A New Look For 2014

I have been unhappy with the way this blog looks for a while. I've fallen into my typical habit of putting too many widgets on it and messing things up. I have also discovered that the layout of the blog is making disqus work more poorly on mobile than it should. Many of you have run into problems commenting on mobile and it's likely that is my fault, not disqus' fault. I also want to do an even better job of optimizing the blog for reading on phones and tablets. That was the goal of the last redesign, which we did in the spring of 2010, but a lot has changed with responsive design since then and we are going to leverage all of that to make AVC even better on mobile.

I am also going to port this blog from Typepad to WordPress. I've been wanting to do that for a long time but I've held off because it's a big effort and I didn't have the stomache for it. But I do now. We will port all of the posts and disqus comments, but I am going to leave the old typepad comments behind. They are full of spam anyway and its too much work to clean that up.

I will be working with Nathan Bowers who has helped me with this blog for quite a while now. He and I work well together and I am confident we can get this done in a month or so.

So now is the time to let us know what you like and don't like about the look and feel and user experience on AVC. Please share that with us in the comments.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Brett Bedevian

    just make sure you keep the caricature of you somewhere in the mix!

  2. John Revay

    HUMMM1. The Typepad to WordPress port sounds like a real pain – good luck2. Side clean-up – could not agree w/ you more – I recently thought about how much stuff there was b/t voice bunny and your Zemanta Tech Circle.3. Minor – I know you have talked about going to WP for along time ( lots of plug – re: table of contents etc…) have you every looked at Square Space http://www.squarespace.com/… I have not used it – just had a good friend speak highly of it.

  3. Semil Shah

    Some ideas:-I’m not sure if the Zemanta tech circle adds value or noise. I’d rather see “related posts.”-It’s a lot of organization, but a Table of Contents by category could be interesting.-Reimagine your “Radio” nav button to include more from SoundCloud.-I wasn’t sure if you’re trying to get AVC comments to move over to USV community, but if so, that’s probably the greatest design challenge as so many are trained to just comment here.I spent a ton of time redesigning my blog and working with a designer on it. You’ll definitely like WordPress, though their mobile offerings are way behind schedule. Hopefully the new AVC, on WordPress, will kick them into gear πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      great suggestions and agree with almost all of them.i am not trying to get the avc community to move to usv.combut i would like any of them who want to use it to do so

    2. bsoist

      mobile offerings are way behind scheduleI’m not sure what you mean. WordPress uses themes. Anyone familiar with WordPress themes ( or willing to read some documentation ) can build a theme from xhtm/CSS in a couple of days. If the xhtml/CSS is responsive, WordPress will be too.

      1. awaldstein

        Long form commenting on mobile just ain’t a slam dunk in any format or any system that I know of.

        1. bsoist

          I thought his comment was about WPs “mobile offerings” not about commenting. You are correct, commenting on mobile is a challenge. But I have seen Disqus working on sites that are not cluttered up with a bunch of other things.

          1. awaldstein

            I should be excommunicated for going off topic!Who cares if you can read and not comment is my thinking.

          2. bsoist

            On topic or wine comments only, please!

        2. Drew Meyers

          Do you think it needs to be? Do people actually want to comment heavily from their mobile?

          1. awaldstein

            People I don’t know but I certainly do.I want to do what I want to do when I want to–so does everyone and that includes conversations.

      2. Semil Shah

        What I meant to write was “mobile creation and management” offerings for WordPress are not impressive.

        1. bsoist


  4. Jevon

    Widgets are fun though!

  5. LIAD

    Find the psychology behind a new year and its new beginnings very interesting. Specifically how it can subconsciously release within us renewed gusto and motivation. A desire to get things done, finish things we’ve been putting off and start afreshThis morning, I cleared my physical and digital desktops. Deleted the shit out of unread/read email. Filed things away like a mofo and cracked on with a few other equally tedious tasks I’ve been procrastinating on for ages.2014 New Beginnings For One and All.

