The Indian Economy Blog

August 24, 2007

IEB’s Layout & Design: What Would You Like To See?

Filed under: About Us — Prashant @ 4:18 am

Changes are afoot at IEB.

No, we’re not going to do a volte-face and join the gonzo lefties…

Instead, we’re kibitzing ways and means to improve IEB’s layout & design, to be executed by the inimitable Madhu Menon, full-time chef and restaurateur and part-time tech guru.

What would you, dear readers, suggest with regards to layout & design?

The areas in question are

I) Layout
a) Masthead
b) Font
c) Color combination
d) Template
e) Anything else

II) RHS sidebar
a) Would you like to see most recent posts? If so, how many?
b) Currently, we display the last 20 comments. Change or not?
c) We’re investigating if we can also categorize the posts by contributor ie, if you click on Nitin Pai, you’d get all the posts he’s done. Can’t promise anything yet, but we’ll try.
d) Other ideas

III) Comments Section
a) Is a comments policy necessary? If so, what’s the ideal?
b) Do we need to add a spam filter for comments?

IV) Anything else that I’ve not listed above?

If it’s a feature from another web site/ blog, please provide the link.

The more specific you are, the more bhav you’ll get.

As one of my favorite lyricists said, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.

Comments section, zindabad!

Update:

a) How easy is it to find posts on a particular topic/ person/ issue? Do you use the search feature and/ or go by the categories on the RH sidebar? Which blog makes it easiest to search their archives?

b) Would you like us to list recommended books on India/ economics on the RH sidebar? Check out http://marginalrevolution.blogs.com/ for an example.

c) Is there any academic/ professional journalist blogging about Indian economic/ finance issues apart from Ajay Shah? We’d like to add them to our blogroll.

22 Comments »

  1. What i would like to see…

    1. A different (bigger) masthead with some kind of logo.
    2. Template looks good. Easy, readable. As long as there are no jazzy graphics, its ok. I hate websites that strain my eyes. Think you got the point :D
    3. On the right side, can you pls list the names of the authors? And clicking on an author, the list of all his/her posts could be listed.
    4. Comments policy is necessary. Am sure, you wouldnt want the comment section to turn out like the Rediff’s messageboards.
    5. A specific “about us” which mentions who you are? what is your motivation behind running this website and who are the contributors. Maybe some information on how someone can contribute to this website.
    6. You can maybe remove the comments displayed on the right sidebar.
    7. On the sidebar, links to some of the best economic/business websites that you would recommend. Also maybe links to some of the govt ministry websites (commerce, finance, ibef, india.gov etc…)

    Thanks very much for even bothering to ask us ;)

    Cheers.

    Comment by Full2njoy — August 24, 2007 @ 5:34 am

  2. IMHO,

    The font is reader friendly, i think u should retain it. the templates are non busy and easy on eyes, and quick to open, so maybe u should retain them.

    The latest comments on right hand side is an easy way of tracking recent comments and also keeps the readers interested in the topic and promotes more comments/readership. However, if someone comments on an article written 6 months back, maybe u dont need to display it, unless the discussions have been going on..?

    u could add a section where good articles from important economic sites/blogs are fed in regularly (refer India uncut ‘Linkastic’ section). This will give readers additional options to read, though i agree that this is almost like diverting traffic from your own site to somewhere else. Maybe if u can ensure that traffic comes from those sites to IEB, it could be a win win situation.

    all posts by the author under a single click – yes need that one.

    Comment by Renjith — August 24, 2007 @ 7:05 am

  3. Prashant:

    As an occasional contributor, I think it is important to display comments on the sidebar even on old posts. Most contributors respond to comments or at least acknowledge them. It is easier for us if we can see if there is a new comment.

    A policy statement on the blog will be helpful. Yesterday somebody raised a point about fair use. Similarly comment copyright should be clarified. It may be pathbreaking on a blog to have a ‘no plagiarism’ policy too. If it is on the web, links are easy to provide; if it is a book or something in print, authors and readers should provide details. Since this is a widely-read blog, across jurisdictions, perhaps a broader ‘Policy for Users’ which should cover copyright, plagiarism, slander/ defamation, liability, privacy instead of Comments Policy?

    I do think however this is one of the cleanest layouts on any blog I have seen, and the easiest to navigate. Desicritics for instance has good material and but oh-my-god patience-testing layout! Being a ‘substantive’ rather than a broad, generalist blog, the audience here will always be different and probably never mass-scale. Populist things can therefore only reduce the appeal of the blog I think…

    One of the blogs in my research area has a frontburner news feed on the left hand bar (right hand bar here?), links which provide contributors’ profiles and access to all their articles (two separate links which I find a bit wasteful of space), a comments policy etc. See http://ruddsoundbites.typepad.com/

    Nice-to-have:
    Best posts in the past 6 months or 1 year through a link on the right hand bar. See Guy’s blog: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/

    Thanks.

