What comes next?

As Ansible 2.0 is taking shape, I’m trying to rethink how this blog actually functions. The problem is, I have no good way of doing user studies because most of you people live too far away from me to observe. Those who I do observe locally tend to have restraining orders against me. So, I’m going to have to do it by having you people tell me a few things.

I’m trying to figure out how to do my layout. I’ve had the same design practically since day 1 back in 2004. Each time I tried to change the look & feel, I found myself coming back to this design. It’s unique, works (for the most part), and is small enough in size to work on mobile platforms from everything I can see. However, it’s time for a big change. I’m even considering a name change. So, it’s time to get rid of Paperweight (as it’s known) and move onto something a bit newer.

This is where you, dear reader, come in.

Question 1 – How do you access my blog?

Do you just read the RSS feed? Do you hit the home page and only read the latest posts? Do you go to a feed reader and click through to the individual post? I didn’t really put in a lot of tracking software and I don’t really plan on it, but I want to ensure I deliver my content in a way that makes it easy for people to read.

I’m looking at doing some ads, simply because I pay for this behemoth out of my own pocket, and ads would offset the cost, but that means I need eyes on pages. The days of 100% of the content via RSS feeds might not be viable if I need ads, but if that kills off a lot of readership, then I’d have to think of other idea.

Question 2 – What features on the right are you currently using?

I need search in a bad way, this I know and it will be done with the new design. Other than that though, do you ever browse the categories or archives by date? These items take a considerable amount of space, and I wonder if they’re ever used or not.

Question 3 – Would you freak out if the blogroll disappeared or changed drastically?

I think it’s important to have a blogroll, but it too takes up a massive amount of space and causes a lot of scrolling. For me, I never really look at other blogs’ blogrolls. I only pay attention to links in their posts, but I’m sure it’s helpful for newer readers to get a feel for the community. I hate to get rid of it completely, but trimming it down considerably and having a specific page for just external links might be a better solution unless there’s a wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Question 4 – What bugs you about the way most blogs are laid out?

Is there anything in particular about a feature on any blog that just irritates the piss out of you? Is there a particular format that just grates on your nerves?

Question 5 – Besides search (which is part of the plan), are there any particular features you like?

Some sites have latest comments and top posts. Is there anything you can think of that adds to the value of the blog? I’ve got subscriptions that I hope help people keep track of their conversations here, but are there other ways you’d like to be notified of things? I’m the worst Twitterer in the world, and I Book the Face once every few days at best but blogs and social media are kin, so is there something I could do to integrate them that would help?

Remember, I’m a personal blog. Sure, I write about gun rights, firearms, and am generally considered a gun blog, but if I were any less focused, you could use this place as a Gaussian Blur filter in Photoshop. So, it’s not a business, but it can be self sustaining. I like to entertain myself and since it seems to entertain quite a few people I might as well try to keep it paying for itself (since 100% of the cost of this thing comes from my wallet).

If there’s anything you’d really like to see in the new engine, let me know.

Thanks,

R

posted by by Robb Allen @
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