So here we are, one week after I announced the upcoming changes to iDevBlogADay and if you check the site right now you will see I have already some of them online today.

As we did with the first version, I decided to make the new design live early, get some feedback, and improve it with your suggestions. Better to have something out, even with imperfections, than to make you wait forever for it, then never release it.

It has been kind of a hectic week. Next week I am attending the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a first time for me. It should be fun, and I promise to write about it when I come back. Of course, since I was doing this, I had to get off my ass and design some business cards! Designing something for yourself is always the most difficult thing, but nothing better than a deadline to make it happen. I am pretty happy with how they turned out (thanks Owen for recommending moo.com!).

Noel and I have also been preparing the beta release for Casey’s Contraptions. If you are interested and have an iPad lying around, I think you are still in time; just send Noel a note. To top it off, I got a cold that is making the fan of my computer sound like elephants running around my ears. By the way, one of those nights I could not sleep I also finish the scrolling background for the elephants, including randomly generated tiled paths…

So anyway, that is my excuse in case the whole iDevBlogADay site goes down in flames while I am partying. Why did I have to do it this week??? Heck if I know :) But let me give you the rundown of the changes.

The New Rules

Although I got some pretty good suggestions last week about other possible changes, I finally decided to go with my initial plan. That meant basically two things:

  • Each author gets 2 weeks between posts. This means 14 new authors from the waiting list will join starting next week to cover the gap.
  • 10 consecutive posts, or 20 weeks, as a limit. Once an author reaches its 10th post, he will be automatically moved to the end of the waiting list, and the first person in the list will take his place.

I was already keeping track of the date each person currently in the main list had started, so counting back I found 4 people had already been longer than 10 posts. I gave them this week to say their goodbyes, and they will be replaced in 2 weeks. Thanks Gareth, Simon, Nicolas and Alfred for being so understanding.

Starting this coming Sunday new authors will have their turn. I already assigned days to the people that were in the top of the waiting list. Check the site to see when is your turn, and if you don’t like it, since you all are starting at the same time, maybe you can trade with some other person. Just let me know.

As a result of all this, we have reduced the waiting list from 60 something to around 45. In just a few weeks there will be more empty spots (mine included!), and even when all this movement is kind of nice we will see if it solves anything at the end. I have been thinking that maybe starting everybody on the same week is a bad idea, especially if nobody drops before their 10 weeks; but I am playing it by ear, we will see how it looks in a couple months.

The New Design

As you can see I changed the horizontal layout to a vertical one. The top of the page will always contain the posts for today, and I ordered the rest in inverse chronological order, so yesterday is just bellow. For each day, apart from the 2 blogs that either wrote or have to write this week, you will also see the 2 that blog in alternating weeks in smaller type over a grey background.

I didn’t find an appropriate place for the usual NEW badge, so instead I just turned the whole title block red. Not too happy with that, so suggestions are welcomed.

For each blog you will also see a bar representing how many posts the author has left to write. The week the bar is full is the last post for that author. The following week, the first person in the waiting list at the time will take its place, although he will not have to write anything until one week later (so you guys will have at least a week notice for sure). I was thinking maybe I should add some kind of email notification, but for now you will have to check the site.

As you can see the design is pretty dry, but legible. Since iDevBlogADay represents a multitude of authors, and I don’t want to impose them any particular style, I suppose is better this way. I didn’t use any fancy javascript this time, so I hope it works in all devices and (modern) browsers without problems.

The Missing Parts

Things that were present in the previous design and are nowhere in this one:

  • The list of “Other posts by this author”: I omitted it so you will not have to scroll forever to go to the next day. I am not sure many people used those links, since probably you all use RSS readers and not the site itself. If you guys see the point in having them back, please tell me and I will see if I can fit them there somehow.
  • The “about” blurb, and RSS link: I still need to add a page with information about what the site is about, how to use it, how to participate, etc. I am thinking I will add a menu at the top by the logo with these links. Since they were not essential, I probably will not get to that until after I come back from San Francisco.
  • The day navigation: the links to jump directly to a certain day didn’t seem as important with the vertical layout. Any opinions?

And stuff still in my to-do list:

  • Sign-up page for getting into the waiting list. I am probably going to use Google login for this, no need to create yet another user login system.
  • Admin to give up your spot in the main list, move to the end of the waiting list if you are getting towards the top and you are not ready, or remove yourself all together from the list.
  • Archive of previous articles. I get this request now and then, so maybe having a searchable archive of posts is a good idea? There is some cases of previous blogs disappearing all together from the internet, but I am not sure I want to duplicate the content of participant blogs if I can avoid it.

I think that’s about it. As always, send me your feedback and ideas about anything you would like changed. Now if you excuse me, I have to get rid of this cold in the next 4 days (BTW, if your doctor ever tells you to sniff salt up your nostrils, take note that 1/4 of a teaspoon is not the same as 1/4 of a tablespoon. Damn abbreviations :)

5 Responses

  1. Pingback: Announcing the first Corona SDK book | Karnak Games

  2. Hey Miguel!

    Thanks for making the new idevblogaday site. It’s looking pretty good.

    I have two suggestions:

    1. The “progress bar” to indicate how far into their stint each author is looks more like a popularity meter or rating of some kind to me. Asked my coworker what he thought it was and he thought it was a rating too. Perhaps a label next to it would clarify (e.g., “Posts remaining”), or an alternate graphical representation like a countdown clock.

    2. I find it a bit overwhelming scrolling through the list right now. Some vertical separation or perhaps a different colored divider line between days of the week might help to break up the “big long list” look. Maybe even break out the “Monday”, “Tuesday”, etc. to a header for each section.

    Just my two cents’ worth.

    Ken Carpenter; March 1, 2011, 8:04 PM

  3. Thanks Ken!

    Both were really good points that other people had complained about, so I just changed the site a bit to accommodate them; hope it is more clear when each day starts and what the bar is about now.

    Miguel A. Friginal; March 6, 2011, 12:47 PM

  4. Hi There,

    we are creating a very nice ipad app, for children all ages including the young at heart adults.

    on our site there is making off story with already 10 chapters. I was just wondering how we can be added to your idevblogaday. I think it can be interesting for your readers to follow our story.

    http://www.ocgstudios.com/roxies-a-maze-ing-vacation-adventure/portfolio-1/

    Thanks,
    Omar

    OCG Studios

    Omar Curiere; March 9, 2011, 1:28 PM

  5. Hi,

    yes the new design feels way better to me. The horizontal scroll before felt kinda unnatural.

    The visual is sleek, and I agree with Ken – the progress bars feel like some popularity meter indeed. I miss the sign-up page and the about page though – there’s still newcomers around who don’t know what’s it all about :)

    I’m waiting for the sign-up, and will put my name in the waiting list!

    best, Marin

    Marin Todorov; April 28, 2011, 1:33 AM

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