Welcome to The New Caleb Jones Blog! - Caleb Jones

As you may have noticed, things have changed around here. Over the next 7-10 days we will be testing the many new features of this blog, so if you encounter any errors or weirdness, just be patient, we’re working on it.

A few months ago I polled all of you as to what kinds of changes you wanted at my blogs. I’m happy to say we have integrated pretty much every change you guys suggested.

Also, starting next week, all new blog articles will have three extra components:

  1. An audio version where you can listen to the blog post instead of reading it, spoken by me.
  2. A downloadable PDF version.
  3. Extended audio content regarding the topic of the blog article. This is extra content not in the written article, again spoken by me.

This content is available to members of the blog only, which is just $3 per month. Members will receive other benefits in addition to all of this that I will describe in about a week.

Subscribing to the blog is still free and always will be. Subscribing means you’ll get all new articles emailed to you automatically. Membership means you get this plus the audio and PDF content listed above (plus some other stuff).

Once we get the bugs worked out and everything is looking good, we’re going to port this same format over to the Blackdragon Blog as well. (To keep our workload down, I didn’t want to upgrade both blogs at the same time.)

More coming soon.

15 Comments on “Welcome to The New Caleb Jones Blog!

  1. Congratulations to the new design Caleb! It looks awesome! And it even has dark mode.

    What’s the WordPress theme you’re using? Is it a custom theme?

  2. Looks nice, the mobile version will definitely need some modifying as it looks very cluttered and the comment input box is crammed in and very narrow but I’m sure you’re aware. I understand you are just implementing this, and that there will be hiccups. But that’s just how change is…good ole growing pains! I will say when you click on the “hamburger” three line icon and it morphs into an “X” is VERY sweet. Never seen that before. I clicked on it like 6 times. The devil is in the details, and even though it’s a small one to me it’s very cool

  3. Hey Caleb. Loving the new direction of the redesign, particularly the dark mode. I’ve just got a couple of suggestions to clean things up visually (this only applies to the desktop version. Haven’t tested mobile version yet). But good stuff first!

    Good stuff:

    Despite what I said earlier, I actually love the design of the new category icons on the front page. The way they’re implemented just looks super messy atm.
    The site overall appears much more modern.
    The accessibility features with the dark mode and the audio/pdf versions of your articles are awesome
    The “back to top” button is great on desktop browsers. Very smooth implementation as well.
    Your site finally matches your branding. The overall color scheme looks great!
    Big fan of the full-width images for your blog banners. Looks really nice!

    Suggestions

    Front Page:

    Move the topic icons into a sidebar, add a slightly different colored background behind them (I suggest an off-white color) to visually separate that section from the blog section, or get rid of them all together. As a side note, if you keep them where they are, adjust the number of icons per line so that the rows are even. Right now, the difference between the number of icons makes things look unnecessarily busy.
    Ditto for the newsletter signup at the top. Either get rid of the wall of text and simplify it, or move it back to the sidebar. I’d also suggest adding a newsletter signup box to the bottom of each blog post with a call to action. That one can be quite a bit more wordy. I’d also test changing the color of the “sign me up” button to something that doesn’t blend in with the rest of your UI.
    In the navigation bar, the buttons have a slightly darker color background than the rest of the nav bar.
    Get rid of the visitor counter at the bottom of the page. It’s very 90’s, lol
    Don’t use clip art for your article thumbnails. It significantly cheapens the look of your site, especially when they’re low resolution like the trump hat. Pay the $3-5 to buy a decent stock photo or take one yourself.
    Your branding graphics don’t look right in the dark mode. They’ve got a white outline that shouldn’t be there if they were exported properly. It looks like someone took the JPEG into Photoshop and tried to cut out your logo instead of exporting from the vector file. If you want to send me the Illustrator file (.eps or .ai) for your logo, I’ll export new versions will look a lot better. They’ll also be a bit higher resolution so you won’t see the edges of the pixels on normal screens.
    Your navigation buttons in dark mode are red for some reason. Change those to white or gold, preferably white.

    Blog posts:

    You really need to adjust the maximum canvas width to where your UI doesn’t span basically the whole screen. It really shouldn’t be any wider than your nav bar currently is. At the moment, it makes things much harder to read.
    I’d also suggest increasing your body text size to at least 16 pts. See this link for more details regarding best practices for text on your site.
    Move the related posts above the comments instead of next to the comment box. No one will see your related links on more popular articles the way it is now.
    I love that you’re making PDFs and audio versions available, but those need to be individual buttons, ideally in a callout box embedded in the text towards the top of the article.
    Look at your analytics to see if anybody is actually using the share buttons at the bottom of your articles. If not, get rid of them. It’s just extra clutter if it isn’t being used.
    Your comment editor still isn’t really a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. Would be nice to bring those more in line with each other. I’d also make the separating line between the comments a slightly less heavy line. You can do this by making the line fewer pixels, or by making it contrast less with the site background.
    Also, consider moving the user icons to be to the left of their comments instead of above them. This keeps the UI cleaner and more in line with what you see on most other sites. See example.