    1. fredwilson

      i am going to archive my inbox at some point this week

      1. LE

        This is where using imap and a mail client on your own server as opposed to gmail really comes in handy.It’s just a simple mv -i on the command line and you can instantly make a new box with everything from the old period. And start fresh.That way you can also have an extra copy that you can cart around so if you are not able to get access by the net you have all of your old emails that you can access.

        1. Timothy Meade

          At least Gmail supports I MAP now. Look at some of the imap sync utils.

    2. bsoist

      Very interesting to me too. My birthday falls on 1/1, so I always start to “regroup” a week or so before.I just spent some time yesterday cleaning up, as a matter of fact. πŸ™‚

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Happy (early) Birthday!We have a January 4th birthday at our house. I always feel like he gets slighted — not so much with presents, but with the celebration part.

        1. bsoist

          Thank you! I’m over the getting slighted thing. I have a seven year old nephew who was born a week before Christmas and we talk about it all the time.The upside is that I get a lot of Happy Birthday texts just after midnight. πŸ™‚

          1. Anne Libby

            I have a 1/1 birthday, too. Happy early!

          2. bsoist

            Same to you!

  6. Jan Schultink

    Super minimalist (sorry widgets), flat, no gradients, out with the round edges on buttons. Have the designer look at the poster work of Joseph Muller Brockman, a Swiss graphic designer from the 1960shttps://www.google.com/sear…

    1. awaldstein

      Great share. Didn’t know this work.

  7. William Mougayar

    TOC / index would be great.Responsive is a given, but that’s a function of the new theme, not WordPress itself.Why not go all out & do a mobile App as well?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like to read in a mobile app so i am not going to support that

      1. Richard

        What do you mean by this? Elaborate?

      2. William Mougayar

        I personally like the Zite & Feedly Mobile Apps. They are designed to let you consume news fast.

  8. laurie kalmanson

    wordpress has a lot of responsive themes; that would be nicehappy new year; all best wishes

  9. Sheamus

    Not really design related, but while you’re doing this how about setting up a proper Facebook Page/feed? Last update here was July 2012.https://www.facebook.com/fr…May not even be an official page for all I know!Realise Facebook isn’t your cup of tea but many still use it as a news feed – including my good self. In fact, that’s predominately what I use it for. Indeed, it’s more valuable for news for me than Twitter. And I’m a Twitter writer!Just another convenient way for readers to keep up with your content and boost the overall user experience.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know how to do that. i set it up and then it stopped working. and now i can’t get it working again. ugggh

      1. Laura Yecies

        WordPress does this automatically for me on my blog

  10. bsoist

    I am sure I gave you more advice than you were asking for about this back in August, but πŸ™‚ …1. resist the temptation to find a plugin for everything2. please don’t break old links3. if you need help with any part of it, get in touch

    1. fredwilson

      #2 is my biggest concern about moving

      1. bsoist

        IMO it’s THE thing to get right. I’m sure Nathan is up for the job. Just don’t forget about my #1 when you talk about a solution to #2. πŸ™‚

        1. Dale Allyn

          Could not agree more. WP can get very bloated, very quickly with all the plug-ins users often elect to install. Many tasks can be done without plug-in bloat. WP is already a bit of resource hog – and light, cleaner, simpler is a valuable goal.

          1. bsoist

            Exactly, but I also think people modify the core files or hack the theme too much when sometimes writing a plugin would be better.I’m not against plugins, I’m against the patching together lots of them without reviewing how they work and how they might conflict with one another. I used to do quite a bit of WP work for clients and I would never quote a price on a project for an existing WP site without having access to the site first. I’ve seen too many “2 minute” jobs take much longer than necessary because of the cruft.

