May 27 2010

Critique Our New Blog Design

compassion-blog The time has come – and some would say it’s way overdue — for our blog to get a new look. But not just a new look, a better design – one that is more intuitive to navigate and makes it easier for you to find the older content you’re interested in.

The new look will debut tomorrow during the day, and we’ll be troubleshooting any problems throughout the day.

There may be times on Friday when the blog isn’t available, but other than that, please let us know if you find anything wrong with the new site (e.g., broken links, screwed-up formatting, things that don’t work like you expect them to, etc.).

We won’t be publishing a fresh new post until after the Memorial Day weekend. Please use the weekend, in between scarfing down your hamburgers, watching your sports, and splashing around at the pool, to poke around the site a bit. Then let us know what you think of the new design. Is it better or worse? What features do you like best? What did we miss including?

We did have a limited budget to work with, so we didn’t get to do everything we wanted. But we think we got the most important things taken care of — the stuff you’ve told us about previously.

To thank you for your help with the troubleshooting and for making this blog a success to begin with, we’ll be giving away some free stuff next week once the rollout is complete.

We’ll randomly pick winners from the comments we receive on this post – comments that point out issues we need to fix or that talk about what’s good and/or bad about the design.

Prizes on tap include:

  • several CDs: Beyond Measure by Jeremy Camp, Portable Sounds by tobyMac and A Beautiful Sound by Geoff Moore
  • a large lime green Dri-Fit Nike Golf Polo Shirt with the Compassion logo on it
  • a medium gray Compassion tee shirt
  • a stainless steel Compassion water bottle

And one final thing, but on a different note:

We encourage you to read through the comments on Three Things All Sponsors Should Know; several of our country staff have added their thoughts on this topic.

We’ve gotten input from East Indonesia, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, East India and the Philippines. The thoughts in the post itself are good, too, so you should read that if you haven’t. :-)

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  1. Lisa
    May 27, 2010
    at 5:19 am

    I’d love to see alt tags on the photos. If they are there, I’m not able to access them. Otherwise, love the new look.

    • May 30, 2010
      at 4:36 pm

      What are alt tags? The text associated with a picture, particularly useful on browsers that don’t load the pictures correctly?

      I do like the way the comments are tiered–makes it easy to keep up with whether a comment is about the blog post or in reply to a previous comment.

    • May 30, 2010
      at 4:48 pm

      testing comments…not sure if my previous one went through, or if there’s a delay because it’s Sunday. If I remember correctly, there’s some comment moderation, but just wanting to make sure. Sometimes when I hit “tab + Enter”, “tabbing” doesn’t always select the button/link I want to use.

      In case the other comment didn’t go through, I like the ability to add a comment to the blog itself, or reply to a previous comment–with the layout making it easy to see whether a post is a new comment or a reply. :)

      • May 30, 2010
        at 4:50 pm

        ok, so using the mouse to click on the “submit” button works, whereas the “tab + enter” doesn’t seem to. or there’s a delay on some comments…I know you’re still working out some kinks.

        but when I clicked “submit” with the mouse for my previous comment, it did show up on my screen immediately, with a note that it’s awaiting moderation (as I expected).

  2. May 27, 2010
    at 7:20 am

    wow! I am excited about this! This past weekend, I decided my new ‘project’ of sorts would be to read through the ENTIRE Compassion blog, starting with the first posts. I am on page 104 I believe, so I still have a long ways to go :D

    • May 28, 2010
      at 11:47 am

      That’s quite the project. And it’s good to know that people still search the older stuff out, which is why we placed the Archives and Categories in the top-level navigation. We want to make the older content as easily accessible as possible.

      • Terri K
        May 28, 2010
        at 8:11 pm

        When I was thinking about sponsoring for the first time, I went back and read through all the old blogs. It would have been great to have that archives link so easy to access.

      • May 29, 2010
        at 9:16 am

        Having “For New Sponsors” at the top is great, too. This blog has been a wonderful resource for all of us, and it’s just gotten a whole lot more user-friendly!

      • May 30, 2010
        at 7:12 pm

        Yes, people do read older blogs. I first found this blog at some point last year. It took me awhile to come read it as I didn’t used to go to the Compassion website other than sending my kid birthday and Christmas presents. One day finally decided to click that ‘blog’ link I’d seen. I had naively written off the blog (without reading it) thinking that I don’t read blogs as they aren’t interesting and clearly this one couldn’t be different. After coming here I realized that statement couldn’t have been further from the truth. I went through the old blogs, but as you add entries most days and despite browser storing the last page, the page numbers frequently changed and it was just plain complicated to keep going back. I did finally succeed and then had to develop a new method of ‘useful’ procrastination of my schoolwork (I started posting comments) ;-) The archives going by month is a much cleaner method to get to the older posts easily! Kudos to whomever thought of doing that. I think ::gasp:: this might be my final comment about the new layout.

