The New SocialMouths Design And The Reasons For It

SocialMouths New Blog Design So it’s pretty obvious that last week we made some drastic changes to the way SocialMouths looks but we wanted to go over these changes and what they mean to us and to you as a reader or client.

These are not just changes on the front-end, stuff happened in the back as well as it is happening as a business, something we’ll address and share with you in a few days. For now let’s see what happened on the design and technical side…

It will be awesome if you have a couple of minutes to share your thoughts about it in the comments section. We have no problem with getting either positive or negative feedback so feel free to shoot!

You probably already forgot how it looked a couple of weeks ago so here is the “Before” shot. One thing that we wanted to respect was all the feedback we got in the past about our minimalist layout, pretty clean over white background, I hope we did.

Before…

SocialMouths.com Before screenshot

And here are the changes we did…

No More Themes

We are no longer using themes. Even though I still love Thesis and will continue to recommend it, we wanted to have complete freedom to do whatever we want and not be attach to anything else in terms of structure. Our site is now custom built from the ground up.

Less Plugins

Less plugins on SocialMouths.com

We were able to replace the use of some plugins for pure code. Running too many plugins can really slow down your blog so we wanted to run only the essential. The only thing we had to add is All-in-one SEO to replace the SEO features Thesis used to provide for us.

On the other hand we built elements on the site with just code. Want examples? the “Related Posts” at the bottom of this page is no longer provided by LinkWithin and we replaced the ShareThis system with our own custom sharing options. The reason to do this is that these type of plugins take too long making connections that you really don’t need.

ShareThis was the one element on our site that use to take the longest time to load. You can use a tool like Firebug to measure your site’s loading times and decide if some of these tools are worth running on your site. Just to be clear, not that the Tweetmeme button is fast… we just made the decision it is worth keeping.

Less Ads

I used to run 3 ads on our site, now I’m only running one that helps me pay my mortgage (yeah right…). I thought it would be more important to provide with that minimalist touch, just clean up the clutter for a more satisfying read. I’m cool like that.

Lighter Than Ever

One of my main concerns was that because of the use of multiple images in almost every post I publish and the use of tools like the ones I mentioned before, the site was getting too slow, there was a point when our loading time was almost hitting 20 seconds but with all these changes we were able to get it down to an average 6 to 7 seconds.

What Else?

Some changes going on, on the business side but we’ll wait a few days to talk about it. Also, a big thank you all for sticking with us while some of the changes were happening, maybe even some slower loading times or stuff out of place a couple of times… so thanks!

Now It’s Your Turn…

As I said before, if you can take a couple of minutes to share your thoughts in the comment section, that will be awesome!

Thank you!

  • I can't provide my opinion on the before and after changes since I just recently found your blog. However, the reasons you listed are great reasons for a makeover and very subtle for visitors except for performance. I will say that I definitely enjoy the information you are providing Francisco. Keep up the good work.

  • I strongly suggest you use W3 Total Cache. you should be able to get down to even less than 6 seconds. I'm down to about 4 seconds on my blog now (feel free to visit the URL by clicking my name of course) although I also make use of a CDN.

    Because you use so many images I bet a CDN would help you out a bunch.

  • Love it – it's clean and easy to read – not cluttered and has all the necessary buttons. You even got an ad in there, go figure! It suits what you are up to. And as another comment indicates – it's the message and info you deliver that keeps us coming back. I'm way overdue for my website makeover. …..

  • Well done , I was definitely a fan of the minimalist layout so pleased you have retained that concept. I am a fan of colour, so like to see the green, it can be a positive colour but not sure I am finding it as easy to read as some parts of the blog? Hey ho I'll get my eyes tested before making any more comments there! I appreciate the images too, so thanks for working on the speed without losing the images – they do make for a more enjoyable reading experience. Shame about the ads – mortgages need to be paid! 🙂 and I don't remember finding them an intrusion. Business is business.

  • I strongly suggest you use W3 Total Cache. you should be able to get down to even less than 6 seconds. I'm down to about 4 seconds on my blog now (feel free to visit the URL by clicking my name of course) although I also make use of a CDN.

    Because you use so many images I bet a CDN would help you out a bunch.