          2. Dale Allyn

            We see this the same. Cobbling a bunch of plugins together can cause all kinds of performance hits, and hacking the core is not always the best solution. In fact, doing so (hacking the core) makes periodic updates more work.I’m not doing much in WP (I like it for blogging, but not for every other type of site, as it seems to be used). I prefer ExpressionEngine for many CMS tasks, if one isn’t building the entire application from the ground up.Anyway, the main issue is what you described re. bolting a number of plug-ins on without consideration for resource management and bloat.

          3. rick gregory

            Anyone who hacks the core files is almost certainly a bad WP developer. You can almost always accomplish what you want via hooks or filters in functions.php.Also, plugins aren’t necessarily resource hogs – it’s a bit of a fallacy to fault the number of plugins, it’s much more the quality of the plugin code. I’d rather have 5 very well coded, efficient and task specific plugin that one which is bloated or poorly coded. My point is that you can’t ding WP as a platform for what plugin authors do. That said, I can’t see AVC needing a lot of plugins to accomplish what Fred wants.

          4. Dale Allyn

            Agreed, Rick.

  11. bsoist

    Reading your comments about responsive design and breaking things being your fault, I couldn’t help but think of a website I read recently.Don’t click if you are offended by pervasive strong language. http://bit.ly/188kJZA

    1. PhilipSugar

      You made my day. Actually you really made my CTO’s day. He is always arguing with people about kludging things up to be cool.

      1. bsoist

        Glad I could help. πŸ™‚ The responsive discussion is what gets me. Straight up xhtml is responsive. We mess it up.

    2. fredwilson

      that was a hot discussion on usv.com when it came out. i don’t really agree with it to be honest

      1. bsoist

        I’m surprised, given your own comments here about “over designing.” It does claim to be satire. ( I’m not an English major, but I’d say it’s more hyperbole than satire, actually. )

      2. JamesHRH

        What part?He quoteth the Oracle of Braun, sort of, at the end.

      3. Robert Holtz

        Hi Fred…As you’ve said a few times now, your avatar image painted by Jenny Ignaszewski has, for all intents and purposes, become your logo — an element of your overall brand.The blog as it stands is kind of all over the map in terms of colors but if it were me working on your revamp, I’d aim to make the color palette come from and support the colors in that image. Also, right now, it is a tiny element whereas it could be a few notches larger. I would put on the left side and integrate it into your AVC heading so that it is one element.Please keep VoiceBunny. I was glad to see others asking for that such as Kirsten Lambertsen. It is a great convenience and by the way I have hired them now on a couple of projects after learning about them from you here at AVC and they are great to work with.Highly recommend you use one of the new CSS web fonts now available. They take a site to a completely new level by getting beyond just the basic fonts. Of course, always consider readability but you can add a lot of style by using a modern web font. Google has, in my opinion, the nicest supply of web fonts and they’re free.http://google.com/fontsYou don’t need to download the fonts, you can simply reference them in your CSS and use them straight from the cloud. That said, most of the fonts can be downloaded in case you want to use that font in documents or in illustrations in desktop software.The rest I think you have a great handle on. AVC is one of my favorite blogs. Yes, it has become a bit cluttered but I’m assuming that’s because you’re making money with those links. If you can streamline that by all means that will be an improvement.If you have a beta group for further feedback as you get ready for rollout, please let me know. I’d be delighted to help out if that is of any interest.

  12. Eddie Wharton

    Table of Contents would be awesome

    1. fredwilson

      great suggestion. i would need some way to create that. maybe there is a wordpress plugin we could use for that

      1. bsoist

        No plugin necessary. Just design a page template to format the posts a certain way ( chrono order instead of reverse, just titles, etc. )I wanted to start going through your MBA Mondays recently, and I remembered that discussion we had about this a while back, so I went to the TOC you have here, but it wasn’t working.Fortunately, I was able to use that demo I set up for you. :)http://whsjr.soistmann.com/…(NOTE: This was just a demo and it literally scrapes the content from your website. Not the way it should be done on your site when you have access to the dB. )

      2. Eddie Wharton

        Maybe let the A VC community help you crowdsource a list of current solutions, see if any would work here & if not I am sure people could build you something.PS I am still listening to the Arctic Monkeys

      3. thomasknoll

        Looks like a good use of a hackpad and some community curation.

