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Sep 1, 2011

Is it time for a facelift?


Friends, I have to ask your honest opinion.  Do you think Male Pattern Boldness could use some cosmetic improvements -- a few virtual nips and tucks as it were?  I hope you weren't thinking I was asking about myself....I embrace my crepey eyelids!

Occasionally I look at other people's sewing blogs -- or even blogs unrelated to sewing -- and I notice all kinds of tweaks and subtle touches that make the blog look...if not younger exactly, then certainly more wide-eyed and firmer-of-jaw.

But since I know nothing about how to create these changes myself, I'd have to ask for help. I hate that. 

A little research reveals that some sewing blogs change often, others hardly at all.  I'm going to name names here, so brace yourselves.

Take Casey.


Since I started reading Casey's blog -- maybe a year-and-a-half ago? -- Casey (I refer to her blog, not the woman herself, obviously) has discreetly changed her look a couple of times.  Today she's wider (to keep up with the growing popularity of widescreen computer monitors, I assume), has a different header font, and if I'm not mistaken, sports a different tag line too.  It looked great to me way back when, only now it looks fresher, more today -- or rather, more yesterday, which is the vintage look she embodies so well.

Debbie also has a widescreen blog (I'm not sure how one of these looks in an old-fashioned square monitor, can anybody tell me?).  I can't remember when Debbie switched over.  More recently I've noticed other changes as well: new links, new layouts, and, at least on my last visit, an ad for $1 off Quilted Northern Soft & Strong toilet paper at Target, which is helpful as we're running low.  Are those ads the customized type (i.e., you see an ad for something local to you, I see an ad for something local to me, or something I've been shopping for on, say, Amazon recently) or does everybody see the same thing?

Robin is looking different these days too.  I know her header has changed, but I couldn't tell you how -- a different font?  And there are links I never remember seeing before.  Robin's changes are subtle -- the equivalent of a nose bob: you know something's different but you can't quite put your finger on it.  What's Robin's secret and will she share it with us today?

Then there are the old faithfuls, of which I count myself as one.  I'm loathe to link to Elaine's blog for the second time in two days, but The Selfish Seamstress looks exactly the way it did when I first stumbled upon it and I'm not going to say anything else.  You almost get the sense she's not making any changes merely out of spite.

Has Shelley made major changes in the past year or so?  Perhaps -- and she does like to change her header, which now reads, "It's time to make some foundation garments" -- basically what I wake up saying to myself anyway -- but overall, Shelley looks the same, at least to me.

Finally, there's Sunni, who -- true to the spirit of the times -- has completely reinvented herself.  Formerly The Cupcake Goddess, Sunni has ditched the dessert motif and opened her own sewing supply store! Today, as A Fashionable Stitch, Sunni's bigger, bolder, and better than ever.  Do I wish her blogroll weren't alphabetized but rather listed by most-recently-updated?  Perhaps, but I respect Sunni's right to do things her way and so should you.  But the blog looks great.

Speaking of tweaks, I opened Blogger this morning to find an invitation to "Try the updated Blogger interface."  Friends, these are the kind of things that drive me crazy.  At first I thought I'd give it a try to write today's post, only I couldn't even find the "Publish Post" button!  Fortunately, Blogger gives you the option of reverting back to the old interface, which I immediately did.  I'm sorry, but was there really any need to update the interface?  Were people complaining?

Which brings me to my new iMac.  I hate adjusting to updated software and Apple is the worst offender as their updates tend to be downloadable and are strongly urged upon you, though of course you can refuse.  It seems they update iTunes every other month.

I do a lot of photo editing -- mostly cropping and brightening, little things like that -- and till I got my new computer, I've been working in iPhoto 6.0.6, which is the version that came with my Macbook more than four years ago.  I probably downloaded a few minor updates, but the overall system hasn't changed.

My new iMac comes loaded with iPhoto 9.1.5, which as you can guess, is vastly different from three generations earlier.  The problem is that it is also much more work, and not only because I'm not yet familiar with it.  Photo edits that used to require two steps (like cropping a photo), now require four, and there are more options and more buttons and more headaches.  If I wanted the sophistication of Photoshop, I would buy Photoshop. 

Why must everything be updated all the time?

There are lots of other "improvements" that come with my iMac that make me long for the relative simplicity of my old laptop and operating system.  I guess I'll adjust, but who needs it?

On a related note, I seem to have misplaced -- or lost, sob -- the battery recharger for my Canon S90 camera, so I've had to go back to using my former Canon SD1000 camera (which, thankfully, I never sold, since it wouldn't fetch more than $50 on eBay today), and I was surprised at how few features that camera had -- though more than enough to meet my needs at the time.  My current camera is chock full of buttons and dials I never use and which only get in the way.  Michael complains that the S90 is also slower, which causes him to miss some of Cathy's magic moments.  I do think it takes better photos but it's too complicated.  I read the manual and I still don't understand it.

