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.


134 replies
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  1. Wenko
    Wenko says:

    I like the old one better coz it’s more comforting and of course we’re used to it.
    but change is inevitable so we must embrace it. but i gotta tell you, orange is not good on you. can you try something else…it’s too bright and it’s not you hehe. but that’s just my opinion.
    still i love your blog and i wish you the best. cheers!

  2. Ted Green
    Ted Green says:

    Penelope…The new blog design is EXCELLENT!! Clearly the best you’ve ever had. I like to “easy to find what you’re looking for” layout.

    I’ve been following you for years…this is the finest and most methodical design of a non-methodical person’s blog I’ve ever seen.


  3. chris Keller
    chris Keller says:

    I agree with the capitalization on the right side–too much like shouting, also too large. The right side IS harsh.

    I am reminded of the advertising pages in the Sunday supps somehow. I don’t know exactly what to change except the barking-bold in the fonts and caps.

    Can you look at some other fonts altogether? Less bold, perhaps more italicized?

    The picture from the meeting–too much chestnut-colored desk–it overpowers the person, Mayernick. Crop that photo, I say! Wouldn’t you like to have a caption UNDER the pix? In another font, or italicized?

    Over-exposed photo of you–unappealing.

    I like the tabs at the top, both above and below the header.

    I like that you are redoubling your efforts to make your site navigable. I like links of any kind.

  4. Brigitte
    Brigitte says:

    I like the black and orange! I like the new design a lot.

    But, since you asked, here’s some tweak ideas:

    Make the tags a drop-down menu, so they're not taking up so much real estate.

    Make a visual break between your content and your sidebars (more space, different background, something).

    You also need a visual break between your header and first post headline. There's a lot going on up at the top.

    Finance is kind of weird – either the content tags should end with the margin of your main content or go all the way across both the content field and sidebar. (I'd say keep them over the main content)

    Do you need recent posts, since those will show up on your home page anyway?

    But, seriously, I like it! And now that I’m at the bottom, I see the footer, which is awesome!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Brigitte. I like the really specific feedback like this. I obsess over all the little stuff. Sometimes it paralyzes me, but I like to think that mostly my obsession with how to navigate the content just makes things better…


  5. lynne whiteside
    lynne whiteside says:

    everybody’s a critic – what we want as your loyal fans is the advise, the words, the insight, and above all else ‘the honesty’.

    it really doesn’t matter about the design, although I think it’s about time you have your name at the top.

    Movin’ Up…

  6. melwagg
    melwagg says:

    Absolutely awful. Orange and black on a way to white background…too stark and very, very harse. The caps in the sidebar really have to go.

  7. Ricardo Bueno
    Ricardo Bueno says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I really dig the new design and layout. I like the colors and it’s easy to navigate. One thing I *might* consider changing (just a tad) is the links on your sidebar: “Featured Articles” – can you change it so that when you hover over the link, they hover color is orange like the other links on your site? I think that would be neat and easier to see.

    Anyway, well done! And if Melissa is reading this… Great job and Happy be-lated Birthday!!

  8. Kara
    Kara says:

    P, change is hard, especially for your regular readers. I’d say if you are trying to appeal more to new readers, the change might be good. People have already voiced my biggest complaint: the ALL CAPS everywhere is hard on the eyes. Keep it for the headings, but reconsider it everywhere else.

    Thing I LOVE: The RSS feed symbol inside the coffee cup. Seriously, I was willing to overlook the SCREAMING LETTERS just because of that. I am usually drinking coffee while reading blogs, so it made me feel at home. And I bet it will tons of new readers as well.

  9. Lindsay Lennox
    Lindsay Lennox says:

    I like the feel behind the color change – orange is a good choice, along with the (I think) larger version of the photo. Definitely needs a third color, as noted by several above. Also, PLEASE get rid of the all-caps post titles in the right-hand sidebars. Presumably you want people to actually discover more content once they’re here, and all-caps is almost impossible to scan easily.

  10. Deb
    Deb says:

    Do you know how to knit? I find that knitting during a meeting helps me from being bored so I can concentrate and listen.

    I like the new design!

  11. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    It works (the redesign). But what I really want to know is Mark’s company’s name :-). But probably I can find that in a Google search.

  12. Dimi
    Dimi says:

    The headline “penelope trunk” and the black letters on the right remind me the way we make ,in my country Greece, the death announcements :-(

  13. Tiffany Monhollon
    Tiffany Monhollon says:

    When I saw this on Facebook, I had to pop over and look at the design. Since you’ve been showing pictures of your house and its steampunk, minimal, rural look, I was expecting you to go somewhere fun with that, and instead, it’s the opposite direction. It’s definitely rebranded away from Brazen, which is fine, but it’s in the opposite direction of where I think of as you these days.

    I want to see the design of your life and your lifestyle singing here instead.

    Stark is fine. But stark and interesting is better.

