The New AVC, Same As The Old AVC

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Almost five years ago, I started this blog and had no idea where it would lead. It’s been a rousing success by most measures.  This morning, the AVC blog was #20 on Techmeme’s leaderboard, in the rarified company of journalists and bloggers I have read and looked up to for years. It’s still one of the top 1000 blogs worldwide as measured by Technorati in terms of incoming links. And it gets over 100,000 unique visitors to the web page and feed each month. But most importantly, it has built a community of regular readers and participants, many of whom I have never met but consider friends and advisors.

So I felt it was time AVC looked like a proper blog. When I kicked off this adventure in social media, I just picked one of the standard typepad templates and ran with it. The look has not changed much in the past five years. A couple years ago, with the help of the team at FM, I widened the center column and added dynamic width sizing and made it readable on most mobile browsers (something valleywag has still not managed to do). And I (without FM’s help) went on a widget binge that cluttered up the sidebars and led many to call this the most ugly blog out there. The result was apparently effective but very homegrown and not particularly polished.

There were two other problems. First, when I set this up, I had no idea it would become a serious thing. I picked a typepad URL (avc.blogs.com) and went with it. Big mistake. I’ve wanted my own domain for years but the one I wanted (avc.com) was not available. So I just keep going with the avc.blogs.com URL.

And, the page load times on this blog have been horrible. I’ve cleaned up my widget habit lately and that has improved things. And a while back, I set my center column to load first which has helped a lot. At least you didn’t have to wait for the content, which is what everyone comes here for. But the slow page loads hurt the loading of the comments which come from disqus. All in all, the page load time has become a serious issue. We tell our portfolio companies to focus on super fast page loads and yet my blog is the slowest one out there. That’s not right.

So this summer, I decided to do something about all of this. First, I noticed that avc.com was no longer active. So I engaged my friend (and blog reader) Marty Schwimmer to obtain it for me. Marty is really good at this stuff and he got avc.com for me last month. It was not cheap but it was absolutely worth it to me. From now on, when you want to visit this blog, just type avc.com into your browser and you’ll come here. It’s long overdue and I am very happy about it.

Second, I engaged Nathan Bowers, someone I met through this blog, to re-design it for me. We talked a bit about what I wanted and he sketched out a design. I liked it and he did the rest. It was really just one rev with a few minor tweaks.  I really like the result. I hope you do too.

We really wanted the look and feel to be familiar. The goal was to keep it similar enough to the old design that people would not feel like they landed in the wrong place. We got rid of the left sidebar completely. That messes up mobile browsers big time and I have come to dislike left sidebars. We also put mobile browser detection into the template and are rendering the page for specific mobile browsers when we detect them. We’ve tested the new AVC on iPhone, blackberry, windows mobile, and a few others. If it doesn’t work on your mobile browser, please let me know in the comments. It’s important to me that we get this right.

We’ve moved everything else (except one thing which I’ll get to next) into the right column. Search is at the top right (it’s where I always go to search in Firefox so it makes sense to me that it’s there). Navigation is next, then a bit about me, then the two ways to get this blog delivered to you (RSS and email). I really like the way Nathan did the RSS and email stuff. Very simple and elegant. Then some stats because I love stats and I am sure some of you do too.  And finally the widgets. We kept four of them; FM ads because they generate good money to charity, twitter because I blog a lot of short things you might care about there, mybloglog because this blog is a community and it’s important to me to know who has been here, and flickr because it’s always on your lists for the widget to keep and because it was the first widget to make this blog. That’s it and I hope to keep it that lean going forward.

There is one more “widget” on this blog in the footer. That black band at the bottom plays music. It replaces the tumblr widget that has been on the upper right of the blog. Click on it and you will hear my music posts on tumblr in reverse chronological order. We currently cannot pop this player off the page but that is coming soon. If you post music to tumblr and want this player on your blog, leave me a comment and I’ll get you the javascript you need.

That’s really it. Comments are still powered by disqus and you. The content is still powered by me and nobody else. It’s the new AVC, same as the old AVC.