  13. awaldstein

    I envy you this project. I need to do the same.A post on how USV works with your blog and the community crossover intent is a juicy top.(I also envy you skiing today!)

    1. fredwilson

      i am heading out in 20 minutes. we have fresh snow πŸ™‚

      1. JLM

        .Just got back from SBS, the snow was extraordinary and it was warm for December. Headed back in a couple of weeks.Do NOT break a leg.Merry ChristmasJLM.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks for the share.I think any discussions on USV as a community is premature and that the idea of integrating communities presumes that they are yours to integrates which in my opinion they aren’t.Time will play this out.

        1. Eddie Wharton

          Totally fair. There is a lot of organic overlap, but they are distinct. I also revised my post to more appropriately recognize how young the new USV.com is.This was more of an exercise in applying USV’s thesis to a something a bit different than it was intended to address the USV & A VC community topic. I think we need a bit more time to really see how it all evolves though there are a lot of familiar names on both.

  14. jason wright

    as i recall it is only possible to comment on your posts that are not more than thirty days old.i’d like to see a way of reaching these active ‘thirty’ posts directly from the home page without having to click ‘older post’ several times to get to the end of the thirty. some kind of mobile (landscape mode) left thumb flicking gesture across the bottom of the home page, with highlighting of the title of each post as it comes along from right to left, would be so good.At the moment it feels like going to the public library.If the implementation is good i’ll just have to go out and get a smartphone.

  15. jason wright

    is the background color giving optimum contrast to the type?

    1. JamesHRH

      According to no less a design luminary that David Ogilvy, yes.Science backs him up on the black on white readability issue, I believe.

      1. jason wright

        and this factors daylight outdoor situations?

        1. JamesHRH

          he was talking magazine, so I will say yes (mags not under glass admittedly).

  16. JamesHRH

    I think the basic layout reflects who you are & actually should not change much.Pls make it work on Apple OS devices.

  17. JimHirshfield

    Looking forward to seeing how the site evolves. Also, I like this word “stomache”.

    1. pointsnfigures

      It’s how they spell it on the slopes. Boarders…

      1. JimHirshfield


  18. Marjan Ghara

    Please continue to make all the content available through the email feed as well. I refer to the blog to watch a video or to occasionally read the comments, but I mostly read your post right in the email. It is very efficient.Also please add a TAG for “Videos”.Thanks and happy new year!

  19. Elia Freedman

    I’ve said plenty about Disqus on this blog. Please, Nathan, make sure you do a bunch of testing on tablets, phones and desktops.

  20. Richard

    Distinctive, clean and welcoming, intuitive, responsive, informative, and fun. That’s all πŸ™‚

  21. Geoffrey Weg

    Seeing quite a few suggestions for a TOC/Index. I agree that this would be great but I’m unaware of any automatic solutions to this aside from showing an index of your existing categories/tagsβ€” the better the existing categories/tags are the more helpful such an index would be. Your current Archives page has this, but I think it could be betterβ€”categories such as “entrepreneurship” and “MBA Mondays” are simply too broad, but Food and Drink, Religion, and Healthcare are better.Chris Dixon created an interesting, and I think helpful, index on his blog: http://cdixon.org/contents/. But it looks like he spent a lot of time in manually getting that page together (going through each of his posts, creating fewer/broader categories, extracting a snippet of each post).Bringing this up only because it’s relevant: I recently created a breakdown of 127 your MBA Mondays posts (plus some others) on Startupery.com (a side-project I put together). http://startupery.com/fred-…. As you can see, I broke down your posts by specific topics (and these specific topics breakdown even further in the main Startup{ery library- http://startupery.com/all-c…. I think this approach helps to make the great best-practices content on your site a bit more accessible. Perhaps it can serve as another source of inspiration.