    • Tiffany Monhollon
      Tiffany Monhollon says:

      Also, I noticed that your comments thread and your recommended posts plugin is still coded with the red and blue of the old site. I like keeping the blue, it’s easier on the eyes. But I’d replace the red (use the orange if you’re keeping that) so it’s more cohesive :)

  14. elaine
    elaine says:

    old design was more serene – this is definitely more WOW. I like it – change is good. I also am a fan of the RSS button inside the coffee cup. PS – just bought the book and am very much looking forward to receiving it!

  15. Julie
    Julie says:

    Reminds me of Zeldman. You may want to check out his site which has similar design elements, color scheme, uppercase headers etc. to see how he makes them work together effectively. Although I suspect you already have.

  16. Diana
    Diana says:

    Ex-graphic designer (and current follower) here.

    I like that you’re going bolder.

    I love that you put your name in the title where it should be.

    There are a lot of good suggestions here for tweaking so I won’t add mine, except that the orange and black didn’t make me happy either. Maybe you should try a shade of “pink lampshade.” That would be more like you Penelope :)

    You’re off to a good start, but please listen to the experts. Some polishing is in order.

    Glad to see your smiling face here!

  17. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    It certainly is clean and clear. However, harsh and clunky at the same time. I think the harshness comes from the black. A nice brown (#4c3119 color hex) would be easier on the eyes and still complement the orange. Adding a blue to the palette would be nice too. I suggest: #6699cc color hex.

    Honestly, the only thing I really don’t like is the following from your post: “…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.” It’s your blog. You directed the design. If it sucks, it’s on you, not Melissa. Shifting the blame to Melissa is a bush league and disrespectful to the designer.

  18. Mark
    Mark says:

    I didn’t read all the crowdsourcing comments, but did anyone mention the picture? Not that you don’t look good, but that skin tone, or whatever it is being manipulated makes it look weird, at least to me, but then if I’m the only one who thinks so…

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I actually mentioned it last night. I said, “The commenters are gonna go nuts about the fakeness of the photo.” And people told me “no one notices photoshop stuff on photos” and I said, believe me, my blog readers will notice.

      So we’re fixing it tonight. And thank you for caring.


  19. Erin
    Erin says:

    LOVE!!!!!!!! I love the new site design. I just went through and read a ton of your old posts, some I had read before, others I had never seen. It confirmed for me all kinds of choices I am making in my career right now. Speaking of which, I am thinking of starting my own blog. Something like: Under Ground HR Manager. I give people all kinds of free advice based on my 15 years in HR and staffing; I do it with humor and brutal honesty. I think there are lots of people who would love to know what goes on in HR, how decisions are really made, what we really think of our employees, what we really think about our companies, how little time we spend looking at your resume and making monumental decisions about your lives etc…. I would be honored to know your two second opinion on this idea. THANK YOU!!!

    • Lily
      Lily says:

      @ Erin – you may want to check blogs like
      cynicalgirl.com and

      These blogs are similar to what you want to do, and can give you a good idea of what is out there, and be part of the community

  20. Van
    Van says:

    I always love a fresh change and perspective. It was nice to see a new design on your blog today.

    I don’t think the design reflects your style, and as others have stated, there’s a lot that’s out of balance! I’d like to see your favorite colors featured in the design, then your images will naturally suit your site because your home features your favorite colors. Your content speaks for volumes, but I think your website’s design should shout your personality, too.

    I made a quick info graphic of suggestions for the layout, easier that writing them up in the comments: http://twitpic.com/4asm74/full

  21. Jens Fiederer
    Jens Fiederer says:

    Uses less than half the horizontal real estate of my wide monitor. Font used in the “flag” image seems too tightly spaced, like somebody glued it together for a ransom note.

    Probably better than what I’d design, though, I’m a software developer, not an artist, Jim!

  22. Scott
    Scott says:

    I like the layout with as you say, ease of navigation. I’m not a burnt orange fan so that’s just preference. With the site brightening your picture lost something… too pale. You need a new pic that doesn’t make you look like Wisconsin didn’t have a summer that year. I come to read anyway so I’ll let the design critics above suffice.


  23. sylvain
    sylvain says:

    Hello Penelope,

    I love the new design it looks very 2011.

    I also love the navigating tabs

    Just a little question if you have the time : did you design the new layout with a cms or did you write the code yourself. I remember that you are very good with html and javascript. I am asking this question because I study website design I if you know a good cms or a way to design a great website like yours.

    Anyway your new design is awsome. I don’t post much but I am a regular reader of your blog it helps me a lot. Great advice and your writing is so authentique, so inspiring I love it.

    best wishes


    ps. apologies for mistakes I may have made I am not a native english speaker

  24. Jessi Pervola
    Jessi Pervola says:

    I must say I do prefer the old version – (though I am a bit biased since I designed it… :) I definitely appreciate the need to update and adapt – but there is something that’s missing here. It doesn’t feel quite right for you. The intent behind the look-and-feel of the last site was to compliment your writing. You write on topics that are often incredibly controversial, and the visual tone softened the writing, gave it contrast and credibility. This visual tone is kind of the opposite – it’s like someone with a bold personality coming to a party with a loud dress on.. there’s nothing subtle about it. I also see some inconsistencies that could be easy fixes… Just my two cents – good luck P!