      • Jun 5, 2010
        at 1:20 pm

        Since my laptop is literally falling apart and I can no longer bring it out with me, having the blog optimised for my phone is really, really, REALLY awesome. I have the Compassion Blog in my pocket!!! I have read through over 200 posts in the last 2 weeks. man, has this been great! :D

  3. jennifer
    May 27, 2010
    at 9:53 am

    I’m really excited about this. Thank you for always working to improve.

  4. May 27, 2010
    at 1:33 pm

    I just sat down to read through all the posts I missed here since I was gone to visit LDP students in Thailand and the Philippines. I missed all of you! Wow–looking forward to seeing the new look tomorrow! Great posts here in the last 2 1/2 weeks that I missed! Thanks!

  5. James H.
    May 27, 2010
    at 7:15 pm

    I am hoping that the comments will post the most recent first. Just my thought. Keep up the excellent work on the blog.

    • May 28, 2010
      at 11:51 am

      It’s something that we considered, but we opted to go with what seems to be the “standard” commenting order on blogs – newest at the bottom.

      However, we did include the Add a Comment link at the top that allows you to skip all the comments and get right to the comment form, rather than having to scroll through the whole page.

      Click on the link and you can comment away, and then scroll up to read the newest comments. Sorry it’s not ideal for you.

      But we did also include threaded comments which is HUGE for following conversations more easily.

  6. May 28, 2010
    at 7:35 am

    Hey! From our dev team over at CURE – we’re very excited to see what you guys roll out. We’re actually in the process of a major redesign of our own website, and we just rolled out the first phase starting with our blog too, about two Fridays ago.

    I actually came to your blog for inspiration when we started our redesign process, so I’m very excited to see what you guys came up with to improve it!

    Blessings from your brothers in Christ at CURE,
    Joel G
    (CURE International web designer)

  7. May 28, 2010
    at 11:00 am

    You now have years on each entry!! YAY!! I love it :-D I’ll get back later with other comments once you’ve made all the changes (Twitter is from 2008, so I’m sure you aren’t done yet).

    • May 28, 2010
      at 11:52 am

      I can’t recall if it was you who sent us a comment about the difficulty in determining the dates of older posts, but that comment is why we now have the dates. A very smart idea!

      • May 28, 2010
        at 12:09 pm

        I was one of those requesters. This is a huge help. Asante sana!

        Love the striped border. Love the wider format on the blog – so much easier to read, especially for those of us over age 29+x.

        Thanks, Chris. You guys ROCK.

      • May 28, 2010
        at 4:46 pm

        Nope, it wasn’t me. I recall seeing someone else state she would like it, and you jumped in stating it would be done before I could second it :-) I like being able to reply directly to comments rather than them getting buried down later as happened with the huge volume of people commenting about Haiti.

      • May 30, 2010
        at 8:15 pm

        yay! I love this since I am going through the blog in chronological order!

  8. Caitlin
    May 28, 2010
    at 11:02 am

    I like the new blog design. It feels cleaner. One thing I do miss, however, is the “recent comments” section. It’s nice to see where people are discussing things and just click to join in on the conversation.

    • May 28, 2010
      at 11:54 am

      It was something we debated about including. Anyone else have any thoughts on the recent comments section? Was it valuable? Should we have it?

      • Stephanie T. Green
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:31 pm

        I like the functionality of it but didn’t use it often. I disliked how it made the blog look a bit messy. This new ‘do’ is so crisp and clean and pleasing to the eye, I’m tempted to say leave it off. Which is weird cuz Caitlin and I usually agree on these things. Oh well, sorry Cait!

        • May 28, 2010
          at 5:05 pm

          Since I’ve added it back, do you feel it makes the new design cluttered and messy?

          • Stephanie T. Green
            May 31, 2010
            at 7:04 am

            Hey Chris, I just checked it out and I guess it’s not too cluttered. I think the new overall sleek design helps keep it all flowing nicely. And it seems that people like it and use it so if that’s the case, then I say keep it! :-)

        • Caitlin
          May 29, 2010
          at 12:00 am

          Gasp! traitor! Lol ;-)

      • Marci In MO
        May 28, 2010
        at 4:32 pm

        I will miss it. There were a few that I continually followed. I can just remember which ones they were and then search them out. I love the new look so far!

  9. May 28, 2010
    at 11:26 am

    I like it… however, I don’t like having to click on a link to read the whole post, it’s annoying. I don’t remember if the old blog was that way b/c I mostly read via my reader anyway, but it makes me not read unless it’s something that really grabs my attention and otherwise I would read the whole post regardless. Makes me sound lazy, I know, but when you read more than a few blogs each day – ease of reading really does play a part in what I read.

    I like that there is a ‘my account’ link directly on the blog now… and the comments are easier to read too. Overall, I like it. What I like even more is that you guys are asking for our input, it means you get it. Well done! Thanks for making Compassion my favorite NGO!