Friends, in summary, I have thought about making changes to Male Pattern Boldness, especially now that I am viewing my blog daily on a 21.5" widescreen computer screen.  The reason I haven't is basically a combination of inertia and resistance.  Does it look a little fusty-dusty compared to some sewing blogs?  Perhaps.

I like to think of it as classic.  I'm like the Bloomingale's bag of blogs.  Ultimately it gets the job done, right?


In closing, wise and with-it readers, your thoughts.  Should I go widescreen (and how does one do that anyway)?  Do I need a new header photo?  Should I alphabetize my blogroll?  Any other cosmetic changes you recommend?

If you have a blog, how often do you update its look and what motivates you to change it?

Is it time for a little Botox...or maybe just a few evenings with my Réjuvénique?

I'm all (hair-sprouting-but-as-yet-unpierced) ears!

44 comments:

  1. I think your blog is classic, clean and easy to read. As your posts are quite long (my own are too sometimes!) with lots of text, and plenty of worthwhile interesting things to read I think that your uncluttered approach serves you superbly.

    If you change anything at all then I'd say keep the header picture as the same image + size, but just make the overall layout wider... by wider I mean just more left-to-right horizontal width for the text of the post (and basically shift all the stuff on the right, i.e. blog roll, links etc.) to the far right to make room for the wider text.

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  2. Okay, I am not one of those 'with it' people but here are my two cents. If YOU like how your blog looks, then just go with it! I think some blogs are overdone and distract from the content. I like the 'brown bag'! That being said, it depends on the purpose of your blog. I am not selling anything or promoting or 'in the business'...just sharing ideas and having fun. Love your blog!

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  3. "I love you just the way you are...." to be sung per the 1980s song.

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  4. If you give a mouse a cookie.... If you give a blogger a new Mac.

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  5. What -- the mouse eats the cookie? I don't know that one.

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  6. My pet peeve is wide text blocks. (I also hate low contrast between print and "paper" and peculiar fonts and overly busy layout.) You are not doing any of those things now so I am happy. Of course, you are entertaining too, or I wouldn't care.

    The overall look of your blog is all about you and what you think is good and if you don't like changing just to change that's fine. (Or if you do, that's good too.)

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  7. You are perfect the way you are! I'd rather you spent your time sewing and sharing with us than getting into graphic design for computers.

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  8. I agree that it's your blog and if it reflects you then go with that. I like your blog roll being sorted by posting dates. That had me coming back to your blog and Gertie's to see what else was going on when I was starting to read blogs.

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  9. I love the crisp, clean uncluttered look of your blog!

    As for the mouse reference: there is a children's book called "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." The basic pattern is if you give a mouse a cookie he will discover he needs (though it is written more charmingly) ___________ so then you have to go to effort to get the ____________. After he gets the ______ he will find he needs _________ which requires effort and so on until the end of the book where the last item needed is a cookie. The first book was so well received & loved that there is now an entire series.

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  10. Don't change anything! Your blog is classic. I like the slim columns. Haven't you heard that you can never be too rich (in terms of vintage sewing machines) or too thin? (in terms of blog width).

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  11. I wouldn't change a thing, but sometimes it's fun to change the header. Just PLEASE don't resort to some weird sans serif typeface in a pale color that's too hard to read (serif typefaces are easier to read, according to my typesetting teacher).

    And don't make it too busy. I can think of one popular blogger who totally changed her blog's look and now it's so visually jarring (with pink on white - ick) that I tend not to look at it anymore. That's too bad because I always looked forward to it every day.

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  12. Wow, I relate to this. I've made tweaks to my blog, but no major updates to the look and feel. The more tchotchkes you put on your blog template, the longer it can take to load, so I try to avoid that. Animations are particularly bad, but whenever data has to be fetched, it can be slow.

    I also prefer a cleaner look over too much visual clutter.

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  13. Blogger has some really amazing editing features built in now. Its practically effortless to widen your blog, change colors, etc. Adding code (if you do) might be the only aspect you would need help on. You can also preview before any of these changes take effect. But save your original blog template first (blogger will tell you to do that).

    I hate really, really large headers. You know, the kind that fill half the screen before you get to content. I know where I am, I just typed in your URL, I don't need a blog yelling at me telling me Im here.

    As others said, there is such a thing as too wide screen. If I have to scroll sideways, its too wide :)

    I love changing the colors of my blog, but the actual structure, not so much. Im an ascetics snob, and I like my blog to be efficient for readers.

