I’m very happy to announce this morning that Search Engine Journal is launching the first of multiple redesign and restructuring phases, which have been underway now for about 4 months of planning and acquiring feedback from our readers. As many of you know, Search Engine Journal has been my baby for over 6 years, and recently Search Engine Journal, Inc. merged with Search & Social to form Search & Social Media, LLC. Search Engine Journal is now the flagship of the Search & Social Media network, which includes IMBroadcast, Daily SEO Tip & other properties which we are currently relaunching and acquiring.
I’ve been wanting to redesign for about a year now, and was referred by many to Reese Spykerman of Design by Reese to head our blog redesign. I can honestly say that Reese and I clicked during the initial brainstorming phase, and saw eye to eye on a new direction for the site design, and its functionality. Basically, I wanted something cleaner and a little more different for the site, our logo and enhanced social interaction for reader discussions and connectivity.
For the site design, I wanted a new direction in SEJ’s feel and cleanliness. The old design, which we launched back in 2006, did a great job of differentiating the site at the time, but I found it to be a little clunky and cluttered. Furthermore, I felt that Search Engine Journal has grown far beyond what it used to be, and did not see the need of so many ads, links and other content which had been squeezed into the sidebar over the past 3 years.
I also found the blogroll to be restrictive, limiting the roll to only a handful of the hundreds of magnificent search blogs out there, personally I felt as the smaller blogroll was doing an injustice to the “search-o-sphere”.
That being said, the first change I wanted to make was a color change to help make the site easier on the eyes. Since SEJ was originally launched in light blue back in the day, I wanted to revert back to something similar, especially with Mashable, Facebook & Twitter all using a similar color strategy. I also wanted to keep the deep red of the SEJ brand as part of our logo, so we decided after a couple rounds to go with a teal, some light blues, white and a little red.
For the blogroll, we’ve decided to use a master blogroll, which Ann and I will continue to build, and randomly generate five blogs at a time from the master on each page (with an upcoming link to the Master Blog Roll).
Another focus on the new design of SEJ is the ability for not only readers to engage in enhanced discussion on the blog itself, but also connect with each other and SEJ via Facebook & Twitter. Furthermore, we made it a point to include contact information for all of our contributors via an email button which is placed next to their pic on individual blog posts while also giving contributors the option to include their Twitter info on their posts as well.
Furthermore, the more people I talk to out there who read different blogs and the more social media penetrates into everyday life, the more options arise beyond RSS for reading & monitoring social content outside of a news aggregator. For this reason, we are now featuring an SEJ Connect box on our sidebar, with these three options. As more options introduce themselves, we may be adding in the future, but don’t expect us to add Plurk anytime soon :)
Commenting & Community
In addition to adding the ability to connect with SEJ, writers and readers, we have also added a few new features to our comments. Now on SEJ, your comments can feature your avatar on them. We’re using Gravatar to power this feature, so if you don’t have a Gravatar account, I highly suggest opening one up right now and uploading your favorite pic. If you don’t have one, your Gravatar will default to a custom SEJ avatar of our new logo!
We’ve also added threaded commenting, which lets readers reply directly to a comment left by another reader. Threaded comments tend to lead to more discussion, and less lost thought or ideas in the commenting … since a reply is made directly below an initial reader comment. We’ve tested this out on Daily SEO Tip, and found it to really encourage overall knowledge sharing, opinion sharing, and replies, ultimately expanding the lifespan of a post or column, and adding new thought and direction.
Like I said at the beginning of this announcement, today is the first phase of the total Search Engine Journal redesign. Other new add ons are currently in the cooker, including enhanced author and profile pages, more polls, enhanced sponsorships and advertising opps, staff reviews, new tools and cool downloads.
I’d really like to take this chance to ask you, the readers, audience and overall heart of SEJ, for your feedback on the new design along with any ideas or tips you’d like to see. Personally, this is a very happy day for me and the staff at Search & Social Media, and in celebration of the SEJ community and the Search Engine Industry, your thoughts, feedback and criticism are all welcome.
Best, Loren Baker