Design Refresh, Ads, Google & Bounce Rate

andrew kelsall wordpress design image

***Update*** Since writing this post, I have yet again amended the blog design. As can be seen, it is now a 2-column design with larger images…

web page design updates by andrew kelsall image
Screenshot shows new design with the article Digital Embossing

I’ve been making some changes here lately at The biggest change apart from the design is that I am now excepting advertising. Until recently, I only ran Google Adsense in a limited way. Google Ads appeared on older posts, but I excluded the ads from posts about my design processes (which potential clients may look at) and brand new posts (as to not ‘annoy’ regular readers).

These ads were running quite well. I didn’t make a great of money from them, but they actually covered my hosting costs. However, after digging around in Google Analytics, I discovered that posts that included Google Ads had a much higher bounce rate than posts with none. Alas, the Google Ads are gone (or at least for now).

Some Blog changes

1. New header design

I’ve been itching to find time to redesign my header for a while. I didn’t really know what I wanted to design before starting it (but it just developed over a few hours and there you have it!). This is not an orthadox way of designing, but hay, I reckon it came out looking good.

2. BuySellAds 125px Spaces

I first signed up with BuySellAds over a year ago, but I decided not to place their ads on my site until I started to get get close to an Alexa top 100,000 traffic rank. At the time of writing I’m now at 112,000, so since I rid my main blog of Google Ads, I thought I’d introduce them now (I still run Google ads on my Free Stock Images sub-blog, which I’m still setting-up and is a work in progress).

I didn’t want to have adds in my sidebar as I reckon I will have more chance selling ads if they’re 125×125 pixels in dimension, as they’re the most common size. My solution was to include them in the header. Also, as they’re in quite a prominent place (and above the fold) I may be able to sell them at a higher cost, as they would generate a higher ROI for the advertiser.

This is all just experimental at the moment. I I cant sell them for a ‘worthwhile price’, I may rethink the decision to include ads at all. However, Ill see how it goes. If I get advertisers, great! If not…I may hold-out again until the site becomes even more popular in the future.

3. Refreshed RSS and Social Networking list

Gone is the old “RSS Subscribe image to make way for a more comprehensive list of networking options.

4. Community Links

I just wrote a post about this new section entitled Submit Your Design News.

5. 2-year Archives

This section is quite experimental, and I’m going to keep an eye on Google Analytics to see how well the section performs. If no-one utilises it, I’ll use this space for something else in the future.

Just for reference, this is the semi-old “business card blog design” that I used over the past year:

web page design business card image by andrew kelsall
Screenshot shows old design with my article Branding a Singer/Songwriter

Oh, I got rid of the blue banner image on the homepage, too.

Future Goals

Anyway, I’m feeling positive about this blog and I intend to write fresh and useful articles as time permits. I’m ‘getting there’ slowly but surely. I have some goals set, which include attracting new RSS or Email Subscribers, attracting new clients from the UK and abroad and improving my writing style. I also plan to move to a DV server at Media Temple (my current host) in a couple of months. This should speed-up the site, amongst other benefits.

What do you think of the updated design? Do you have any suggestions on how I could improve this blog?

16 thoughts on “Design Refresh, Ads, Google & Bounce Rate”

  1. Ruben Nuñez

    Hi Andrew. I’m digging the new design. The header’s texture and waves look great. My concern with adding sponsors to the header is that you may get ads that clash with your header color scheme. I’m not sure how much control you have over that, but it would be good to watch for that.

    The other small thing is that the highlighted subscribe form doesn’t look like a form. I had to click on it to make sure it was a form and not something that I had accidentally highlighted. It also seems to be missing a submit button. It might be best to make it more of a traditional outlined white box with a submit button in order to decrease confusion.

    Overall the site is very clean and easy to navigate.


  2. Andrew Kelsall

    Ruben → Yes, I did have concerns about a clashing colour scheme, however, I took 2 steps to minify the effects as follows:

    Firstly, I have included a white border around the ad spots so the colours “don’t touch”. I can amend the design and make the border thicker if need-be.

    Secondly, I have opted-out (in BuySellAds) of having advertisers publishing animated ads on my site.

    The situation isn’t ideal, but I reckon it should look okay.

    Thanks for the constructive feedback, appreciated 🙂
    Regarding the email box, the submit appears in my browsers. It’s kinda odd, as the code from the box is via Google’s own feedburner tools.

    I’ll look into making some changes on it. In Firefox, the input field is highlighted in yellow (on Mac) on my end.

    Thanks for letting me know about this, I’ll make some changes and submit my site to browsershots for some tests.

  3. (mt) Matt

    It looks like you are doing a lot of great things. If you need any help with your move, or have any questions regarding your service, feel free to open a support request in the AccountCenter, call us or contact us through Twitter.