    1. Nick Grossman

      I think that’s a great point — there is a huge archive here that could be shaped into something more usable.

  22. Scott Barnett

    +1 on TOC+1 (several times) on fixing Disqus on Mobile. It’s horrible on your siteI’d also love to see “themes” represented – if I’m interested in “Sales Strategies”, I can see a quick list of all the blogs on that topic. You’ve talked about not needing to write a book because it’s all here – so lay it out similarly.

  23. Vineeth Kariappa

    Other thn wp, everything is perfect here.

  24. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think your site is clean and not too cluttered.Keep VoiceBunny.Keep the font nice and big.Agree with everyone else about the toc.I really like the current background color because it’s very gentle on the eyes. I spend ~ 12 hours a day staring at the screen and appreciate sites that are kind to my eyes.I also think the current width of the main content (on desktop/laptop) is perfect for reading. Not too wide, not too narrow.

    1. Ricardo Diz

      I second the opinion on the background color. It’s great for the eyes

  25. pointsnfigures

    good luck and good idea. I started on wordpress and like it. added zemanta because of learning about it here. you will come up with good design.

  26. leigh

    I actually quite like the simplicity of AVC so i’d say it’s less about what i would like to see and more about what i don’t want to see change. I’d hate for design to trump the content bc it’s the content that is at the core of this experience. Maybe avoid USV green ???Have a great holiday and happy new year to everyone at AVC :):):)

  27. John Saddington

    Glad to see you moving to WordPress, a great choice for sure. πŸ˜›

    1. Nick Grossman

      that looks super nice

  28. Teren Botham

    The comments will have to be hierarchical by timestamp so it is easy to follow the posts and the related conversation. Also if you could think of adding a collapse and expand function to the comments that will be great.Now that your blog is more popular than ever, please think if making it more structured as it relates to posts. Kind of like fun Fridays and MBA Mondays. Sundays will have to be all things world, Tuesdays for technology, Wednesdays for VC, Thursdays for “the best” things. The user group will like this to be pattern than not.I see the comments statistics ebb and rise in the week and almost flat during the weekends so it is time to make it consistent and flowing . Kind if like a run rate that you maintain steadily

  29. Tom Labus

    Maybe a mohawk or something like that. Oh, you meant AVC

    1. kidmercury

      a photoshopped image of fred with a mohawk could be a great foundation for a meme to usher 2014 in

  30. rick gregory

    Lose the sidebar. Consolidate the social media stuff with the other things in the top menu. Put the “Fred Wilson is…” either after each post’s content or in the footer. If you feel you want the USV conversation widget, put it in the footer. I’m not sure how to handle the donation widget and the like (causes you believe in and want to promote). A sticky post perhaps, but that’s very upfront.I can’t remember if you can turn this off, but if you can, kill the Disqus Around the Web stuff. I’d consider removing Also on AVC too, but that at least feels relevant. In the same vein, remove the Zemanta Circles stuff.Basically, this… if you want the content to be front and center remove everything else and design around that. Make it the focus and leave yourself few opportunities to add clutter. Give people a consistent place to find related information, but keep that to a minimum. Experiment a bit with the typography if you want (both typeface and size), to see how that affects readability.

  31. Guest

    One of the best responsive content solutions around is from HuffPost’s former CTO who knows all about Typepad (since HP was built around that) and he’s since founded:* https://www.rebelmouse.com

  32. Raffi

    Interestingly I like the mobile interaction at the moment, probably because i’m a lurker rather than contributor.I normally visit on my mobile so really like the approach of the first article being open and the other posts are only titles. You write your headings well so that’s all I need to see if there’s any reason to go into the post.As you are moving to a new platform it might be worth taking a look at http://madebymany.github.io….It was conceived during the rebuild of ITV News, readers from the uk will instantly recognise the naming of the editor. Last week I did a quick proof of concept for wordpress which might also help Nathan: https://github.com/raffij/s…Look forward to the new site.

