Finally got my new landing page off the ground! =)

I’m starting to get the hang of using Web analytics to look at how people are moving through the site. I’ll go through the numbers in detail, but if you’re in a rush and you just want to check the potential landing page out, I’d love your feedback.

The numbers: Both sachachua.com and livinganawesomelife.com redirect to the front page of this blog, which contains links to all the other pieces. Last month, 1015 people visited this page. About 50% of those people were new to my site. This represents about 7% of the total new visits to the site (I get lots of people coming in through search engines), but that’s still 500 or so people who might be confused by the range of things I write about. Of all the visitors to the front page (including people who’ve been here before), about 166 people followed the “About” link from the home page. Others clicked through the categories I feature along the top.

I’d like to get your feedback on the new site landing page first, before I make it the default. I’m also curious about A/B testing, so if I can figure out how to do that consistently (so that once you’re either A or B you don’t switch unless you want to), that’ll be something cool to learn. =)

Anyway, here’s the potential landing page. It’s Drupal-based, mostly done with unmodified  third-party modules. ;) I’d love your feedback. You’ll also notice that it’s starting to accumulate my reading history. I wrote a Perl script to grab the data from the Toronto Public Library, and it still needs some tweaking to make it more useful. I’ve already started using it to keep track of my notes, but those are private for now. =)

Whee!

  • dfc
  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    <laugh> I hope I haven’t given people the wrong impression about IBM. Me, I’m _thrilled_ I get to work with open source (instead of the “Don’t touch that, you’ll get tainted!” mentality in some other companies), talk about open source, teach other people about open source, and even sometimes share nifty things I’ve come up with. I’m really happy that IBM’s okay with me “giving away” the lessons that I’ve learned. Another company might frown on my blogging entirely.

    The part that I’ve been dancing around is when the code I write is directly related to a client, instead of stuff I came up with just because. I haven’t figured out all the ins and outs yet. I’d certainly like wider contributions to community, but on the other hand, I’m glad that the GPL doesn’t compel that–if it did, we’d probably not be able to use GPLed software for building stuff for clients.

    And I really like how IBM open-sources a lot of strategic stuff, like the official support it shows Linux. That makes me happy.

    So no hate on IBM, mmkay? It’s not that bad. It’s actually pretty darn cool. =)

    (personal opinion, not opinion of employer)

    But getting back to the landing page… what do folks think?

  • Frank D.

    Hi,
    I like the slide show addition. It didn’t feel all that different from the old layout, but then again keeping it less flashy than a lot of the other sites is a good thing. The new page is missing a Search field and button though. Hopefully you can add that back in so I can search for you Emacs goodies.
    While I’m on the topic: have you ever tried to integrate Emacs org mode with an Exchange server calendar? is it even possible? I like Org mode, I don’t like Entourage (Mac-Outlook spinoff). Any pointers would be appreciated.
    Take care,
    Frank

  • http://georgemanlangit.com George Manlangit

    Sacha,

    I think your wp page looks more ‘appealing’. I know it’s your blog but you can have a home page design that will have a feature page of an article you write and sub topics on the bottom.

    I’m a wp fan so I’m partial to wp. Maybe you should take a look at Brian Gardner’s Revolution theme, the ‘Agent’ theme might work out for you. Create some pix of your sketches and have it scroll on the feature gallery. Then have feature post on the mid content section. Otherwise, Mimbo3 by darren hoyt might also be appropriate. A magazine format seems more appropriate for your style.

    It seems to me that you’re looking to get your main page more organized than a blog format. This will get more structure to your site. I think you should put your categories on the sidebar.

    Just my opinion!

  • http://mostrey Wim Mostrey

    Hi Sacha,

    First of all I love your slidecast! I feel like there’s too much information on the new landing page. For instance you have duplicate navigation links. On top you have a link to “about” and “blog” and on the second column you have a link to “more about me” and “check out my blog”. I also feels you’re trying to put too much information which tends to overlap: so you have the two blog menu links and then there’s also “recent blog posts” and “random blog posts”. Then you have the “blog topics” tags and the “what I’m reading” is another tag cloud. And then there’s all the “about” information. You have the duplicate links, the actual about page, the information on the front page and the slidecast.

    Here are the content blocks that I would keep: On the left I would remove the about information and just keep the recent blog posts and recent books. On the right I would have just one column with your slidecast and the upcoming events. That’s it. The links to your linkedin and twitter profile could go in your separate about page, along with the information you currently have on the “Welcome” section. This would mean that your frontpage would fit in one screen for most people.

    Aaron Winborn made a great topic about minimalist drupal themes on which I replied with my thoughts on the subject, you might want to check it out.

    By the way, a while back IBM did a great series of articles on implementing open source solutions and specifically using Drupal to do so: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/ibm/osource/implement.html. Those articles made it to the Drupal Planet and received a lot of praise from the community.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Thanks for the great feedback! =D

    I’ve been looking at magazine-style themes for WordPress. Moving the featured category links into the sidebar and maybe featuring some blocks of headlines on the left side (for a vertical-scroll-y home page) sounds like a great idea. I’ll remove the About text and leave the slideshow (it’s fun!).

    I thought I’d duplicate the About me link near the slideshow because people might want to learn more than what’s included in that rhyming-verse-for-fun introduction, and it’s a bit far (visually) from the navbar. But I can get rid of it if the “about” link in the navbar is where people expect it to be.

