy-edged in Chrome. Don’t like the Aspergers header, it’s distracting from the career theme. You happen to have it, it’s not a blog about Asperger’s. Rural life is OK, nice as a complement.

    The font suits your writing style. Good branding.

    Why doesn’t your new book have a title? Is it also called Brazen Careerist? Or Brazen Careerist Part 2? Confusing.

    Good luck,

    Dannielle Blumenthal

  20. s shah
    s shah says:

    Love the featured articles section and the blacked out area with guest bloggers and other writing on the bottom. Have you considered making either or both the bottom section and the right hand section fixed to the view, with only the blogs left scrollable?

    Best wishes as you continue to work on this!

  21. Mary Budge
    Mary Budge says:

    As an avid reader and fan, I agree with the others above, the black bold is too much and it doesn’t look professional (especially the right column – I think the top and bottom look okay). Sorry Melissa.

  22. Margaret Goerig
    Margaret Goerig says:

    I like the orange. I like the new header. Agreed that the photo is too washed out, though. It’s kinda outdated, too. Perhaps you’re already working on an entirely new one. That would not be a bad idea. You on the farm, for example.

    Your video links are not working, the ones that are supposed to be under the Speaking Engagements tab. They go to the Johnson Cornell site and then say that the content is no longer available. Also, when I have multiple tabs open, and also at the top of the browser window, it still identifies the site as Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist– you know, if you’re trying to get rid of all front page mentions of BC. I think you’d just need to go change the site title in your General Settings page of your blogging software. At least, that’s how it is in WordPress.

    I s’pose all the caps in the sidebar are a bit much and kinda huge but all in all, I’m excited to see something new here. My first impression was that it’s fresh.

  23. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Whatever you do that helps you stick around is fine with me. But I do agree with everyone about the RH sidebar. Kind of Star, National Enquirer yelling going on. I read you in Google Reader, so it will not affect me, but it might affect new readers.

  24. Robin
    Robin says:

    I liked the old design. I like the old design. What I really want is your view on life and I would pretzel myself to get it.

    Your blog styles have been easy to use, easy to read and it has been easy to find old posts. The design may affect a few people, but it is YOU we all want.

    Just don’t go away. Stick around and share your thoughts.
    That’s what I want!

    Oh, maybe put up a newer photo – maybe one from the grocery store or hardware store or the tool shed; someplace you hang out these days. Or your wonderful steampunk living room (I remember that post!).

    But just keep writing.

    • Lynn
      Lynn says:

      I really appreciated reading this comment, and the other comments that had kindness in them. I agree with you that the content is what it’s all about, but even many of the people who don’t care for the new design were able to express it without slamming Penelope as a person. I read quite a few blogs, but I can’t think of another in which commenters are as consistently cruel to a person as I often read here. I am continually astonished by how mean and judgmental people feel justified in being to another human being who is trying to be vulnerable and put her heart out on the page! I have often wondered what the dynamic is here that makes it so…

  25. christy
    christy says:

    Penelope, don’t forget to change the header in your email feed. I read/receive via email and the old header there was amusing against the announcement of the new design. :)

    As for the new design, I think it’s fine.

    But this is your blog. Make it what you want. If people don’t like it, they’ll read via RSS or email or not at all.

    That’s their choice.

    You be you.

  26. Sara Clark
    Sara Clark says:

    You have some unbelievably picky readers, Penelope, and as you undoubtedly know, it’s impossible to please everyone. So please don’t try.

    FFS, people. This site is all about content, and it’s now very easy to find the content. Who cares if some of the subheads are all caps?

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      Well she did seem to be asking what we readers think about it. If it were me, I would be taking the constructive, specific feedback as some really good free blog design tips (since many sounded like they were from professionals).

  27. .Bryan
    .Bryan says:

    Nope I’m not a fan of the new look….it’s very blocky, don’t like the fonts. Your picture is overexposed and the background is blurred to the point of being messy and distracting. Not aesthetically pleasing at all compared to the old look….

