JCD Gets A Slight Makeover + Gets Google Subpages

JCD Gets A Slight Makeover + Gets Google Subpages

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Changes

You may have noticed some slight changes to Just Creative Design over the past week which comes after I called for your feedback in the lucky dip draw that I held last month. On this subject when was the last time you asked what your readers wanted? Why don’t you offer a prize for some valuable feedback?

If you’re on a feed reader, why don’t you click through to see the changes to Just Creative Design.

Before and After

Below you can see a before and after screenshot of what JCD used to look like. Please ignore the half red circle on the before photo.

Before & After

Update:

After receiving feedback on this post I updated the pink sidebars to something a bit less bright. I used the old grey sidebars however I put a pink underline and a slight grey gradient on it. I also added a bottom graphic to make it more like ‘pods’.You can see the changes below, or refresh. Your thoughts?

Make Over

Side Bar Colour Changes

I changed the colours of the sidebar headers to JCD’s trademark pink colour as people suggested making the “site a bit less grey”, “more colourful”, “not so white”. What do you think?

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David Airey also recently changed the colour of his website from a blue colour scheme to an orange one to reflect his work more accurately… Your website should reflect who you are. Lauren Marie from Creative Curio actually went a step further and redesigned her whole website to reflect herself more accurately. What is your website saying about you?

Remember that small gradual changes to your website overtime keep it fresh which in turn brings back visitors time and time again.

DeCluttered

Probably the most common complaint I had from JCD readers when I gathered feedback was that JCD was too cluttered. To declutter I;

  • Removed a lot of my advertisers (I had already given them 2 free months of advertising) and added an automated advertising system. Interested in advertising?
  • Cut down on how many categories I had from 19 to 16. This still needs work.
  • Cut down the recent articles from 10 to 6.
  • Removed the massive subscriber button that I used to have (not shown in the before shot).
  • Removed the ‘Subscribe to Just Creative Design’ text that used to be underneath my logo.
  • Removed and reordered some articles in the popular articles list on the left side bar.
  • Changed the size of my header / logo to much smaller.
  • Changed font size down a size.
  • Moved Google Search Bar up onto the menu.
  • I optimised some of my pages better for search engines using some tips from our article, 10 SEO Rules for Designers.
  • I will also be changing my post title images from the old pencil shaped box to a normal square box.

You may have also noticed that I added the Free Type Classification eBook badge and since then downloads have tripled. Are you offering anything free on your website?

Future Plans

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I do plan to declutter JCD even more in the short future as well as add some new features however it all comes down to time… I really want to convert all the recent articles, categories and popular articles into one tabbed area to shorten the left sidebar as well as possibly get a community feed happening.

Over the past week Just Creative Design was upgraded from Google PageRank 3 to Google PR4 and we were also given some Google Sublinks (which you can see in the screenshot below). You can even reorganise the sublinks in Google’s Webmaster Tools, of which I am soon about to do.

To get your own sub links generally you have to have a certain amount of inbound links into your site, with a certain amount of authority in Googles search engine. I just got mine last week, after 7 months of being online so it did take a while.

Google Sublinks

Anyway just a short post to let you know of some small changes that I have made to improve JCD… both visible and some not so visible. What are your thoughts?

44 thoughts on “JCD Gets A Slight Makeover + Gets Google Subpages”

  1. Lauren,
    I tried it up a bit but I do believe it still needs more work. Good work on the subpages too!

    Bryan,
    Thanks, I will hear what other people have to say, who knows I could change back? I think the smaller header was a good change though,

    Eli,
    Just some slight changes, not a full make over. Sorry to disappoint.

  2. Hey Jacob,

    Congrats on the sublinks on Google.

    Nice to see that you aren’t one of those people that designs their sites and lets it stay the same for years on end. Even a small change can have a big impact. I think the simplification of a few key areas of your site has been an improvement, but I’d have to agree with Bryan a little bit. The colour for highlights (links, your logo, etc) is great, but might be a bit much in the headers?

    I find that while I’m reading the article, I want to look to the side at the menus more than read the text. It makes the nice bright colour of your links a little less strong also, as there is a lot more pink in sight.

    that nit-picking out of the way, I think the sidebars are way better now, good work sir!

    Alex Charchars last blog post..The Garden of the Mind ~ Part Two

  3. Wow, all the site changes going on lately!

    I’m with Lauren: you should do a complete redesign of your site if the existing design just isn’t working for you. I did that for my site earlier this year, and it was worth it, although it took a lot of time.

    In your case, small changes are very effective when you’re happy with how the site is travelling but still want to keep it fresh.

    I like that you’ve made the logo a bit smaller and pushed it higher, to allow a bit more content above the jump. I agree with others who have commented on the new colour for the headings: I think the pink is a bit strong on the eyes. Maybe a bit paler: that way it would still work with the pink in your logo (without having to change any colour in your logo).

