BirdstarRecent visitors may have noticed, or for the unobservant I’ll say SHOULD have noticed that I’ve made a few changes to the layout, particularly the sidebars. Though the alterations may seem primarily cosmetic, most of them are designed to improve usability.

  • The first and probably most obvious change is the removal of the dynamic 10,000 Birds logo. Though I loved the idea of a logo that displayed an ever-changing roster of birds on every page, the execution never matched my concept. What else is new? Also, in order to offer even a halfway decent image of a bird, the logo had to be much bigger than necessary. In an effort to reclaim more real estate above the fold, I’ve created a new logo. I’m curious about whether anyone likes my new “birdstar” logo. As far as the dynamic logo goes, though I’ve retired it for now, I’m keeping it close just in case I have a change of heart.
  • Most of my changes were inspired by an effort to optimize all of the space “above the fold.” The first full screen view a viewer sees before scrolling down is often the only part of a site a new visitor ever sees. 10,000 Birds has a small sidebar, but a lot of valuable information can be found in the real sidebar, technically a bottombar. I wanted to ensure that visitors knew that this bottombar exists so I cut out some space hogging functions above the fold. Moving my miniposts, three of which appeared at a time in the sidebar on the frontpage of the site, to the bottombar as Recent News guarantees that all visitors will see these carnival announcements, news clips, and asides, assuming they look.
  • Google Sitesearch was a huge pixel hog, so I replaced it with WordPress’ in-house search bar. I know you’re wondering, “How is Mike going to get by without the 50 cents a week he earned from Google Search?” Trust me, I’ll survive. If anything, worry for those poor fools who try to find something using the search bar. WordPress search, if I may be so bold, sucks. Results are returned by date, not relevance, and the code doesn’t tell a searcher how many matches came up for a given search. At least it doesn’t take up a lot of space…
  • The sidebars on the front page and post pages have each presented different items, but now they’ll be substantially the same. Reshuffling of certain elements allowed me to fit everything I wanted into the sidebars with plenty of room for a rotating bird photo. This is 10,000 Birds, after all. Even if I’m writing a post on, say, how I changed the layout of my blog, readers should still be able to admire at least one handsome avian per page view! I loved the rotating bird photos on 10,000 Birds v1.0, so I’ve brought back the concept with a new look and function. Each of these new mugshots is linked to a related post, perhaps a narrative of the trip where I spotted it or maybe an explanation of the type of bird.
  • Last but certainly not least, I’ve been diligently backfilling my archives, manually transferring posts from the old FrontPage site to this WordPress one. I’ve passed the 400 post mark and still have hundreds more posts to add. And yes, the process is as tedious as you can imagine. Sometimes, this micropublication feels mighty macro! The upside is that I can use this opportunity to republish pieces that deserve a second look. Starting next week, I’ll start reposting my series on hosting a blog carnival. Now that we’ve all got another year of blogging under our belts, I’m looking forward to the comments those posts should elicit.

So, 10,000 Birds is changing, hopefully for the better. If you’re a subscriber who hasn’t visited the site in a while, come check it out. All reader comments are welcome.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.