DTW Housekeeping

Just a few site-related items as we head into the holidays.

Changes…maybe

I’m always looking for ways to improve the site. With time off from my regular job, and lower visitor numbers, and quietness that is the baseball landscape, next week is one of my best opportunities to do this.

One of my big frustrations is that the sidebar just has way too much stuff in it, and is a disaster. I figure there are 2 ways to approach this. One is to try and prioritize what is most useful. Any feedback you, the reader, have will be helpful in this regard. I know the advertisements are really valuable to you (well maybe some are), but they are too me so we’ll have to compromise on that one.

The other approach is to try and rearrange what stays in the sidebar and what goes someplace else. I’ve done some mock-ups and toyed with the idea of dropping the big banner graphic and moving more stuff to that area. My hesitancy is that I really kind of like the banner, and it’s kind of become a “branding” thing for the site. What are your thoughts?

Any feedback on what should or shouldn’t be changed is welcomed.

Full Feed

If you’re an RSS subscriber you probably noticed that I switched from summary feed posts to full feed. I know that as a reader, I really like having the full feed because it’s just really convenient. The one drawback is that as a reader, I also know that I’m less likely to ultimately visit that site. That prevents me from often seeing the interesting discussions taking place on a post. I know that I appreciate everyone’s contributions in the comment section so I’m going to be watching the comment volume to see what happens.

The ads and stuff

I’m trying a new ad network from Performancing. For now it is just showing “house ads.” The nice thing is that when advertisers are interested, I get to approve the ads so hopefully I can keep them relevant.

I know the ads can be a pain, but they also help to pay for my costs. Most importantly, they help me to justify to myself (and my wife) that the time I spend working on the site is worthwhile. So thanks for putting up with them

Also, thanks to all those who bought books and merchandise through the Bookshelf or the DTW Store. At least in these types of arrangements, you guys are getting something as well.

More stuff next week

And I’ll be around next week, so expect a handful more posts. Have a great holiday everyone!

17 Comments

  1. Kyle J

    December 22, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    My suggestions:

    1) Keep the banner; branding is important.
    2) I don’t think the links to visit previous posts by category/month are terribly important. Maybe move those to a separate page called “Archives” to free up some space?
    3) Keep as many ads as people will pay you to put up. Anything that helps you devote the amount of time and energy you do to the site is worth a little clutter in my book.

  2. Kurt

    December 22, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    I can only speak for myself but I don’t find the categories and archives as something I need to see. I would like to see recent comments as high up as possible because the discussions here are great and that’s the first thing I always check after new posts.

  3. Eric Jackson

    December 22, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Don’t drop the banner.

    I think ‘recent comments’ should stay on the side-bar, tiger links too.

    Some of the side-bar items I believe could be moved to be drop-downs on the list at the top of the page where ‘site features, subscribe, ..’ etc are. These would be:

    archives, since it just grows
    categories
    dtw highlights
    etc.

    Keeping the side bar to features that are used regularly and the other ones to another page that is useful but used when you purposely decide to go view them..

    just my .02 cents

  4. billfer

    December 22, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    So would a page with the archives, something like this be more helpful?

    I’m all for dumping the archives out of the sidebar.

  5. Mike

    December 22, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    I agree that the banner should stay. Other than that, I have no preferences: I will visit no matter what. :)

  6. Eric Jackson

    December 22, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    billfer,

    Yes, i think that is much better, much easier to use as well and find those good ol’ posts ;)

    I was going through the game by game archives the other day. I don’t like winter!

  7. Ronnie

    December 23, 2006 at 4:11 am

    I dont know, all I got to say is GOD BLESS JIM LYLAND.

  8. Steve

    December 23, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Bill, Yes Banner should stay, I like moving the archives to somewhere else, but keep the most recent stuff close.

    With respect to the other blogs, I like them all, but maybe we could have more choices for our divivsion rivals.

