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New Site Design & MvD Featured in a Comic!

in MvD Updates, People & Products

While it may have appeared to be a slow week here on Man Vs. Debt, behind the scenes I’ve been a busy little bee.

I’ve recently unrolled several site changes, I’ve been storing up for months and months now.  We’re now 98% complete and I desperately want your feedback.

O.k. maybe not desperately.  But I would enjoy your thoughts.

I’ve received an overwhelming amount of customized attention from two people that deserve my thanks.  I’ve got to be one of the toughest, most annoying clients to work with.  Hey, at least I recognize it.  :-)

First, Corbett Barr (Free Pursuits) spent a ton of time and energy helping me hack WordPress and achieve my very specific (read: annoying) vision.  As with most things, I grossly underestimated the amount of customization I would want.  Even with everything on his plate, Corbett decided to put things on hold and go way above and beyond what we originally planned.  I owe him big time.

And once again, I owe kudos to Dustin Koester at ivylime Designs for completely flipping around his schedule to accommodate my last minute requests for graphics and alterations.  I promise to give more than 24 hours notice next time!  (maybe)…

Take a look around and let me know what you think!

I will let you know that there are a couple tweaks still left, but the far majority is ready for your input.

I don’t want to list every single minor change and the reasoning behind it, because I don’t want to skew your first impressions.  But I will give you a broad area of where you spot changes:

  • The header
  • The tagline
  • The navigation bar
  • Each part of the sidebar
  • The footer
  • Post Titles
  • Content on the homepage
  • The end of individual posts
  • Comments section
  • Standard social media icons
  • Content of About page
  • Content of Militia page
  • Minor changes to Stuff, Finances, and Products pages

Oh and I went back and re-labeled every single post with the new Topic labels.

Which updates do you notice? Which do you like most and which do you not prefer?

Man Vs. Debt Full Page Comic!

Debt BusterEarly in the week, CreditCardFinder, an Australian credit card comparison site, unveiled the launch of what they are calling Personal Finance Comics.

Basically, they are taking personal finance bloggers and turning them into ongoing comic stories.  I was featured in PF Comic #1 as DEBTBUSTER!

This isn’t half-assed either.  It’s an amazing way to creatively demonstrate their knowledge of the community.  I’m flattered.  I joked with them afterward that this was the only way they’d get me to link a credit card site.  ;-)

If your a fan of personal finance there is sure to be plenty of laughs in the coming weeks as other bloggers are featured.

Lots of content coming early next week as we prepared to move out and hit the road!  See you then.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai December 12, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Hey Baker – Can’t tell too much difference, but 2 things:

1) Not sure about the tag line. It doesn’t seem as catchy as old. 3 sentences may be 2 sentences too much?

2) The stuff on the right. Way too many colors for me to read clearly cuz I’m an old man. Also, fatten them out a little, as the sliver tabs look a little too narrow.

Other than that, all good!

Best,

Sam

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Thanks Sam!

The sidebar graphics are the 5% still left. We’ll be testing out softer colors with consistent black stripe (should make it easier) next. Also, I’m not sure all 10 will make the cut. It would be easier to read with 5 or so, too.

I’ll be testing out a couple options for that. Thanks for both tidbits!

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Jeff @ Sustainablelife blog December 12, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Baker,
I like the new design, but I agree with sam on the tag line. it seems alot less simple.
I like the essential reading and the new comments star.
Enjoy the new look
Jeff

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 1:38 PM

Really? I really enjoy the tagline, but sometimes I fall victim to tunnel vision on those sorts of things. I really appreciate the feedback. Have to look more into people’s thoughts on it. :-)

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LeanLifeCoach December 12, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Congrats on the comic, that is very cool!

As for the site, I will second FS comment regarding the color on the links in the sidebar. It’s too much, but the militia banner rocks!

One thing I think you need to change… the header. You daughter is cute, the other dude…? Honestly, your handsome too but we come to your site for the content. You are burning a lot of real estate with the island picture that is slapping us in the face… can you tell I am jealous?

The comments star is a nice change as well as the “share this post” box.

Overall, very professional! Keep up the good work, and keep making it better.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Great feedback, man.

The header is a love/hate one, haha. I get people on both sides of the fence. I personally think that it is an amazing use of real estate from a business perspective (for my model), but there is definitely room for people to differ on that one.

I’m glad you noticed the ‘share this’ box. I really like that part. Aside from the star it might be my favorite minor addition.

Thanks for the insight. I’ll appreciate it.

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Marc Wyzykowski December 12, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Today, I sat down with a cup of coffee and a blank schedule to read, from first post to last post, the Man v. Debt Archives. Much to my dismay, I couldn’t find any. So now, to distill the essence of your journey, I have to go back manually through your posts to get to page 1. So the lack of a clearly defined archives section is what is missing for me. A completed beginner’s guide would be a first start.

Other than that, the site looks simple and sleek. The tagline is fine, don’t listen to the knuckle-heads. I’ve seen taglines with far more going on in one sentence.