    • May 28, 2010
      at 11:58 am

      How much of a blog post to display is a hotly debated topic. At this point, the “standard” most blogs follow is not to display the entire post. It’s both aesthetic and functional. If we displayed the whole post, then we’d have issues with scrolling and page load.

      The old design did have the same feature, it’s just that more of the copy was displayed before you had to click through.

      Doing things this way just means I need to make sure the blog post titles and excepts which are displayed give you the best idea of what the post is about in order to entice you to spend more time here.

      The RSS feed and e-mail still displays the entire blog post.

  10. May 28, 2010
    at 11:33 am

    I love it! Nicely done!

  11. jennifer
    May 28, 2010
    at 11:46 am

    love it love it love it! I haven’t gotten past the first page yet, but it really looks good!

  12. May 28, 2010
    at 11:46 am

    I like the new look but I can’t read all of the posts. Is there a way that a link newer pages or older pages in some cases. I like to read blog responses. This helps me to understand what others are saying and thinking.

  13. May 28, 2010
    at 11:52 am

    I am going to ditto Caitlin’s comments exactly. I love the design — it has a very clean feel. But I would like to see the “recent comments” section back, (unless you have a specific reason for not including it.) Great job to whoever worked on this!

    • Chris Giovagnoni
      May 28, 2010
      at 12:02 pm

      Two votes for bringing back the recent comments. Anyone else? Yay or nay?

      • May 28, 2010
        at 1:46 pm

        Yay!

      • Stephanie T. Green
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:33 pm

        My nay is up above. Or at least let us see it and then decide? I just wonder how many people actually use it.

      • Terri K
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:51 pm

        I used the recent comments all the time – put me down for a yay.

      • Marci In MO
        May 28, 2010
        at 4:35 pm

        Yay.

      • May 28, 2010
        at 4:36 pm

        I’ve added the Most Recent Comments functionality back to the sidebar. But I’m still interested in getting people’s thoughts on whether it should be there or not.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 5:10 pm

          Yay, because I’ve used them to notice when you post follow ups (as in the boy who got the heart surgery last year (Alex or Alexander, I don’t recall which one)), which otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed (as I didn’t subscribe to comments). On a note that has nothing to do with my lack of desire for excess emails, I’ve also noticed some people’s responses to posts that I like to respond to, such as new sponsors with questions that most sponsors with a bit of experience can answer. Those questions pop up on random posts and I wouldn’t run across them otherwise. I’m sure you can see and answer them, but there is one of you and hundreds of sponsors who read the blog and dozens who comment on it and are willing to answer random questions asks when we run across them. For example, sponsors in Haiti who didn’t know where their kids’ centers were on the other side of Hispaniola and were frantically wondering what was going on or sponsors commenting on a different blog than the Haiti updates blog and wondering why Compassion wasn’t giving updates when they really just couldn’t find the right blog. Sometimes people comment really random things that it is nice to be able to respond to.

  14. May 28, 2010
    at 12:13 pm

    As resources permit, I’d love to see more Categories, such as: FAQs for New Sponsors (or Sponsorship 101?), Letter Writing, Field Stories, Moody Scholars, OurCompassion.

    • May 28, 2010
      at 1:39 pm

      Categories are the broad, high-level classifications for a post, like a section of the library (e.g., fiction, non-fiction, etc.). Then the blog post tags are the more granular themes associated with that post. We have always tried to limit the number of categories we have.

      We have a few tags associated with Moody, so if you use the improved and cleaner search function you’ll be presented with posts about the Moody scholars.

      • May 28, 2010
        at 1:44 pm

        That search feature is wonderful! I entered a typo (by mistake) and still got what I wanted. Very easy to see all the entries. Nice job!

        I see your point about the Categories. Would still advocate for Letter Writing and New Sponsors. ;-) I used the Letter Writing one a lot before. And could have really used a “Newbies” section, to help point me in the right direction at the beginning.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 2:28 pm

          Very good point! I will make it happen.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 2:34 pm

          Want to recommend the posts you think should be included in the category?

          • May 28, 2010
            at 5:30 pm

            Chris – Can I check with my peeps at the OC regarding what would be helpful for newbies? Would like their input, too.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 4:34 pm

          I have the new categories up, and I’m starting to populate them.

          • Jun 1, 2010
            at 1:07 pm

            Thanks, Chris. I think that most folks at OC have commented here. Really appreciate those new tabs at the top of the blog. Fantastic!

            Last suggestion: Perhaps there could be a “sticky” post on the “For New Sponsors” tab that remains at the top. Would be great to have something with a list outlines the basics of sponsorship with hotlinks, such as writing letters, gifts (bday/family/other), OurCompassion site, etc. Others may have great ideas about this. There is some super info for newbies on the Compassion blog and site, but it can be tricky to find. (Is there already a blog post with this? I missed it….but also didn’t know how to search for it in the beginning. ;-)

            Thanks again for all you guys are doing! This helps us all be better sponsors and champions for these kids.