  4. David Airey

    I hope the advertising works for you, Andrew. Personally I think you’re giving potential advertisers too much visibility. Especially given how this is your main business presence.

    Regardless of where the ads are placed, I wonder if BuySellAds offers some form of placeholder until you get enquiries. Putting myself in the shoes of an ad buyer, I’d be more likely to come on board if you had some interest already (showing one ad-spot taken, perhaps, until it’s actually paid for).

  5. Andrew Kelsall

    Matt → Thanks. I already asked a few questions via a support request, and MT gave some good tips. However, it looked like setting a DV server up is not in my skillset, so I thought I’d learn about DV servers more before making the move.

    Also, I read on you Labs page that the upcoming Cluster server has an auto-DV upgrade facility when it comes out? When is the Cluster server ready for Beta?

    Thanks for commenting.

    David → Yes, there’s a lot a visibility in the header, however, I felt it is a good trade-off. I only wanted adds if I could get a good price for them. Having the adds in such a prominent space should enable be to charge more for them, as the advertiser’s click-through rate will be higher.

    But as you say, this may not be ideal when it comes to getting clients online. I don’t think Ill have any chance of selling them until Nov 30th at least, as the “est Impressions” count won’t have completed until then.

    As for the place-holder idea, I cant help thinking this is a bad idea – showing that one is sold when it’s not?

    It’s all a big experiment; if they don’t sell for a good price (I’ve now raised the prices), I don’t want the ads there – especially if it costs me quote-requests, but I’ll see how it goes…

    Anyway, thanks for your input David.

  6. David Airey

    I don’t mean that you show it’s sold, but rather, why have two empty spaces from two slots when you could at least be directing a few visitors to, I don’t know, an educational design resource, for example?

    There are a few reasons why I think it’s a good idea. Another is that you’d also be showing potential advertisers a banner design that’s similar to what you want from them. Back when I tested a similar ad spot through BSA I received a few horrendous designs.

  7. Andrew Kelsall

    David → Considering ads that were horrendously designed, I wouldn’t approve the ad as I’ve set my BSA prefs for this, but I see your point!

    Regarding the one-ad slot issue, I think you’re right. I’ll give it some thought…

  8. Andrew Keir

    Hey Andrew,

    I’m digging the new header, I hope the advertising works out for you.

    Good luck with your server migration. You may recall I moved to a Media Temple (dv) server about a year ago, which has been flawless. Highly recommended.

  9. Andrew Kelsall

    Andrew → Yeah, I can remember when you switched server. Did you have any previous experience moving to a DV server before. Was it hard work?

    I’ve has a list of instructions from (mt) but they look rather complicated???

    Glad you like the design 🙂

  10. Andrew Keir

    No experience previously.

    When I moved ( from a different host completely to mediatemple ), I left my existing site active, while I added the domain to my mediatemple account and logged onto the new site using the server IP instead of the domain address.

    I set up my theme, plugins etc. exported the old database from the old host, imported it onto the new host and ensured all was working.

    Once this was done I updated the DNS to point to the new server so that once it updated it flicked from 1 host to the other with no down time.

    Other than having to manually transfer a few comments that came in to the old site over the 24 hours while the DNS details were updating across the web, it was seamless.

    Going from shared hosting to a VPS you’ll obviously be changing server address’. If your domain name is registered elsewhere I assume you’ll be able to do the same? If it’s registered with mediatemple already I’m not sure how that will impact the process I employed.

    Email me if I can help.

  11. Andrew Kelsall

    Andrew → You make it sound a lot simpler than I thought. When I take the plunge and my site is down the pan, Ill be taking you up on that offer of email support 😉

    David → I’ve thought about your suggestion. I’ve decided to choose the Envato affiliate scheme. I’ll see how it works out…

  12. Andrew Keir

    No problems. Let me know how you go with the buy/sell ads. I’ve been thinking about changing from adsense to this for a while. I’ll be interested to see how you go.

  13. Rob Cubbon

    Really interesting to read your advertising strategy and the comments here, Andrew. I’m in a similar position to you – waiting for my visitors to increase before going for ads. My Alexa is 160,000 atm. And BSA seem to be the best company for this at the moment. I was thinking of putting them on my sidebar on the blog and the blog post pages but not on the WP Pages pages (Home, About, Portfolio, Contact pages, etc.)

    And, for that matter, interesting to read about your thought on moving to the Media Temple (dv) server – I moved to a VPS at Dreamhost at the beginning of the year and it’s much better.

    Really interesting to read about another blogger’s thought processes when they’re thinking about the same things as me.

  14. Andrew Kelsall

    Andrew → Early days yet, but I’ll gice it a few month ans see if the adds sell.

    Rob → The only trouble with not putting adds on your home page is the loss of ad impressions, but I see where you’re coming from.

    All good bloggers think alike, eh? 😉