What I Learned about You through 4 Redesigns

to blog or not to blog

I have been blogging on Quick Sprout for around three years now, and the blog has been through four different designs. At first, I redesigned the blog to have a better aesthetic look, but then I started redesigning it based on user feedback.

Over the course of four different redesigns, I learned a few things. Here they are:


I tried placing each blog post in categories to make it easier for you to read older posts, but that didn’t work. You didn’t seem to click on categories as it takes too much work for you to get to the older blog posts.

When I removed the list of categories in my sidebar during the second design, a few people complained, but the majority of you didn’t mind.

I am guessing that the reason why categories don’t work well is because people have to work hard to find the “good” blog posts.

Most Popular widget

popular posts

In the sidebar, there is the Most Popular Posts widget. Within my current design, it is the most popular section. My theory behind this is that it allows you to see what is hot right now, what has always been popular, and what my favorite blog posts are.

This widget has been the most effective way to get you and other readers to read older blog posts.

Converting traffic

The most effective way for me to drive you to my two companies (Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics) turned out to be providing links to them in my sidebar bio. Quick Sprout is a top three referrer to both of those companies, and many of you have signed up for their services.

Top Commentors

The best thing I did during the second design was to add a Top Commentors widget. Since I added the Commentors widget, comments per blog post went up by 79%. Now, granted, I respond to each comment, which helps encourage more comments, but without the top commentor widget, there wouldn’t be as many comments on Quick Sprout as there were after the redesign.

Subscribe to Comments

During the third design, I added a subscribe to comments option, so when you posted a comment, you got notified by email when someone else commented on your comment. This really helped boost traffic and the number of comments per post.

The problem with adding this is that a good portion of the Quick Sprout readers marked those emails as spam, so they stopped going to your inbox.

In the fourth design, I removed the subscribe to comments option, and comments per blog post have gone down by roughly 26%. I am working on fixing the email spam issue, and once I do, I will be adding that feature back to the current design.

Question and Answers

A few weeks ago, I added an Answers section to Quick Sprout. Not only did it help create a stronger community, but it has been causing my pageviews per visitor to go up by roughly 17%. In addition to that, my search traffic has gone up by 9% so far. The increases are due to the fact that more pages of content have been created within the last few weeks through the Answers platform than within the last three years of my blogging.

Social media buttons

Whether it was Digg, StumbleUpon, or Delicious buttons, none of these social media icons really helped increase the blog’s traffic. Currently, the top referrer to Quick Sprout is StumbleUpon, and it always has been. Whether I added or removed social media buttons, my traffic didn’t change.

But when I removed all the icons and just added a retweet button, the number of tweets per post went up drastically.

Because of this retweet button, Twitter has become the fourth biggest traffic source for Quick Sprout.

Commenting system

There are a lot of commenting systems out there like Disqus, but with Quick Sprout, the standard WordPress threaded comments system seems to perform the best. I didn’t run Disqus for very long (roughly one week), but what I learned is that you prefer a simple commenting system compared to something with a lot of bells and whistles.

Disqus and other fancy commenting systems may work well on your blog, but they didn’t work for me.

RSS subscription options

Throughout all of the designs, I have tested multiple RSS subscription options. Whether it was providing a box where you can enter your email or linking to the RSS feed in my sidebar, I have tried it all.

The most effective way I was able to grow my RSS subscriber count was when I had an RSS subscription option in the top right corner of the blog. I had this during the first design, and since then, I haven’t been able to replicate the same subscriber growth rate.

Contact page

Once your blog starts getting a bit popular, you will start getting more emails from your readers, which is great. The bad part is, you’ll also end up with a lot of spam emails.

I addressed this problem through my contact page, where I talk about the type of emails I will and won’t respond to.

In addition to this, I removed my Gtalk, Skype, and AIM user names because having them public was reducing my productivity. I don’t mind helping you out, but it is easier for me to do so through email.


These are just a handful of things I learned through multiple redesigns of Quick Sprout. What worked for my blog may not work for you, so make sure you test things out with Google Website Optimizer before you start making design changes.

P.S. If you want help getting insights on your visitors click here.


  1. Benjamin Alijagić :

    Thanks for this! I’m currently designing my blog and this will help a lot.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Looking at some similar things for the OnStartups.com blog.

  3. Tom | Build That List :

    You have definitely learnt a lot in the whole process. I just installed Subscribe to comments and my comments have gone up a great deal!

