Category: web design

Blogger vs. WordPress

It’s been a few months since I switched from Blogger to WordPress, and I thought this might be a good time to take a moment and reflect on the change. Was it a good one? Without a doubt–for many different reasons. First up, it brought my blog and my website under the same domain. It’s all one solid piece of cloth now, and that means that when people come to my blog, they see everything about me at once–my bio, my books, my reviews. The whole shebang. It’s been a wonderful tool for discovery–I’ve been keeping an eye on my statistics, and I’ve been very happy to see people clicking from one post into related posts, then over to info on the books. That’s one of the main reasons I made the change, and to have it actually work . . .


Second? WordPress is a breeze to use. I much prefer it to Blogger, really. I can schedule my posts well in advance. The tagging and organization tools are easier to use and keep a handle on, the sharing to social networks is smoother and more seamless . . . The list goes on and on. Plus, it’s wonderful to get out from under the Google dome. Blogger (owned by Google) has a pretty tight handle on things, and I like being on my own.

So would I recommend that everyone make the switch?

Not necessarily.

In my case, it really helped that I paid someone to design the new WordPress site for me. It’s something I might have been able to do on my own, but if I had, it would have taken me way way way waaaaaay too much time to figure it all out. WordPress has a lot of great widgets and doodads to make your site or blog awesome, but that’s both a blessing and a curse. You have to figure out which doodad is the right one for you–and then figure out how best to use it.

It’s a lot of effort.

Still, if you’re serious about having a web presence, it seems like a no brainer. I’m much happier where I am now, and I feel like the money I spent was definitely worth it.

Anyone have any questions for me? I’d be happy to do my best to answer them.

The New Website’s Here! The New Website’s Here!

That’s right, woodchuck chuckers, the new site is up and live and you’re reading this on it RIGHT THIS MOMENT.

So–what do you think? I personally am overjoyed with it. It’s a huge step up from where I was, and it’s got some awesome features I’ve been looking to add for a long time. What are they?

  • First of all, my blog and my website now share the same space. This is really big, and it’s been something like eight years in the making. Up until now, my two web presences have been separated. They looked totally different from each other, there was no cross over between them, and it just felt clunky. With this new site, I’ve got my blog here where it belongs, and that feels great.
  • More than that, my blog is improved (I think.) It’s easier to find old material. It’s searchable. It’s got a better mechanism for making comments and sharing posts. I’m a big fan.
  • I’ve got a new way to track my writing. My website designer and I bounced a few ideas back and forth. I know some authors who show a “progress bar” on their site to show how the new book’s going. Dan (my designer) pointed out that such an approach meant something to the author, but it was really abstract to fans–mainly because it used word count to track progress. 50,000 words means something to me, but it’s totally abstract for non-writers. With this new approach, I track word count over time, and it shows some fascinating things to me. I can compare how fast I’ve written and revised each book I’ve written since VODNIK. (Check them out at TARNHELM, GET CUPID, and THE MEMORY THIEF’s pages.)
  • There are easy to find ways to get in touch with me–both through email and social media.
  • There’s also a spot to order stuff from me directly. I didn’t put in a full-fledged order page, mainly because I just don’t have enough demand to warrant it yet. But there’s a list of what I could send you–and there’s even an offer for some free VODNIK tattoos. (You know you want them!)
  • You can now subscribe to my blog, as well–have it sent directly to your email, so I can clog up your inbox as well as your now defunct RSS feed. The more the merrier, right?

Basically, this site gives my page a much needed refresh. It’s neat, it’s clean, and it conveys the information well. If you’re looking for something similar for your own site, might I recommend Tubadan Designs? (Note: that’s a site he put up this morning, knowing that I’d need a link to a space online where I could direct people.) I can’t say enough good things about him. He was willing to work with me through the whole process and offered fantastic recommendations and insights into how the final site’s design should look.

(I think one of the biggest differences with this revision was that I wasn’t the one doing it. I would always settle for “good enough,” and Dan pushed me to think beyond that and add the extra polish a site needs to look professional. At this point in my writing career, I think a little professionalism is in order.)

Anyway–there you have it. The new website! Give it a spin and tell me what you think. If you find any glitches or bugs, please let me know about those, too. There ususally are a few with something like this.



BIG CHANGES are Afoot In eBryceville

Oh yes, my friends. Big changes. What changes? Everything. My blog is changing. My website is changing. My religion . . . is staying the same. I guess not *everything* is changing.

But almost everything. Everything online, at least.

The big day is Monday. Come back to see all the lovely changes, The blog will be a new improved layout. The website will be completely re-awesome-ized. I’ve been looking at these changes as they’ve come together, and I have to say I’m pretty darned excited for them,

Can you tell?

So (assuming everything goes off without a hitch) tune in Monday to see all the cool new stuff.

Oh–and did I mention there’ll be a way for you to get your paws on some free Vodnik tattoos? Because there will be.

Nothing says “Super Bryce Fan” like a temporary tattoo . . . 

The Value of the Unbiased Observer

I’ve had a website for quite some time now. Since 2007, actually. It’s gone through several iterations and updates, but I’ve always been the person behind the curtain, tweaking what it looked like.

