Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thank you all... so much! (and some about tagging)

~*

I want to thank everyone for their suggestions, reinforcement and even some criticisms.

What I got from this mainly, in terms of the things I want to change, is that much of it is visual and some of it has been the way I have been managing this site.

1) Difficult to read because of the color combination (Changed it)
2) Messy sidebar causing a slow page load (I cleaned it up last night)
3) Posting too much (I'll watch that...)
4) The fact that I have fallen short on times on responding to my comments. As one person said, "That's what you're good at." I agree with that observation. I have been slacking off. I do like the interaction and I haven't been doing my part.
5) One person mentioned that I could be supporting new bloggers, too, and that is a suggestion I liked a lot. It "fits" for the person I am. Not for political reasons but because it "feels" right. I remember what it was like to just start out... to wonder if anyone was even "out there".

Those were just a few of the suggestions and I also have more I will be doing. The standard is 1) only if it fits in with my particular ethical standards and 2) only if it is consistent with the way I choose to exist in this world.

Just to be very clear, I am not trying to build an empire. Yes, I would like to build the site up. No, it is not because I am unhappy with my core readership. I love my core readership! I don't think that means that wanting new readers, too, is a bad thing.

There are certain things I commit to:

1) I will always be honest. I will never post, just to get comments or notice.

2) I will never ask for money on this blog and I will never allow ads on this blog. (For those who have the ads, I make no judgments. It's just not for me.. or for this site.)

3) I will never do anything that violates my own ethical or moral system. I live by the five precepts. That will not change. If you ever see products promoted here or somesuch, this site has been hijacked. It's not me!

4) There are certain things I evaluate and reassess periodically. Like the tagging. I am able, through discussion with others, to see that it can be occasionally useful. This site will never tag, just for the sake of tagging, and I will not tag for political reasons. I will only tag because I need to say something. They are "thankyous". Period. And I will still be doing "Steal This Meme".

Like a lot of things in life itself, sometimes it's necessary to reevaluate how we are doing things, listen to others and come to a middle ground. We have to decide what can or can not fit into our own systems of ethics. We have to realize when we've been just a bit too dogmatic about something and move on from it.

With tagging, the commitment I make is that I will never use it in an exclusionary or political manner. Ever. And I am very, very sensitive to those issues.

And that's the best I can do. I am a growing, changing and evolving human being. Holding me to something or not allowing me to change my mind is destructive for all of us.

What is the point of discussion, if not for growth and change? My fundamental message and fundamental focus will not change.

Enough for now. I am still taking into account everything that has been said. More on this, maybe, later in the week.

Thanks again for so many helpful solutions.. and, again, I have to reiterate this: My wanting to grow this site some is absolutely NO indication that I don't value the folks who have faithfully stayed with me all this time.

Really. I hope you will believe that. I asked for help here because I have nowhere else to discuss it.

~*

40 comments:

liv said...

Let's just all hug and chill out about it now! :) Oh, and I like the new colors. Much easier. It made all the difference for me when jen piped up and told me that my old layout was destroying her eyesight. (I think that's almost a direct quote!) Made me think, I HEART jen. Must change immediately! Feedback good; overanalysis bad. I could lie and say that I love these floating ideas of blogging on blogging, but the truth is that I started reading because it gave me so many windows into lives.

slouching mom said...

I don't at all begrudge you wanting to change it up a little. Change is good! I like the white background. I hadn't even realized that it was harder to read the yellow on the black, but I guess it's true. I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes...

ewe are here said...

Love the new colors, much easier to read.

And I hope you get more readers because I personally think your posts have a lot to offer and make people think, thus should be more widely read.

ewe are here said...

ps: I think everyone's traffic is down a bit... summer vacations and all.

thailandchani said...

Liv, your point is taken and I'm not going to natter on about this endlessly. I may not even post on it again unless it is in conjunction with a BlogRhet or Humpday discussion where a panel of people are discussing these topics. I just needed external input because my internal instincts weren't working. I'm too ignorant of this stuff. :)

Back to normal tomorrow. Promise.

~*

SM, thanks. I think the white works better on my eyes, too. These are the sorts of things we just can't know unless we're told, especially if we're visually-impaired.. as I am.

~*

Ewe, thank you. Obviously, I do want to have more readership and expand my overall message. And, yes, I do have a message.. just as we all do.

~*

Thanks :)

Peace,

~Chani

Snoskred said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with posting once a day, which is your usual, except for weekends.

I do think a weekly wrap up of posts can really help readers like Capacious who can only attend the site once a week. That's one reason why mine is so popular. I have a group of readers who can only get there on the weekends.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

flutter said...

You feel lighter, you feel like you. I like it.

jen said...

i like the new brightness over here, on the site and in your words. and i heart Liv too.

meno said...

It is easier to read, but not much.

I struggle with tagging too.

Cheers!

Blog Antagonist said...

I've tried to visit you before, because others speak highly of you. But this is the first time my browser hasn't frozen up completely, necessitating a reboot. (that happens with a handful of other blogs as well) So I think you're changes are good ones, and I'll definitely try to stop by more often!

thailandchani said...

Snos, I think five times a week is reasonable. Some weeks it will be less, if I don't have anything to say.

~*

Flutter, yes.. I do feel lighter. Being ignorant and not knowing where to begin is really frustrating for me. It's that ADD thing. :) I have the attention span of an infant and if I can't find what I need (especially web surfing), I just get annoyed and stop.

~*

Jen, thanks... I hope it will sound lighter. Now I have some direction! What a relief!

Liv is wonderful. I agree. I wouldn't be doing yoga now.. if it wasn't for her.

~*

Meno, can you tell me more? Still difficult to read?

~*

BA, that's exactly the kind of thing I need to know. If someone is experiencing that, I hope to know about it.. because then I can fix it.

Even though I worked in IT for a good number of years, I was a unix administrator. I know nothing about HTML or web management. And a blog is just that... a website.

:)

~*

Thanks everyone :)


Peace,

~Ch

mitzh said...

Change is good! I love the new page...

I'm glad to know that you're happy! :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I found the gold type somewhat difficult to read, but thought it was beautiful as well as quite worth the effort.

The content here is always interesting to me, and extremely well-written.

I think certain things have been blown way out of proportion, and I also don't understand the criticism about posting too much. Does that mean that you tell too much personal stuff in your posts, or that you literally post too often?

I don't feel the need for a weekly wrap-up. A blog is not a newspaper or a sit-com. People read it when they can. The Cliff's Notes version is really not necessary as they can always scroll back to previous posts if they want to.

thailandchani said...

Mitzh, thanks. I do feel relieved.. a lot. It's like a new world opening up that I didn't know about before. All this blogging stuff.. you know.. I thought "I'll write and that's all I have to do"... Of course, it takes more than that.

~*

Susan, I can't imagine me doing a weekly wrap-up. My mind doesn't work that way. As for posting, some people use Google Reader and it backs up. My own way of doing that is that I read the most current post someone has. Sometimes I go back.. sometimes not.

~*

Peace,

~Chai

meno said...

What i meant was that it wasn't particularily difficult for me to read before. It's just a bit easier now.

Snoskred said...

Chani said - I can't imagine me doing a weekly wrap-up. My mind doesn't work that way. As for posting, some people use Google Reader and it backs up. My own way of doing that is that I read the most current post someone has. Sometimes I go back.. sometimes not.

Then you have find a place where you can accept that people who read once a week are not going to have time to read all your posts in depth and comment on them. That's a fact. Weekend or once a week readers have limited time and if you don't grab their attention ANOTHER BLOGGER WILL. :) Just so you know.

It doesn't have to be a huge long post like my wrap up is. You could perhaps, at the top of your weekend post say "This week I talked about (link to post one) (link to post two) (link to post three) (link to post four) (link to post five)". That way, if one of those topics appeals particularly, they can click and read.

There are other good reasons for doing a wrap up - internal links within your blog are good for your google page rank, when you word those links you can use keywords which google spiders love.. I covered a bunch more in my article about writing blog wrap ups.

Another really good thing about mine is - it gives me one post where I can link to the people who wrote stuff that grabbed me that week. People don't tend to click on the links so much but honestly that is not what counts. It helps you build relationships to other bloggers, because bloggers LOVE being linked to. A link to something they wrote is just as good to them as being in your blogroll. It gives you the chance to say why you loved something you read, to compliment other bloggers, to do some of the things that right now, you don't really do so much of here on your blog.