  4. Internet Marketing Agency :

    You have one of the best Thesis designs out there. Clear, Concise, Crisp…It truly makes me want to actually take the time and read through the killer content you put out. If you haven’t noticed recently bookmarked your site and following you on Twitter.

    Not to mention regarding the design keeping it Simple one of the things most people forget.. K.I.S.S.

    • It’s the best way to move forward and see great results… by keeping it simple. Thanks for the compliments, my designers have done a good job.

  5. Great article, Neil (as always). Currently working on blog redesign but we’ll have to take a moment and reevaluate!

    Again thanks!

  6. It’s good, it’s useful (as usual), actionable and concise. Love it.

  7. How did you make “Current Hits, All Time, Neils Favorite” results tabbed ?

    Thank you for a great post !

  8. Neil, thanks for sharing this group of lesson learned, you have added a few points that I need to go away and consider.

  9. Which plugin did you use for the popularity widget? I have installed Popularity Contest by Crowd Favourite, but it appears that you are using a different widget pull from the crowd favourite data. Can you let me know what it is called.

    Really interesting post. Thanks

    • http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/popularity-contest/

      My developer modified things so it shows up the way it currently does.

  10. I’m in the middle of a blog redesign and all this information will come in handy. I already added the top commentator widget to my old design to see if it spurs on the conversation. I also recently added the retweet button to a couple of my blogs.

    Thanks for sharing what you learned on your redesigns.

    • No problem, those changes should make a huge difference with the traffic and quality of your site.

    • SEO Results :

      Hey, I’m going to go and check out your blog, and will post some comments too, so I can be one of your Top Commentators too. It definitely adds incentive to posting comments on blogs, believe you me!

  11. Great post!

    This post is much appreciated, as I’ve been launching my blog these last few days (won’t be spammy with my URL as comment “name” as I did last time…sorry). I honestly respect what you’ve done on your blog and have been reverse engineering a bit of it just to get a better understanding of why you do some of the things you do. This post is clarifying many of the questions I’ve been pondering. Well done.

    • By the way, regarding “improving the subscribe to comments feature”. Is there a plugin or workaround you know of to enable users to subscribe only to their particular comment thread (i.e. i only get notified if users / you reply to *my* comment on your post and not every single 1 of the 100’s of comments you get). I’d personally use this and have a gut feeling it would lower the spam issues a bit…

      • Hmmm, but I’m sure that wouldn’t help with participation in an entire comment thread. SEOmoz have a fantastic commenting system, and it would be a pity to not mirror their type of system in some way.

        • Luke. I think with a blog of neil’s size, it’s important to find a balance when subscribing to comments. Some of his posts get up to 100 comments in a single day. Subscribing the entire comments section on a post would fill your inbox with tons of emails, if it was 1 by 1.

          What about the following options
          (1) subscribe to comment summary (i.e. a single email at the end of the day listing all the comments). Therefore, all 100 comments in 1 spot in 1 email…not 100 emails
          (2) subscribe to hot comments (i.e. ones that are getting 2-3 replies). Again, this would likely be in a daily summary way as above i’d think

          Will check out SEOmoz right now. Don’t recall their specific system since I keep in touch with quite a few sites.

    • Good Jon… you’ll definitely see a difference in the quality of your site so keep us posted with what happens.

      • I also think that subscribing only to your comments would be a much better idea. Usually people want to see what is commented on their post.

  12. I definitetly dont see the value in categories and the blob of social media icons junking up each page. I think you feed what feeds you, in my case stumble is a huge source of traffic as well with Twitter a close second. Facebook, dont bother…for now.

    • In some situations social media icons are good calls-to-action. Particularly in trades where social media is a necessary part of the company’s marketing strategy.

      As for categories it is, once again, conditional… Categories on a site about “the web” are essential because there will be many different subject areas. Whereas, a site about website design wouldn’t need to display categories because the content would usually be about website design.

    • Well for some this type of concept works but for others it just rules out a different source. For the most part, the facebook button just hasn’t become that valuable of a button.

    • free forex demo account :

      i think you sdouln’t underestimate the visitor potential of facebook.

  13. Its really good, productive and efficient when you design your site keeping readers in mind.
    Thanks for sharing your tips and way you did to make us a clear sense.

  14. Appreciate you sharing. Interesting comments about Twitter and StumbleUpon.

    • Thanks Dandan… tracking these results and sharing them with you is what I think is one of the most valuable things I can do.