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  14. I am neither wise nor with it but I know you have a number of selling points that draw readers to you.
    1. An honest affection for vintage fashion and sewing and all the related books, gadgets, people, history, textiles, etc. We all love it too and we like to share.
    2. You can write. I'm sorry, but many people can't. Thankfully there are several bloggers out here who are literate and well-spoken (well-written?) but you also also have a sense of humor, a turn of phrase, an eye for the beautiful and the absurd, and the ability to make fun of yourself. All of which make for a very good read.
    3. And come on, you're a MAN. Who SEWS. Triple awesomeness points.

    I don't need a fancy background or wide screen whatever to draw me or keep me reading. Your blog name is the thing that caught my eye, your header is one of a kind, and you post clear photos to support and enrich your entertaining text.

    This is getting to be another long comment, so I'll just add that in my opinion you should expend your time and energy on your fabulous sewing projects and your wonderful family and not worry about gilding the lily on your blog.

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  15. I'm with the vote that no face lift is necessary, the blog is lovely.

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  16. The blog is wonderful as-is. Tweak if you must tinker, but don't create the answer to a question nobody asked. Loosely translated that means you are adored by many near and far simply because you are SO you.

    As for your reference to ear hair, tweeze daily, even if it means having your photographer put you in a headlock and assisting you. Nothing says, "old man" like ear hair.

    Take a powder on the ear piercings, body piercings however are whole-heartedly enouraged.

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  17. you don't mess with perfection.

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  18. A wide layout on a smaller screen looks the same, except you might have to scroll left to right. Which on mine would mean the ads. The main text/pics are in the middle column so it should still be in the center of square monitors. And yes, I have ads. How many rolls of TP would you like? ;-) They are there to generate just a little revenue, which lets me "give back" via Giveaways, etc., without putting a huge postage dent in my bank account - something I can't afford at the moment. The ads are "dynamic", and can reflect both what I've written about and via cookies where the reader is from. The downside is I know that it takes longer to load. I'm actually thinking of doing away with some of the ads. When I get a round tuit.

    My blog has had this general layout since May 2010. Before that, it was a stock Blogger layout on a light greenish background. I'm not a stock kind of girl and when I'd happen on someone else's blog with the same layout, it felt like I was on mine but not really. Weird. But my life was busy and it took me a while to find time to re-do it to be mine alone so I had to live with the stock layout. I probably won't tweak it again for a long time since (1) I like it as is and (2) it was a lot of work.

    Your blog is fine as it is, but personally I would prefer the text in a wider column so more of it fits on the screen at once, reducing the scrolling downward. BTW, since you brought it up - your current header is actually too wide for your current layout size since it spills out of its frame. ;-)

    Blogger lets you make simple width and other adjustments in WYSIWYG mode, so you can experiment if you feel motivated. You can also create a new blog as a "tester" and keep it hidden/private into which you can copy your current template to it and then play away without affecting MPB. That is, if you're interested.

    As for blogrolls - I prefer them updated chronologically in case I missed something.

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  19. Personally, I have a difficult time reading text on monitors so I like a narrower format with larger type. You should only update your blog if the thought of doing something new and fresh is exciting to you.

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  20. I never was going to mention it, but since you asked- it has always bothered me that when you overlaid the new "business card photo" over the old one with your phone number, the edges don't line up. That's my $.02. I beleive this this is the "out of frame" to which Debbie refers.

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  21. Please don’t mess with perfection. I love the clean look and easy to read format. As I say to my hips every morning when I get dressed, Please don’t get wider. I often read your blog from my iPhone. The wide blogs force me to keep scrolling from side to side and it drives me crazy. The width of your text is perfect for mobile reading. The content is much more important to me and you’ve got that beaten by a mile. I also like the blogroll the way it is. It’s easy to see who has updated at a glance.

    BTW, new versions of Microsoft programs are just as much of a headache. Operations that used to take one or two clicks now take four. This is progress??

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  22. As long as you don't add music! I can't stand to open a blog and someone else's taste in music blaring at me.

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  23. I like the simple clean look of your blog. but I do agree. fill the screen a little bit more by widening your blog, not all the way to the edge.

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  24. You have such savvy and interesting content on your blog that i don't think it will matter if you give it a facelift or not...plus you are funny as all get out lol. We don't do tv at my home but I do tune in here often while enjoying my dinner (your blog is that entertaining seriously like tv lol)...if you decide not to change a thing people will still enjoy tune in I'm sure. Personally I like the clean look. The only thing I noticed is there's no blog hop, not that you need one but it would be sure fun to link up you.

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  25. I screwed up my last line. I meant to say, "it would sure be fun to link up here with you"
    smh, keying too quickly.