If you're linking to other people, they come to see what you said about them. They see those incoming links on their trackers, they click through to the blog to find out why people are coming to them. There's a chance to get a new reader, right there.

I am sure that during the week you read a lot of good stuff - a wrap up gives you an opportunity to share that.

But see here, this is exactly what I am talking about - bloggers have to be open minded to these things. They have to be willing to say ok, maybe I'll give that a go, maybe I'll try that, and see whether or not their *readers* enjoy it.

Maybe a monthly wrap up would suit you better. You could name a day in advance (the first of the month, the last of the month, the (date) of each month.) I know some bloggers who do this and I always find a post I didn't read thoroughly jumps out at me, and I end up reading it.

You know how Just Posts have that thing you look forward to, every month? You know the date. You look forward to the date. You are not the only one. It's basically your own version of that. You can make it anything you want it to be. You are the blogger. You have the power. ;) And your readers may come to look forward to it just as much as you look forward to Just Posts. If they don't, then you can scrap the idea.

Me personally, having gone from Sunday being the least busy day on the blog to Sunday being the *most* busy day on the blog, I am pretty passionate about why wrap ups can be good. If you give it a go, whether weekly or monthly, you may become just as passionate as I am. ;)

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Mary said...

Chani,

I didn't think your blog needed any room for improvement. What's all the fuss? It's your blog, dammit!

MsLittlePea said...

Just getting caught up and I wanted to say I like the new look over here!

thailandchani said...

Meno, got you. :) I'm glad it's easier to read.. even if it's only a little.

~*

Snos, I have a really hard time with the concept of competition. It's so completely who I am not... It's hard for me to even grasp the thinking.

~*

Mary.. in a way, yes.. in a way, no. I write it for those who come here. Otherwise I'd just think this stuff. :)

~*

MsPea, thanks. :) I kind of like it better, too. It's easier on my eyes.

~*

Thanks, everyone :)


Peace,

~Chani

Snoskred said...

Snos, I have a really hard time with the concept of competition. It's so completely who I am not... It's hard for me to even grasp the thinking.

But Chani, can't you see that you are judging yourself based on the competition? You are judging yourself based on traffic and you seem to think others get more traffic than you do - though how you can know what traffic others get I don't know.

I think in order for you to continue doing this and be happy within yourself, you have to either make a decision to make your blog the best blog it can be and forget the stats, forget everyone else's stats, forget how many people come here and visit, judge yourself on a different level to what you do now...

OR

You have got to get out there on the playing field and play the game by the rules everyone else is playing by.

You can't keep trying to do both, which is what I see you're trying to do now.

It's like you are out there on the gridiron field with a golf bag in a nice golfing outfit, perhaps a tasteful tweed skirt and you're getting tackled by huge guys dressed with padding - and you don't have any padding, so you're taking a battering.

Can you see what I mean?

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

thailandchani said...

Snos, you are so good at offering practical solutions and I do appreciate the ones you've offered me.

But clearly.. you don't know or understand me as a person.

Just because I want to grow the site doesn't mean I am competitive. It doesn't mean I've suddenly gone western culture and am going to try to make money off the site. It doesn't mean anything beyond a simple desire to grow the site.

I have a message... and I would like to broaden my reader base.

That's really all.

I don't want to get on any playing fields.. and I'm not taking any battering ~ except from those who clearly don't understand me, my cultural perspectives or who I am.

The idea of promoting for the sake of promoting or doing it for ego purposes literally makes me feel sick ~ nauseated.

I do not have western based thinking. Please understand that.

But I have learned over my few years of life that I can not do anything to change other people's perceptions.

And so it goes.


~Chani

Snoskred said...

I do get what you're saying, Chani. I think you're confused as to what I am saying.

Promoting yourself is not a bad thing. You have a unique viewpoint, something other people enjoy and want to read. What is wrong with -

- making the most of your blog design, so people can get what you're saying without getting caught up in how it looks?

- learning more about blogging, even if you have to read a few "make money online" blogs to do that?