  • Love it – it's clean and easy to read – not cluttered and has all the necessary buttons. You even got an ad in there, go figure! It suits what you are up to. And as another comment indicates – it's the message and info you deliver that keeps us coming back. I'm way overdue for my website makeover. …..

  • Well done , I was definitely a fan of the minimalist layout so pleased you have retained that concept. I am a fan of colour, so like to see the green, it can be a positive colour but not sure I am finding it as easy to read as some parts of the blog? Hey ho I'll get my eyes tested before making any more comments there! I appreciate the images too, so thanks for working on the speed without losing the images – they do make for a more enjoyable reading experience. Shame about the ads – mortgages need to be paid! 🙂 and I don't remember finding them an intrusion. Business is business.

  • Thanks for the advice Chris, we'll definitely look into it. Just followed you on Twitter btw…

  • Thanks for the kind words Kathy, it means a lot coming from you.

    AND yes… that makeover is taking a while!

  • Thank you Tania, the color was actually a big debate, I think it was too black/white before but will pay attention to that.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Thank you Gregory. BTW, I think there is something wrong with your Twitter link at the bottom of your site, may want to check it out.

    Have a great weekend.

  • Nice design, definite improvement from the previous design.

    Only one suggestion, improve the FONTS. As you may know 80% of web-design is typography.

  • Hey SK,

    Thanks for your feedback. I have noticed that Georgia really doesn't look good on a PC, what do you suggest, Arial?

  • Thanks for the find and I definitely appreciate the feed back. Just goes to show that even the simplest things can get fat fingered.

  • Hey SK,

    Thanks for your feedback. I have noticed that Georgia really doesn't look good on a PC, what do you suggest, Arial?

  • Thanks for the find and I definitely appreciate the feed back. Just goes to show that even the simplest things can get fat fingered.

  • So, how many plugins do you currently use?

  • Akismet, All-in-one, Disqus, Quantcast, Tweetmeme and WP Popular posts. WPTouch is getting axed as soon as we launch the mobile version.

  • Yeah, WPTouch doesn't always seem to deliver the mobile theme when I visit my site on my iPhone. That is one of the problems I've been having with it.

  • Same here Tony. I love it, it's a great way if you don't have the resources for a mobile version of your blog but let's not forget it's a free plugin…

  • Georgia is good for print. But for web Helvatica or Arial still are the best choices.

    I would recommend using Helvatica with a font replacement script for the titles. Delicious is my current favorite for titles.

  • Georgia is good for print. But for web Helvatica or Arial still are the best choices.

    I would recommend using Helvatica with a font replacement script for the titles. Delicious is my current favorite for titles.

  • I will say that I like your previous header before, but maybe not taking up the whole page width.

  • martinrayvaughan

    Well, it would be awesome if you shared your code!! 🙂 ok, ok, maybe not, but what about just for the “Share this Post”?

  • =D

    That's gonna cost my dear Martin! Good to see you here man, thanks for stopping by

  • Hey Derek, your blog looks awesome man. Gotta ask you, what kind of camera are you using for the [vimeo] video on the sidebar? You did a great job overall dude!

  • martinrayvaughan

    I come to Socialmouths at least once a week! You'll notice I've wandered away from looking too much like your site (before your make over) and a little more into my own, but now I'm realizing my site is looking like your Wife's!! I should just send you all a check and get it over with:)

  • martinrayvaughan

    I come to Socialmouths at least once a week! You'll notice I've wandered away from looking too much like your site (before your make over) and a little more into my own, but now I'm realizing my site is looking like your Wife's!! I should just send you all a check and get it over with:)

  • Hate to be the grammar police, but “less” is appropriate for incalculable quantities (less love, less strife) and “fewer” is appropriate for numerical quantities (fewer plugins, fewer comments, fewer posts).

  • Francisco, your site is so fast now, that I didn’t even see it move! LOL!! It’s super awesome, and your group did a great job. I’m loving the green paint in the image too, reminds me of spring cleaning. Cheers!

  • It will be awesome if you have a couple of minutes to share your
    thoughts about it in the comments section. We have no problem with
    getting either positive or negative feedback so feel free to shoot!
     

  • Suzettes

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