  15. May 28, 2010
    at 1:04 pm

    Good job! I like it! Yes, I would probably still enjoy seeing “recent comments.” But all the other things I tested seemed to work well. I found the archives (to catch up on posts I missed while gone), ran some searches, found the list of blogs that support Compassion, etc. Well done! I don’t see anything crucial missing yet. Although I like reading a whole blog post without having to click through, it was also nice to see so many post titles at once. I’m undecided about which I prefer. Probably in my feed reader it would be best not to have to click through, but on the website I like to see lots of posts. I DO like the links you have on the page, although it wouldn’t hurt to have them right at the top. I think you should have a huge “Sponsor a Child” link right at the top for sure! I don’t think finding that link would be as obvious to a first-timer as it might be for us. Finally, for some reason, I have a hard time finding banners/widgets that will work on my blog. I don’t know why. Do I need some that are specific to Mac’s Safari or to WordPress? I try lots of different widgets before I finally get one that works; any idea why so few of them seem to work for me?

    • May 28, 2010
      at 1:48 pm

      The full post is displayed in the feed.

      Which links are you referring to?

      This design actually has more opportunities to connect, give and sponsor than the previous design, but we specifically decided not to lead with them (e.g., put links at the top of the page) because compassion.com does that quite well.

      We want the blog to be a placed where you can develop and strengthen your emotional connection with your children and with us as a ministry without feeling that we’re always trying to hit you up for something.

      You have a hard time finding banners and widgets because your blog is on wordpress.com. Static image banners work just fine, but widgets that have action to them or execute something in the background have to be built in a certain way to avoid having wordpress.com strip out the script.

      If you self-hosted, with wordpress.org, you wouldn’t have the problem because you would be storing your blog on a server you provide or pay for. WordPress.com doesn’t want to host script on their servers because it could be malicious.

      • May 31, 2010
        at 5:23 pm

        Thanks Chris. I’m afraid to self host on wordpress.org…but need to take the plunge one of these days! At least I understand now which widgets I should try to use.

        I was referring to the links at the bottom of the page — My Account, Visit Your Child, etc., thinking they should be at the top. But I understand what you’re saying, and totally understand — makes sense to me. Thanks for asking for our opinions and for the changes you’ve made already. Absolutely love this blog and wouldn’t miss a single post, that’s for sure…

  16. May 28, 2010
    at 1:36 pm

    LOVE the new blog design! It just seems ‘neater’ and more organized. Love the colors, layout, and for some reason (I’m not sure what) it is just easier for me to read. (Font? Size?). Anyway, you all should be very pleased with the new design. It’s great!

  17. Amber Van Schooneveld
    May 28, 2010
    at 1:41 pm

    Chris, I like that I can reply directly to a particular comment. Is the “About the Contributors” link gone? I’m not your average user, but I did like using that to easily see what/how much has been published by who in the field. :)

    • May 28, 2010
      at 1:59 pm

      The About the Contributors page was taken away because it was getting unwieldy. It has been replaced with something I think is better, it’s certainly easier for me to maintain.

      At the end of each post, above the comments, the author’s name, gravatar and bio appears.

  18. Lois
    May 28, 2010
    at 1:48 pm

    I use Firefox. When I first came to this page, the post titles looked like this: `êãáèì Élì êkÉï _äçŐaÉëáŐå
    Now they just show up invisible.

    • May 28, 2010
      at 2:01 pm

      Is it still happening for you? I’m using Firefox and am not experiencing that problem. What version of Firefox are you using? What operating system are you working with?

      • Lois
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:04 pm

        Yes, the post titles are invisible. If I pass my mouse over I can still click on the links. I’ve never seen this before.
        I have Firefox 5.0

      • Lois
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:05 pm

        Oh, and Windows XP.

      • Lois
        May 28, 2010
        at 2:09 pm

        Sorry, I’m using Firefox 3.6.3

  19. May 28, 2010
    at 2:03 pm

    great look! clean, functional and very accessible.

  20. Stephanie T. Green
    May 28, 2010
    at 2:38 pm

    Great job. The new site is gorgeous! And I really LOVE the “OC” link in the bottom right-hand corner with the other “connect” options. AND I like that it’s listed first! :-) Thanks Chris!

  21. Stephanie T. Green
    May 28, 2010
    at 2:39 pm

    Oh, and I really like that I can see my comment now even while it’s awaiting moderation. Bravo!

  22. May 28, 2010
    at 3:27 pm

    Love love love love it!!!

  23. May 28, 2010
    at 3:34 pm

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the Share This functionality?

    Do you like the new widget? Will you use it?

    Do you prefer the specific Facebook and Twitter widgets we used to have?