- learning more about what readers are looking for, about how to attract them to your site to see if they are interested in reading you?

- giving people a chance to read you - if you do not get out there and say hi to people, social network, all that stuff, how are they ever going to know how good your blog is and how unique you are?

- learning not to judge your readers based on how often they visit your site but instead trying to cater for those who cannot make it here so often? Even if it just means changing simple things like I mentioned on your weekend blogs above?

None of that is "western based thinking". That is simply better blogging.

I understand you do not want to advertise. I get that. Getting out on the playing field has nothing to do with advertising. It has to do with actively setting goals for yourself as far as what you want this blog to be, and how to *grow* it to the place you're looking for it to get to.

Because readers will not miraculously wake up in the morning and think.. hmm.. let me type in thailand gal to google and see what I get. You need to bring it to them. You go out and comment on sites. You go and participate in discussions on social networking sites. And *each and every time* you do it, you make sure you sign off with your name and a link to your blog.

When they get here, the site needs to look appealing. It needs to load fast. It needs to tick the readers boxes. You need to make it easy for them to subscribe to you. Where's your sidebar section that says "Subscribe"? It's not there.

That is what most other bloggers are doing. That is the kind of stuff I mean by getting out there on the playing field.

It has nothing to do with Western Culture, and I really feel a little insulted that you would think that I'm trying to suggest you become the next Dooce, sell your soul, and tattoo advertising on your ass. ;) But I know it's because you misunderstood my meaning, so I've forgotten it already..

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

thailandchani said...

I concede that you may be correct on a couple of points:

1) I should be commenting more than I do. I don't comment enough. However, rather than looking at what I will *get* from the commenting, I should be looking at what I can *give* by commenting.

2) It's absolutely necessary that I do this within the boundaries of who I am ~ and how I want to exist in the world. That's essential and I won't compromise it.

3) Adding some of the things you and others have suggested is either done or will be done... because it is not self-promotion to do those things. It is, as you say, better blogging. Making things easier for people. Making things more pleasant for them.

I can go with that.

The whole playing field thing and analogy, no, I can't. The notion of it makes me queasy.

It's just so... not me.

I want to grow the site.. but it has to be done the right way.

I have to live with me.. and I'm going to do the best I can to make sure I feel right and good about the things I do.

That is the first principle.



~ch

Sephyroth said...

Chani, you said - "The idea of promoting for the sake of promoting or doing it for ego purposes literally makes me feel sick ~ nauseated."

If that is the case, then why do you get so worried when people don't visit your blog?

I used to be like that myself - people wouldn't visit my blog, but then I realized that they weren't going to magically appear out of thin air, or from Google. Then I figured out that if I'm not out there commenting on other blogs, and including a link to my site, people won't come by and read my site. It's not about promoting your blog (in the fashion of advertising you see on TV or hear on the radio), it's about letting people know you exist. I think you've got something right about the commenting - it should be about what you can give, be it perspective, a different outlook, etc. - that people will come to your site after you comment is just a good side effect of it.

Sephyroth
http://www.sephyroth.net

thailandchani said...

Sephy, what an interesting and revealing question!

Are you saying that the only reason to build a site is for promotion of personal ego?

I'm sure you didn't mean that. I'm sure.. of it.

An old friend of mine, long since passed on, once said something that sticks with me. "We all do the work our own way.. and it all matters."

By assuming the attitude we've agreed is correct re: commenting, and putting a few things in place to make it easier to navigate the site, I believe the rest will follow.

If I do it for ego.. or just for getting kudos .. or personal recognition, this site will fail...

As it should...

There are already far too many self-centered, self-aggrandizing people with agendas out there.

I am not one of them.

Thanks for coming by with your opinion.

It all matters.


~Chani

Snoskred said...

Try not to look at it in that way because when I say get out there on the playing field what I mean is simply - learn the tricks other bloggers are learning.

Maybe it would be better to look at it like this. You're studying for an exam. So is everyone else.

When you get to the exam hall, you discover everyone else has been learning about science, when you were learning about maths, and that the exam is about science!

You can't pass that exam unless you've been learning the same subject.

Here the subject is blogging. You've been cruising along at your own pace, not studying, while other bloggers have been studying anything between 1-12 hours a day.

