The iPod contest is providing valuable feedback on the Productivity501 website. I wanted to share the comments we’ve received so far and I figured a Saturday post was a good place to do this. If you aren’t interested then skip this post as it is more about the site and less about actual productivity tips. However, if you’d like to see the debate about whether or not my photo is “creepy”, read on.
If you have any suggestions or comments about the suggestions below, please put them in the comments. (Or consider writing a review on your own site for a chance to win an iPod Shuffle.)
- John Chow thought the picture made the blog seem personable, but thought I should post more frequently. He also didn’t think the excerpts on the front page was the most “productive” setup. He couldn’t find the RSS feed link and thought I was violating Google’s rules for adsense. I’m working on getting on a more regular posting schedule, so hopefully we’ll be seeing several posts a week from now on. Also, I checked with adsense and my clocktower picture was acceptable. (I’ve changed the advertisement to make it less obtrusive and removed the clock picture based on other feedback.)
- HiFiDel pointed out a problem with the survival simulation example and suggested that the person left on the bottom could simply tread water until it was their turn to climb the ladder. I failed to mention that the ceiling of the cave was too low to allow this possibility. The picture I used didn’t illustrate this.
- Steegness suggested adding easier access to the archives and said my picture looks creepy. :) I put a link to the archives at the bottom of the page. I’m getting mixed reviews on whether or not my picture is too creepy. :) Do any other readers have an opinion about this? Go ahead and tell me. I can take it. :)
- Gary Lee noticed the site was still using the old name “Productive Strategies”, thought the red colors encouraged people to stop reading, and wasn’t too hip on the “read more” options. I’m experimenting with removing the “read more” options for shorter posts. The idea was to show the headlines from many stories on the screen at the same time, so if a visitor didn’t like the first story, without scrolling down they could see 2 or 3 other options. What do other readers think about this?
- Tyler Ingram thinks the red colors look a little bit too angry, doesn’t like the “continue reading” links and thought the site was fairly new. Ok it looks like the color scheme is going to have to change. Thanks for pointing out that you couldn’t get to the 2005 posts very easily. I’ve changed how the archives show up to help.
- Remon likes the layout and colors, doesn’t like clicking to read the rest of the post, thinks my headlines could improve, doesn’t like the large ad in the middle of the article and wants to be able to navigate to the “page two” home page like WordPress. I haven’t been able to find a way to go to “page 2” like you can with WordPress, but I did put a link to the archives at the bottom to make things a little easier. I’m working on improving my headlines, but I definitely have a lot of room for improvement. I made some changes to the add in the story based on this feed back.
- Walter Woods liked how the site was free from ads. Actually the site isn’t free from ads, but I’m glad you didn’t find them too distracting.
- Esplanade thought there might be too many posts on the main page, said the “click to continue reading” setup was better suited for blogs with more regular updates, and ponders the mysterious meaning of the number 501. The number is top secret. Just joking. I need to go ahead and write a post explaining sometime. Also the posting volume is picking up to several times a week now, so hopefully it will make the “click to continue” setup make more sense if we keep it.
- Jameo thought my international travel tips were a bit to limited and made some additional suggestions. Some good tips for travel. I’ll keep them in mind for a more detailed post in the future.
- Aczafra said that the about page made her want to puke. I’m definitely going to have to work on rewriting that. Making readers vomit is high on the list of things that will kill off a blog. :)
- Frank likes the white font and comments that 501 comes after 101. Frank is actually the first person to get what the 501 is really about.
- ProductivityGoal would like to see a bit more color and feels the black and white drawings are a little on the drab side of things. I’ve been trying to brand the site with the wood cut, black and white illustrations, but maybe that is a bit too boring. Would it help if the rest of the site fit in more with the wood cut style?
- Michael Yip thought the contest was a pretty cool idea, liked a few of the articles, but didn’t give any suggestions for improvement. This is one of the hard things about getting reviews–people seem geared toward not wanting to give any criticism.
- Azeem comments that I’m more generous than John Chow and can’t understand why there are blank spots and an Apple favicon. I think the ads weren’t showing up for Azeem, so the site probably looked a little strange. I must confess I forgot about the favicon. When I was originally setting up the site back in 2005 I was curious if I could replace the default TypePad favicon. The Apple favicon was the first one I found, so I uploaded it and forgot about it. I should probably do a custom one when I get a chance.
- AbsoluteLee suggests adding more of a storyteller’s touch and more frequent posting. I’ve kind of avoided putting personal things on the site because I want to keep it focused on productivity. However I may have gone too far toward being impersonal. I’ll see if I can get a better balance.
- TJantunen liked the article about Effective web browsing and Time as an Investment.
- Shalini thought the post about asking your boss to work from home went deeper than many of the other suggestions she has seen. She should know because she works from home herself.
So, there is a debate about how creepy my picture looks. Anyone else care to weigh in on this? :) Also one of the biggest suggestions is to try to put the entire post on the main page. I’m experimenting with this and it works pretty good for short articles. However when you have a 2,500 word post all on the main page, it tends to obscure the older posts. What do the rest of the readers think?
The other reoccurring theme was to post more often. Generally I try not to post unless I actually have something to say that I think is valuable enough for someone to spend the time reading. I think I’m going to try to do some shorter “Tuesday’s Tips” type posts that are (hopefully) valuable, but won’t take very long to read and try to post a few 2 to 5 times per week. Does that seem like a good compromise?
Gary Lee says
Looks like you’re getting a LOT of feedback. Here’s my two cents about the picture – it looks like a high school yearbook picture . . . I think maybe a professional picture of you working at your workstation would be better.
Dave Olson says
I didn’t get in on the iPod contest, but sadly I’m probably in the creepy photo camp. :-(
Just a thought about your posts. Why don’t you break them down into three or four parts. That way you could leave the full article on the front page but still enjoy bite size pieces.
Thanks for your input. I guess the photo will have to go. :) Thanks for letting me know. I’ve rearranged some of the articles so the shorter ones (less than 7 lines) are all on the front page.
Ideally if someone wants to get the full post with no jump or breaks, they should signup for the email or RSS. We are still publishing full feeds and don’t plan on changing that any time soon.
I’m also experimenting with taking the ads of the front page of the site and I’ve tried making the ads after the jump a lot smaller.
Oh and don’t forget the iPod contest is still on. You should enter!
My ‘creepy’ comment was less about your looks (which are fine) and more about an unlabeled, unlinked picture just staring out at me for no particular reason.
The reader has to make the effort to put “the guy in the picture” together with “the guy who writes this stuff”. Were the picture coupled with the “about” link, or linked to the “about” page, you’d be far better off.
I don’t think your picture is creepy, per se. But I think you could do a little better.
My specific recommendation? A closed-mouth smile.
And the picture cropped a little more tightly. Maybe a slightly busier background (shelf of books, etc).