Splashpress Media

The New Blog Herald

Posted on Aug 4, 2008

Blog Herald

The Blog Herald has finally had a new design by Thord Hedengren (the current editor) and has relaunched as of last Friday. This has been planned for some time and there has been much discussion in the internal forums about how the design should be and its effect on the site as a whole. All the BH contributors have given great feedback and we hope that you will agree that the design is a real improvement.

First off, a bit of history. The Blog Herald was founded by Duncan Riley in 2003 and then went through six design changes until he sold the blog to Blog Media in early 2006. Blog Media then employed Chris Pearson to do an overhaul in mid-2006 and the result was a very attractive “newspaper look”. However, after we at Splashpress Media acquired the site in late 2006, we felt that a further design change was needed, as it just gave us very little room to monetize the site and put in our own network features (feed boxes, widgets, etc). After consulting James Archer at Forty Media (which later resulted in the Gangway Theme, later released for free at Performancing Themes), we turned to Brian Gardner to help us fulfill all our needs. Over several months, Brian worked closely with us to produce a design that balanced all that we wanted, helping to take the Blog Herald in a new direction. And this has been the design that BH has adorned for well over a year now.

However, times change. We have come to realize some of our mistakes at the Blog Herald with the new direction that we took the site. Firstly, it was clear that we had moved too far away from the “news” element, which is after all what the site was founded on. This was a tactical decision, as it was felt that another of our sites, 901am, was covering this element. However, the news about blogosphere itself and the subsequent commentary, was being left by the wayside in large parts. The old design pushed away the news posts under the ads and in the right sidebar, rather than bringing them to the forefront where they should be. This new design by Thord has hopefully corrected that. And by getting back some of the best news bloggers out there, as we announced with Matt Craven, hopefully the balance between “feature posts” (tutorials, tips, etc) and “news posts” will be readdressed. In addition, the Blog Herald being such an old site, we have to deal with what is a rather chaotic and unmanageable categorization situation. Thord has hopefully solved this by introducing the tag and tag clouds as a remedy. So for all future posts, only one category will be used rather than multiple- allowing for easier navigation. These will simply be: news, features, guides and interviews. There will be a few more, such as podcasts, but many of these will be added as tags later on. For example, for Lorelle‘s infamous WordPress Wednesdays, you will now find them under the appropriate tag and not in a category.

We also hope that the new Blog Herald is an improvement in a visual, aesthetic sense as well. We have listened to the criticisms, e.g: from Kaspars Dambis. That the logo is more fitting. That we have gotten rid of so much of our “clutter”. We realize that we had too many ads and we needed to do away with the feed boxes from sites such as Blogger Jobs, Blogosphere News and Bloggy Award. As Kaspars commented:

“One should never criticize the design of a website on the grounds of visual liking or preference, but rather by how well the design enhances and delivers the content to its readers and viewers. Different content requires a different approach to presenting it in the way that is both accessible and easy to explore.”

Anyway, enough from us. Here is Thord‘s official annnouncement over at the Blog Herald:

As you’ve probably seen, The Blog Herald doesn’t look they way it used to. This is intentional, luckily, and part of our efforts to get better at everything. That’s the goal after all, so let’s be frank about it.

I mentioned the relaunch with a new design when I took over as the editor a few months back. I would’ve wanted to do it sooner, but you can’t get everything you want, and besides, the poor designer’s schedule was really full. Being my schedule, I did the design, and I hope you like it.

So let’s talk a little bit about the relaunch, shall we?

The New Beta Version

First of all, let’s get something straight right away: This site is currently in beta, which means that some things might not function properly just yet. This is due to a number of things, the most prominent one being that The Blog Herald is chock full of content, had a ridiculous amount of categories, and have a history that isn’t to be taken lightly. In other words, there’s a lot of stuff going on with the archives, the categorization, and with tagging. I’ll be keeping it in beta until everything works more or less as intended. Or at least until the full footer is up…!

That being said, this new version is fully functional, so you can browse the archives, or visit the brand new tag cloud, knowing that it behaves decently enough to be released to the public. We will update the site as usual, as well, so stick around.

About the New Design

The new design brings the content back in focus, which should mean a better flow and a more natural reading experience. We’ve got a simple top menu to make sure that you can dive into any main area of the site at any time, and the latest stories listed in traditional blog behaviour.

The small left column lists the hottest topics right now, being tags of course, which is something that The Blog Herald haven’t had before. This means that the archive isn’t properly tagged (yet), but everything new and most of the most recent updates are, so you can track what’s hot just by looking at this list, and read our extensive coverage of the various topics by clicking the links. Don’t forget the larger tag cloud either.

A site like The Blog Herald have a lot of needs, from traditional ads to linking other sites within the network, there are simply a lot of needs. That brought clutter to the previous version, something that isn’t entirely erased (again, out of need) but at least kept to a minimum.

I think I’ll leave you at that. Click around, try stuff out, see what you think. Personally, I think that the 100 latest stories page is a nice addition, making it easier to read up when you’ve been away for a few days. There’s more funky stuff on its way, so keep an eye out for new things here on The Blog Herald.

For now, thanks for reading, looking forward to your comments, and have a great weekend!

So do checkout the new Blog Herald and let us know your thoughts!