  25. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    I hate the new format. It looks like a free fu@king newspaper I would find thrown on the ground in front of a dirty alley. It looks cheap and loud. Everything is too big and the colors are cold. I didn’t visit this site because it said Brazen Careerist. I visited this site because my senses weren’t over loaded with “look at me” crap that got in the way of good information. I visited this site because it had a cute little design that made me feel welcome. I’m sad to say that if this is the final cut I won’t be returning. I’ll miss out on a lot of excellent information and it’s my loss. But you can’t wrap an awesome present in an old bed sheet and expect people to care about opening it.

  26. JML
    JML says:

    New site looks great on the iPhone. Clean and simple. Easy to navigate. Not sure if it would look harsh on full screen, but I mainly access your blog on my phone.

  27. lb
    lb says:

    I liked the white/blue color combo used in the previous blog’s comments section. I also liked the darker blue/bolder print that highlighted Penelope’s comments. That way, if I got bored with all the droning on from the readers, I could scan the comments & quickly identify when P. had something to say !

    Pls insert colors back into the comments section …


  28. Denys Yeo
    Denys Yeo says:

    I like the new layout. But even more I really enjoy your blogs. You are so open in your comments that it sets a bench mark that I would like to be able to achieve as I try to document my life and work (as a psychologist) in a small city in a fairly small country called New Zealand.

  29. Vicky
    Vicky says:

    I’m not crazy about the new colors.

    Why can’t I see Michael naked?

    The photos are now too contrasty.

  30. cari
    cari says:

    i like this blog, but not the new look, i find it impersonal — it has an infomercial feel to it.. the layout is ok, dislike the colors and font (all caps?)..

  31. fd
    fd says:

    Generally quite like it, but please lose the CAPS on the right hand side. Its pretty difficult to read like that. As far as I know CAPS are a visual no-no in accessible design because they are harder to read for people with screen readers/visual impairments.

  32. Momekh
    Momekh says:


    The design is cool because the header font is black, and doesn’t try to be modern. Which is a good thing.

    The spacing between elements is out of whack. Of course, as you know, design really happens in the spaces b/w the objects. Whatever that means to you…

    Attention to detail is absent. The text boxes don’t align in the comment section, for example. The background color on the drop down menus shrinks to fit the text (this is confusing – go ahead, hover the mouse over the menu and see for yourself) :)


    The idea of showing different results to different people is VERY cool. Although it hardly takes much lines of code, the results are quite impressive, especially for high-traffic sites like yours. Good move!

    I really like the ‘Are you New here?’ bar on the top in the old design. Or maybe the intelligent script has detected that ‘I’ve been here before’ and have not shown that bar to me? :)

    Best of wishes, and good luck in your conquests and queries.

  33. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There’s an area above your photo for subscribing to this blog which I think is confusing. I expected the coffee cup with the RSS button inside to be a link to setup your feed. Instead it was a link to the Feedblitz site to subscribe. Also the empty form box with GO to the right of it appears to me to be a way to subscribe directly by entering my email address in the form box … but that’s also not clearly evident. Also an RSS button or link of some sort to setup a feed to this blog should be next to the Feedblitz link. Currently the only link to setup a feed is located on the bottom line of the page.

  34. CS
    CS says:

    I love the new set up! It is clean and easy to navigate. It gives more ready access to a lot of links and sections which is wonderful. I DO think you could include “Brazen Careerist” under the header though. I feel a bit lost without that phrase somewhere on the site. Are you trying to switch the blog’s brand from “Brazen Careerist” to “Penelope Trunk?” Just curious.

  35. Dee
    Dee says:

    Is there any way to browse different designs of your website? I think the technology has me pegged wrong.

  36. Toni
    Toni says:

    Sorry, I’m not loving the new design. Here are some of the flaws as I see them:

    1. The titles/subheadings are too large. They look “amateurish” and lack the professional feel the of the old blog.

    2. The contrasting color of burnt orange looks horrible against white. When I look at the tabs, the color contains a lot of brown (so I think diarrhea sorry!). Orange is not soothing color, rather it is agitating. Moreover, there is too much variation depending on one’s monitor. I would change the contrasting color.

    3. I’d like a recent picture of you posted on the right. I *suspect* this one is old?

  37. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I do not like the new layout. I liked the old one. It had a professional appeal. Dont get me wrong I am a person who is open to change very much so…but if you are going to change it, then it needs to be a change that will give you and your business a greater professional appeal. The Font is very generic and too big looking. Seems like you got this blog from a cheap blog site. I would recommend not tweeking this blog at all but to over haul it with a new design. I appreciate your openess to take a risk and get everyones feedback!

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