    Speaking of sidebars – what do you folks think about the two-sidebar thing on the right of this blog? Should I go to one sidebar, or use two? What would you like to see above the fold?

  • http://angelo.panares.org Angelo Panares

    Go for it Sacha, The new landing page looks good to me, gives your picture and your advocacy more prominence :)

  • http://georgemanlangit.com George Manlangit

    what do you folks think about the two-sidebar thing on the right of this blog? Should I go to one sidebar, or use two? What would you like to see above the fold?

    For your blog, it does not really matter because you don’t monetize your site. WP themes have evolved quite a bit now from the usual 2 column blog format.

    You need to decide how you want to layout your home page. From what I see on the new layout that you designed, you’re into several ‘niches’ but predominantly on the technical side. You discuss Social Networking but on a higher level than most people out there do. More of the technical side of Web 2.0.

    However, there’s the lighter side of you that is reflective of how and what you think about.

    Having said that, scan through a magazine that you read and like. Look at the layout. More or less, you’ll get an idea on how to structure your ideas, strategy notes, etc.

    Step back a little bit. Judging from your slideshare, you’ve got Drupal, Emacs, Web2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Just-Being-Sacha, Gen-Y and your book-case. Categorize this on your sidebar, then subcat further.

    Above the fold, I would create a feature slide like what Brian Gardner did on Revolution. Those slides are post that you could define on WP admin. So create a highlight post for those categories and line them up for the slide. That takes care of a lot of what you want to highlight for the week or month. You’ll probably end up with a little room for some featured post on the middle that will appear above the fold on most monitors.

    Then on the sidebar you could have a 300 x 250 slide. Then add your recent post/comments. Then split it up with two columns below. You could then put your web 2.0 links – twitter, fb, etc.

    Then create a review of book that you read and got inspired about. Get an affiliate account on Amazon and create an affiliate link for the book. I know it’s probably not your style, but look at it this way, there will be someone who would ‘copy’ your review. Your readers would more than happy to get the book base on your review. It’ll take care of the hosting fees etc.

    Blessings to your endeavor. BTW, I’m Chua too, but I don’t use it as a last name.

  • http://www.dontai.com Don Tai

    I have reviewed both your new landing page and have been reading your blog for a short while.

    The most interesting and revealing link on your landing page is your slideshare work. While the content is interesting, your selected target audience even more telling. I believe these slides are pitched to rank Web 2.0 newbies, who could be of all ages. In your role as ambassadress of Web 2.0, I suggest you have a nice, soft, cushy lounge chair for people just trying to grasp this “Internet” thing, and this “Web 2.0″ thing. Your landing page goes a long way to letting them know who you are and your mandate, but further simplification seems required. Newbies need a soft, simple and comfortable landing, or they’ll give up and go home.

    Your site can seem intimidating to the rank newby. It’s not site layout, but language. You have too many words that a rank newby simply will not understand, and this can scare people away. What is good for a web savvy Gen y is not good for an oldster manager type.

    Suggestions:
    -photo is very nice
    -left column explanation of your ambassadress objective is great.
    -recent blog posts: great. Once they click any of these they’ll link over to your blog. They can then, if they know what a tag is, get articles by your tag categorizations. You could remove your tag categories and random blog section because they are available on your blog.
    -simplification: remove links that are duplicated
    -recent books: if you like, but I prefer the What I’m reading tag cloud. You could simplify.
    -Elsewhere on the web: An important section. You forgot your friendfeed.
    -Upcoming events: is also in your blog, and in more detail.
    -font colours, emphasis, hyperlink colours are clear. There is no distinction between links not visited and already visited. Colour contrast is great. Font size is great.
    -I received a “GCal Events[0] fsocket timed out” error message.

    I hope this helps. Don.

  • http://coevolving.com David Ing

    I’m not a believer in landing pages any more, because the web is dynamic and things change. I’m finding that a blog as a landing page is the better alternative, because there’s always fresh content. If you’re targeting repeat visitors rather than initial visitors, they’ll be thankful that they end up at your blog first, rather than first hitting a landing page and then having to go to your blog.

    That being said, your new “landing page” is probably a good “about” page.

    While I’m at it, you should probably consider other plight of someone coming to your web site from a mobile device. I just tried coming to your page from a Blackberry, and it loads … but it’s slower. I’ve installed Alex King’s WP Mobile Edition plugin on both by professional blog and personal blog, if you want to see what WordPress looks like on your mobile device.

    I do use Drupal on <a href=”http://coevolving.com/commonson a section of my professional web domain, for content that I write in HTML using Kompozer and then paste onto a web site. WordPress likes to make things easier for the average user, but sometimes I want full control over formatting, and the WYSIWYG editor in WordPress gets in the way.

  • tim

    Hi ,

    Love your work and I am learning/using Planner mode on Xemacs and refer to your site quite a bit.

    My impression of your new landing site is negative; reading the text uner your picture, I I thought of that “skippy:” dog on windows when you click help (when I am forced to use windows).

    You are far to intelligent to be associated with “skippy dog” from windows and it depressed me to even have that thought.

    Rest of the page–didn’t get to it. Just hit major cognitive dissonance.

    Best of luck

    Tim