It hasn't been easy for me to learn these things, Chani. I am not by nature a technical person. But you saw that email with all that HTML in it - that is stuff I have learned over the past year. I didn't learn it easily. I had to have it in text files (and I still do) so it is easier for me to do it. I am no computer programmer but if someone shows me how to do something enough times I can do it myself.

If it weren't for Sephy my site would not be anything like it is template wise, he is my rock, he helps me like you wouldn't believe.

But I want to be better at blogging. I really, truly want to pass that exam, so I'm cramming.. learning as much as I can. And I'm about to begin one of the most difficult challenges ever - learning wordpress, and then starting a business which is a blog. No, not tacky - tourism for the area where I live, with all my own photography.

I know the make money online stuff isn't you - but a lot of their ideas and concepts can help ANY blogger to make a better blog. Just tune out the money stuff, take what is good, take what can work for you. Reframe it to "make a better blog" instead of make money.

For example - you need to know how google works, how the spiders pick up keywords, how the spiders view your site, how search engine optimisation (another slightly dirty word to some bloggers) can help you in order to bring the kinds of people you are looking for to your site.

You want people interested in your type of interests and lifestyle to be able to find you. You do not currently appear in the first 100 search results for Thailand - Thailand culture - on google - but with a bit of smart effort on your part, you could potentially get on that front page, maybe even to the top 10 search results. You are number one for Thailand Gal, but that's not a particularly likely search term (and maybe you don't want the kind of traffic searching for thailand women because that's going to be men looking for wives or something like that eew!)

Blogger has just made it even harder for most of us using blogger because they have stopped label searching, you know when you label a post? So now, you have to work your keywords into your actual post.

Problogger does cater for both kinds of bloggers, I noticed he said in one of his posts for the 31 days that if you're not a make money blogger, go back and do one of the other days instead of this one. So maybe that is a good place to begin walking the road to better blogging..

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

thailandchani said...

Yes, perhaps the exam analogy is a better one. It doesn't make me feel dirty. The other one just... ugh. I felt like I needed a shower.

Blogger has stopped label searching? Between that and the fact that we can not remove the "no follow", they're making it rather impossible for us, aren't they?

One more question, if I may....

The Technorati rating: It used to be that blogrolls worked. Now they have disabled that as well and we can not use them as a way of creating links. You alluded to this in one of your longer emails.

How to get around that? Is there a way to create a non-java script blogroll or whatever it is they are disallowing?

Silly questions.. I know.. but I am truly baffled.

This is for anyone who knows the answer, of course.


~Ch

Sephyroth said...

The question I asked is a valid one, one which I used to struggle with in the past.

Basically, Snos and I started blogging within a couple days of each other, and after a while, she was getting a lot of traffic and I wasn't. For quite a while I would whine to her and get myself down over it.

However, after a while I started to realize that she was doing a lot of stuff that I wasn't doing, including setting goals to comment on so many blogs per day. She was giving people a reason to read her blog by being a part of their blog.

Back in November, we had set a goal of commenting on all the NaBloPoMo blogs - and I started with a small goal, 10 a day, and eventually I managed to comment on something like 40 blogs in a day. Not surprisingly, November was the busiest month because of the commenting spree that I went on.

I then pretty much stopped commenting and my traffic suffered - it didn't help that I wasn't posting much in February or March. Then in May, I got back into blogging, and in June I started changing how I do things, including getting myself involved in sites like Bumpzee and making the US Blogs community (by the way, if you wish you can join the site and add your blog to the community - this is an open invitation to any US based bloggers :)).

I then started to set myself some goals to comment on a number of blogs again, and as a result, I am now seeing, over the last couple of weeks, an average of about 20 people stopping by a day - for me, that's almost double my old traffic rate.

I now realize that if I don't get the traffic, that's OK, I have made my peace with it. Instead of getting myself down about it, I push myself to do more work to get my name out there. It's about accepting that the only way to defeat feeling bad about not getting traffic is putting in some work to get people to read your blog.

