design Freelance Switch is the blog that everyone wants to have. In just 6 months, Collis and his team have taken it from 0 to 15,000 subscribers. It began by giving advice to freelancers, but has quickly developed into a job board, a forum, a book, and more. It has become a one-stop shop for freelancers.

And what’s more? It has a stunning design! So naturally when it was redesigned this week, the candidate for the weekly blog review was obvious (Though it has added to that Year of the Redesign feeling!).

What Has Been Done Well?

  • It’s still Freelance Switch. No doubt about it, there may be a new design but this is still Freelance Switch. Blog branding is one thing to talk about, but few blogs pull it off so well. The unique character designs, color scheme and design style were all distinctly memorable. The new design retains all of these traits.
  • Navigation. The original design was clearly made for a blog, but FSW developed into much more than that. Whilst the original theme held up with the navigation additions for a while, it just wasn’t made for them. The new design is much more comfortable to navigate.
  • RSS. The RSS counter is not a Feedburner-branded button! I always loved seeing this text effect on another site of Collis’, NorthxEast. The one flaw on NxE was that it didn’t look like an RSS counter. FSW maintains a nearby RSS icon though. Perfect.
  • Best of Freelance Switch. When ProBlogger redesigned, I commented on the “Best of ProBlogger” AJAX links being one of the best parts of the design. It has a slight glitch though, where if the page is loading slowly, all 4 lists will be shown together for a few seconds. FSW don’t seem to have this problem, so well done guys.

What Could Be Changed?

  • Trackbacks. The trackbacks are separate from the comments which is great, but they are positioned right after the article. This will earn them a few more clicks I’m sure, but do they really deserve precedence over the comments?
  • Sidebar clutter. The sidebar is well spaced out, the headers and icons look great, and I love the link effect, but there is a lot in there. There’s nothing particularly wrong about it, but perhaps a more minimalist design could be considered?
  • Categories. The category system has virtually disappeared. The only way to get at it now seems to be to click the “Visit the Archives” link in the sidebar then scroll down. Each post is followed by a large meta area now, which could easily include the post category (At the very least, it would help those of us looking to flick through the Freelance Freedom cartoons!).
  • The site banner and post headlines. These are just 2 little nitpicks I found. The “Freelance Switch” banner isn’t clickable, and the post headlines on the home page have no rollover effect. It feels a little static considering the rest of the design.

All in all, I love this redesign. Unquestionably, Freelance Switch has kept its identity and this was not a redesign for the sake of it. The new design is more of a fresh look on the old design, whilst it patches up the flaws. What more could you want from it?

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