Iphone 3G giveaway

Upstartblogger.com is giving away the new iphone 3G this month. To win, simply write a review of the blog and post the link in the comments section.

So, here’s my review:

Design related

I’m actually new to the site. The first thing I noticed was the rather unique design. I’m a fan of minimalistic sites, but for some reason this site didn’t do it for me. 

The weird display of the dates is what bothers me most. Then we have the fact that the post title is bigger than the site header.. Doesn’t really seem all that balanced. I understand it’s done that way to focus on the content, but it has an adverse effect on me at least. 

Also, the post title is positioned far away from the post date, for some reason. On the homepage it was actually really confusing as the post title is positioned under the text instead of above it. I see no good reason to do this at all other than to be different. 

Then we have these really small navigational links in the upper right corner, with no indication that they are indeed links as they have the exact same color as the rest of the text. 

Some links are in black, some normal text is in black, some links are in red (author link, etc), some normal text is in red. Pick one and stick with it please.

For some reason, the categories and months are displayed at the bottom of the page instead of at the right side, and only on the homepage. So when you’re browsing the site and want to go to a different category, you first have to go to the homepage again..

There also doesn’t seem to be any pagination on the homepage, or I must have missed it, so you have to use the archives to browse around.

And then the last thing is that everything seems to have an underscore attached to it for no reason. 

Normally, the site’s design doesn’t bother me much, as it is the content that matters, but in this case it really was quite cumbersome to navigate and read the site. 

Some simple colors would be nice, just a background color for the site header and site footer would help alot. 

There also seems to be alot of whitespace/padding between each comment making you scroll aloooooot to read them.

Content related

Anyway, on to the content, I thought I’d subscribe to the feed to make it easier to read. OH NO, excerpts. I hate excerpts! Please make the RSS feed full content. 

Anyway, the site content is pretty good. Obviously the site details how to make money from your blog, how to promote it, etc. So very useful for alot of people these days. 

I really liked this post: 

25 steps to launching your blog and making $100 i 30 days

It gives you a quick rundown of what to do when you start a new blog. He recommends either wordpress or textpattern, but the article itself is about wordpress. 

In it is a great list of wordpress plugins that you shouldn’t be without, like a “Digg this” button, “ad rotator”, “get recent comments”, “social bookmark creator” and more. 

Focus on a niche, you don’t want a blog that doesn’t have a clear focus. Write cearly, write often. Comment on other sites, etc. Read the article for more. 

One thing that I haven’t seen listed is writing guest articles on other blogs. These can get you great traffic. Worth considering.

The quick start section is also a very good idea and showcases the best posts in the blog. 

He also has some posts about how much traffic you need to make money online and says 500 visitors a day can generate $250 a week here. Well, I don’t really agree with this as it’s only half the story. How much you make is entirely dependent on the niche you are in. If you just have a blog with funny videos, you’ll obviously make much less than a blog about financial stuff, web hosting, etc etc. I guess the figure could be stated as an average. 

He’s also giving some good tips on how to get some fresh readers to your blog here. 

Surprisingly, redesigning is at number 1. Admittedly, you can’t do this every week 🙂 and you will probably have to submit to alot of CSS design sites as well, but it can be worth it.

He also notices that contests bring hit and run traffic. After the competition, most people never return. I find it weird that the same thing is not happening with the redesign. Though that could possibly be explained by the topic of the blog. Most people browsing CSS design sites are webmasters/bloggers and thus naturally interested in his site.

But another benefit of contests is the massive linkage it generates, and will ultimately help your search engine rankings, giving you more visitors.

Ofcourse, #1 is and will always be fresh and unique content.  

I’ve then checked out some of the themes that he is providing. Most seem to be playing with typography alot. I can see how alot of people are interested in such templates and it’s a great way to get some backlinks and extra traffic from search engines/word of mouth, etc…

One issue I also noticed is that you have a referrals page, but the only referrals listed are sites from your own domain.. Because you don’t filter out feedburner 🙂

Conclusion

This review is probably to critical to even win the iphone, but I’ll submit it anyway. Do with it as you please 🙂 I wrote this review not so that you have to create an entirely new layout, but you can do certain things that improve on the current one. 

Though, I’m not a designer, I don’t even use a custom theme as you can see. I’m just a layman but you’re going to get layman’s browsing your site as well 🙂

Oh well, hope you got a good read out of this anyway 😉

Edit: Just noticed another thing that’s really cumbersome. I wanted to post my link on the site, so I went to the comment area. Clicked inside the name field, typed my name, tabbed to the next field, typed my email, tabbed again, website, tabbed again, but instead of landing in the comment field I landed on the submit button. Please fix this. I use tabbing all the time for commenting and I’m sure more people have the same issue.

Edit 2: I continued reading the blog, and noticed that the owner won’t be changing the design any time soon, as discussed here. But let’s not forget that websites also have “first impressions”, just as people. If you make me feel stupid (subconciously) when reading your site (for the first time) by having your post titles under the excerpt, I might just have left before reading the excellent content.. Design can get in the way of content, and extra readers, and ultimately, more money for you. Same thing with not having pagination on your homepage or your blog categories in the sidebar. It will result in less pageviews == less money.

Edit 3: Another thing I don’t like on any blog is moderated comments. Usually with tools such as akismet I don’t think there is much of a need for moderation, unless you have people that are manually spamming your site. However, if you do have moderation, please make sure that comments are approved quickly as it will be a benefit to your visitors and will engage them more. Or use the setting that only moderates the user’s message once, and from then on out all comments are approved automatically for that user.

Edit 4: I also don’t see any prominent link to the contest page from your homepage. That’s something I at least would do, unless you’re doing a contest only for your loyal readership, new readers won’t find out unless they browse your archives. 

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