Also, re: your other questions

Nofollow - You can remove nofollow from your blog's pages, it's not difficult, but you have to edit your blog's template directly. I'll post something about that in the next couple of days ;)

Technorati - The various blogrolls did count at one time, but I'm not sure what happened - they probably went to a more "standard" spider, which means they can't see the blogrolls (from blogrolling, not the ones you make in standard HTML) since they are in Javascript - which most spiders cannot see.

You can make a non-javascript blogroll, but you have to keep it updated regularly. I am responsible for the US blogs blogroll - and that is a non-JS one which I update whenever a new blog is added to the community. It also depends on the people who have the blogroll constantly updating the links list on their sites since you can't update the list automatically.

If you want some help with your blog's template, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I'm willing to help out. :)

Sephyroth
http://www.sephyroth.net

thailandchani said...

Thanks, Seph. I appreciate the offer to help with the template.

I've been giving some thought to the template. That one part that doesn't fit is kind of annoying.

On the other hand, someone put a lot of work into creating that for me ~ and I need to honor it by not changing.

My rights end where her work began and stopped.

Perhaps one day, when you have the time, you can tell me how to make the top panel fit?

As for the ego thing, I honestly believe... if I continue this site for the purpose of ego, it will fail. And it should fail. In my own opinion, I would no longer deserve to have it.

We need to move beyond ego and self-promotion .. into thinking more of others than ourselves.

Kreng jai.


Peace,

~Chani

Snoskred said...

On the other hand, someone put a lot of work into creating that for me ~ and I need to honor it by not changing.

EEK! Seriously? Let me give you a hint of what that will mean for some readers who make their way to your blog. They'll use that little cross in the corner of their browser to close your site. Do you want to go to all the effort of getting them to visit and then scaring them off because of honor to someone who helped you previously?

I understand you want to honor them, but the way it looks right now is NOT doing that, and I think they would understand if you wanted to change it. Most bloggers change their design from time to time. It's not like you're spitting in their face by changing.

The red text on the white background might make it more readable, but it looks.. terrible design wise. I'm being honest with you.

You have to be honest with yourself, Chani. Do you want to make this site better for your readers, or not? If yes, then design change would be number one on the list of things you can do to make it better. Honor or not.

It just seems like you're resisting so many things that could help you and your readers. That's your choice, but you cannot blame people when they can't see your content because they can't stand to look at it. ;(

Your readers will be pleasant and say it looks fine, because they know your content is good. New readers will run. Fast. To Another Blog Which Has Lesser Content But Decent Design.

I'm not saying this stuff for fun, or to be hurtful. I'm telling you how things work in this online world. The first thing people see is your blog design. If they don't like it, they won't hang around to read what you have to say. They won't give you that second chance if their first impression is bad. I know it sucks, but that is the way it is.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

thailandchani said...

Yes, I am saying that. Honor means a lot to me.

I do want to get the top panel to fit.. and I'm willing to work with the colors.

The thing is here... I am not looking for just *any* readers.. and anyone who would not read because they don't like the layout is probably the same type of person who might not like me because I'm overweight.. or because of my Thai clothes.. or because I have blue eyes.. or because I have blond hair.

Somehow, I'm thinking those are people who wouldn't find much value in my content, either.


Peace,

~Chani

Snoskred said...

I know honor means a lot to you, Chani. You keep telling me things I already know. ;)

People tend to gravitate towards websites that are pleasing to the eye. People tend to steer clear of websites that hurt their eyes. It does not mean they wouldn't like you in person because you're overweight. It just means they appreciate good design. There's so many websites out there serving it up, so why would they hang out somewhere they're not getting it?

You'll never know if those people find value in your content - and neither will they, because they're out the door before they look at any of it.

I'll lay it out honestly for you. You know I'm saying it to help, and not hurt.

Red is one of the worst colors psychologically. It tends to make people angry. Forums with red color schemes have a lot more trouble with their members than forums with a blue color scheme. That is why most forums come with a default blue color scheme. That is why a lot of the internet is blue. Some are now moving towards green because it is calm, crisp and fresh looking.

Solution - change main text color to something not red. Research what colors are psychologically suitable via the internet.

Your visited link color is pink - which clashes with the red.

Solution - change color of visited links.

People can be font snobs. Your font is squat, chunky, hard to read, and seems to all be in bold.

Solution - change font to something less clunky.

