Problogger One of the best ways to learn is by learning from others. Design reviews look at the ups and downs of a blog’s design, leaving you to take away best-practices for your own blog.

Problogger is the site for professional bloggers. For years now, Darren has been consistently giving out the best and most up-to-date advice on making money blogging. Over that time, he has accumulated nearly 30,000 subscribers, so naturally, when he released a complete redesign of his blog yesterday, done by Ben Bleikamp, there was a lot of buzz. What better candidate could there be for our first design review??

What has been done well?

In short, alot, but some of the very best aspects are:

  • It’s bold. It is a huge change from the previous layout, and from reading the comments, it has taken at least a few readers by surprise. There are thousands of blogs on the same topic as Darren’s, and Darren stays ahead of them by constantly being at the head of the game with his content. This design is no different. It throws caution to the wind with the homepage, and steps away from the standard blog layout.
  • Architecture. There is a wealth of information in the Problogger archives, and due to the sheer amount of it, often the only way to find an older article is when Darren interlinks his posts. The new homepage separates the video and the text, the sidebar of every post lists recent posts, and the long category list is well spaced in the footer, making it much more friendly to use.
  • The color scheme. It’s modern, and it’s interesting. The layout of the new design is extremely modern. A normal, monotone color scheme simply wouldn’t be good enough here. Being unique is difficult, but it has been well pulled off here.
  • Room to breathe. There is a lot of information on every page, but it doesn’t feel that way. The layout is wider than previously, giving a lot more space to work with. Instead of cluttering that space, Ben has used ample padding.
  • Best of Problogger” links. Ajax has been used magnificently to allow four different lists of links to be placed into a small space. It has even been integrated with Alex King’s Popularity Contest plugin. One of the best uses of Ajax I’ve seen in a blog.
  • It looks good. In all designs, there are some aspects that simply “feel right.” Problogger is no different. In particular, I like how it feels layered, with different sections in different coloured boxes, and the lighter ones being on top.

What could be changed?

  • Grid structure. Darren’s design is fantastic. It really is, and that is the reason that taking the time to use a strict grid structure in the beginning would have been advantageous. I don’t think that the actual design could be improved upon at all, but the page’s flow could. This can be best seen on the homepage. Do you see how the 3 main columns are all different sizes? Look at the category links. The columns there have no correlation to the rest of the page, and then look below that, where the 3 evenly divided columns look a little off because they don’t fit with the rest of the page.
  • Comment Count. The comment links have been placed near the post titles. That is fine on single posts, but when you are reading the post straight out of the blog section, you read right to the end, and there’s nothing. If you want to comment, you have to scroll back up to the title.
  • Add a slogan. The old design was very friendly to new-readers. It even began with a “What is a blog?” link. The new design is fantastic for returning readers, but bringing back the slogan wouldn’t hurt, and with all the space around the logo, there is certainly enough room for it.

All in all, the Problogger redesign was one of the most drastic, and most well executed redesigns I’ve seen in a long time. Whatever Darren paid Ben, it was well worth it!

What do you think of the new design? Thumbs up or down?

If you have a custom themed blog that you’d like to have reviewed, just drop me an email.

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