Bloggiesta! 2010

The 2nd annual Bloggiesta starts today and I am looking forward to participating! I have a lot of little things I’ve been meaning to do around this blog that I want to get to, and a small back log of reviews that need to get done. I always reorganize and facelift in the new year anyway, so why not do it with friends?

Things I would like to get done include:

  • New color scheme for the blog.
  • Create some CSS short cuts.
  • Increase compatibility with IE 7.
  • Tweak to get idiosyncrasies worked out for Safari & Chrome.
  • Drop down menus for Chatter, Challenges and maybe Reviews.
  • Increase user-friendliness on the main page.
  • Change social networking options on post pages.
  • Add threaded comments.
  • Write Review Policy for Contact page.
  • Do write-ups for LOTR read-a-long and for Social Justice Reading Challenge.
  • Get caught up on back-log of four reviews.

It’s going to be an interesting weekend. If my site suddenly looks broken for some reason, well, just give me a few minutes!

Hour 8

I ended up just slipping into my work zone for this and put in eight hours straight without even blinking, even eating at my desk during meal times! But, I’m done for the day I think. I’m going to spend the evening taking down Christmas decorations, and coddling my poor neglected husband and cat.

I was originally aiming for a blue theme for the new year, but it ended up being green. It’s my favorite color so I guess it’s not all that surprising. This is also a much more limited color scheme than my old one, which is probably a good thing! I like it a lot.

I also set up shortcuts for aligning images right and left (with my new super thick borders) and for just slapping the borders I like on regular images too. I also set up some classes for when I’m quoting something in the course of a post (separate from my fancy blockquote that I include in my reviews). Like I did for my year end wrap-up post, etc. Still tweaking that a bit. I thought I might also use it for if my husband and I do discussions on the LOTR read-a-long we are doing together, so I made it up in two flavors.

If you have visited my blog before you might need to hit refresh twice, or clear your cache for Internet Explorer, to get the new site to display for you. Just a heads up.

Hour 11

I got three more hours in this morning. I finished up a few loose ends from yesterday, including making my twitter match the new look and getting a new gravatar, and then moved on down the list.

The only thing bothering me about Internet Explorer 7 was it was not playing nicely with my tag cloud, so I got that fixed up. You can’t scroll through my recent reviews in that browser, but you can’t see that it’s even a possibility either any more, so I consider it pretty well supported now. Everything works as far as a visitor would know. I am not supporting Internet Explorer 6 anymore on my personal sites, so that is all done. A merciful divinity made the IE 6 user share take a dive off a cliff over the last few months so hopefully I can stop supporting the browser all together soon.

I also played with the placement of my Share This button in Safari and Chrome and got it so at least it’s aligned in the right element now. One of my New Years Resolutions was to no longer be so concerned with pixel perfect layouts across every browser and resolution. So, it displays in the right ball park and there it is going to stay.

And, because I spent so much time messing with it I fell in love with the little gizmo all over again, so I’m not going to be swapping out my social networking gadget after all. It looks much nicer in the new color scheme too, and that helps.

Next I’m probably going to spend the rest of the morning fighting with drop down menus. None of the links will work until I get it displaying the way I want to. Just a heads up. Also, my site might break occasionally. I’m really bad about breaking the syntax in my php calls sometimes and wordpress doesn’t like that.

Finish

Well, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I was hoping to. Real life intruded in a big way this weekend and I was only able to get the drop down menus done. I still want to get to the rest of my list but it will have to be another time, maybe next weekend. I think I should have started this last weekend actually. Got the design work done on my own that way this weekend I could have participated in the mini-challenges and maybe talked about doing some organization and thought about content. Well, I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll save it for next year.

Here’s what I got done this year, I create my own wordpress themes and do my own custom work and so most of the weekend (I’d guess about 12-14 hours, I lost count) was spent taking this:

And, changing it into this:

I also added some CSS shortcuts, and drop down menus above (under Reviews, Chatter and Challenges). I then went and shot myself in the foot a bit, I got my tag cloud displaying properly in IE 7 and now the new drop down menus don’t display very well in that browser. I’ll go back and worry about that another time. Safari and Chrome also both now display the site perfectly, which makes me very happy.

So I got a lot done, just not as much as I thought I would have. I also missed out on the mini-challenges, which was such a bummer. Maybe next year.

One of the new things I did, that I would like some feedback on, was restructured my site a bit. I have three main categories: Reviews, Chatter and Challenges.

I added subcategories, to Challenges: In Progress and Completed, to Chatter I added General, Memes, Read-a-Long and Read-a-Thon, that’s pretty much all of the talking I’ve ever done about books. I guess I’ll add more if I ever do author interviews or giveaways or what not. While you can see the categories and navigate them in my menu, you cannot on the individual posts.

