I have lots of things I am planning to change on this blog, with some extremely radical changes in look and feel, and changes to the overall linking structure.
Those changes have really been waiting for WordPress 2.3 because it just makes things a lot easier doing the work just once, however there are a few things I would like to highlight that I think people will appreciate, and even a few things that I have experimented with that have proven to be… an absolute failure.
This is actually part of a blog improvement meme just started by my long-time online friend Dane, and whilst I haven’t taken part in any kind of meme for months, I believe this to be a really valuable one which has the potential to give lots of value to readers, though I am twisting it slightly by trying to ask the people I am pinging to also give me an answer to what I want to change.
I am also going to tag some big hitters, and hope they will respond.
For a while I have been puzzling over something as to the best approach in formatting headines, but so that they appear differently on a blog, and in an RSS feed.
Here is an example from Copyblogger
The original article was about high impact content above the fold, and headlines make a huge difference, especially how they are formatted.
Notice that the first line is quite short? That isn’t normal wrapping, it is centred, but also includes a “BR” in the headline.
<a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-for-stumbleupon/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Writing for StumbleUpon:<br /> High Impact Content â€œAbove the Scrollâ€ in Four Easy Steps">Writing for StumbleUpon:<br> High Impact Content â€œAbove the Scrollâ€ in Four Easy Steps</a>
But the sneaky thing is that that BR only seems to appear on the page, and not in feed readers or search results. I have tried just including it when adding a headline to a post in the past, and the headline looked horrible in feed readers, and when people submit your post to Digg, the ugly “BR” can appear in the title… oops.
I can think of a number of ways to do this, such as using a custom field for the headline on the page being displayed, but I would love to know how it is being done on Copyblogger.
So first up I am pinging Brian Clark or Chris Pearson to give us some insight on the best way to handle this. Chris did Brian’s design and has covered similar stuff such as image handling in RSS in the past.
I think improving how headlines are displayed is important, so would make a perfect article on either site. I would also love to know what they would prefer.
I have been experimenting with quite unique subscription options on this site for a while, and wrote about how I did it.
The aim was to raise the headers up the page a little on the single pages and offer something totally unique, and in many ways it has worked.
Some people might be happy to double their subscribers in 3 months.
It has however totally failed in one regard. My email subscription rate has absolutely plummeted.
I am not sure if this is to be expected, and that RSS usage really is increasing, or because I am just attracting a more sophisticated user, but I suspect it is because it is hidden.
I would make it a lot more prominent if I was able to offer an incentive for signing up with a managed email solution, but such a solution would need to
- Allow me to send a full content daily digest automatically
- Support integration with membership sites
- subscription management (such as moving from a prospect to a customer list, and not sending out multiple emails to people subscribed to 2 different lists)
- Subscriber numbers are addictive – I need them reported to Feedburner
I want to extensively test email subscriptions on blogs, but I need the content to go out in the emails once per day. Some days I publish 4 blog entries, other days nothing at all. My record was 10 blog posts in a single day. If someone received 10 emails from me in one day, they are going to unsubscribe before they have read the 6th.
The nearest to the functionality that I am aware about is Aweber, but I believe I can only select a number of posts to send in a batch, or immediate sending.
So I am going to ping the guys at Aweber about this, but I would also love them to write something on how to increase email subscriptions on blogs.
There would be lots of ways I could offer incentives for email subscriptions, but I don’t want to frighten my list if I have a busy day.
Messing With WordPress Loops
In the new design I will most likely use some kind of featured post format, but I am not sure about the best way to do it for server load.
I have read 2 very good solutions
- Use Daniel’s plugin, Homepage Excerpts or modify it as needed – this filters the output of the standard loop
- Dane’s single wordpress loop code which does some counting to determine what to display
- Using 2 or more WordPress loops
I will probably have to use some multiple loop code anyway in various places, and this will mainly be used for categories, but I would love to know which method is the ideal one to recommend to people.
So I need to ping a WordPress Guru who knows how these things work, and might also have helped implement similar things on a few high traffic sites. Aaron… help!
Aaron has actually been doing some pretty hefty changes to his own blog, and I noticed that the front page has been optimized to drive subscriptions very much to other team B5 blogs.
Also, in the comments on Digg recently for the article I linked to I noticed lots of comments regarding performance issues. Were they WordPress 2.3 related?
Just 3 For Now
There are lots of other things I am going to be improving, but I generally know the answers for those. I am actually going to experiment with a wide 2 column theme (60/40) with a complex footer.
I have been using tagging to determine related posts and WP2.3 probably won’t have that available for while.
And so gentleman, I would really appreciate your answers, and maybe you would also like to discuss what you would like to change on your blogs, or try to shoehorn some answers out of other people.