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  26. I am not knowledgeable about html formatting or blog formatting, but Debbie's blog fills my standard screen the way it should. Shelly's doesn't reach the edges. Maybe the columns are blank in the formatting? The selfish seamstress blog hangs over both ends. I have to scroll back and forth to see the entire page. So I'm guessing it's a programming issue.

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  27. Sabina, I doubt I'll be adding a blog hop since I don't know what that is.

    I've always known my header doesn't line up with the edges, but I thought it was quirky! ;)

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  28. The old saw "If it works, don't fix it!" fits this situation perfectly. More "stuff" cluttered on to the page is NOT better. Wider text blocks are not better, and they are proven to be harder to read. Your format is great as it is. GREAT. It does not go out of date. Less is more.

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  29. i got a new iMac about the same time you got yours. Adjusting to the new OS, new Microsoft Office for Mac, new iCal is driving me nuts. I haven't even attempted the new iPhoto! I'm also getting used to a new iPod Touch. I should have stayed in the 20th century - the 21st century is proving to be too iMuch.

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  30. I follow a blog because of it's content, and nothing more. Good writing, good pictures and I have all I need. If a 'facelift' would make your blogging life easier, then I say go for it, but for myself as a reader, it needs nothing more IMHO....

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  31. I like how clean your blog is. HOWEVER! ;-) There's always a but, right? However, I would appreciate it being a scootch wider. I read on a laptop, desktop and Android phone. All of them are wide screen. I have to scroll.scroll.scroll down to read longer posts. And there's a TON of white space on my monitor right now.
    To wit: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IKZ_X_sNmu3SNQkcyKeSbG2o0-mT-yQhI5oEEZ2NJo0?feat=directlink

    A good 50% of my screen is white space. I'm not complaining, just saying it could be a little more content and little less white space.

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  32. Don't change a thing! Yes, I have to scroll a lot, but your column width is just right so I don't lose my place mid-line while I'm reading. Plus, I'm reading on an old iBook (12") so the wide-screen formatted blogs drive me nutty. And I'd second all the suggestions about sticking with a serif typeface, and black on white, and maintaining your uncluttered layout.

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  33. When our daughter was born many years ago, my husband bought a dozen Grange Hermitage (a kind of posh red wine here in Australia). The great thing about this wine is that you lay it in the cellar, do nothing to it and it gets better with age. Your blog is like a fine Grange Hermitage - it needs nothing done to it, it is fabulous as it is.

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  34. Hi Peter, I like your blog just the way it is! I especially like your banner - it's so clever. For my blog, I did the things Debbie Cook talks about - I have a "sandbox" blog that no one can see and I fiddle around with it. My current banner was done up by a graphic designer. I gave her an idea of what I wanted and she found better fonts and made it look nice.

    I love reading interior design blogs and I get design inspiration from them, but I also feel pretty bush leagues compared to my favorites.

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  35. I'm a happy reader; leave your blog as is unless you want to change. In the two years since I moved from Blogspot into my own 'home' (website) i've only made a few changes. None of them with the layout; only to add another blog from the perspective of my 11 week chocolate labrador and an 'About Wilbur' page to let readers know about him. Eventually i may even add a sewing blog page. When/if i do that i'll change my header to reflect the change from a mainly cooking website to include Wilbur and sewing. It's YOUR blog; do what pleases YOU.

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  36. I love your blog as it is, but I would keep reading even if you changed the format. I really, really like your blog roll organized by last updated: I use it as a shortcut to lots of other blogs (I read your stuff pretty much every day!).

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  37. To paraphrase Billy Joel's hit, I love it just the way it is. Simple elegance makes it easy for my tired eyes to read. More pictures of your dogs Freddy and Willy would be nice, though.

    Doris W. in TN

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  38. I'd rather you left it as is, but I suspect you may be getting itchy...

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  39. I love your blog just as it is BUT I understand the need to freshen up now and then. Spare yourself some headaches and find/hire someone computer savvy to come around and play and give you some options.

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  40. I'm with Doris W in TN. More chihuahuas! And maybe a guest blog from Michael now and then? I like white space.

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  41. With blogger, it is kind of tough to do anything but really basic changes (header, font, etc.) because it is made for dummies like me who supposedly can't mess it up (although I have!) I like MPB the way it is, personally. I wish I could update my own site, but I'm pretty sure unless you're a savvy web designer like Casey and Shelley and can afford your own space on the web instead of using a freebie like blogger, then you're stuck with good old white space.

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  42. I read your blog thru google reader, so the layout makes no nevermind to me. I do love the strong voice and the fun photos and videos -- any time you spent that might detract from your ability to do those at the high level you do, would be time poorly spent, at least for my taste.

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