    • May 29, 2010
      at 1:58 pm

      We started with Share This when we were developing our blog too, but came to the conclusion that a) it was just too bulky for the avg user, and b) we wanted to really target facebook and twitter so that’s what we stuck with. Besides, you’ve gotta think that anybody who really wants to digg an article knows how to copy the URL and go to digg and do it!

      Plus while we were debating this a little, we noticed that YouTube also switched to a similar format (if you see a video on it’s dedicated YouTube page you’ll notice that now they only show you facebook, twitter, and email, although when you click it you get a bunch more).

  24. May 28, 2010
    at 3:36 pm

    What about the old sidebar listing that highlighted which posts that had the most comments on them? Did you like that or use it? Does it have any value to you?

    • May 28, 2010
      at 3:38 pm

      Chris,

      That was one of my favorite features, because it helps point anyone, newcomers or otherwise, to some of the greatest and most helpful posts. I’d love the new design include it.

    • May 28, 2010
      at 4:34 pm

      I’ve added the Most Active Discussions functionality back to the sidebar. But I’m still open to comments on whether it should be there or not.

  25. May 28, 2010
    at 4:04 pm

    I dig the vibe. Clean.
    I don’t dig the “share” feature. Would rather see Twitter and FB icons that jump directly to those tools. I will personally never Digg or Stumple a Compassion blog, but I’ll Tweet and FB connect it.

    I think the old sidebar was more useful, though I’m usually not intrigued by comments.

    Lastly.. why the phrase “CHRISTIAN blog on Child Poverty”? I don’t feel like Compassion needs to tack “Christian” onto anything. This appears culturally immature; as if, without the word, we could not identify it… Takes a lot away for me. I’d nix it. “Blog On Child Poverty” is fine. Or noting at all. .. just “Blog”

    • May 28, 2010
      at 4:15 pm

      I agree with you regarding the sharing. The Share This widget lets you share to Facebook and Twitter. Would you use the widget for that or is it too clunky for you?

      Most of what was in the old sidebar is in the new sidebar? Is there anything you found useful that is missing?

      Thanks for the thoughts on the phrasing. Does anyone concur or disagree?

      • May 28, 2010
        at 4:44 pm

        it’s not so much chunky as ugly. FB or Twitter buttons are slick and the logos are identifiable. I KNOW that image and what will happen when I click it.. “share” is too general, esp for an audience that doesn’t use Digg or Stumble already. NOBODY uses myspace and few if any email a blog out… so … keep it simple, keep it safe.

        I don’t think I see anything missing. .. My personal opinion would be to move the “connect” buttons into your sidebar somehow.. I know that’s a major switch.. but.. it’s an open forum, eh? “Contact us” and “Connect with us” is the same thought in the new world of web.

        For the record, I concur with my earlier statements about phrasing.

      • May 28, 2010
        at 4:46 pm

        Re: phrasing — I’m okay with it either way. I’m sure there are good arguments for both pro and con.

        BUT one reason to keep the Christian in is because when you google “Christian blog” — Compassion’s blog comes up as the 5th option. So it may bring in some people who are just out looking for Christian blogs to read — people who may not have found their way to Compassion otherwise.

        Justin McRoberts, you have a very nice website, as well.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 5:25 pm

          “one reason to keep the Christian in is because when you google “Christian blog” — Compassion’s blog comes up as the 5th option.”

          That’s what we’re shooting for. But that doesn’t mean it has to be in the header display.

          • May 28, 2010
            at 5:58 pm

            True. Right above it you do have that we’re releasing children from poverty in “in Jesus’ name” (as part of the logo), so perhaps to put Christian Blog is redundant. It’s already stated in the logo where the organization is coming from.

      • May 28, 2010
        at 4:52 pm

        It’s not so much that the SHARE widget is clunky.. it’s just ugly. the FB and Twitter images are slick and recognizable. I know those images and know what will happen when i click them. Also, nobody uses Myspace, the Compassion blog crowd seldom Diggs or Stumbles and very few will ever email a blog.

        Also, i like the idea of moving the “Connect” options to the top near “Contact.” It’s pretty much the same idea.

        Lastly, I concur with my earlier statements about phrasing.. fyi.

        • May 28, 2010
          at 5:27 pm

          “It’s not so much that the SHARE widget is clunky.. it’s just ugly. the FB and Twitter images are slick and recognizable. I know those images and know what will happen when i click them.”

          Agreed. Concur.

    • Jun 7, 2010
      at 10:43 am

      We’re going to jettison the Christian Blog on Child Poverty from the header and focus on how we work (e.g., Christ Centered, Child Focused, Church Based and Committed to Integrity). Thanks for the input Justin.