My Reviews have no subcategories, instead I use tags. This way I can display a “clean” tag cloud of just genres. I don’t have a way to navigate my books alphabetically, by author, or in any other way save genre. Those are listed on the individual posts.

There is currently no way to search my reviews. Also on the pages that paginate (tell you on the bottom of the page to click to see the next) there are no numbers so if there is a huge number of pages you have to click through one by one to get to the really old reviews.

I have no way to sort by rating, and I really wasn’t planning on doing that anyway, it requires pain in the butt calls to the database as the plugin doesn’t just support it out of the box. So… not doing that.

For me organizing my book blog is less about the owner and almost completely about the end user, the visitor, you. You are the one that has to navigate the system, and I want to try and make the really pertinent information you care about easy to get to for you.

So what I want to ask is:

  1. How do you organize your book blog? Categories, tags, a combination of both? What things do you do to make it easier for people to navigate your site?
  2. How important is it that you can sort a site’s reviews by things other than genre? Is finding old reviews important to you, or not really? Would it be acceptable to support either of those requests with a search box?
  3. Aside from memes, read-a-longs, and read-a-thons, are there any other things you as a book blogger like to post about or participate in, or would like to see posted about by someone else?
  4. Anything about the site that is a pain in the butt to work around, or that you think could be improved with a little elbow grease? I’m only half done with all I planned on doing so get in ideas now!

Thanks so much for any and all replies. I really, really appreciate it. Keep in mind I’m still a relatively new book blogger. I was only introduced to the community a few months ago, so anything I may have missed as far as fun things to participate in or do as a blogger I would love to hear about, it’s all news to me!

13 Responses to Bloggiesta! 2010

  1. Natasha @ Maw Books
    10:07 am on January 8th, 2010

    A great list Bitsy! I shall be watching & cheering you on.

  2. Monica
    4:07 pm on January 8th, 2010

    I love the new color. Great job.

  3. Natasha @ Maw Books
    6:56 pm on January 8th, 2010

    I love this new color. Great job on working eight hours straight. You got a lot done!

  4. Callista
    7:24 pm on January 8th, 2010

    Wow this is my first visit to your blog, I love the design! Great work. I can’t believe you worked 8 hours straight. I would have loved to but I have 2 kids, a puppy, a husband, visitors and stuff to do! Great job.

  5. Sheila (Bookjourney)
    7:54 pm on January 8th, 2010

    Really great list… you are doing things I dont know how to do! 🙂

  6. Alison (Alison's Book Marks)
    8:16 pm on January 8th, 2010

    Great list, your blog looks great already!

    Have fun this weekend!

  7. Maggi
    10:00 pm on January 8th, 2010

    What a gorgeous blog! I love the colors and the design. So much to like here. I am happy to be reading blogs and relaxing tonight… have a good Bloggiesta!!

  8. Bitsy
    10:20 pm on January 8th, 2010

    Thanks for all the compliments, everyone! I do this for a living which is why this part at least was easy to just slip into and work as, for me, this is a typical day’s shift. Probably why I disengaged right on the eight hour mark too!

    When it comes to the reading and reviewing part, I’ll slow way down though. Bloggiesta’s are turning out to be way easier than read-a-thons were for me, let me tell you!

  9. Aarti
    9:44 am on January 10th, 2010

    Wow, I don’t even know what you’re referring to for much of your post. But they sound like important and great tasks!

  10. Helen Murdoch
    11:31 am on January 12th, 2010

    1. I do multiple labels on each post (all updated during Bloggiesta) including YA or adult, graphic novel, and ratings. However, I don’t have as many genres as you so I’ve now added that to my to-do list!
    2. I wouldn’t ever search a site by year of review. I have that on mine for my own sanity
    3. I like author interviews, but have only done 2 myself.
    4. The only thing that confuses me is “100 shots of short”…not sure what that refers to (am I showing my age or ignorance?)

    Great work!

  11. Bitsy
    12:29 pm on January 15th, 2010

    I’m thinking about adding a post’s category to the post page, I’m still undecided about the search feature though.

    The 100 Shots of Short is a perpetual reading challenge where you read 100 short stories. I just use the challenge graphic for my short story reviews because most short stories don’t have art and I needed to have something! Because it says “short” and not “short story” it is a little confusing though.

  12. Online Publicist
    2:52 pm on January 15th, 2010

    Beautiful work on your theme!! I, too, will be continuing to pick away at my ‘to do’ list from Bloggiesta since I didn’t get done as much as I would have liked. That and I keep coming across new things I want to do! lol.

  13. Natasha @ Maw Books
    9:11 am on January 17th, 2010

    Sorry I’m so late in stopping by to say that you’ve done a great job. I must admit I’m a bit jealous with your coding skills! I’ve modified my own theme a ton and this week decided to put in a fat footer. But I can’t get the sidebars there to style at all! But you learn by trying right? I’ll keep trying!

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