Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time to jazz things up a bit. Maybe.

A while ago, Nell-Jean at Secrets of a Seed Scatterer wrote a very good post (she always writes very good posts) about why she liked people's blogs. I found it very inspiring. "Hmm," I thought, "I must take a good objective look at my blog, and see if I can make it more user-friendly."
That was in, ahem, October. I'm now just about to do a few tweaks and I'd be grateful for any suggestions. I'm not going to do a radical redesign, as I quite like the general look. But what do you like/dislike about the layout? Is there anything you'd like me to make clearer?
Do you find the blog roll (the list of blogs I like) useful? I was thinking of ditching it, as I never seem to keep it up to date. Some people have moved their blogs, while other people don't post regularly. Would a straightforward list of blogs I find interesting be better?
I like VP's idea of having a list of bloggers she's met and a list of people she'd like to meet. And I like Esther's technique of clicking on a picture to get more information about something. I think I might snitch those.
I'm not planning to change the comment system. I like being able to moderate comments - not because I think someone might post something unpleasant or obscene (they never have), but because it makes me read your comments carefully and take note of what you say. And the word verification (WV) doesn't seem to be too intrusive on the Blogger system.
I'm not sure what brought on this sudden desire for change. It's a bit early in the year for spring-cleaning. But I've just had the piano tuner here and I find listening to all those octave repetitions and the detangling of all those jangly notes quite therapeutic. Johnny, the tuner, always ends with a flourish of jazz or blues. (Every piano tuner I've ever met seems to be able to play brilliant jazz piano.) Maybe it's inspired me to jazz things up a bit too.


Edith Hope said...

Dear Victoria, Probably a blog site [but who am I to talk?] is like a garden and benefits from a reappraisal from time to time. I personally love your banner image - it was what originally drew me in - and think that your site is clear and easy to navigate.

I do think it is important, as you seem to suggest, that what one presents is up to date. If it is not possible to update the blogroll [I have no idea how to include one, let alone keep it up to date], then it is probably best to let it go. Whatever, your writing remains for me the most significant and satisfying part of it all. So, please, do NOT stop.

Darla said...

I've been wondering about my bloglist too. I can't find anything wrong with your blog...I do like to check out blogs on other's bloglists though. The ones that you find most interesting might be a cool idea...

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I went through this back in the late autumn, Victoria, just as I was trying to decide whether to keep blogging or not. I refreshed the look, remembered how to change my header photos, switched a few things around, and called it good enough. I put that Google Friend follow widget up out of curiosity, and I keep following more blogs myself and have their feed links along the left column. But I don't know if others click on those or not--they're more for myself so that I know when someone's updated without having to go into the cumbersome mess that Blotanical has become to find out.
My own problem is that there are so, so many blogs out there that I like to READ, including many that are fairly new. I like to support other bloggers and it bugs me when the same few seem to get all the support when there are some amazing, well-written blogs out there too. I'm working at a post urging others to 'adopt a blogger or six' to help raise awareness of other blogs, but it's not finished yet.
Yours is one of my favourites, and it was because it showed up at the top of my sidebar this morning that I landed here first thing.
I'm glad that your link to comments goes to a separate page and isn't at the bottom of your posts--that often takes three refreshes to get a comment posted and I think a lot of people get frustrated and move on without commenting at some of those blogs.

Carol said...

Clever post! I have only just discovered your blog so cannot say what you might do?? From the beauty and simplicity I see I am sure you will make it all fine and lovely as it is now ... I will explore a bit to see more. I must admit my tuners never played jazzy tunes... Drat! Now I am without a piano... so double drat to that! Tuning up is a good thing. I will look forward to seeing your makeover. ;>)

fairegarden said...

What a splendid finish to the tuning of a piano! That must have been quite enjoyable, Victoria. As to changes to your blog, it seems fine to me as is. But being on wordpress, I don't know about the new gadgets available on blogger, or even on wordpress for that matter. I do know that people love to be able to click through your blogroll and would leave it. :-)

nancybond said...

Victoria, I like your blog template for its simplicity and, directly related to that, it's fast loading and easy to navigate. So many widgets on some blogs make the pages so sloooow to load. I'm sure any little tweaks you make will only improve the look, but I like it very much as it is. :)

Pam/Digging said...

Updating is always fun! The only suggestion I'll make is that your banner picture is quite long, taking up almost my entire MacBook screen. So when I bring up your blog I have to scroll down past it to find your newest post. A wider, shallower image might be the ticket, so that your latest post is visible when someone visits your blog. Just my two cents. I always enjoy my visits here!

Rob said...

Hi Victoria, I think a bit of a change is always good. Gardens are always changing, after all.

I love your main banner photo too. It's just a suggestion, but it could be quite nice to swap it from time to time. You have such a photogenic garden, I'm sure you could get some good shots.

Anyway, like a garden, your blog is personal to you. Do to it whatever makes you feel happy!

Elephant's Eye said...

(Maybe update Will's Exotic Garden - which says on your side bar - We have moved ...) Otherwise it is about your words, not the Widgets! And 'every blog should have a cat'

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I do use other's blogrolls to visit blogs that I might not ordinarily visit if a current post sounds interesting. So, just a list of the blogs is not helpful, but the list with an image of the new post or even just the title of the post & when it was posted, such as you have, is useful to me.

Victoria said...

Edith: I'll make an effort to keep the Favourite Blogs up to date. Having just taken two minutes to update it, I realise it's sheer laziness on my part not to keep an eye on it.