People read from left to right, which means they are first seeing your sidebar then your content. The font on your sidebar is the exact same size as the font of your main text.

Solution - Change Sidebar Font Size. Me personally I prefer if you only have one sidebar to have it on the left, it's more traditional and easier to cope with for most, but that's just me.

Your About Me section is competing with your main content - same color, same text, same size. This makes it confusing to look at. Do you see how, if you look at your main page, both the main body text and the about me text start right next to each other if your posted picture size is a certain size?

Solution - I'd suggest moving the lovely Thai pic at the top of your sidebar to be *under* the about me, just to break it up. If the about me text was a smaller size as suggested above this would help too.

Your blog archive takes up a lot of sidebar space.

Solution - I'd suggest either putting a scrolling sidebar (as I sent you the HTML for), moving it to the very bottom of your sidebar or consider going to a different style of archiving with keywords - as I mentioned before Google is making it harder for us, and that is one way you can overcome it. I am working on that for my own blog now.

So if you did change all the things I suggested, what would be left of the original? Wouldn't it be better to look at some templates to see if you can find one you like rather than ruining the one that person made for you by changing it completely? That isn't exactly honoring it. :(

Neither is it honoring your loyal readers to serve them up something which isn't the best it could be.

I think first and foremost bloggers need to honor their readers and your potential readers. Above anything else. The most successful bloggers do that.

You also need to remember - you have your RSS feed on a partial setting. That means you are giving your RSS subscribers no choice but to look at your site every day. Yes, I was the one who suggested it, so that you would feel better about your stats. What that means is, you have to have good design, something easy on the eye, something people want to look at. Otherwise they might look at that partial tempter they get in their rss feed reader and say no, I just can't deal with looking at that site today, and this snippet isn't grabbing me to go there and deal with it.

Did you get time to look at any of those templates I suggested via email to see what they look like? If not, take a look, even if it is just to see what colors you could consider using together for your current template, there's plenty of good ideas there.

If all else fails, simple black and white with a good font might be your best option.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

heartinsanfrancisco said...

If I may get in a word edgewise, it seems to me that anyone who reads Chani's blog regularly knows that she is all about honor and respect.

Haranguing her to make unwanted changes to her blog with the implication that she is not doing right by her readers does not honor or respect her.

It is a wonderful thing to offer help to someone. But that person is under no obligation to obey your commands, which is what suggestions become when you tenaciously insist that they all be implemented.

Hurting someone's feelings is never acceptable, no matter how much you try to cover your ass by protesting that you are trying to help, not hurt.

If you truly mean as well as you say, back off and allow Chani to absorb all your suggestions and to choose which, if any, feel right for her.

Even the best of intentions and suggestions fall on deaf ears when they are made in such a pushy manner that the person you are trying to help feels violated.

Snoskred said...

Ah, there's that Aussie straight forwardness confusing people again. I am sorry if you feel my writing is pushy, but it isn't intended to be.

I actually feel like this discussion has been one of the best I've ever had with Chani here on the blog, she's not taking what I'm saying personally, she's listening to what I have to say and I'm doing the same back in return.

Discussion is when people discuss things. Chani - you tell me, are you feeling like I've been pushy, or just discussing options? Was that last comment where I offered solutions helpful for you?

If Chani wants me to back off, she can just say so. I thought the discussion was going well.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Snoskred said...

Oh, before I forget.. re technorati

Technorati links last for six months only. At the end of six months (180 days I believe it is, specifically) the Technorati spider checks the site that linked to you. If they are still linking to you, you get another 180 days. If not, you lose that link.

What happened over the last six months is, the spiders used to look at all links. The spiders have now been told not to look at javascript or iframe links - eg blogrolling uses Javascript. That is because a lot of people were getting a really high authority by being on javascript blogrolls that everyone installed on their blogs.

So that means being on the blogging chicks blogroll for example, you were getting authority from about 800 blogs - and now you won't be getting authority from them the next time the spider checks those sites.

Technorati have also cracked down on what they consider "gaming the system" which is where people all link to each other in blog posts (link trains, that kind of thing) simply in order to get higher authority.

As a result the link trains are becoming more ingenious in order to look legitimate.