  28. Asma
    Asma says:

    the content and layout is great
    but the colors and font are too much
    it slaps you in the face

    I like the older version because it was more sleek and sophisticated
    maybe you could get a color expert to help you with the color scheme
    not liking that at all!

    the links on the right are crooked

  29. Beth Mann
    Beth Mann says:

    Must confess I liked the old layout better. It seemed more “you” and a little, dare I say, homey? Comfortable, relaxed. Orange and black are never comfortable and relaxed.

    You have some AMAZING photos in some of your posts – take some better shots of yourself. Have LOTS of shots of yourself (not on Home page only but throughout). We’ve come to know you, not just your writing. Pump up your celebrity a bit more.

    In short, this site is definitely better in the department of content organization, but lost on several other fronts. (I could find your old material before relatively easily as well.)

    I’d also like to see your photo in the header area and the subscribe info below.

  30. Gail
    Gail says:

    Again from a web design standpoint? Your picture at the top right seems too big. Was it resed up from a smaller images. It seems a bit grainy. ALso, new design? New picture need. IMHO

  31. Michael
    Michael says:

    Your old site was simple, accessible and elegant. This one is busy, confusing and generic. It’s a liability that lessens your credibility. You should revert to back to the former design and tweak it…

  32. Brin
    Brin says:

    I really really *really* don’t dig how the top row navigation jumps back to a very 1.0 basic HTML site. Especially since your blog is in WordPress. It should be fairly easily to create those pages in these new design. It is hard on the eyes to jump from this new stark design, click on About Penelope and be taken to a completely different site.

    And yes, kill the caps in the sidebar. Create a space between bullet points.

    But over all, I like! Change is good.

  33. kate
    kate says:

    i suppose you might as well ask for feedback because people are going to give it to you anyway :)

    i actually like it. i like that it’s a huge contrast to what you had before. i like the layout. i like that it kind of annoys people who are just annoyed by ANY change, whatsoever.

    Can there be tweaks? of course… but that’s the fun of blogs, tweaks are easy enough to make. Tomorrow you can decide that everything orange/brown today will now be GREEN! or purple or pink or whatever… and then you will also get love/hate mail on the change!

    i love change… so for me, change it up and surprise me monthly ;) ha!

  34. Heather N.
    Heather N. says:

    I really like this new design. I’m not one to worry about who moved the cheese. And I’m REALLY glad you don’t have a category called “Cooking”. I’m also glad you don’t have a category called “Photography”, although I fear that one might be next, what with your new camera and all.

  35. Ella
    Ella says:

    I have a lot to say about your redesign. First, thank you for abandoning the blue background, it was too cold and even though I love reading your blog, it sometimes made me want to flee. I think this is a nice change but you have to tweak a few things still. Here are my suggestions, and if you would like more please email me:

    1. Avoid using black backgrounds with white text. It’s really hard on the eyes and it’s too in your face. This goes for your header (home, about, books, etc.), the bottom portion of your site as well as the tabs on the right side (featured articles, archives, etc)…I would change these.

    2. Re: How To + Biggest Career Mistakes tabs: why are these italicized? Keep things consistent and only use italics to highlight titles of books, movies, etc.

    3. Try and use the same font throughout, or two at the most. The title with your name is not working for me, and I think it would look better in gray or red.

    4. The orange is okay, it reminds me a little of Habitually Chic.

    5. The pic is nice but since this is a new you, I would take a new one, perhaps on the farm…(besides the wine bottles in the background seem odd to me).

    6. The home, about tab section is too small.

    7. You have a lot of empty space on the sides, so why not extend your blog further?

    8. I would include that you are the author of two books in your bio and place pics of both underneath.

    9. I wouldn’t use all CAPITALIZED LETTERS for all of your tabs. It’s also hard on they eyes.

    10. I don’t think you need borders around your pics. Keep it simple.

    11. For some reason, I think a banner showing a nice pic of the farm would appeal to people. Anyway, just a thought.

    I hope that helps. Otherwise, the writing is great, which is the most important thing anyway but a nice layout will be appreciated by your readers too.

  36. Gayle
    Gayle says:

    Love the header and categories…think it makes sense to drop the Brazen Careerist, both because your “career” is in transition and cuz I visit “YOU,” you’re the brand in my eyes. As far as the overall design, it is eye catching though a bit “harsh” as a couple of people have commented…AND it reminds me a bit (too much) of the “blaring NY Post” LOL

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