    All in all a great site. As long as teh Ad’s are not a pop-up night mare, I would say-get what you can get. Neifi has time and money, maybe he could sponsor and update. He sure wont be playing a infield spot anytime soon.

    Merry Christmas guys…

    Steve

  9. charlie

    December 23, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    hi bilfer

    keep the banner. i took a good look today and realized that i never have seen the other links and blogs -part of the page…at least i have never used them…don’t know if that is significant or not.

    as an aside, i come to your blog every day, even before i look at the official tigers site, so i want to thank you for all your considerable effort here. it is worthwhile and does make a difference.

    merry christmas
    charlie

  10. Kurt

    December 23, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    The White Sox traded Brandon McCarthy today after trading Freddy Garcia earlier this year. That’s a strange Christmas present they seem to have given Detroit.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/.....id=2707317

  11. Coach Jim

    December 25, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    By overwhelming popularity, the banner stays.

  12. Jeff M

    December 25, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    I wouldn’t do much. This layout is pretty solid. If you’re going to do anything, rearrange and prioritize the sidebar. There really isn’t much reason to remove things from the sidebar unless you’re trying to condense it to one column. Hiding those items would only hide some of your content for new visitors and cause some of your regulars to make an extra click. Probably not worth the tradeoff.

    Just to reiterate: I liked the layout when it first came out and it served us well through a busy season. Be very careful not to make any changes just for the sake of change.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  13. Tater

    December 26, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Billfer, happy holidays and thanks again for the great site. The great analysis and enjoyable discussions would keep me coming back regardless of the sidebar aesthetics — but since you asked, I agree with everyone who’s endorsed dumping the archives out of the sidebar, and would be in favor of dropping the categories and highlights. Also, why not move all the links (DTW highlights, Tiger Links, Baseball Links, Team Blogs) to a separate links page? The most important things to have on your front page sidebar would be the ads — totally agree you should make whatever you can from your fine efforts — and recent comments. And do keep the banner, branding is nice.

    On a more substantive note and apropos of Kurt’s comment re the Sox-Rangers trade, I’ve heard speculation that this move was a prelude to trading Crede + a prospect package (including one or both of the guys from the Rangers) to the Yankees for A-Rod. Could be wishful thinking, but it makes some baseball sense on both sides so it’s something interesting to chew on during hot stove months.

    Happy holidays to all!

  14. billfer

    December 26, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for your feedback guys. I’ve done some tweaking as you can see. I think some of the things will help to make the site a little more readable. I’m not a Mac guy, so I couldn’t test the site on that platform. Please let me know if there are problems.

    The site stayed friendly for those with 800×600 resolutions, but it really looks better at the higher resolutions.

    The banner stayed, by popular demand, but it just shrunk a little. Plus I added some of the magic of 2006:-)

    I also added in the ability to email posts and to get printer friendly versions of posts. (I actually did very little except to copy and paste some excellent plug-ins).

    For those that like the comments, the recent comments are much more prominent, and I made it easy to subscribe to an RSS feed of the comments as well.
    The highlights aren’t a favorite of the regulars, but I want to keep them prominent for first time visitors. As for the links, they’ll be staying on the main page(although I’ll update the list). It’s about sharing the blog-o-sphere love.

    I’m still going to shuffle the sidebar more, but I think everything that is there will stay there, but maybe just in a different spot. Also, I think the new archive page is pretty slick(also a great plug-in).

    As always, feedback is welcome.

  15. Don

    December 26, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    As someone who reads via RSS but doesn’t engage in the discussion, I appreciate the full posts via RSS. I visit the page if I want to see what others are saying, but I don’t always have the time, so staying within Google Reader is much appreciated. As is your ongoing insight and contribution – thanks!

  16. SJC in Detroit

    December 28, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    New look is just fine.

  17. Jim McKee

    January 3, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Another idea for your housekeeping is to have clickable, hide-away chunks, where you just see the category, and click on that to see what it contains. Check my web site out to see what I mean (primarily on the left sidebar).