Hi, I am Pat.
I would say that I am in love with Virginia Nussey, but due to recent stalking laws I am required to say “I believe Virginia Nussey is a very nice person”
Virginia was a delight to meet both in person, and through her writing. I have since seen Virginia a bunch of times, and it always is a pleasure.
Virginia writes for the Bruce Clay blog and loves tortoises. She is also an extremely talented writer and blogger.
Recently Virginia wrote an article named “True Confessions of a Boring Blogger” which was a personal and heart felt post. I know Virginia but even if I didn’t know her, I would have melted. Since I know her a bit, I actually moaned, fell over, melted, and decided to write her this.
In her post, Virginia boldly takes responsibility for the drooping numbers and comment levels of the blog. She honestly and openly discussed her role of taking over the blog from the popular blogger Lisa Barone and the difficulties involved with doing so.
I have some important information for you Virginia.
You are the perfect writer for the job and the blog that you so wonderfully write for has a few problems of it’s own. There are some correctable and easy to implement solutions here.
The goal of this post is to highlight some things that I feel can greatly improve the Bruce Clay blog I will be blunt and will try to keep it funny, but I am going to be blunt.
I have had these thoughts about the Bruce Clay blog for a long time. For those who don’t know, I respect Bruce Clay and everyone involved with that blog very much and love to see them always. These are lovingly given suggestions…
1) The Sideways Barcode Problem
If you took a barcode…
And then turned it sideways…
You would have the visual of the Bruce Clay blog…
Solely on a visual front, this offends the eyes, makes yawns more possible, and leaves one seeking for links to click or back buttons to press.
2) Pleasure People Visually
Insert photos and images as much as possible.
Yes that is Virginia in knee socks, she has been nice enough to throw on a few pair of knee socks.
A post with images is more visually alluring than a post without.
The image can be a chart, or a screenshot, or Virginia in knee socks.
But whatever that image is, it visually breaks up those amazing words writen.
They make the pleasure of reading even more pleasurable.
Breaking up the lines and lines of text improve said text, no matter how wonderful that text is.
To solve the sideways barcode problem takes only a few moments.
Just post some images. I promise that this will make your blog more interesting and pleasurable. I am an adorer of their Friday recaps but I wish they had images in them.
3) You Don’t Need a Ring to be Engaged
The most frustrating problem I have had with the Bruce Clay blog is the inability to have real time conversations. Or even near real world conversations.
I honestly believe this is the biggest culprit killing engagement on their blog.
The Bruce Clay blog is not a place that people go to talk to each other or even to respond to each others comments. I have tried to respond to other peoples comments there, and when I do it is rare that the coment even gets posted in time to respond. I have made comments there that have not been posted for over 12 hours!
How am I going to be engaged by that? I am not. It enrages me and makes me want to slap someone with a fish.
After you leave a comment, you get to what I call “The grey screen of death” …
Why take me to a screen that tells me I commented? I already know I commented. Oh great there is a link back to the original entry, so I can get back. But why would I go back? My comment won’t be there. The link that says “Return to the original entry” might as well say “Take me to a less frustrating and complicated blog”.
4) Comment Settings
Set your comments to be auto approved. If not just to improve the above frustrating process, to have the ability for people to respond to each other in the comments.
Every other blog I engage with has something the the Bruce Clay blog does not: When I see a comment on any other blog that I have a response to, or I feel I can add to, I post a comment. I do not do this on the Bruce Clay blog because I don’t think it will get posted in a timely way.
To be clear about this, the comment system at the Bruce Clay blog is a fail. Change it. You will have more engaged users if you do.
5) Can I Haz Navigation?
To write this post I wanted to give some example of older posts I have commented on, but couldn’t because…
I could not find them.
Let’s go to the bottom of the home page of the blog, you know, the place where you can go to see “older entries” or “previous entries”?
The Bruce Clay blog says “no” to navigation. Here is the bottom of their blog home page, where amazingly, there is no way to see previous posts…
The Bruce Clay blog is extraordinarily difficult to navigate. If you can’t overhaul the whole thing then I would at least suggest a link to previous posts or some form of navigation at the bottom.
6) Sidebars Should Not Create Headaches
I think your sidebar needs some visual healing. The good news is that you have several ways for people to use social media and feeds. That is great, but could we make the chicklets and links more unified?
You are a marketing company, not a GeoCities page. Get a designer to create you some universal buttons for that sidebar.
And on the subscribe options… It is great that you have so many options to subscribe ( full, partial, XML, Atom) but the problem is you have no way to just plain ole’ subscribe.
I suggest one of those bright orange, universally recognized thingies.
Your advanced users will appreciate the subscribe options, but your regular users just want to hit a orange icon and subscribe to your blog.
I was honestly confused when I wanted to subscribe to this blog. I felt like I was getting tested or something. It made me scratch my head and wonder which option to use.
Virginia Nussey and Susan Esparza are some of the greatest writers around. I believe that with a simple meeting, and about a days work, the platform upon which they write on could be drastically improved.
In any case however, the Bruce Clay blog is a great blog that should definately be on your reading list.