    Comment by Shefaly — August 24, 2007 @ 11:09 am

  4. Prashant, I think the present layout is brilliant. Whatever you do please avoid any clutter that takes away from the clean look of the site so far.

    If you guys are really bored with the layout and are looking for an alterntative try this one http://cutline.tubetorial.com/

    Comment by Nikhil Nayak — August 24, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  5. Not sure if this is a part of layout but I would like to get a “smart” search. By Author, Commenter, Date wise, etc…
    I like the website mostly the way it is.

    Comment by chum — August 24, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  6. Prashant:

    Do we really need much change? Most of us seem to be happy and satisfied with the simple, uncluttered and easily navigable look of the site. The visitors, to the site are, more often than not, serious readers who are not looking for any jazzy stuff.

    The latest comments should stay. It is very handy to track the latest inputs. Maybe we could bring it down to 10 or 12, if there are any design constraints.

    Categorising the posts by authors is a good idea.

    Comment by Pragmatic — August 24, 2007 @ 11:59 pm

  7. The overall layout may need some fixed bars that should be dedicated to most important economic issues India and world facing. Scanning through the blog, one can easily get lost to the contents that are mostly just useless information.

    As the name suggests, this is an INDIA Economic Blog, but can one tell after you scan through this blog that what are most important economic issues India facing?

    One suggestion may be: you need a hightlighted collection of the best post discussions in this blog. Such collections should be no more than five to seven categories, too many is an indication of no focus and no objectives.

    One must realize that you can not take care all problems at once. For this blog, some type of focus may have a bigger impact.

    Comment by thecupgr — August 25, 2007 @ 7:03 am

  8. Isn’t “RHS sidebar” redundant?

    Comment by Dave Barnes — August 25, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  9. Dave

    Yup, RHS sidebar is redundant… mea culpa.

    RHS/ LHS are vestiges of my high school mathematics texts.

    Comment by Prashant — August 25, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  10. The blog could be enriched greatly by the presence of one or two Indian entrepreneurs who are operating in the Indian economy and can bring the real-world perspective to some IEB posts that often become highly theoretical. I respect economics as a discipline, but it is quite like my own profession – marketing. Theories mean nothing until they are validated in the real world, just because neither is a true science. B-school marketing curriculum became case-study driven precisely for that reason. So let’s get some real cases involved here.

    Somebody suggested a logo. Great idea. The kirana store masthead looks dated, though some may consider it cute. I will favor automatically changing pictures capturing many different symbols of the Indian economy – from Dalal street to a kisan with a plough, from urban malls to rural haats, from call centers to a government daftar, and so on.

    Love the current layout that is so clean and restful. Hate the Bloomberg/CNN style screen clutter that many blogs find necessary to cut a modern image.

    On the whole, you have already got a great thing going. If you want to make it greater, we are with you.

    Comment by Sarat — August 27, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  11. I think overall your layout and rest if all acceptable. More important is that you have good content! which you do have. So pleaes take these suggestions in the right spirit.

    The header image can certainly be bigger (height +)
    The fonts and rest are fine. Would it be possible to have an option of a larger font. I have seen sites with three letter A’s in different sizes at the top. You just click on a larger “A” for a larger font.

    I feel that the posts run into each other. Is there good ways to separate the posts – like perhaps a box around each post? Also at the bottom you could have more info like poster, categories, … which act to separate the posts more. (see eg. http://www.achesandjoints.com not the best eg.)

    Rt sidebar – get rid of the comments. they are just snippets and we can get the jist anyway. Extensive Categories and list of latest 10 – 20 posts would be more useful and make your sidebar less cluttered. BTW, the extensive use of multiple categories itself is very useful and then folks will use the Search feature only occasionally and for specific reasons.

    Definitely, list contributors on the right.

    Would be be possible to incllude a small picture at the start of the blog. Realize it will be more work, but it breaks up the monotony of text and … a pic is certainly worth K words.

    Keep up the good work.
    Arun

    Comment by Arun Shanbhag — August 28, 2007 @ 6:35 am

  12. Layout and color cobination are fine – who notices them anyway, and readers of this blog are not likely to stick on because of the color (unless it is offendingly bright or something).
    Masthead may be a logo like symbol to identify the blog instead of current photo.
    Clean template right now looks good – I dislike creepy crawly lines constantly in one’s face and blinking flash stuff.
    Need to have categories on RHS on all pages. Top comments on top-commented topics (most frequent) also needed. Most recent also. I find comments generally contained and serious, which is important for the tone of the blog.
    A listing of new articles on India would be good.

    Comment by sharmila — August 29, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  13. why fix it if it ain’t broke?

    Comment by venkatesh — August 29, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  14. In response to Full2njoy

    3. On the right side, can you pls list the names of the authors? And clicking on an author, the list of all his/her posts could be listed.

    We already have the list of contributors on the RHS. Trying to figure out if we can aggregate all posts by that contributor and provide a link

    5. A specific “about us” which mentions who you are? what is your motivation behind running this website and who are the contributors. Maybe some information on how someone can contribute to this website.