    Congratulations on racking up a great seven months of blogging, too!

  4. I think the subscribe and ads section is way better now. Good work.

    Congrats on Google sublinks! I don’t get jealous very often, but I’m actually jealous about those (I love those things!). Guess I don’t have enough links coming in. I have one subpage for my most linked to post, but it’s just the normal title with an indent.

    I’ll probably be posting about rotating popular posts soon. It’s not completely automatic, but I think it could be of benefit if you want to shorten your sidebar a bit more.

    kristarellas last blog post..Google Streetview in Australia

  5. Alec,
    Glad you do 🙂 It is only going to get better as time goes on.

    Nicki,
    Guess your in heaven then!

    Alex,
    I will have to see about the headers, that is three now who have said it has been distracting, maybe something softer will be more pleasing.

    Erica,
    I notice you use OpenID, do you think it is a good benefit on JCD? Glad you like the pink highlighting, to be honest I think it could do with a bit more styling rather than just a box.

    Tracey,
    Yeah a lot of sites have been having changes + birthdays I have noticed… gotta keep up with the times. I will see about the coloured side bars.

    David,
    Yeah I like the header height better as well.

    Tony,
    I had a few people mention that the pencil shapes pointed to essentially nothing and took away from the content, of which I agree at this point. Thank you for your feedback though, I appreciate it.

    Kristarella,
    Yeah the pink subsribe button was pretty tacky although some people liked it! The ad section is a bit cleaner now.

    Regarding the popular posts, I want to make a DOM tab so you can change between recent, popular, and categories however really have to look into how to do it. It seems a bit complicated.

    The sublinks are cool but not that useful, they only turn up when my site is ranked 1 and only for certain keywords.

  6. I like it! I agree with the others about the pink sidebar headings though; I think they become a bit distracting/overwhelming.

    But I *do* like the pink post headings. Those are nice. And you really took your header from good to great!

  7. Really digging the changes.

    Isn’t interesting how much you can really do to improve a site WITHOUT having to do a complete redesign? I think a lot of people are rushed to trash an entire blog design when they could simply make a few adjustments and rock the world.

    BTW… “Interested in advertising” link is not working so well. (I get the broken pencil page)

    Cheers!

    Liz Fulghums last blog post..Endangered Wear turns one year old:

  8. Wow, Jacob, great job! This looks SO much more organized and user-friendly. Amazing what a little shuffling can do! I like how you broke down the things you changed. And congrats on the Google sub-pages! I went and checked on Creative Curio and I’ve got a few myself! Cool!

    I redesigned my site because originally I was using a free theme (Cutline) and didn’t style it at all. I much prefer my new site!

    LaurenMarie – Creative Curios last blog post..My Adventures in Letterpress Printing, Part 3

  9. To be honest? The pink in the sidebars is overwhelmingly distracting. I had a hard time reading all the way through the content of the post without being drawn away. I think that color works absolutely great for an action item, but not at all for an environmental prop.

    Bryans last blog post..Truth in Branding

  10. I love it! (Pink is my favorite color, but I don’t think that biased me TOO much!) I get so much motivation from this, you just don’t know. All very nice!

    Nickis last blog post..Setting Information Free

  11. Hi Jacob, really like the colour changes. David Airey’s just gone orange, and you’ve gone pink! 😉

    The first thing I noticed, though, on my latest visit to your site is your strong ‘Pencil’ logo. Glad it’s still there, live and kicking.

  12. There are a lot of blogs redesigning these days, but you are the first I see with a full comparison and the 2 designs next to eachother. I think that’s really good, because then we (the visitors) can compare them better 😉 Thnx and good luck further with your blog 🙂

  13. Well.. I miss the pencil shape headers, they were part of the personality of JCD… plain and simple squares?… not too creative…jajaja!

    Seriously speaking this is one of the best blogs I read, thanks for all the job, it’s been a great source of inspiration for an old school designer like me.
    Keep going with the good job.

    Greetings from Nicaragua!

  14. Jennifer,
    Hehe, yup pink black and white are my favourite colours plus there are not many pink, white, grey colour schemes out there so it does stand out.

    Doing a whole redesign takes a lot of time so little changes can make up for it I believe.

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for your feedback, I will see about the pink headers after I get more feedback. I think just lightening the hue would work (although it may turn to baby pink which I don’t really want) so I will have to experiment.

    Michael,
    Thank you for your feedback, glad you like it.

    Liz,
    Yeah I know, some small changes do make up for a whole redesign not to mention taking a lot less time. I fixed the advertising link, it was pointing to my old advertising page, must have done that by habit.

    Lauren,
    I haven’t had a buyer through Buy Sell Ads yet (the other ads came in before I had set the system up). They take 25% but in the long run it is worth it, as it is less time consuming for both myself and the advertiser.

    Andrew,
    Yup, gotta leave the logo there!