  26. Lindy
    May 28, 2010
    at 5:26 pm

    Wow! I really like it! It’s so much more inviting and easy to use! I love the way I can see at a glance what is here for us to read, research, and see! When you said you were going to improve the Blog design, I couldn’t imagine how it could be improved. But you were right! It’s super! Applause and gratitude to each of you!

  27. Bob
    May 28, 2010
    at 5:51 pm

    Threading doesn’t seem functional in mobile view. Can’t follow individual conversations/threads or respond to an individual post. When you reply to a post, I can’t tell which one. Quoting doesn’t seem possible.

    Android 2.1

    • May 29, 2010
      at 7:42 am

      We’re using a plugin (WP-Touch) to render the mobile version. If I turn off the plugin, then it will render the blog as it is here, which means that it will be more difficult for you to navigate.

      This won’t solve the problem completely, but it will address it somewhat. We will be adding the time to when the comments are posted. And should be able to add the quote functionality.

      Thanks for the input. You’ve always got great stuff.

  28. May 28, 2010
    at 5:57 pm

    Chris, I have mixed feelings. I’ve spent quite a bit of time today maneuvering through the blog. I’ve found this new format to be very easy to use, and it works well with my browser (Safari). I like all the features you’ve added such as dates of comments, and links such as My Account. Overall, I like the new look and it is clear a lot of thought and effort went into it.

    My only disappointment is the overall look of the page. It looks a bit sterile to me – not as personal. I would like it to be more visually pleasing. I know that there is a trade off by adding graphics, there is less room for functionality. Compassion has such a rich library of photos of the children who are served by this ministry, and the staff that serves them. I would really love to see those people in a bolder way than just on the banner.

    • May 29, 2010
      at 7:39 am

      There is a feature that I haven’t turned on yet because I don’t have the content for it. But it appears at the bottom of the recent posts section, right above the featured posts. It allows us to put three images there (banners), to highlight items in a different way. When that’s on, the blog is even more “stunning.” :-)

  29. Bob
    May 28, 2010
    at 5:58 pm

    -1 on “recent comments”

    that only adds clutter and noise. Most active threads (NOT most prolific) is nice.

    • May 29, 2010
      at 7:37 am

      Beyond your preference, do you think a new visitor / new sponsor would find the recent comments helpful / interesting at all?

      Will look into making most active discussion truly representative of the term, rather than most commented. At this point, it might be a matter of budget.

      Anyone else have any thoughts on this point?

      • Bob
        May 30, 2010
        at 2:54 pm

        Maybe it’s more useful to leave “most active” as you have it—since it’s probably helpful to newcomers to see which topics have had the greatest outpouring of response. On reflection the most active discussions, in a temporal sense, will be the most recent… so perhaps there’s little value to change what you have.

        So… to answer to your question I believe a new visitor would find the current “most active” posts more useful than random snippets of posts scattered among all topics… but that’s just analytical me.

        Ha… I just noticed the post preview window… I can now see my typos in in real time… perfecto :D

        Ooops,,, as soon as I wrote that and re-edited the first paragraph, the preview view quit updating :(

  30. Heather
    May 28, 2010
    at 6:30 pm

    Thank you so much for adding left click and open in new tab! I didn’t realize how much I use that until I couldn’t use it on the old site. OurCompassion could use that little tool too….hint,hint,nudge,nudge :)

  31. May 28, 2010
    at 6:50 pm

    Hm, I think I’m clogging the comments section, but I’m going to write on anyway…

    I vote to keep the most active discussions on the sidebar as it is another easy tool for new people to the blog to find something they might be interested in and not know about (Haiti updates, for instance, or letter writing). I’m not on FB or anything else, so I have no preference about sharing or anything of that sort.

    I like the category of for new sponsors and agree with the content. I’ll have to think if any other blogs seem good to put there. I’m not sure if it is too much to ask (I’m not a web design person), but to make it easier for new sponsors to find that information, is it possible to put something at the top as a stand alone link (next to search bar or even at the bottom in the links under blog home). This comment (make it super easy to find) has been raised on OC as well. We are happy it is there though even if it is quite complicated to make it easy to a non-tech savvy person to find.

    I LOVE that you guys (or maybe other tech people-I don’t know) made the ‘for sponsors and donors’ link on the Compassion site talk about the 3 things all sponsors should know as that is a very valuable post for all sponsors. I wasn’t sure where to post that, so I figured here was better than not mentioning it :-)

    • May 29, 2010
      at 7:34 am

      For New Sponsors and Letter Writing now have their own prominent links in the upper level navigation. Good suggestion.

      Glad you liked that we brought Three Things to the For Sponsors and Donors page.

  32. Mary P.
    May 28, 2010
    at 8:22 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I love the new design. However, I have one question. I print out each post and put it in a protective cover, then I put each story into a 3 ring binder. It is my compassion “book”. I printed out a few stories tonight and noticed when I used my print previw buttion that each story is starting at the bottom of page 2. On the “old” system of this blog I did not have the problem. I still used the print preview button and each story started at the beginning of the page. Can it be changed or “formatted” differently so the story begins at the top of the page, rather than the bottom half?