I’ve never really been happy with it.

The problem lies in the fact that I’ve always ended up settling for “good enough.” Since I’m not a full-time web designer, every hour I spent working on my site was an hour spent not doing something else. Not writing, usually, since my site is an extension of my writing, and I’d typically cut into the time I had budgeted for that area of my life in order to get my site up to snuff.

The natural result was that I’d work on the page until I got it to a point that was the bare minimum of what I needed it to be. At that point, I’d feel too guilty about not writing, and so I’d step away from the site and go back to what I really love doing.

The ironic thing is that I really do like to code. I enjoy getting into the guts of a web page and figuring out what’s going on and how to improve things or change things. But when you get down to it, I just have no time. But because I know I *could* do it if I needed to, I also felt bad turning to someone else for help and assistance. Why pay someone else to do something I could do myself, if I only just took the time to do it properly?

Well, when a friend decided to leave his day job to pursue his dream as a full-time musician who did web design on the side, I suddenly had a chance to involve someone else in my website. I could pay him to do it for me, and I’d be benefiting him and me. Win win! I asked him if he’d be willing to take me on as a client, and he was.

The site is still in the refining stages (so don’t bother going over there at the moment and expect to see something new), but I have to say I’m really excited to show the revisions to all of you. They’re far and away better than anything I’ve ever done. They look professional.

Because they are.

It makes a huge difference when someone is approaching a site from a professional “I’m getting paid to do this” point of view. It makes another big difference when that person has nothing at stake in the final product other than the look and design of it all. My friend has been able to study the usability of the site–figure out what’s working, what needs to be there, what needs to go. And he’s taken the time to go beyond the bare minimum–even getting it to the “good” level, and then raising it to the “great.”

Because he’s taking the time and effort to do the site the way it should be done, I’ll be able to incorporate my blog onto my website at long last. There’ll be a streamlined, easy to follow organization for finding information, books, reviews–you name it. The graphics look good.

My friend has no favorite parts of the website. No projects he feels naturally inclined to promote more than others. No pieces of the site that he’s grown attached to. It’s been awesome to be able to turn to him on matters of style choice and content decisions. Better yet, he’s not an author. This means he’s been able to look at the site from a user standpoint, critiquing other author sites we’ve found and picking and choosing what works best.

Part of me naturally compares this to the steps I’d want to go through if I started self-publishing my books. I wouldn’t want to go it alone. I’d want to hire someone else–an unbiased observer–to make sure it all looked good and worked well. It really makes a huge difference.

In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to being able to share the new site with you in the near future. Keep an eye out for it. And if any of you are looking for an excellent up and coming web designer who’s got mad WordPress and design skills, drop me a line and I’ll get you in touch with him. Better do it early–I have a feeling his slate’s going to fill up fast.

New New Webpage: WordPress at Last

As I’ve been watching my web traffic at my blog and website over the past few weeks, I noticed that my website was getting more and more visitors–more than my blog at times, which is quite the opposite from the norm. And I still wasn’t really happy with the old website. It was better than my first draft, but it lacked oomph.

However, I also didn’t really relish the idea of going back to the drawing board with Dreamweaver yet again. Coding in html can be a long and arduous process–especially when you’re trying to convert a bunch of pages from what design to the other.

At work, the university has been transitioning over to a WordPress-based web design. I’ve heard a lot about WordPress over the years, of course. Enough that I poked my head over and checked it out a time or two. But each time, I ended up deciding it wasn’t worth it to me to learn a new way of doing things. The learning curve seemed too steep.

But at the same time, WordPress lets you redesign an entire site quickly and easily–or so I’d been told. If I finally moved over to WordPress, I might be able to avoid another long conversion process in the future. And like it or not, my library site is going to go WordPress at some point. So in the end, I decided to bite the bullet and learn WordPress.


It might seem daunting at first, but it really is easier and more elegant (in my opinion) than html. That isn’t to say that if I were an html-ninja I couldn’t do more with html. No doubt I could. But a ninja I am not. (Hopefully we can still be friends, even though I’ve now publicly admitted that.) I need something easy–something I can tweak on the fly whenever I need to.

WordPress fills this need perfectly.

In the end, it only took me about two days to learn the software, find a theme I liked (Atahualpa–a theme my coworker suggested, and which I settled on because it was so versatile and easy to tweak), change the theme to my tastes, and then transition the site. (Which you can view now right here.) It’s not flashy, but it’s clean–and yes, if and when I choose to update the site again, I can change the entire site design all at once. Hooray for that.

So if you’re in the market for a new webpage (or want to make one of your own), allow me to add my admittedly-belated voice in support of WordPress. If you’re interested in making the jump, the best place for info is definitely WordPress themselves. However, I’ll say this much–actually navigating their site and using it to find information isn’t the easiest task in the world. I found their interface to search themes and plug-ins quite weak and disappointing. Enough so that I wondered if I was using it correctly. Maybe I wasn’t. Just be prepared if you make the jump to spend some time actually reading detailed information about how to do certain things. It’s an easy transition, but that doesn’t mean you can or should do it without a manual.

%d bloggers like this: