After designing, coding and scrapping 2 layouts, I finally settled with this new theme, which I call “Zen”.
Searching for a personal brand, an identity
It was quite a challenge coming up with something new. With my job now related to the Singaporean social media scene, I wanted to create some sort of identity for myself and for nanyate?!. I’m not sure about professional web designers, but I always get stuck when it comes to creating a brand for myself. The stress of wanting to be perceived a certain way, and the questioning the accuracy of my perception of myself is all too overwhelming. And of course, I still have my readers from my previous political blog, and those who just stalk my site for new designs, and those who’s become online friends with me since my first blog in 1999 – with the amalgamation of such a diverse audience, I no longer knew how to cater to everyone’s liking.
So for the first redesign, I illustrated an Edo Fuurin – Edo-styled windchime – ornament as nanyate?! logo.
But it was too contrived. It does reflect the anime otaku in me but that otakuism doesn’t quite define me, and more importantly, what I write about. So it was promptly scrapped.
Then I remembered what my rhetoric professor would say when we got stuck with essay topics or research: “when in doubt, keep it simple”. So, came theme “minimetamorphasis”.
I was initially proud of this theme, since minimal layouts that rely on typography and a solid grid system aren’t easy to create. But when I showed the prototype to some friends, they all said that it was just too blah.
Blah?! There’s no way I’d want to come off as a boring person, with a boring site. So it too was scrapped.
And suddenly, it hit me. Why did I need to go through such great lengths to design something so different than what I usually design, just because I wanted to have a more permanent identity? I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have an identity in the first place – I just didn’t consciously think about it. So came Zen, a remix of my previous theme – just louder, bolder with more SEO and Web 2.0 than ever before!
So What’s New?
Search Engine Optimized Coding
Well, it’s not like I never had meta tags, or didn’t search engine friendly URLs before, but I just never paid too much attention to the nitty gritty. And by that, I meant the coding.
Some examples of the SEO coding including paying attention to the H1 – H6 titles and content frontloading. Search engines give priority to the words used in H1 – H6 codes, that’s why you should always make sure to use H1 – H6 for titles instead of [span] to customize your headings. Search engines, like humans, will also read your code from top to bottom and give priority to what you put on top. So you should place your content code on top, and your menu and/or sidebar at the bottom.
To see how your site looks like to a search engine spider, visit SEO-browser.com.
Relevant, Targeted Content
I could write a book on my life, add 300 fanlistings and rant about my lunch. Unfortunately, no one would actually bother to read it. The only people that would are probably only the new visitors. They want to know what this site is about, and who the owner is – and they want it fast. So a short biography should suffice – what I do for a living, where I’m from, what I stand for. And with that in mind, I re-wrote my about page.
What’s branding without font? So I scoured, and searched, and sunk into the depths of Internet to find that one true font destined to take Nanyate?! to the next level only to end up with the pre-installed Apple font, Kozuka Gothic Pro Extra Light. (If you have the font installed, I use it for my title tags. If you don’t, it’s the font on the nanyate?! logo.)
I am exploring the use of sIFR (this script that converts text into flash) so that everyone can read my site in Kozuka, but haven’t had time play around with it yet. Will get to it when I can scavenge for time.
Lifestreaming (coming soon)
I’ve become very busy with work lately, so Twitter and his bigger cousin, Tumblr, have become a more effective avenue for me to stay connected with people and express my opinions. As a result, I’d like to have them play a more central role on nanyate?!.
And then the incredibly
hot talented dude called YongFook developed exactly what I needed: a lifestream to allow me to stream all my feeds into my blog. (Although, I have yet to play around with the script.)
Well, I guess you could say it’s the epitome of narcissism to stream your entire life on your blog. But I prefer to see it as the epitome of Web 2.0 social networking, where your blog is now more than just a place to express your opinion; it’s now a place to display your life, reach out and connect with others.
Still Work in Progress
So I hope you enjoy the re-invented theme and content, and my mini pitch SEO and social media. “Zen” is still on beta release, as there are still some bugs that need ironing out – especially for my arch nemesis, Internet Explorer 6. The navigation menus for the sub pages are also in dire need to be more user-friendly. And I also need re-write quite a bit of content. There a few more things I’m exploring to do to this site, but it’ll have to wait until I have time to spare.
So, look out for those changes in the near future, and do let me know what you think of the new design and the new direction nanyate?! is headed for. If you’re a web designer, do share your experiences on how you developed your brand online.
(Sorry, for all the grammatical errors. Will fix it in the morning).