  4. What’s the WordPress theme you’re using? Is it a custom theme?

    Totally custom, yes.

    mobile version will definitely need some modifying as it looks very cluttered

    Yep. Working on it.

    the comment input box is crammed in and very narrow

    Yep. Working on it.

    I will say when you click on the “hamburger” three line icon and it morphs into an “X” is VERY sweet.

    Haha you can thank my web guy for that. 🙂 I agree.

  5. TBH, this new design is bad. Primarily because it’s cluttered without a clear logical separation between different boxes, all of which are fighting for attention without clearly defined central elements. See e. g. https://www.artlebedev.com/mandership/136/

    Also the blue round icons are 10+ years out of date in style and their prominence is out of any proportion to their usefulness. Caleb, admit it, you have no eye for design. Alpha 2.0, the logos, this, to me it all screams “lowest bidder”. We all know you’re frugal, but you’re certainly being too frugal with something that’s supposed to earn you money.

    And why do you hate us anonymous users so much? We just want to be judged by the content of our message, not by any perceived image of our personality.

  6. why do you hate us anonymous users so much?

     

    A ridiculous and stupid question since 95% of my users are anonymous and I love them all. The reason I can’t allow users named “Anonymous” or “Anon” anymore is because we’ve had many threads where multiple people were using these names in the same thread which made communication difficult.

  7. The new design needs work. I could trot out a bunch of terms about UX/design theory, but the TL;DR version is that the layout is too cluttered and the design/theme is antiquated and unappealing. Medium’s default layout and theme are good examples of how to style a blog in a way that’s modern, sleek, and utilitarian (to be clear, I’m not at all suggesting that you use Medium).

    There’s something “off” about the typography, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    Lastly, some specific feedback about the comments section:
    1. The line height/spacing in the comments is pretty tight. This makes reading the comments a little uncomfortable, especially when they’re lengthy.
    2. The comment editor has some formatting options, e.g. lists, that don’t actually materialize in the published comment. It’s not really a big deal, but if it’s easy to get rid of these then you might as well do so.

  8. the layout is too cluttered and the design/theme is antiquated and unappealing

    I realize you’re trying to help, but general comments like this don’t assist me. I need specifics.

    Medium’s default layout and theme are good examples of how to style a blog in a way that’s modern, sleek, and utilitarian

    I agree and I like Medium’s layout as well, but Medium articles don’t require the items this blog does, at least on the home page. I need a blurb on this blog that specifically states what this blog is. I need a place to capture email addresses. I need just a few buttons where users can access the archive page. And so on. Medium’s articles don’t require these things.

    If you have any input on how to include all of these things while keeping the design more modern/sleek/etc, I’m all ears.

    There’s something “off” about the typography, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    Again, these general criticisms don’t help.

    The line height/spacing in the comments is pretty tight.

    Now we’re getting some specifics! There you go!

    I agree. I will fix it.

    The comment editor has some formatting options, e.g. lists, that don’t actually materialize in the published comment.

    I’m not having any of these problems so once again, I need specifics.

  9. I’m not having any of these problems so once again, I need specifics.

    I gave a specific example, lists. Here are my specific observations in long(er) form:

    The “Bulleted list” and “Numbered list” buttons create bulleted lists and numbered lists, respectively, in the comment editor, but the bullets and numbers disappear when the comment is posted.
    The “Align center” and “Align right” buttons produce the expected result in the editor, but the entire comment is left-aligned when the comment is posted.

    Proof:

    In the editor, this line is the first item in a bulleted list.
    In the editor, this line is the second item in a bulleted list.

    This text is center aligned in the editor.
    This text is right aligned in the editor.

  10. Caleb, the problems are just too numerous for there to be any specific answer other than “hire a more knowledgeable designer that charges more”. For example, the most prominent thing on the website, the logo, is cropped at the left, and it’s unsuitable for high-resolution screens. How can a designer that let that slide be expected to perform any better on other important matters?

  11. Here are my specific observations in long(er) form:

    Thank you. I’ll get that all fixed.

    the most prominent thing on the website, the logo, is cropped at the left, and it’s unsuitable for high-resolution screens

    That was my fault, not my web guy’s, who notified me of the same problem. I have my logo guy working on a new version of the logo now.

    See? When you guys give me specifics, then I can get things done. When you make general negative statements, we don’t get anywhere.

    If anyone has any more specifics, please let me know.

  12. Interesting feature, CJ.

    What is thta Listen to Audio, a WP plugin ?

    I’ve never seen that until now.

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