Darla: As I promised Edith, I'll try to keep it more up to date. There are so many blogs I find interesting, though - and so little space!

Jodi: Let me know when your "adopt a blogger" post is up - that sounds like a fantastic idea. I'd like to join in that. I feel frustrated that I don't have time to read everything too. Roll on retirement...

Carol: Thanks! I hope you find everything "in tune" when you visit again!

Frances: I think you're right - I think I will leave it. But if someone isn't on it, please don't take offence. It doesn't mean I don't love your blog, it's just that it's slipped my mind to put it on. (Or more likely, I've added it and forgotten to hit Save... )

nancybond: Thanks, Nancy! Simple and elegant is the aim, but I know that what one might think is very simple is often incomprehensible to someone else! So I'm very grateful for the feedback.

Pam: I'm so sorry - it will probably come as no surprise to you to learn that I have absolutely no idea how to reduce the size of that picture! I got the idea from Barbee's blog when I first started blogging. But it has become a bit of a signature, so I'm going to leave it for now.

Rob: As I said to Pam, I feel my picture has become part of the "brand", as it were. But I might do a spring version, just for you... Especially if you come to Malvern!

Diana: Good spot, thank you so much! I wondered why it had a cross beside it in my Blogger list. Duhhhrr. I've updated it now.

MMD: Fantastic, that confirms what Darla and Frances said. I must put in some more work on it.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

I enjoy the clean simplicity of your blog Victoria, and of course your writing :)

I do think that Jodi's adopt a blog suggestion is a good idea and I have been thinking I would change by blog roll to currently reading and only put a few blogs there.

I prefer the opposite to Jodi about the comment page, I like comments to open in a new box/window, so I can type my comment and refer back to the blog
but that is only my personal preference and the fact that my brain is like a sieve!

citybumpkin said...

Victoria, your writing is superb and I really like the simple layout of your blog. I'm sure a revamp will be refreshing though, so go for it! Looking forward to seeing the results.

Lucy Corrander said...

I don't think life would be quite the same without your header. I'd feel disoriented if you changed it.

(I've always admired Barbee's headers too - she changes hers by season and I remember last year when it got back to spring and my favourite one came up again!)

Whatever you do, don't use the 'embedded' comment system. When I try to leave comments on blogs which use it, I often find I haven't completed the process properly so it doesn't post. One often needs several trys to get comments accepted too.

I'm one who looks at links in sidebars. Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I do a blog hop round the place, clicking on a link in a sidebar on each place I arrive.

Please don't add loads of gadgets or increase the number of posts per page. I don't suppose I'm the only one with an unpowerful laptop and a slow connection who has given up trying to visit overloaded blogs because they jam up my computer and I have to reboot. Simple is best!

I think the description of you and your purpose is good too. One can instantly place your blog - geographically and what kind of thing to expect.

Refine (perhaps) but don't change! (Please.)


P.S. And . . . not that you are likely to do this . . . but don't go sentimental. It's an eary route for garden bloggers to take and I acknowledge it's popular with many readers . . . but it's not 'you'.

Anna said...

I find your site very easy on the eye Victoria - both the background, size and colour of font. It loads up quickly too. As for the blog roll I have found that other people's blog rolls take me to places that I may not have ever got to myself. Good luck with whatever changes you have in mind. I am in the early stages of planning one or two alterations myself so despite the weather spring must be in the air :)

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Victoria.

Glad you like the way I do my links.

Hoping you like the way I do reviews too and that the mention at

is ok.

Spring is springing!


Stable Cottage Garden Blog said...

Hi Victoria, I love the friendly, chatty style of your blog. I'm new to blogging so I really like blog-lists. I find that generally on blogs, the lists work well and put you in touch with blogs you might not come across. Are you opening your garden this year? Jill

King Tom said...

Hi there,

I'm Thomas from the new blog.

I've written a post called '37 Great Gardening Blogs', which of course includes 'Victoria's Backyard'. You can read the full article here:

We'd would like to know if you have any problems with being included? If you do, please let us know and we'll be happy to remove your site from the list.

We'd also like to make you our 'Gardening Blog of the Week', so if there's any specific information you'd like us to include or if you'd prefer for us not to feature you, please do let us know.

Thanks for your time. Drop us a line anytime.

All the best


(for) Ian Daniels

Dobbies Garden Centres Plc
Melville Nursery
EH18 1AZ
Tel: 0131 663 6778

all seasons gardener said...

I love the banner image, the fact that you get so many cogent and clever comments, and your knowledge about gardening.

Blogrolling is a complicated subject isn't it? I am just starting to do this for my blog and I think I might call it 'recently visiting gardening blogs' as that doesn't imply any favourites, but it does mean I'd have to keep it updated regularly ...

Grace Peterson said...

Hi Victoria~~ You aren't alone. I've also been playing/hacking my blog too. On reason, it's fun. Another, outdoor pursuits have been tabled until the weather improves. Third, I'm completely addicted now.

You must keep your banner photo, it's dazzling. I don't have a blog roll, just my followers with my little plug.

There are LOTS of embellishments on the Internet. Backgrounds, fonts, elements... it's not all that difficult to make alterations thanks to the ton of tutorials online. I can lead you towards some of my findings if you like.

ironblue said...

I was searching with "jazz". Your site was listed for "jazz up". You don't mean to tell a jazz music. But then have I been irritated?

Not at all. The soothing photo at the top sure was nice eye-resting experience.

Greenery is so nice. Thank you