  15. Really true. I have about just 2 redesigns and playing with the numbers, I’ve seen that because of my switch to a magazine layout template, the pageviews per user has increased thus lowering the bounce rate..

    Btw, I like your answers portion. Keep it up man!

  16. Alejandro Reyes :

    Hey there Neil – quick question.

    You linked to the “Popularity Contest” plugin when talking about your tabber. Does Popularity Contest have a Tabber feature now or you created that?

    How did you get it to say “Neil’s Favorite” too?

    Lots of great stuff in this post. Thanks for sharing some of the internal stuff with your blog.

  17. Thanks for the wonderful insights. This is really helpful.

  18. Thanks for sharing this, those infos are great insights, I’ll try to apply some of those if not all.

  19. Neil, it’s good to see that there’s finally a website owner who has taken the initiative to test their site to see what works and what doesn’t. Time and time again I see webmasters who pay for a site, let it go live and just use it. The problem with this is that whilst they are getting users, they’re not looking at the analytics behind what these users are doing and trying to actively improve their site.

    Even though this type of site isn’t necessarily one that I’d usually have on my feed (it’s more dominated by SEO, website design etc), it is one that I will continue to come back to for two reasons: good, well-written subjects (with great subject matter) and a nice user interface.

    However, there’s one thing that I will say about the website. At the moment, the main navigation looks a little bare. I’m not sure if my CSS is rendered correctly but I’m seeing small, underlined plain text. It might be worth adding some extra emphasis to the navigation to see what results there are there. I appreciate that it’s your site and you know what works best for you, but as a website designer I think that may help…

    Good work.

    • I’ll look into getting the navigation modified. The goal of this design was to keep things simple so people focus on the content.

  20. Awesome post. Glad to see the meat and potato posts back on your blog.

  21. Chris Peterson :

    Thanks for sharing your reflection. Your blog is looking very good.

  22. Pete@PaydayLoner :

    Very helpful. I was just thinking of organizing my past posts in categories, but this definitely convinced me to go for the “most popular” format instead.

    • The most popular is what the people want anyway… give the people what they want and they’ll be happy. However, it’s something you should test though.

  23. Online Watch Movie :

    Hi Neil,
    What are the advantages, to you the site owner, of “Top Commentors” from SEO/conversion perspective.
    (I see one, which is possibly only a small benefit…but might be great benefit depending how highly Google rates this particular factor), but I’m sure there are others I have not considered.
    Would love to know a few.

  24. Mohammed Al-Taee, PMP :

    How can I use popular widget internally? I mean only for my purpose.

    • The popular widget will allow you to see what type of posts or subjects that are more powerful and effective than others.

  25. Z. Kelly Queijo :

    Finally, advice I can follow and at a time I need it. Thanks for posting this Neil. Amy A. has recommended you and KissMetrics to me. Now I see why.

  26. John Paul Aguiar :

    Nice to see that Top Commenters widget worked so well.. Need to install one.

    Also like the Top Posts widget with top, all time and your favs.. very nice.

  27. Thanks for the tips. As I’m looking forward to branching out and the post and the comments all help.

  28. Though not major design changes they are quite significant. I think one should keep changing to avoid boredom.

  29. Great perspective on how to keep your blog optimized for your readers. It didn’t dawn on me how much more was involved in setting up a blog. I thought, just start posting content and eventually people will find you. Being a designer/developer, I can’t believe this facet slipped my mind… thanks for the reminder and excellent insight!

  30. Gk => habtmparojects :

    Great post! I’ll be rolling several of these recommendations into my blog.

  31. Neil,

    Have you considered renaming Categories as Topics?

    It might work better.

  32. HiTechno Corner :

    Cool trick will try them all 🙂

    • Try one at a time and test your results… you don’t want to make all changes because some may or may not work. If you do all of them at once, you won’t be able to tell the effectiveness of each change.

  33. James - Employee Scheduling by Fenza :

    Hey Neil;
    This is my first comment ever, but I’ve been steadily reading your blog for quite a while now.

    I can give you a definite reason why 90% of folks don’t/didn’t use the categories to search. If they were like me; they wanted to see all the articles you wrote and went back page by page. All your articles are pretty good, so if I selected one category, I may be missing out on all the others that could be helpful (that wasn’t in the selected category).

    James F.

    • Yeah that maybe true, it was just difficult to have them all listed at once which is why I chose the “popular” route instead.

  34. I have just answered a survey about how disappointed would I be if I couldn’t read your blog anymore.

    May I ask and just confirm that your not shutting this down? I read it all the time and even have the RSS updates forwarded to my BlackBerry from my email.

    I really enjoy reading your blog posts and hope that you continue to post.

    Will Smith.

    • No, I am not shutting it down lol, it was just a survey to find out the effectiveness of quicksprout with my readers.

  35. Cool Neil,

    Sounds good I am building a moneyblog for my website right now. I am trying to make this the most professional blog I ever had and not build junk posts for SEO. I enjoy teaching people build their hobby websites and show them how they can earn some cash. My blog will be from winning money to making money online. From reading your blog, shoemoney, and johnchow I have learned a lot. I know I will gain more traffic and increase income but all in all I want to build a huge community of people.

    Some things I will have:

    Top Commenter Widget
    Most Popular Widget — I look for this one today : )

    Thanks for the great post!

    • good for you Brian, just know that the how to make money online blog market is probably one of the most saturated ones out there.

      • What would your suggestion be? I am looking to get people to start a hobby website like I did and show them that you can make money doing it.

        I dont want to just write about winning money online which is the theme of my website because I feel like I cannot share to much info about buidling a good website and what it takes. I want to Market myself as not being a big dog and but showing people how to do it.

        • That’s a tough one. Maybe walk through your example and show others how you did it? And then talk about the things you did wrong/right and what you learned?

  36. Thanks for the tips

    I like this and will apply on my blog to improve the traffic.

  37. Neil,

    Thanks for the insight — interesting how the most effective changes are those which shorten the path to content and which stroke the ego.

    Most frequent commenters is also a great way to elicit comments! 😀

    We’re actively engaged in thinking about redesign and it’s nice to have this input.


    • Yes, that’s exactly why I have it integrated here. Keeping engagement to a high is what separates Quicksprout from others.

  38. Is there an easy way to subscribe to comments via RSS rather than sending email? Couldn’t you make a 2nd feed?
    Thanks for the post!

  39. Huh, this is actually pretty insightful. Good stuff.

  40. very good insights.

    i wonder how you measured all your changes. what did you use.

    I did think about using disqus, but it was to unflexible and seems a bit slow. keep it simple 😉

    what really suprised me, that the media buttons “don’t work”

    • I used Crazy Egg, Google Analytics, Google Website Optimizer and KISSmetrics.

      In addition to that, I also manually tracked some of the internal WordPress metrics.

    • I don’t like Disqus neither. It is much more complicated and annoying using it. I prefer free commenting because it’s much more natural.

      • There are just too many bells and whistles on it that distracts the users from writing a simple comment.

  41. Vacaville Chiropractor :

    Wow! Thank you for this very specific and valuable information. I am just building my website and blog now and I will definitely use your experience… very useful!


    • Perfect bud…. like I mentioned to some of the other readers, apply these tactics to your blog or website 1 at a time.

  42. Thanks..
    This is a very helpful information i have from your post and other posts that are here…may be help me a lot in my Blogging field. thanks again..Keep up sharing..

  43. I really like the idea of removing all the “share this” buttons and focusing on twitter. But I’m reluctant to do it because some of my articles got StumbledUpon once and it was a good boost of traffic. I’m afraid if I remove StumbleUpon, I won’t have that.

    Currently, I use Sexy Bookmarks plugin for WordPress, which allows you to choose which buttons you want to display on your post. I only have three: Digg, StumbleUpon, and Twitter.

  44. I have been planning since a long time to design a website for my upcoming business and your experience have really impressed me a lot and m planning to design based on your inputs through this post.

  45. This is very, very helpful info Neil. Thank you very much. This is the same though process I have had, but you are way ahead of me on testing. Thank you!

    • Thanks bud, testing out what works and what doesn’t is what I do on a consistent basis. It’s exactly how I helped some of the biggest blogs get where they are today. I suggest you not take this info lightly and incorporate it with what you do.

  46. Thanks, Neil. Those are very helpful. At times I get so focused (as a freelance web designer/developer) on the launch and getting everything perfect for that. But, there’s so much you can learn and improve by investing time reviewing analytics and retooling. Thanks!

    • What’s important to know Michael is that these changes are constant… there will not be a time where you just stop with changes such as these. On an ongoing basis is how you’ll get your site to accelerate further than others.