Good luck.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Haha, best comment ever possibly!

You are absolutely correct. I’m working on a custom archives page that shows content-based articles since day one. The “start here” guide is being updated from that list.

Thanks, Marc.

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B Kinch December 12, 2009 at 1:59 PM

I like the sidebar concept and agree that a more consistent strip with lettering will make it more readable. Might be nice to have a shorter title for it than “Most Popular All Time.” Maybe “Top Aricles,” or something similar. Overall I really like the changes. It looks clean and easy to navigate.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Yeah, I’m interested to see how the consistent stripes help with readability. Will know soon.

The jury is still out on the appropriate header title for that column. Great insight!

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renee @ FIMBY December 12, 2009 at 2:46 PM

I found you from your guest post at Zen Family Habits. I’m currently subscribed to “check you out”, no, not that way. I’m a happily married woman! What I like is your living philosophy as it’s the path we are on also. My husband is also a big adventure man, but from the outdoors perspective. So I “get” what you are trying to do. I’d like our family to have more freedom some day so I’m hoping to learn from you.

Our family’s adventure blog: http://www.adventureinprogress.com/

Having said all that what I’m going to say is coming totally from a woman’s perspective. Your site design is very masculine. Which is probably good for most of your readers and your targeted audience. I like links to most popular posts. Share this box at the bottom seems a bit large.

I like your tag line, I think it’s succint enough (a lot more compact than mine that’s for sure). I get it and I believe it. Too bad we don’t have more junk to sell. Once you’ve sold most of it, there’s not much left of value!

I really like the lack of advertising. Really like. This is one of things that make me come back.

That’s all for now. Best of luck with your new changes.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:52 PM

Yeah, I’m fully aware that the design has gender preference, hehe.

Glad you enjoy the tagline. I think junk works in phases, at least for us. We find ourselves slipping back into more ‘stuff’, before purging again. :-)

Thanks for your insights. I’ll be checking out your own adventure soon!

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Tyler Karaszewski December 12, 2009 at 2:49 PM

I still like the site better like this:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2628/4178774457_44d3736845_o.png

I had to go and redo my greasemonkey script, my old one no longer worked on the new design.
It removes everything except for the “content” area of the page, and the “menu” section with the tabs, it creates a new plain-text title, and it removes the “sharebox” from the bottom of posts.

Personally, I find it a lot more reader-friendly (which is why I’ve chosen to look at the site that way). Also, it fits in a window that’s not 900 million pixels wide without horizontal scrollbars.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:50 PM

Hehe. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of that sort of reader, too.

Truth be told though, we are in a specific subgroup of the whole internet. And if I’m reading a brand new site, I don’t mind seeing links to content, categories, or banners etc…

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Doctor Stock December 12, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Nice layout and site. 1st time here and I enjoyed the info. Cheers!

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:48 PM

Welcome, Doc!

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Patty Reiser December 12, 2009 at 3:38 PM

So far I like the design. I have to confess that I do not recall too much of the old design because I generally read the blogs that I follow with NewsFox.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:48 PM

Awesome Patty. That’s good though. As long as you aren’t freaked out by anything, small changes don’t matter. Thanks for your thoughts!

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Writers Coin December 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

I for one dig the tag line in the header. But agree about the sidebar, there’s so much going on that I just scan right past it. Knowing what some of those posts are, it undermines the value that’s behind there. Maybe if there were less or if they were consistent it would help.

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:47 PM

Definitely. Consistency is coming as a test first. Appreciate the feedback on the header. I’m a HUGE fan, but like I said… sometimes I get tunnel vision on stuff like that.

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Lakita December 12, 2009 at 10:27 PM

I agree with the majority on the majority on the tagline: Get out of Debt, Get into life spoke to a more broader audience.

I like the new sidebar icons! They grabbed my attention RIGHT away. The one potential downside I see is how easy are they to update? Unless you have someone that is doing that for you on a semi-regular basis, they may grow stale.

I noticed the CommentLuv plugin is gone….is that a conscious decision or result of new plugin. If subscribed to several blogs I may not have otherwise heard of through the comments / comment love feature.

The “notify me of followup comments” is now default….maybe that was like that before the change. I may be in the minority here, but I would rather opt in to threads I want to follow as opposed to having to remember to opt out each time.

Kudos on striving to improve the awesome MvD community!

Great job! Keep up the good work!
Kita

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Baker December 12, 2009 at 10:45 PM

Thanks Lakita!

That’s precisely why I wanted to focus the tagline. The goal is to have a new user, very clearly be able to see what this site is about (which is hard sometimes as much as I jump around). :-) However, I will explore this option more as people have chimed in.

Removing CommentLuv was on purpose. First, it clutter up the comments a ton. Second, nearly 100% of link are irrelevant to the discussion or off-topic. I’m drastically in favor of people leaving relevant links, even to their own content in their comments. Of course, everyone can link their name as well as always. Traditionally, there are a *very* tiny amount of clicks on those links as well. But again, it’s an experiment, so I love your input.

