Blog Improvement Project: Create a Blogging To-Do List

The first task for the Blog Improvement Project is to create a list of things on your blog that you’d like to change.

I am aways fiddling with things on my site and spend hours trying to decide what would improve it. I really need to focus on the important things instead of just tinkering with new plug-ins!

Hopefully this list will encourage me to make big changes, rather than messing around behind the scenes!


My To-Do List

Add new header image

I like the way that my header image gives you an instant feel for the sort of books that I read, but I really need to take a better photo – without any shine!

Edit my challenge tab

I need to change the challenge page to reflect the challenges I’m doing in 2010 and to ensure it focuses on my long-term reading challenges (Booker, Orange, Pulitzer prizes)

Update my categories

Overall I am quite happy with my categories, but there are a few redundant ones, mainly in the challenges section.

Rebecca has a concise category list that I admire.

Improve Sidebars

I’d like to edit the text in my sidebars, so that it is stands out more. The  most popular post section is just a sea of words at the moment – I’d like to look at putting them in boxes, and perhaps use drop-down boxes to reduce clutter.

Rob Around Books has a beautiful set of sidebars. I wish mine were as clear as his.

Improve social media integration

I need to think about adding a twitter feed, and improving the visibility of dig/delicious links.

Paperback Reader’s new blog is only a few days old, but I’m already coveting her social media boxes.

Can you think of anything else I should do to improve my blog?

Do you waste hours playing with the settings of your blog?

Send to Kindle


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  1. Molly says:

    I did not “officially” sign up for the Blog Improvement project because I am just not sure I have the time to truly dedicate to the task. However, I plan to follow closely and perhaps participate in a few of the wonderful assignments. I need to create my own “to do” list — to be accomplished over time.

    I love the links that you provided in your post. Looking at other sites helps me to think more creatively.

    1. Jackie says:

      Molly, If you sign up then you don’t have to do all the tasks – it is up to you to decide which ones are useful/you have time to complete. I hope that you decide to take part in a few of the tasks.

  2. Rebecca Reid says:

    I fiddle with my blog all the time. Lots of wasted hours. The things I need to do are more ongoing right now, though. Things like updating y review directory EVERY SINGLE MONTH instead of waiting until it’s overwhelming…

    I”m glad you like the categories on my blog — I streamlined it after i’d been blogging for a few months and it took a while to go back and fix it as i wanted it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, My review directory updates automatically, so that isn’t something I need to worry about. Perhaps you should look into doing that? It does take a while to set up, but I’m sure it is worth it in the end. I can let you know how I do it if you like.

      1. Rebecca Reid says:

        I do mine by title, separating out the children’s books from the adult. I also have a dewey decimal list and a by century list. When I update it every month, it’s not overwhelming. Pretty sure I couldn’t do that all automatically!

        1. Jackie says:

          Rebecca, You can create all those lists automatically, but it takes a lot of work to set it up and include all the posts you’ve already written.

          You use the headspace plugin to create custom fields (centuries, author surname, dewey number etc) and then the azindex plug in to order them.

          1. Rebecca Reid says:

            wow, hmmm options… thanks for the idea.

  3. Laura says:

    Jackie, I like your to do list! Categories are an ongoing challenge. I thought hard about them before launching my new blog, and decided to use a combination of categories and tags. I use categories to indicate type of post (is it a review? a blog improvement project post? classics circuit? an event like teaser tuesday? one of my challenges?). I only use tags on reviews and they give some indication of genre or type of book (woman author, short stories, prize winner …).

    And I’m quite certain that after several months I will want to tweak them again!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, Being able to think carefully about tags/categories before starting up a blog is a big benefit – I think they will always need tweeking though!

  4. Thanks for the link, Jackie! You helped me with one of the things at the top of my “to do” list: add link subscription to Google Reader!

    I can’t take the credit for my social integration links as it was the boy who did it but me who gave final approval!

    Categories is going to be an ongoing issue for me and I think always a work-in-progress and I am still working on my Review Directory but it is automatic which is a definite advantage.

    I love your links, especially the useful ones (which were indispensable to me recently!) but I agree that drop-down boxes are the way to go for a less cluttered look.

    As for improvements I’d like to see, I would suggest categorising your reviews by author rather than publication date (not a long list of authors A-Z but perhaps Authors by Century i.e. Twentieth Century Authors; Twenty-First Century Authors?) or use the drop-down boxes again if you want recent fiction to be more prominent.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I already have all my reviews ordered by author:
      and by rating:
      see the ‘Books Reviewed’ tab at the top of the page. But if you, one of my most regular visitors, didn’t know that then it suggests I need to improve things to make that clearer!