  33. RichardF

    Yup lose as many widgets as you can, i dont know your stats for the audio stuff but I have never listened to it.Whatever it takes to make Disqus the most usuable and efficient on mobile to comment.I have rarely clicked on anything on your site but the usv conversation has piqued my interest more than anything.

  34. MikeSchinkel

    Hi Fred,If you decide you want/need any customized WordPress-based functionality (a.k.a plugins), especially in the admin area, let me know; that’s what my company has expertise building.

  35. ShanaC

    Higher contrast and bigger fonts for readability

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Big fonts rock.

  36. Donna Brewington White

    Here we are again. What first sold me on the last “new look” was how it looked on my phone. And that was back in the Blackberry days way before I accessed AVC at least 50% of the time via mobile. If the Disqus issues clear up, this % may increase. (Glad to see Disqus vindicated.)I will put up with a lot on AVC for the value derived. The main event is the post and the comments/discussion/interaction and that is what I am here for. I am not generally in discovery mode at AVC — as much as I’d like to be. But if I am in discovery mode this is a reliable place for that to happen.However, already while writing this comment and looking around the page to see how to respond to your question, I have clicked onto one of the Zemanta posts and one of the USV posts. So I guess I want the option to click onto other sites while at the same time resenting the distraction. :)The page has become cluttered. (Not so much on my phone.) I think this is a design problem rather than a content problem. The options you present have value — even if it has become the sort of happy mess that a creative person can make. Thankfully you have a great designer.

  37. John Cole

    Hey Fred, Love the blog. Here’s an idea – why not multivariate test different layouts on desktop, mobile and tablet? Construct experiments and compare to see if the UX metrics improve (time on site, page views per visitor going up + lowered bounce rate)…http://bit.ly/1c1IsJE

  38. K_Berger

    I would prefer links to open in a new tab.

  39. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I’m sure Nathan is more than on top of the TOC thing. But just in case it’s usefulhttp://www.wphub.com/free-t…

  40. mikenolan99

    MBA Mondays table of contents is a bad link…

  41. Brandon Burns

    avc is a community more than a blog. make avc.com reflect that and watch the community grow.also, there’s nothing wrong with your widgets (or any functional elements) if you truly need / want them. you just have to design with them in mind.

  42. aminTorres

    Sorry if this was asked, but is disqus responsive?

  43. sfrancis

    If I were migrating from typepad to wordpress, and had your volume, I’d consider moving to WPEngine.com – great service, great startup, great people behind it. I don’t have a financial interest, but I use it myself and love it.

    1. MikeSchinkel

      @fredwilson:disqus If you are shopping for hosting also look at Pressable and Page.ly too.

  44. Julien

    Don’t forget to replace your venerable RSS link with a http://subtome.com button πŸ™‚ It’s much more actionable!

  45. Elie Seidman

    Reminds me of a thought from Scott Adams new book; I found his argument of systems trumping goals to be compelling. See bullet 8 in this summary that Shane Parish (great great blog) did of the book. http://www.farnamstreetblog

  46. awaldstein

    mildly is a gentle term.noise to be ignored often is true.I wanted it to work more. something real is missing though.not working for me for discovery.

  47. awaldstein

    Is anyone anywhere doing long form commenting on mobile that works?I think this is a giant gap that no one has figured out. It’s the gotcha of this community in a way–moving mobile, addicted to conversation as learning and support, unable to experience it on the go.

  48. panterosa,

    I agree with Charlie 100%. Visual clutter takes my visual processing down when it’s unnecessary.

  49. awaldstein

    Kick in the ass is more likely.I don’t know whether the economics is there to spend the dollars to focus and disrupt.Have a great holiday Charlie!

  50. panterosa,

    I really wonder what life would be like if I could truly dial noise down. The silence in which I hear myself think, as opposed to the noise over which I shout at myself, is becoming an almost porn level fantasy for me in 2014.