I think the ‘checkbox’ issue might be something in your browser. Maybe you recently *did* check one and it saved it in cookies or something. I double checked it with two browser and some other people. Not sure the problem, but you are right. I don’t want it to be checked by default.

As always Lakita you are awesome. Thanks for taking so much time to give input.

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Financial Samurai December 13, 2009 at 12:35 AM

Kita – I agree, I like the comment luv too. I think it helps in the comment quantity at least, but probably also the quality.

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Wojciech Kulicki December 12, 2009 at 11:23 PM

I am also in the group that digs the new tagline. I don’t mind the three sentences–I think each communicates a different point.

Also, ditto on the sidebar links–I think a little more opacity will go a long way.

Loving the full-width header, so you’ve inspired me to finally design my own as well.

One thing I noticed is the new comments “star,” but then you have a comment count on the bottom of the post as well (on the front page). Gets a little repetitive.

Also (and maybe it’s just me), but now that you have excerpts, there are so many things fighting for your visual attention on the front page. Maybe turning off the re-tweet and SU plugin on the front page would help clean it up? It’s just very hard to discern the post titles as well. Color/emphasis might help too.

Hope those minor little comments help! I love the new look.

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Baker December 13, 2009 at 3:20 AM

Wojo, thanks man!

I’ve noticed the homepage clutter as well. I like a big key will be not using the social media box on posts without a photo and to generally put the break points further down the post. A.k.a. show a bit more of the post on the homepage.

Will be testing. Thanks!

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jeff December 12, 2009 at 11:34 PM

Baker-
My favorite change is the comment star, looks outstanding.
On a general note, I’ve been subscribed to your blog for about 3 months now. I love the transparency and authenticity. Keep it up!

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Baker December 13, 2009 at 3:21 AM

Thanks, Jeff!

The comment star is my #1 favorite change, as well. It makes me smile. ;-)

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Gordie December 12, 2009 at 11:40 PM

The thing I like the most is the new Comments Star which is in the top right corner of the post. It’s pretty snazzy. Four thumbs up!

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Baker December 13, 2009 at 3:21 AM

Wait, they have 4 thumbs in China?

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Gordie December 13, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Normally only in the most polluted areas. :)

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Matt Cheuvront December 13, 2009 at 7:33 AM

Nicely done here Adam. Little changes can make a big difference. Lookin’ good!

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer December 13, 2009 at 12:21 PM

I actually like the large header. It’s visually appealing.

Yeah, the “most popular” section on the right side has too many colors.

Personally, I love CommentLuv, both on my blog and others. On my own blog, the links are almost always off topic (since we are a broad based site, rather than niche focused) but I read the vast majority anyway.

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Evolution Of Wealth December 13, 2009 at 2:35 PM

I’m a big fan of the website. Since you asked…I like the header image and the comment star is cool. I’m not a fan of the side bar Most popular section. Also I don’t know why but I feel like the site got darker. Maybe it’s just me. You have a great happy picture at the top with smiles and that as I work down the page things get darker.

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Karen December 13, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Looking good, Baker! The comment star was the first change I noticed, and my favorite as well. :)

I agree with some of the other commenters that the that the right side bar is too inconstant and distracting in the coloring (geez… why does everyone have to pick on that last 5% that needs to be done?!?)… but everything looks awesome. Very clean layout, and very accessible. I like the social media icons, and militia graphics. Well done!
:)
Karen

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Playstead December 13, 2009 at 6:58 PM

The new site design looks good. The tag-line is simple so three lines aren’t bad. All the colors on the right sidebar are distracting though. Overall it looks good.

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Foxie | CarsxGirl December 14, 2009 at 1:25 AM

All the updates make me wish I was more handy with sites myself… :( I’m so horrible with them, I hardly know what I’m doing, haha. The scariest part is facing the leap to paid hosting, YIKES. I’m frightened by the thought yet. (And yeah, I’d like to learn enough about site construction/design to do it all myself… Handy skill, even if I never use it for anything else, no?)

Comment star is awesome, it was my favorite change. I also think the backgrounds for the “essential reading” links are kinda… Odd. Just seems out of place to me, for some reason. I like the “Do what you love” bit, but how about adding a “now” to it? Just my own thought, of course, but it seems more in line with you than just saying it without. Since, ya know, we don’t all have to wait until we’re old to live adventurously. ;)

Can’t wait to see your new series coming up!

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B Kinch December 14, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Essential Reading is good!

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Bradley December 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM

nice! this redesign is head and shoulders better than before. i love the way the sidebar looks now.

the only thing i dont like now is the tagline. too long in my opinion.

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Kevin M December 14, 2009 at 3:55 PM

I like: the old tagline over the new, the current header, the star with # of comments – cool that it matches your logo, the sitemeter icon (don’t remember seeing that before)

I dislike: the essential reading links – too loud, then the “topics” right below is equally as plain

Everything else I really don’t have an opinion on either way.

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Jon January 8, 2010 at 6:44 PM

this new design seems cool

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