      I’m going to look into the drop down boxes and hope to make it all less cluttered very soon. Good luck with your blog – there is always so much to do – especially when you are just starting out.

      1. Sorry, Jackie; I have used your Books Reviewed page in the past when I’ve been looking for something in particular. Definitely de-clutter your categories and all the info is there on your site but there it just looks a little *too* much at present.

        Keep up the good work!

  5. Sandy says:

    I think I am on the other end of the spectrum. I do NOTHING to improve my blog. I rarely touch it, with the exception of updating my challenges. Blogger now has added a feature that easily allows you to add tabs, so once I figure out what tabs I want, I will do that.

    I love your list. Personally, though, I love your blog. It is easy to navigate, it isn’t too cluttered and is very pleasing to the eye.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Thank you for your kind words! Good luck with the tabs – make sure you don’t get addicted to changing things!

  6. Annabel says:

    I must get on top of my categories. I did my authors A-Z a while ago, but should get to grips with having fewer descriptive categories. Or should I using categories and tags?

    Love the links. I’d not encountered Robaroundbooks before…

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I think that you should use both categories and tags if you have them – good luck deciding what they should be though!

      I hope you enjoy Robaroundbooks – he has a fantastic site!

  7. Annabel says:

    I meant to add that having just moved on the spur of the moment to wordpress, my blog is a bit of a work in progress, and will be experimenting for a while to get things how I want them. Ultimately I’d like my own domain, but I’m not ready for that yet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, Changing is always hard work – I hope it all goes well.

  8. Belle says:

    Great list, Jackie. I like the way you’ve found inspiration at other blogs who are doing the things you want to implement, too.

    The worst thing about twiddling around with my blog settings and the template itself, I find, is that once you start, you never know how many hours it will take you. There’s never ever any “I’ll just tweak this and I’ll be done in a minute” thing – something always seems to happen that turns that minute into hours!

    1. Jackie says:

      Belle, I agree – little things can take hours! It is amazing how easily it is to mess things up and them spending hours to get them back to how they were!

  9. Michelle says:

    Jackie, I am forever tweaking my blog settings. I’m hoping this Blog Improvement Project will help me finish tweaking it so that I can stop wasting so much time on it (even if I do find it rather fun). Great list of items on your to-do list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Michelle, I don’t think I’ll ever finish tweaking, but I hope that you enjoy the tweaks we do as part of BIP!

  10. Violet says:

    I think your blog is very nicely done. It’s easy to navigate and I didn’t notice the shine in the header unless you mentioned it.

    I do like to change my blog settings but there is so little you can do with WordPress themes. I need to organize my blog too but I seem to be getting lazier by the day :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, Thank you! Your blog is very well designed, so you don’t need to do much tweaking!

  11. Jenners says:

    I’m always fiddling with my blog. I know that as I read more of these posts, I will think of more things to do. My husband always says “Focus on content. Leave the rest.” I wish I could listen to him!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Content is very important too, but fiddling is so addictive! I think that finding a balance between the two is important, but there aren’t enough hours in the day!

  12. Tara SG says:

    Great list! I also need to work on my categories and challenge tab :)

    Good luck!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Tara, Good luck with your categories! It is hard work doing all these changes.

  13. Rob says:

    It’s not very often a member of the fairer sex praises my sidebars :) . Thank you for that Jackie, very kind!

    That’s a nice set of ‘goals’ you’ve got there but personally I think your blog, design-wise, is doing fine as it is. If anything I’d like to see your header a little more ‘Farm Lane-y’ but it’s difficult then incorporating a bookish theme into it, isn’t it? What about a bunch of books being herded along a farm lane as though they were cows? Sounds crazy but that could work really well. Certainly memorable :) .

    1. Jackie says:

      Rob, You make a very good point. I have been wanting to make a farmy header for a while, but I have no artistic talent. I love the idea of herding books, but I’m afraid I don’t have the creativilty to do something like that. I’ll try to think of a way to make the header more relevant. Thanks for the input.

  14. Oh a great list! Thanks for coming by to see me angel no mates LOL Yes, I can waste all day on my blog, once i get into it. At the moment, I’m on a tight tight tight deadline so tight, i can hardly breathe, and that helps me from getting distracted a bit. Yeah, I know I am here, but hey, a little distraction is good for the soul. Plus, I am so pleased to know at least one person has read my blog, I always make a point of replying ha! :) Thankies.

    Just going to have a look at Rob’s wonderful sidebars…Now, that’s intrigued me no end. Just one look should keep me sated.

    1. Jackie says:

      Angelika, It take a while to build up readers. You’ve made a great start and I’m sure they’ll come along soon. Good luck and enjoy Rob’s sidebars!


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