August 23, 2007
This article reprinted from the the TypePad Hacks Weblog. The original article can be found online:
© 2008, John T Unger
It's been ages since I handed out an AHA award, but David Smith's ToyTalk blog is definitely deserving! David hired me recently to do a couple hours consulting on how he might increase the stickiness of his blog and build his reader base. Although much of the advice was about social interaction, I also suggested some design ideas and features he could add that might make his blog a better resource.
David did all the coding himself, mostly using tutorials from here as well as articles from the Knowledge Base. But there were also a few things he had to figure out on his own, and he's done quite well with that. My favorite thing he's done is the implementation of my suggestion for his category list in the sidebar.
I almost always suggest using a drop down menu for categories to save space, but in his case I thought it would be fun to add little toy icons to the category list. Since toys are so visually appealing, the icons turn the category list into an exciting menu that should drive a lot more clicks to his archive pages. It looks even better than I expected, so I think this is something that I'll suggest more often in the future. The next step would be to create slightly larger icons that can be used in the title of posts to display the category… With a little CSS and template modification it wouldn't be too hard (take a look at the tutorial on styling author comments to get an idea of how this might be implemented). You could also take a look at the CSS for Michael Sippey's recent redesign of his blog for some ideas.
David emailed me to say that he's got a bunch more new features that he's working on adding. I'll definitely be checking back to look at his progress. Nice work, David!
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