    Thanks for your help
    Mary

    • May 29, 2010
      at 7:27 am

      In the old design, did you ever use the printer icon at the end of each post to print your pages?

      Making the blog printer friendly is something we still need to do. Thanks for bringing it up.

  33. Terri K
    May 28, 2010
    at 8:24 pm

    I love the threaded comments and the control bar across the top. For what its worth, the blue stripe down the sides keeps making me think I have another window open under this one. The white background is a little glaring to me, but my husband says I have my screen set too bright. I like have the recent comments back in, but I would think about leaving the archives and categories off the side bar since they are in the top bar too. Seems a little redundant [and I have to scroll too far down to see the recent comments ;) ]. I wish we could tweak OC like this – I’d love to have some of these features over there! :)

  34. Catherine
    May 28, 2010
    at 9:12 pm

    love it

  35. May 29, 2010
    at 9:12 am

    Interesting! It’ll take a little getting used to, but I instantly recognized some improvements–like the top bar. One question about the Archives: Didn’t this blog start earlier than February 2008? It seems to me it was 2007, but maybe it’s just been a long two+ years!

    The top of the banner makes me want to scroll up a little farther, but of course, I can’t. I suppose the focus is the precious boy drinking good water from the faucet. At least, I hope it’s good water!

  36. May 29, 2010
    at 10:32 am

    I just noticed that in some of the posts with lots of comments that I’d consider important (letter writing ideas), the comments are truncated and only a certain amount show up, and not all of them are in chronological order (I think some of that has to do with comment type (linked from or to another blog?) although I don’t quite know enough to state more). I’m guessing that a solution is in the works for the near future?

  37. May 29, 2010
    at 12:19 pm

    This critique is a great example of why I love the ministry of Compassion. I can’t imagine another organization of this size being so responsive to it’s supporters. Thanks Chris!

  38. May 29, 2010
    at 1:44 pm

    For SEO I would make the ECFA, Charity Navigator, and BBB hyperlinks as rel=”external nofollow”. There are more places like this–for example, the RSS icon next to Subscribe.

  39. May 29, 2010
    at 1:54 pm

    I really like your new design. The wider format is a great improvement. I like how much stronger the blue is for the background. Def think going with the truncated entries for the blog home is the way to go. We opted for that in our redesign too.

    I like how easy to find your search field is, and the contact link. And I certainly appreciate your perspective on incorporating calls to action on your blog (or rather NOT doing so). I think that your rationale makes great sense.

    Like how you’ve added the links for new sponsors and letter writing. Those seem like very useful tags and brilliant to highlight them at the top. In fact, as sponsors my wife and I probably appreciate that the most about Compassion. She’s been communicating with her sponsored “child” since my wife was 16 (i say “child” because Logeshari is now well into her teens). In fact, we are very seriously considering stopping our support of World Vision in favor of another Compassion child, mainly because I’ve become aware that my money going to World Vision very well may not even be directly affecting the child I’m “sponsoring” there. All that just to say as a donor the letter writing aspect is really key to our engagement.

    Like the use of your new footer – it’s much more engaging and useful than what you had before (nothing). one suggestion, rather than recent posts, why not highlight your recent comments there, or even your most popular posts?

    A couple criticisms from a design standpoint:

    1. i think your logo could be a tad bigger, and I would center align it in that negative space.
    2. the link to compassion.com has now really become hidden. it was pretty prominent before, but I had to really look for it this time to find it up in the top right.
    3. the background to those kids (the torn paper edge) is cool, but it seems a little soft (blurry).
    4. i would right align your search bar (in the top nav) with the sidebar. (a rule for #nav-main #search {padding-right:20px} would do it)

    (By the way there’s a great website called conceptfeedback.com that I go to a lot to get/receive critiques on design work; very helpful for getting really objective input)

    Hope you find this helpful. Again, great work!

  40. Kim Taczak
    May 29, 2010
    at 4:47 pm

    “screwed up” does not seem appropriate verbage to be used on a Christ-based website.

    • May 30, 2010
      at 2:31 am

      how about “jacked up”? or just “jacked”? Also, I’m pretty sure this is mostly HTML based. Christ doesn’t do a ton of web design work.

  41. Karen Briggs
    May 29, 2010
    at 8:05 pm

    I love the bar across the top, very helpful in locating past posts on particular subjects. To me, the white seems too big a contrast to the blue on the sides – maybe a softer background color? And the tiny bit of the other background makes me wish I could see more of it. Maybe more of that and a little less of the blue? Overall, I love what you’ve done!

  42. May 30, 2010
    at 9:26 am

    I’ve not seen the last one because this is my first time on the site—but I like it a lot. It is clean, not too clatter. I also like the choice of color. Now I’m going to read some articles to see what this blog is about. Thanks for having me.