Re blogger making it more difficult - it's worse than you think. Seriously worse. Your archives will no longer be spidered if they are too far for the spider to travel. The robots.txt instructs the spider to collect your site feed via RSS. That means all your old posts will slowly vanish from view. I have over 500 posts on my blog, and currently only 297 of them show up on Google - all of them coming directly from my site feed.

We are not able to submit a sitemap to Google - something ALL other bloggers can do, because it has to be on your site itself in .xml format and blogger does not allow you to upload .xml files to your blog. So bloggers on wordpress and typepad and other blogging platforms have a huge advantage over us. Once the spiders stop reading your archives you have no way of telling it to look at your older posts.

Therefore we bloggers will need to become smarter about how we archive. I strongly recommend (and I am doing this myself right now) that all blogger users take the time to go back through their posts and make a links list with keywords appropriate to the post, which you can place in your sidebar. It will be long (you may need to use the scrolling html for that one just to make it workable) and nobody may ever actually look at it other than the spiders.

Realistically though the end result will be a lot of bloggers moving away from blogger. If I can get the hang of wordpress I might do it myself.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Catherine said...

Excellent! I did used to have trouble loading the page...all better now!

Wayfarer Scientista said...

chani ~ ooo! I can tell I've missed a lot here just in my last few days. I must think more before I comment on the new but I wanted to say that I love that picture of the pile of rocks in the water!

Snoskred said...

That's a lot better already - only a couple of things -

where it says comments policy, that is really light and blending in with your white background, perhaps choose a slightly darker gray or even darker than the rest of your sidebar?

Are you using blogger fonts and colors to do this?

A couple of good color resources - I suggest bookmarking these because you will use them from time to time, I LOVE these sites.

http://www.htmlgoodies.com/tutorials/colors/article.php/3479001

http://visibone.com/

my favourite one from that site is the color lab - it allows you to test colors against each other live in a little preview area - make white your first choice then throw colors on top of it and see what happens in the preview box? It's brilliant. I love it. ;)
http://www.visibone.com/colorlab/

http://www.only-zuul.com/ahexcolor.htm
the above one is most useful when working with black backgrounds, although if you scroll down a little the hex color chart gives you the 216 colors against white, which can be helpful.

You know much of the stuff we've discussed here I'm putting aside for making tips posts. ;) I've learnt so much over the past year I've forgotten what I didn't know in the past, if that makes any sense.

That html goodies site is a keeper - what a goldmine of html!

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

Sephyroth said...

Pardon the seeming gibberish in my comment below, but in the end it should work out. I have a add-on which allows me to make changes in a site's display on my side. I'll put a link to a before and after below. :)

What you should do to get your image working in your template is the following:

Go into your Layout settings in your blog's dashboard, then click on "Edit HTML".

Before making any changes, save a copy of your template to your computer by clicking on "Download Full Template". That way, in case something goes wrong, you can restore your template to what it currently is.

Find the section that reads "#header-wrapper". The first line after that will be "width:660px;". Change the 660 to 810. This will make your header wider, so that the image fits the box, however it will hang over the content on the right like it does now.

Next, find the line that reads "#outer-wrapper". The first line after that will be "width: 660px;". Again, change the 660 to 810. This line makes your entire blog wider, so that the header will be centered over the content.

Lastly, find the line that reads "#main-wrapper". The first line after that will be "width: 410px;". Change the 410 to 560. This will make the area your posts show up in wider, which will make them more readable on the screen.

Also, I noticed that your blog has its font set to bold by default. You can fix this by going into the #outer-wrapper section from above, and changing the last line of that (which now reads - "font: normal bold 98% Georgia, Serif;") to this - "font: 98% Georgia, Serif;" . That will turn the automatic bolding of your font off.

As promised, here are the before and after (you can't post images on a blogger comment, so you'll have to click on them ;))-

Before: Click here for before
After: Click here for after

If you have any more questions, feel free to give me a shout. :)

Sephyroth
http://www.sephyroth.net

bohemiangirl said...

Chani,

I'm loving the new look of this site and praise you on being brave enough to ask for feedback and graceful in receiving it. Nothing wrong with wanting to change and grow in this lifetime.

Namaste.