For the past few months I have been contemplating whether or not ChrisBlogging needs a new design. Well, if you are reading this you can see that I took the leap. Simply put, the old theme was getting stale. It was not unique, and it limited what I could say and do to a certain extent.
If you are interested in a new theme for your blog, I suggest Blue Wave Solutions out of San Diego, California. They may not be well known within the blogosphere for blog designs, but trust me when I say that they know what they are doing. Not only does Blue Wave offer top notch designs, but their customer service is high class. We have worked together a few times, and this will not be the last.
As you will notice, the design is pretty much a complete change from the old one. I added two â€œblocksâ€ at the top of the blog so that I could offer further information on my freelance writing course as well as my writing services. To go along with this, you will also notice that the sidebar is completely redesigned with a more modern, cleaner look.
Thanks again to everybody who has helped ChrisBlogging come this far. I am closing in on my goal of 400 RSS subscribers, and I hope that the new theme will help me to reach this mark soon enough. If you the get the chance, spread the word. With a new design I have the freedom to add more features, and a better overall reader experience.
Over the past few weeks I have been asked several times why I never moved forward with making my â€œnew designâ€ live. While I have mentioned a few of the issues in past posts, I wanted to get into more depth as to help everybody else avoid the problems that I had to deal with.
First things first, letâ€™s take a close look at why I decided to keep the current design for the time being.
1. The new design was not compatible with Internet Explorer. Although a lot of people are switching to Firefox, this is not the case across the board. Obviously, if you cannot view the blog properly with IE, it is a huge problem.
2. The search button and RSS button were not working as they should. While this is probably a simple fix, for somebody like myself with no technical skills, it would have taken quite some time.
3. Perhaps most importantly, it was not widget compatible. During my initial consultation with the designer this was the detail that I stressed the most. For me, it is essential to be able to drag widgets and quickly add information to the sidebar when necessary.
Why didnâ€™t you tell your designer what you needed? Well, this exactly what I did after noticing the problems the day that I made the site live. The designer was accommodating at first, and even left a comment on a post stating:
â€œweâ€™re the designers for Chrisâ€™ new website design and weâ€™re working on the new design edits for IE issues. Weâ€™ll have them all complete tomorrow afternoon/evening.â€
Thinking that everything would be fixed within a day at the most, I was not worried. Well, after a week or so of no contact, it was obvious that the designer decided to move on without taking care of the changes. Even when I would hear from him stating that the problems would get fixed, there would be several days of nothing to follow.
In my opinion, I made two mistakes during the hiring of this designer:
1. I paid for the entire job upfront. This was understandable because as a freelancer, I know that getting payment upfront is a good idea with new clients. But with that being said, sending 50 percent would have been a better idea.
2. I never asked for past work samples or references. Simply put, this is a huge mistake. When a new client approaches me they always ask for samples, and I am more than happy to provide them. This way, they can get an idea of my style and expertise. It is amazing that I didnâ€™t do this, but sometimes a lapse in judgment occurs even when you are trying to avoid mistakes.
So what next? For now, I am going to stick with the current design. It may be one that others are using, but at the same time the blog is growing steadily. Last month was my biggest in terms of traffic and income, and RSS readership is nearing 100. With that being said, at the start of the new year I will be paying for a new design once again. The next time around I will follow my own advice so that I do not end up spending money with nothing to show for it!
As you may have seen, I switched ChrisBlogging to the new design this morning. Well, several unexpected issues occurred. They included some Internet Explorer compatibility issues, and some problems with the sidebar. At this time, I am working with the designer to figure things out.
In the meantime, I wanted to go back to my original theme. Even though I like the new design, the whole point of this blog is to teach freelance writing, not to look good. So until the new design is 100 percent correct, Iâ€™ll stick with this one. Simply put, I donâ€™t want to do anything that will compromise the information that I supply!
Thanks to everybody for their patience. For now, letâ€™s get back to talking about freelance writing!