  47. “To blog or not to blog” ))

    To blog!

  48. Muscle Building Programs :

    Great article. Clean and crisp is the way to go. I really hate designs that clutter the whole page as if they have tons of content to burn. LOL!

  49. pays to live green :

    I have incorporated many of these into my blog. All work extremely well and have done a great job in bringing traffic and keeping traffic to my blog. I am in the process of developing a few other sites, so hopefully they will help bring more traffic to my blog and vice versa.

    • Good for you, see what happens over the next couple of weeks and let me know what happens with traffic.

    • I am sure that incorporating these ideas worked for you because those ideas came from somebody that owns a well known blog and managed to improve it over time. How would you felt about adopting these ideas if they came from somebody who doesn’t even have a blog?

  50. Alastair Humphreys :

    This is really useful. Thank you. I will use quite a bit of your advice on my own site. The only one I am not convinced about is the value of featuring the Top Commenters.
    Perhaps I should try it for myself first though and see if there is any effect…

    • You should as it creates a lot of interest with people who are looking for backlinks to their own blog.

  51. Thanks for sharing this info. Very valuable in knowing what works and what doesn’t with redesigns. Also, we really enjoyed your talk at FOWA last week. Cheers

  52. David Siteman Garland :

    A great analytical approach to website updates.

    We just created a most popular widget which we are currently testing.

    One key point you made is touch points. How do you want people to contact you? Giving people too many sometimes causes confusion. Just right and it works out.

    Sort of like the 3 bears.

  53. Fuchsia McInerney :

    Great post. We just finished a redesign on our blog and are using your tips as we’re putting on the finishing touches.

  54. Sandy Cormack :

    I notice that you have a small optin at the top of the sidebar. Is this format conductive to optins? I would have thought ‘no’ since there is so much other stuff going on.

  55. Thank you for leading us through your blog’s evolution, Neil. I like the minimalistic design myself, it rocks! Hats off to your efforts from a fellow South African. You’re doing us all proud!

  56. Jerry Okorie :

    Excellent piece, Is there an easy way to subscribe to comments via RSS rather than sending email? I enjoyed reading.
    Thanks for the post!

  57. I really like the tabbed sidebar widget. Unfortunately Neil can’t tell us what plugin is used. Fortunately there’s Google 😉

    Came across this page explaining how to create a tabbed widget:

  58. Great piece and I think that all these changes have truly led the success of this blog.

    • They certainly have, I tracked each strategy. When you begin to apply it with your site, do it 1 by 1.

      • Should we try and come with entirely new strategy of our own or follow what other great bloggers are doing or you are doing?

        • Either way works… whatever you find to be most comfortable and effective for you is what you should move forward with.

  59. I think this is a perfect sample of on page optimization. But try to consider that many widget tend to slow down your site. When that happen Google will penalize your site

  60. I love the top commentors “widget”. It sounds logical that it helps people to be more motivated. I’ll be implementing it on my site.

    I wonder how much position of any stuff from the top of the page affects anything. For example – how much difference it would make if top commentors where on top of the sidebar versus on the bottom of the sidebar?

  61. Matthew Czarnek :

    It is a shame that the subscribe to comments thing is down. Have you tried including a checkbox so that people have to choose to have updates to their comments e-mailed to them? Maybe you could limit how often you e-mail us and condense multiple replies into one?

    Anyway I’ll be interested to see how you fix it, it’s a nice feature, especially when you directly reply to so many of the comments.

    • There was a check box there originally but too many people were spamming the emails because there were too many.

  62. Good tips I think your most successful thing was adding the top commentors widget 🙂 I’m using this on my personal blog combined with a dofollow comments after when you have written 3 approved comments 🙂 It is really working, now I have readers and commentors 🙂

  63. Thanks for sharing this. I’m currently redesigning a blog of mine based on your post here. It really does save me a lot of time. I don’t have to experiment some of things mentioned here a you have already experimented with it. 🙂 Looks like Top Commentors plugin is a must have if I want an increase in traffic.

    • That’s perfect timing then! Now you can save the hassle of doing all that research. Yes that plugin is definitely a smart move on your part.

  64. Finally Neil. Someone else who believes that adding millions of share this post buttons does not increase traffic.

    I must say also that I am a follower of a few blogs and you are the only one who responds to comments.

