Redesign: How can my website better serve you? An invitation

It’s time to redesign scottberkun.com. Yay!

I’m looking to hire a designer to work on a redesign of scottberkun.com and have my own list of goals and issues. But before I go too far I wanted my make sure I invited you readers, the people this site is for, to speak up about your suggestions, complaints and things you wished the site did better.

Here’s my primary list of goals:

  • Coherent style: too many incremental  changes have been made over the years to fonts styles, colors, and highlights. The base text color should be black, and the various styles should be simplified and coherent with each other. It needs to be resorted from scratch and return the focus to easy readability.
  • Make first choices easier: There are 1500 posts and essays in more than 20 different categories but good luck finding them. There are also more than 20 full lectures you can watch, but good luck there too. The home page helps little, offering no framework for working by category or offering an easy first set of choices. I write about so many subjects it’s hard to find a way in if you’re not already familiar with my work. There is a best of berkun page, but it’s also hard to find.
  • Prioritize interactivity through Ask Berkun and comments: I’d love for this to be an anchor of the site, as it’s interactive and lets you readers drive the show. But it’s invisible in any of the navigation. Comments and requests fuel my work. The more engagement I get, the easier I find it to be productive.
  • Thoughtful conversions:  as a writer there are 3 actions that I benefit from the most: selling books, getting hired to speak, and getting people to follow me on twitter, the mailing list or Facebook. The site is intentionally not designed to hit visitors over the head with these three things, but without any  conversions there is no website. I’d like these three actions to be more prominent, but in a way that feels natural, not forced.  I have tons of free chapters, checklists  and resources, but they’re not tied to conversions in any direct way and they could be.

But these are my goals and I’m not the customer here – you are. Any comments, critiques or requests welcome.

What do you want more of? What do you want less of?

Cheers and thanks for reading.

10 Responses to “Redesign: How can my website better serve you? An invitation”

  1. Genevieve Howard

    I came to know your work through Confessions of a Public Speaker. I often send people to your individual posts on public speaking, especially the checklist (http://scottberkun.com/2011/speakers-checklist/). I’d love a way to have one link to go to all your speaking-related posts. Maybe this could be incorporated on the speaking section.

    I didn’t realize there was a “Best of” page. Now that I look at it, it’s valuable! I’d suggest a different term for it. “Best of” is pretty vanilla and wouldn’t entice me to click. With such a wealth of content, you might hire an information architect to work with your designer.

    You have a lot of strengths to build on with the current site. You offer clear calls to action. The site conveys a great sense of humor. Look forward to seeing what you do with it. Best of luck with the redesign!

    Reply
  2. Scott

    Thanks Genevieve. Good feedback.

    As you suggest, there are plenty of people who are primarily interested in posts on a single topic (Innovation, Public Speaking, etc). and the site doesn’t make it easy to follow my work in that way.

    There is a way to only see posts on a subject though:

    http://scottberkun.com/category/public-speaking/

    I do use categories for posts and you can find a link to the category of any post if you look at the footer underneath the post text (the fact that I have to explain this to you is feedback itself on the side design :)

    Reply
  3. Sean Crawford

    Like you, I have enjoyed the year’s best American essays series. I liked it years ago when you had a separate section for big essay-type blogs…

    (Or is your regular stuff bigger now and I haven’t noticed?)

    I suppose you might justify such a separate odd section by calling it bench presses for the mind….

    Reply
    1. Scott

      Most things I write online are shorter. Now and then I have something previously I’d call an essay (1200-5000 words) but that definitely happens less often.

      Your point is well taken – it’s another vote, in my mind, for providing easier entry points into all the things I’ve written. One category could be longreads, which included not only the essays, but longer blog posts, chapters, etc.

      Ages ago the URL that got the most traffic on the site was this:

      http://www.scottberkun.com/essays

      But when I moved to the blog the distinction between an essay and a post seemed less and less worthy of worrying about.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  4. Phil Simon

    I agree with the previous comment about adding a drop-down on categories and/or tag cloud might help. As for videos, why not make it easier to search? I have a sub-tab thing happening that I think makes it easy to quickly sort videos of interest.

    Reply
  5. Larry Kunz

    Scott, one thing I’ve always liked about your site is the clean, black-on-white look. The masthead and the main text area, especially, are refreshingly uncluttered. While I agree with the commenters who say it should be easier to jump to a particular category, I hope you’ll be able to retain the simplicity of the current design.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      Thanks Larry. Glad you’ve noticed we’ve kept it simple. It will be something we’ll retain.

      Reply
  6. Emily

    Kill the sidebar. Make the type bigger.
    Make your menu hidden on mobile.

    Reply
  7. Alice

    Hi Scott! Just sent you some feedback via email, as a reader, also offered some help as a UX designer.
    Good luck with the changes!

    Reply
  8. Alice

    Hi, that’s just another random thought.
    Might be useful to think over a way to feature events where you’ll have a talk soon. This is something you won’t know as a reader unless you’re going through each newsletter.

    This feels like belonging structurally to the Speaking section and is connected to hiring to speak. btw just followed the contact button in Speaking (and landed on a general page with email address) – this is a point where you don’t need any complexity at all, for the person digging the site not to lose interest when back to her inbox.

    It could be showing up a simple form without a redirect, right on the page, and also giving an option to dig some more through your works and lectures.

    Also thought about featuring causes you are part of, like We Make Seattle. Been following since the Kickstarter campaign and I believe it can be a meaningful part of the story.

    Have a great day! Al

    Reply

Leave a Reply

* Required