After a couple hours of customization, I activated a new theme for the BrianDesmond.com site. The old look was the same theme I had when I started a blog on weblogs.asp.net in 2003. I felt like it was kind of depressing to look at the old colors – there was a lot of gray in there. With that in mind I settled on a new theme which is far brighter and certainly less visually depressing.
I also recently added a little "Share this post" bar at the bottom of each post – it has links for emailing the post, as well as integration with Digg, Del.icio.us, and Live.com. I've seen all of these floating around various blogs I read, and I found a cool Community Server module that takes care of the links, so why not add them to the site.
The other major change I've made in the way of aesthetics on this site recently is the addition of Google AdSense advertisements. Running this site costs me money every month, and really the only thing I get in return is the gratification of sharing information with people (which I'm perfectly happy with). I made the decision to add the advertising hoping to offset the cost of running the site. When I did this on the old theme I didn't really think much about the ad placement, I just plopped the little scriptlet from Google down where ever it seemed logical at the time. This didn't really net much in the way of click through's. In fact, the click through ratio was horrible. So, as part of my project to revamp the visual theme of the site, I spent quite a bit of time researching where the best placement for the ads was. I think I've done a good job balancing the placement such that I will hopefully get increased click through and also making sure the advertising is not intrusive to the main goal of the site which is the content I post. I will not add any sort of advertising to the RSS feed for the site, and I'm committed to that. I will continue to tinker with the placement and look of the ads on the site with the goal of optimizing them to offset the cost of the server.
Another thing I've decided to do in the coming weeks is to add an articles section, or something along that line. I spend a lot of time answering questions on the Microsoft newsgroups and a couple of mailing lists. A good portion of the questions I answer are either repetitive or stem from the person asking not correctly doing something earlier on. So, my plan is to spend a bunch of time documenting common procedures I run across on the newsgroups and in my day to day work. I'm going to stick with mostly Active Directory and Exchange stuff since that's really what I know best. I haven't fully figured out my plan for this idea, so I'll have another post or two about it as I finish hashing out that plan. As always feel free to drop a comment on the post or hit the email me link on the site if you've got any thoughts on this.