As you can no doubt tell the new Entrepreneur’s Journey is now live. I’ve been testing everything to make sure it is working as it should be but no doubt some errors and design layout issues are hidden away. If you come across any major problems using the site please contact me.
Besides the overall colour and layout changes you will find a few new features, including:
Audio “play” buttons – In an effort to enhance the usability of this site I have added audio explanations for some key features. I will continue to add more audio descriptions where I believe the extra explanation is helpful. In general the audio buttons are targeted more at first time visitors and novice surfers to help explain the purpose of this website and it’s features. Some people learn better with their ears rather than their eyes and anything I can do to create additional communication channels is beneficial.
Highlighted areas – The two areas above the fold (currently housing the ‘Popular Articles’ and ‘Blog Traffic School’) are specifically placed to give me an area to highlight particular features of this site. Often within a blog topics are ‘lost’ as new entries relegate them further and further into the archives. I specially planned the new design to have an area that I could change whenever I wanted to bring attention to certain products or services or articles etc.
New email updates subscription service – The old Entrepreneur’s Journey subscriber email list has been moved to the right sidebar below the box banner. Behind the scenes I have also switched over this mailing list to the RSS-to-email feature of Aweber, which means I no longer manually have to send out updates when I write a new article.
I’ve set up the system to send out an email whenever three or more new articles are published so email subscribers should receive summaries and links to the latest posts about weekly. Previously I only sent out notification when a new full length article was published but using this new system subscribers will receive notice for every post made to this blog. I’m going to write more about the new Aweber feature in a future email since you are probably a little bit confused with how it works because I know I was before I started playing with it.
I still recommend people learn how to subscribe with RSS but I understand some prefer email so I need to have a robust solution for them as well. If you haven’t yet subscribed either by RSS or through email I suggest you go to the right sidebar now and do so, I’ve got some pretty good content coming up in the weeks ahead.
Blog Traffic School – Since I am devoting most of my time outside of blogging and BetterEdit.com towards Blog Traffic School I wanted to really focus on it and make sure everyone who is interested knows about it and subscribes to the pre-launch list to stay up to date. Hence it is highlighted on every page of this blog. If you haven’t done so yet please sign-up to the email list now.
Banner placements – In an attempt to further monetize my sites I had to develop a better way to include advertisements using the recently installed PHPAdsNew. I didn’t want the site to become overrun with banners so I surfed around a few blogs and blog networks and used them as inspiration to come up with the current general layout here. This design includes an above the fold box banner, as well as a sidebar tower and individual entry standard banners. The banners do not intrude the content but are prominent enough that they generate exposure, either for external advertisers, AdSense links or my own internal campaigns. If you are interested in sponsoring this site visit the Sponsorship Opportunities page.
Better use of space – What I like the most about the new design is that is appears much like the old design, remains reasonably clutter free but manages to cram in a lot more in the same amount of area. It doesn’t quite fit right in 800*600 screen resolutions, which incidentally I learned 20% of net users still use so it’s worth catering for, but all the content can be viewed in that resolution better than in the old design. I like the colour usage better (kudos to Phil, my designer) and with the network tabs down the left side I can keep all my blogs linked together in a pseudo-blog-network. Overall I think it’s prettier and more professional too, which is important given the direction I am heading with my blogging.
Philipp Hartle is the designer that did the new look for Entrepreneur’s Journey. He’s also currently finishing up the look for Small Business Branding. As you can no doubt tell I’m pretty pleased with his efforts. Phil is located here in Brisbane, my hometown, and is a friend of mine. It was really good to have the option of face-to-face communication although we only met once initially to get the overall theme decided and then communicated through VOIP for most of the changes after that point. I recommend Phil for blog design work if you are in need of a fresh and funky design.
I’d love to hear what you think of the design so please leave a comment with your opinion. I suspect some people will still prefer the old design and there are always people that hate change, no matter how much it can enhance their lives, but regardless I value all sound judgements. If you think there are some features that could be improved or areas that aren’t quite clear let me know and I will see what I can do.