    I started doing it on my blog because you gave me the idea.

    • Yeah, it’s just something that makes people feel like they’re doing something that works… but it’s truly useless.

  65. Email Delivery :

    Hi, I’m planning to use that top commentator plugin to my wordpress blog. I’m wondering if it can help increase my conversion rate. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  66. I would really like to see the “subscribe to comments” option because it’s much easier to follow your comments. Btw: what are you using against spam?

  67. Senior Living :

    “Experience is the best teacher”, you’ve learned a lot for your past designs and still improving it. That was very nice. :-). I have learned also some information from this blog. I like the top commentator widget. I maybe adding it soon on my website. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

    • Yes it’s a very good tool to have to elicit more conversation on your site. Learn from both your experiences and the people you admire.

  68. When constructing lead generation sites, you genuinely need to make the lead capture form as visible as possible. Make it stand out and make sure your internet site visitants know to fill it out. Use call to action�s to get them to submit the form.

    • Call to action is VERY important yet people tend to over-analyze it. Keep it simple and straight forward and you’ll find yourself with a higher conversation rate.

  69. ML Web Consulting :

    This is really helpful. Great study, thanks for sharing. Will definitely be adding a few of these widgets.

  70. Deyson Ortiz :

    Who is your web designer and web developer?

    They are doing a great job as well.

  71. Tom | What's Your Story :

    Thanks so much for putting this post together. The timing could not have been more perfect for me as I’m starting a new blog and its good to learn from someone who has been through 4 revisions!

    I added popular posts, top commenters, and a detailed contact page based on your suggestions as I would like to grow up to be just like you :). BTW, I did try out disquis and intense debate…they do seem overkill for a comments system.

    Thanks again!

  72. Cheap Hotel Singapore :

    Very interesting post. You really have the best ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Email Delivery :

    Yeah I agree Ortiz the design of your blog is really cool and nice in my eyes.

  74. So sir wath is the bottomline when changing themes…. what is the top idea when you are doing this….? thanks

  75. Neil, I just read your interview on Andrew Dumont’s and it inspired me to see what you were writing about. I really like your transparency in this post. You candid deliver is extremely helpful. I am always looking for ways to modify and improve websites & blogs, and there is no better way than reviewing factual evidence.

    I just wanted to thank you for writing another great (not good) post!

  76. I definitetly dont see the value in categories and the blob of social media icons junking up each page. I think you feed what feeds you, in my case stumble is a huge source of traffic as well with Twitter a close second. Facebook, dont bother…for now.

    • The blob of social media icons just never made sense… especially since most people end up clicking nothing at all.

  77. no love for a general social media all in one button like AddThis?

    • Having the twitter button is a lot more effective… more people will click the twitter button then then they would the add this one.

  78. Can you tell me if you are using a widget I can find for your Answers section?

    • its actually a website called getsponge.com…. sign up for their newsletter to be updated with when they release their product.

  79. Jet AIrways India :

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for this post as it is going to be really helpful for me while redesigning my blog. It seems a lot of work to check out what works really. But I don’t see any resemblance in the image you have used with the post topic. Plz. don’t take it otherwise. May be I am missing something.

    • It’s work, no doubt. In fact it took me months and months to find what works most effectively for my readers.

  80. Web Design Orlanda :

    I think this is great simple advice form someone that works with two companies to analyze UI interaction from the public.

    • Thanks, it was all through experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. I figured this out simply by doing surveys and general feedback.

  81. Thanks for sharing that techtips, I’ll check it out.

  82. These are very useful insights Neil for anyone involved in online marketing.. one thing that I have learned during my stint in the domain is that simplicity rules. People never get into the details of your site unless they know in first 5 seconds that the site contains what they are looking for. If they have an iota of doubt, they would leave.

  83. Ballet Moves :

    There are just so many ways to optimize blogs these days that it can be overwhelming at first.

    It’s great to get the guidance of somebody who’s been there, and literally tested a few different layouts. Consider this blog the new benchmark, my friend :).

    Thanks for the guidance.

  84. Primaloft Comforters :

    Your blog design layout is just as important as any type of content you put on your blog. There are ways to make your blog design more attractive to your readers.

    • Web Design LA :

      I agree with you. But you should also keep some other attractive elements by which your visitors stick to your blog and come on it again and again. Link this blog.

  85. Scott@ Forex Robot :

    Testing out different designs is essential to optimizing your blog. It’s great to see that it’s working out for you.