    Meryl,
    Thanks regarding the colour of the text, I will have a fiddle… especially in the comment box, I had never noticed that before so thank you.

    Edwin,
    Yeah I also noticed a lot of blogs with redesigns. I was lucky I had the before shot in my history because I forgot to take one before I made the changes).

    Martin,
    I had to make the sacrifice of the pencil shaped box because I really thought the image pointed to essentially nothing as some people pointed out. Glad you like JCD, hope you stick around and comment more often! Nicaragua, I had to look that one up, it must be hot where you live!

    Jacob Casss last blog post..JCD Gets A Slight Makeover + Gets Google Subpages

  15. I like the pencil-shaped images better than the common rectangular images. The pencil-shaped images reflect more your site. It what makes your site different from the others.

  16. Hi Jacob

    I like the new pink areas. You’re obviously man enough to wear pink!

    I think re-designing your own site is one of the most head-wrecking jobs there is. Personally I feel there are so many styles I would like to try out but also need to keep things professional.

    I’m sure you’ll end up doing more changes over the time, which is one of the great things about the web – constantly changing.

    Jennifer Farleys last blog post..Photoshop Tip: Quick Tracking and Kerning of Text

  17. Jacob,

    I forget things quite quickly after they change so I will deal with whats in front of my face now.

    PINK? seriously?

    I like icing on a cake but a little goes a long way. It seems very feminine and I mean NO disrespect, but if thats you then all good but if its not…

    You are wise to request opinions of virtual strangers.

  18. Doug,
    Yeah the refresh button is handy! The pencil images I had to give up as they pointed to essentially nothing, and is quite confusing for new visitors.

    David,
    It is a bit more subtle now (what do you think?) and yeah for some reason white, pink and grey/black are my favourite colours.

  19. Hi Jacob,

    Well done on the sub pages! All these site redesigns lately also got us thinking about our website and whether it is still effectively showcasing our portfolio (something we have just blogged about actually – would love you hear your thoughts – http://www.eightyonedesign.co.uk/blog/2008/08/when-is-it-the-right-time-to-re-design-your-website).

    I think the changes you have made are an improvement (although I am still not sure about the pink – but thats just personal preference), as I commented on David’s blog, it is amazing what a couple of minor changes can do!

    Steve

    Steve – Eightyone Designs last blog post..When is it the right time to re-design your website?

  20. David,
    I think so too, glad I got everyone’s feedback, sometimes it is needed.

    Kelly,
    Yeah I did some more tweaking today, you will notice the bars have got a gradient with a pink line. The top navigational bar is also changed to a light grey gradient. I also changed the text colour of the comment fields to a darker colour and instead of your comments having a blue background they now have grey to align with the colour screen more. I also removed the Digg Badge and Gravatars and Live Comment Preview. Eventually I will change the clutter at the end of my posts also.

    Brian,
    I agree too 🙂

  21. Jacob,

    I love the changes, at least as I see them on the screen shots, but for some reason my Mac is not showing what you’ve got in the “after” shot. The sidebars are grey—maybe you decided to go back before I arrived at the party, a bit late?—but what is concerning to me is the logo, which is squashed at the top of my screen. I thought I wasn’t scrolled up enough.

    What I really like is though you’ve made a bunch improvements, they aren’t jarring changes at all. Very nice job.

    Congrats on the subpages. That is something worth crowing about. Cheers!

    Regards,

    Kelly

  22. Ah, ok, teach me not to refresh, lol. Bright pink, eh? I noticed you stopped using your pencil-shaped images. I thought that was a unique touch.

  23. The sub-pages thing was a really useful heads up – will be implementing this soon.
    As for the redesign… I quite really like it. One possible problem, the rounded corners look quite pixelated to me…

  24. Doug,
    Yeah it came up a few times when I got feedback from people. With only 5500+ subscribers and many more unique visitors I think it makes more sense to leave it off, even if it was a strong creative/branding point.

    Thomas,
    Regarding the editing of the subpages?
    I will see regarding the pixelated corners. I never really noticed it but maybe because I have a large resolution.

    Not sure what is up with the comments on this page, it is showing BLANK comments after each persons name but only on the last few comments. Ahh, WordPress you shit me sometimes.

  25. Jacob,

    Yes, I realize now it was probably a cache thing. (I dare not ask, have you changed the sidebars since last night? Perfect dash of color now.)
    🙂

    Regards,

    Kelly

  26. Much better, Jacob. What I meant was that the pencil images were unique in that they connected in similarity with your main logo. I just thought it was a nice touch.

    http://www.dcblog.nets last blog post..Add Background Image to Post Titles

  27. Trying this a third time. That CommentLuv thing is really getting annoying [hint-to-self: maybe I need to move to WP to make it work].

    Anyway, like I was saying…..Jacob, this is much better. I liked your pencil-shaped images because it related well to your logo. Not really sure how that could be confusing, unless you’ve actually had people email you about it.

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