  43. May 30, 2010
    at 9:38 am

    I love the changes!! Even as I was scroling down to comment on some other changes, I noticed how we can now do threaded replies!! I also think the navigation bar with the “for new sponsors” and “about letter writing” tabs will be especially helpful. Also, the shortened preview of each post is nice because it allows the readers to quickly find posts that were posted a few days or even a week ago.

  44. Bob
    May 30, 2010
    at 3:12 pm

    I just noticed that “Recent Posts” appear tree times… at the bottom of the page, and along the right column,. and at the top drop down menu. Maybe someone else already reported this, but I wasn’t up to reading 90+ posts. Similarly, “Categories” appears twice.

    Should there be a link to Our Compassion? The icon at the bottom of the page wasn’t readily recognizable. Maybe “OC”should be re-branded and appear as two “Skippy’s” holding hands (please distribute the royalty check to my children).

    FWIW, my post preview is completely missing… is that because this isn’t a “reply” post?

    Have a great weekend…

    PS:… You are having a great weekend… right? You’re not really spending it monitoring this blog… Did you intentionally launch a new site design and ask for comments at the outset of a holiday weekend…. when all your web programmers are off enjoying the mountains… insane, lol

  45. Ken M.
    May 30, 2010
    at 8:01 pm

    I like the new design. It does seem a lot cleaner, not as busy. Only one concern and I don’t know if anyone else commented on this. When I go to an older post that has a lot of comments most of the older comments aren’t showing.

  46. May 30, 2010
    at 8:13 pm

    Love the comments, the stacking, or whatever it is called.

    I would DEFINITELY like it better, though, if I do not have to click on a link to see more of each individual post, or if it could be done Facebook-style so that it does load a new page.

    The new design is modern without being too busy–the other one seemed just a little too ‘plain’

  47. Cheri
    May 30, 2010
    at 8:29 pm

    Love the look. It is clean and easy to read. Easy to share a post to facebook. The topics are more summarized with a continue reading link handy. It helps you scroll through the topics easier. Love the featured blog posts at the bottom as reminders of some of the great content that was shared before. The one things that didn’t work so good from me was the menu options at the top. They stayed light blue and were hard to read. Not sure if on a rollover if it was supposed to change to brown. Look forward to continue reading great posts!

  48. May 30, 2010
    at 8:34 pm

    ooh, another thing I think would be cool is changing the way to access archives. It is not a big deal for many, but for some reason my computer has trouble with drop-down menus in Firefox. I do not know how to describe it, but if you go to my blog (linked to my name) and look at the blog archive on the right-hand side, the archives are stacked by year/month/title, and can be accessed in groups of year or month, PLUS there is the older/newer entries at the bottom, which I did like on the old blog design.

  49. May 30, 2010
    at 11:14 pm

    ok so I think I am at half a dozen already. . .

    I was trying to post a comment on an older post, and even though the site remembered my name, it did not remember my email, so when I clicked submit, it just gave me an error message, and when I clicked back, it did not still have the text. . .so I lost everything I had typed!

    My good faith in you leads me to believe you might be able to make it so the page saves such info when telling me of the mistakes I have made. I know a lot of other pages have this life-saving errr time-saving feature. . .

  50. May 31, 2010
    at 5:24 pm

    The Letter Writing Tab is especially awesome! Brilliant!

  51. Jun 1, 2010
    at 10:21 am

    I like the new layout, it looks good

  52. Jun 1, 2010
    at 11:28 am

    Ooh, I like how you did the “recent posts” section. Just enough info to let people know what the post is about, but also allowing for more posts to show on the page without a lot of scrolling.

  53. Jun 6, 2010
    at 9:28 am

    websiteoptimization.com says your site takes 54 HTTP requests and 521,759 bytes to load. That’s a lot consider, for example, AT&T is canceling unlimited data plans on the iPhone and some other people are still on dial up or 256Kbps DSL. On a 256Kbps connection this page takes >20 seconds to load.

  54. Paul Clutterbuck
    Jun 6, 2010
    at 9:50 pm

    Overall, I really like the new design. It looks clean, it’s easy to navigate and very readable. Just one problem: while most names and photos of commenters are in the sidebar at the left, some seem to creep into the text area and overlay the main text. If this could be sorted out, the site would be perfect.

    • Jun 7, 2010
      at 9:59 am

      The formatting issues for images in blog posts published before the new design will be fixed, but it may take a few days as we have to extend the contract for the work to be done.

  55. Jun 7, 2010
    at 10:02 am

    I appreciate all of your help on this. We have a good list of items that we will be fixing, adding, modifying soon. Keep your suggestions coming.

    In the meantime, for those of you I’ve contacted via e-mail regarding the prizes mentioned in the post, the prizes are in the mail. You should receive them shortly.

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