Site Redesign: What do you think?

Monday, February 2, 2009

After much consideration, I decided to redesign the look and feel of this site. The old look borrowed heavily from our long-standing family site Casa Dwyer and as I was starting this site last year I decided it was more important to get up and running than to spend too much time focusing on new aesthetics. Although I liked the look of the old site, I like the new look too. Here's why I chose it:

  • The template is called Newspaper and I feel it aligns with the idea of this site being a modern day non-print newspaper or "Press".
  • The background is now white (it was previously black) and the fonts used more highly differentiate bold text which makes for easier to "scan" for key points when reading. I took the advice of Kevin Palmer from Social Media Answers in this entry when making this decision. Judging from Kevin's Twitter bio, we're like brothers separated at birth or something: Social Media, Wine, Sports (baseball cards), Technology, Boston. It's amazing how Twitter can help you find people with the same micro-interests as yourself.
  • I've added About, Subscribe, and Contact links across the top of the page to help new visitors more quickly decide whether the content on this site is relevant to them. In doing so, I leveraged things I learned from Darren Rowse's Pro Blogger in general and specifically this entry. I've found Pro Blogger to be the most useful "how to blog" site on the Internet.
  • I decided not to follow the advice given on The Winery Web Site Report that says if you're serious about blogging you'll use self-hosted WordPress. They're advising wineries that they won't be taken seriously if they user Google's Blogger service. While I agree that self-hosted WordPress seems to be the way to go, it isn't free, it's more complicated than Blogger, and it doesn't guarantee a quality web site. For those reasons, a move to self-hosted WordPress will remain something I'll consider for the future.
For reference, here's what the old site looked like:


I try not to talk too much "inside baseball" here about the site (a wine blog about wine blogging can get rather circuitous can't it?) and instead try to focus on wine. However, I *am* interested in social media in general and especially the topic of how wine businesses present themselves on the Internet.

For me, anyone thinking about blogging should focus their energies with the following priorities:
  1. Quality of Content (Does the author have a unique perspective on the subject? Is the information useful?)
  2. Aesthetics (Does the site look legitimate? Does it align with the subject matter? Is it pleasing to the eye?)
  3. Platform (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc)
I share this order of prioritization because I'd hate to see a local wine shop, a winery, or even a fellow wine blogger delay getting their message online for fear of not getting it just right the first time.  This new media stuff is an evolution, and the only way to figure it out is to get in there and start playing with it.  

As social media evangelist Ron Ploof so eloquently stated: "Afraid of taking that first New Media step? It's easier to jump onto a moving train while it's still pulling out of the station."

Question of the Day: What do you think of the redesign? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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