    Re the motivation: read some of the posts in the About Us section. Re contributing to this web site — pls ping me at prashant-at-stringinfo.com

    6. You can maybe remove the comments displayed on the right sidebar.

    Lots of votes for this feature, may keep it.

    7. On the sidebar, links to some of the best economic/business websites that you would recommend.

    Hmm, you don\’t like the blogs/ newspapers & magazines we\’ve linked?

    Also maybe links to some of the govt ministry websites (commerce, finance, ibef, india.gov etc…)

    Good suggestion. Everyone here is swamped and we may not have time immediately to surf the web for this. Is there any single site that has these links?

    Thanks very much for even bothering to ask us ;)

    Not at all. Thanks for stopping by.

    Comment by Prashant — August 30, 2007 @ 5:40 am

  15. I like Sarat’s idea of having some content from folks in the trenches.

    Comment by Nikhil Nayak — August 30, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

  16. Apropos Sarat & Nikhil Nayak\’s comments about getting comments from entrepreneurs in India — we\’re open. Can you suggest any entrepreneurs that are bloggers as well?

    Comment by Prashant — August 30, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

  17. I personally feel the layout is good. Navigation is something that could be improved by providing important links. Prashant’s RHS sidebar funda is cool :)

    How about those links on the RHS while surfing the comments section?

    Few suggested – posts by author – my vote too!

    Good search feature – definitely would like to see one.

    Please please do not screw up the font! Color scheme could be changed to more simple soothing colors as compared to present maroon. Masthead definitely needs make do because IE these days isn’t solely based on Agriculture!

    Comment by Dhaval — August 30, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  18. Readers seem generally happy with the current design (I love the font (size) myself). So the bar is set high for any changes. Also, IEB is straddling 2 worlds: blog and magazine. Thus the design will reflect this conflict. You should also spell out what your future aims for this site are. Otherwise any change will be purposeless.

    I assume you have some tracking software installed for the site? What does it say? Are the most accessed links visible at the top? Do people spend a lot of time using Search? (someone asked for Advanced Search).
    Some features which thrill long-time readers can make life hard for newcomers. Do you see new people stumbling onto IEB daily or is it largely repeat customers? If you want to appeal to newcomers, you might want to highlight the “best of IEB” in some way.

    Coming to specific suggestions:
    * The masthead size is perfect. But put a picture with a light background, and you’ll gain some space to put the Contact Us, About Us kind of links there. No point wasting the sidebar for that.
    * Get a tagline! I like taglines :)
    * Sidebar overhaul: why a sudden diversion into external blogs before listing Essays and Longer posts? Why link to generic sites like Rediff, Google News, BBC, BSE, RBI etc? Trim that list mercilessly. For long lists like External blogs and Archives, show only the first few entries and a “more..” which opens up the rest on clicking (like YouTube video summaries). Get rid of the “Meta” category. Rename “RSS” to “Subscribe” and put it in the masthead and footer, and also below each article. Comments RSS link will be fine in the masthead and below each article (where it already exists).
    * If you are going for a slightly magazine-ish look, add 4-5 tabs at the top (indiatogether.org has a neat implementation).
    * Do you have many non-RSS readers? Won’t they still like to be notified of significant posts? Add a newsletter option where the user subscribes with his e-mail (See JoelOnSoftware.com for an example). Try it out for a month and remove if it doesn’t gain traction.
    * The individual article page is *really* bare. A reader is forced to click the back-button to find new content after reading all the comments with interest! Try replicating the same sidebar here too. Or some way to plug in “Related Articles”. Or a list of other articles in the same category, just below the Post Comment form. Having that info Filed Under below the title is of no use.
    * In About Us page, try to put a link to the list of articles by each person. Atanu Dey has no link worth writing about? ;)

    Best of luck.

    P.S: Just noticed that you have publicly viewable stats. Neat!

    Comment by Pramod Biligiri — September 1, 2007 @ 12:58 am

  19. How about starting with some insightful posts? Let’s tackle some meaty issues. Most posts lack the kind of breadth that nationalinterest.in commands. Everything else will fall into place.

    Comment by Anuraag — September 6, 2007 @ 9:16 am

  20. Anuraag

    I’m sorry that you haven’t found anything insightful among IEB’s 500-odd posts.

    Can you write a guest post or two for us? That might help our contributors

    Comment by Prashant — September 7, 2007 @ 12:41 am

  21. Displaying the general geographical location of the commenter every time someone comments on a post would really help in understanding where that person is coming from.

    There is merit in the argument that, on the internet, location is immaterial — but knowing whether someone is in India, or is an NRI, or is a foreigner, gives you an idea of their background and preconceptions, if any.

    E.g. “Altman’s post is …”
    Commented by Perakath, New Delhi – September 10, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    Comment by Perakath — September 10, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  22. Hmm and upon viewing my last, I see that the timestamp is off by half an hour. Pakistan time?! Perhaps you could include the timezone in the timestamp?

    Comment by Perakath — September 10, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

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