  86. Mark Stevens :

    I’m all over that “Top Commentors” widget… definitely worth a try!

  87. link building services :

    Yes, the top commentators plugin is very good. But will I not get visitors that are only interested in links and not my blog posts?

    • You will, but building links will allow you to ultimately get more visitors… your big picture goal.

  88. Washable Dog Beds :

    I love the top commentators widget 🙂 I wish every blog would use it. It really encourages people to comment more.

  89. Nick stewart uses the blog comment method, he is getting huge traffic almost 200 rss feed subs not bad huh.

    • It definitely makes a huge difference when you change and alter what you have when you fit it for your audience.

  90. simplicity rules. People never get into the details of your site unless they know in first 5 seconds that the site contains what they are looking for. If they have an iota of doubt, they would leave.

  91. cleartrip.com flights :

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks for this amazing post it will be really helpful for me while redesigning my blog. It seems a lot of work to check out what works really.

  92. kyra@forex cfd :

    Thanks for this information here. You’re right about top commentator, it is such of great help for me. It will help drive traffic for a certain blogs. This designing tips will be useful enough.

  93. SEO Results :

    What really strikes me bout your blog is the sheer simplicity, and near total lack of annoying adverts. KISS is an old and proven marketing tactic, and it is beautifully executed in this blog. Sleek and without frills suits my style.

    • The idea of kiss has always been amazing to me… there aren’t any adverts simply because it’s not the model of my site.

      • sell textbooks :

        It is a very effective way to go about things. when you over think things they can just get to be to much for the average consumer to handle. The other motto I like a lot is Work Smart Not Hard!

        • Work smarter, not harder. I think a combination of the two will really take you too your limits and beyond.

  94. SEO Results :

    Wise words indeed, Neil. You sound a bit like Buzz Lightyear and his “To Infinity and Beyond” battlecry, but here’s to going to our limits, and beyond. Tah dah Daaaah!

  95. Ali-Buy Toshiba Laptops :

    Yes in my opinion too, wordpress default commenting system is great as compared to others(at least for me). And Neil u provided a pic under “Most popular widget”, which service r u using for this kind of stats (which show no of clicks and something more) CrazzyEgg or KISSmetrics?

  96. Super Clusters :

    Hi Neil
    You have most use full information’s on your website/ blog. I would like to see more posts for Indian Travel information’s on your website. we are also trying to provide the best hotels and flights deals through our websites and blogs.

  97. ProbusinessGuy :

    I usualy try to find a good adsense template, and most of the time it works. I know it sounds like im trying to just make money. But thats all im doing lol. See you in vegas.

  98. I think you feed what feeds you, in my case stumble is a huge source of traffic as well with Twitter a close second

  99. Houston Web Designer :


    I agree with the approach you took and feel this is one of the correct paths to move forward towards. We do mostly the same for our clients and for our selves.

    It’s good that you post the way you did these things as it can be a good starting point for some beginners.

    I am not sure how you take out time to write this all, but its greatly appreciated !

  100. Winston Muller :

    Thanks so much for the tips Neil! As someone who is just getting my blog up and running, its great to read some decent, practical steps you’ve taken to make things work.

    Also love the way you’ve kept your blog simple! Unlike another prominent blogger I used to follow, his just got so cluttered and busy I eventually stopped following altogether.

  101. I actually like your commenting system Neil. Using basic WP comment system is more intuitive and much easier probably 🙂

  102. Email Marketing City.com :

    Did you base your current design on the Thesis template with a whole bunch of modifications?

  103. Web Design LA :

    I think the things explained here are really necessary if you want your blog to be commented frequently. For e.g. top commentators. This is an important factor.

  104. Nice work you have here.. But if you try to add to much widget, it will turn you site slow and I guess it will affect from google I guess.
    But thank you for the post. Have a nice day.

  105. Everyday What :

    Base on my experience this stuff is really what people who is looking for sites that is for the link building. And now, this site is almost the best site to build a better link building when it is comes for the Web designers. I guess that you better to treasure what is that you were build for your past 3 years, because of that, we wont gonna know it this will be still this. If this were be going to make down your site in just a couple of months this all will gone. I really don’t know what exactly to say for this, but I suggest that to much widget will going to slow down your site…

  106. Trust Download Team :

    Neil, I like your idea of most popular post widget and top commentors. I am a beginner and your article is a good piece of info buddy, thanks for sharing.

  107. çizgi film İzle :

    An incredible resource anybody looking at link-building. I was completely unaware of the quizes tip: it’s totally awesome, and a great way to get some viral link-juice.

    Thanks for the list.

  108. Web Design LA :

    Good source and understanding of link building systems.

  109. Plus your Thesis design is amazing.. I love coming to your site, staying on it, and catching up on your posts. During the week it is sometimes hard to read them but I retweet most almost as a bookmark and your headlines are so great. Glad I found this post too because I was wondering if the top commentors was a WordPress plugin and this answered my question.

  110. Robb Bailey :

    Simple commenting and subscribe to comments are going on my blog. Love the simplicity and clarity of your design. Obviously it’s very intuitive to comment, subscribe, revisit, all of those things. Amazing how much of that I was missing before reading these points! Well done, Neil.


  111. Love the simplicity and clarity of your design. Obviously it’s very intuitive to comment, subscribe, revisit,

  112. This is super interesting to read about how visitors interaction with in a blog/website can be based on the layout of a site. Most of us would think to just leave everything the way it is, but tweaking the smallest things can sometimes make the biggest difference. By the way, the top commentor plugin is a worthy plugin to have!

    • You’d be surprised at what you’ll learn from your visitors by asking them questions. Use http://kissinsights.com to get an idea for yourself.

  113. Web Design LA :

    I think now other good plugins are available for making it more attractive.

  114. The Popularity Contest widget does not add the exact thing which you got on your blog. If it does can you tell me how do I make it look like yours.

  115. How To Increase Sales :

    Thanks the Google Web Page Optimizer, I have a new toy 🙂

  116. Best Ski Resorts :

    I think it is important to be maintained. We often work on issues such as websites, and not think about why we do it. Good point you make, which aims to preserve the beautiful though this could be a sort of meaning, but to increase sales. I think this is a problem of "organizations". Each person has their own idea about what is important. view of the programmer, is fast. view of the designer, it looks good. HTML coders might think that we should try the same in different browsers. But really no one who has necessarily. These things are only important if they help your site to increase sales.

    • It’s something you should absolutely spend your time learning.. always good to know and will save you money in the long run.

  117. Very true Neil, we just update design because we dont like it . But we also need to think new design should add value for visitors. A lesson learnt 🙂

  118. how do you manage.. Giving people too many sometimes causes confusion. Just right and it works out.

  119. Model Trains for Beginners :

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  120. caillou izlesene :

    How can I use popular widget internally? I mean only for my purpose. :S

  121. I like this and will apply on my blog to improve the traffic. ;))

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  123. Neil you got sooooo many comments 🙁 I have to scroll hard down to comment its not funny….!

  124. i think while redesigning my blog, i learned some on-page factors, which i don’t know earlier.

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  127. Hello! I love your blog. Keep up the good work!

  128. My blog has opened so many doors for me and has helped me land quite a few jobs. By being immersed in writing and showing initiative, having a blog has been a great platform and portfolio. And I would recommend to anyone looking to start or build a portfolio to have a blog.

  129. Even sometimes I get fed up with the comment replies I get from Quicksprout. My suggestion is to implement something like notification to the replies to our comments alone and not the whole post in general

  130. Erik Stafford :


  131. Hi Neil ,

    Thanks for sharing wonderful post , I find your website and blogs are very useful, resource and informative. keep doing good work and thanks again.

  132. Thanks Neil! as always amazing post!! I have recently made my blog, but it is a blogger account… I liked the Top commentators section on your blog… I wish to put the same on mine but I am still searching for the right plugin in Blogger only if I can put it up!!!

  133. Doskonalenie Zawodowe :

    Wow,thanks Neil.
    You gave me an inspiration to do my blog better.
    I must start learn from my visitors by asking them a questions.. ( like you said) So simple 🙂

  134. I hope you let in this comment… Anyhow, I really didnt like your point of view too much.

  135. Interesting! Great that you shared all your views. Google Optimizer although experimental at this stage is worth a try. Thanks for sharing this!

  136. hey neil,
    this post was nice to read. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. it’s a helpful post.


  137. Great perspective on how to keep your blog optimized for your readers. It didn’t dawn on me how much more was involved in setting up a blog. I thought, just start posting content and eventually people will find you.

  138. I need your help… you are awesome man, thanks for sharing this 🙂

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