Time For A New Look

Five and a half years ago, I moved AVC from Typepad to WordPress and rolled out the design that we now have. It has worked incredibly well. It is low maintenance, easy on the eyes, and minimalist, all things I have come to appreciate in a blog.

But I am in the mood to change things up. Maybe it is the arrival of fall weather in the northeast, or watching my daughter and my colleagues at USV do redesigns and some envy as a result. Or maybe it is just time.

Here are the things I would like to achieve with the redesign:

  • Even lower maintenance
  • Much better archives (and better search too?)
  • A new look and feel

I am not sure how long it will take for me to roll this out. I could get it done in a month. Or it could take me many months.

But it is on my mind and on my to do list too.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt Zagaja

    Not sure a theme can change the time needed to maintain a wordpress site but if you want to reduce that besides managed hosting the other option would be to go with a static site generator like Jekyll. The downside to Jekyll is that you have to learn some version control with git and it doesn’t have an admin interface that is friendly for non-coders. I write all my posts in IA Writer and then copy the markdown files to my Jekyll blog on GitHub that then is deployed using GitHub Pages. This solution works pretty well for me and I can recommend it if you’re comfortable with git.

  2. pointsnfigures

    Funny, in life I love low maintenance too. But, sometimes it’s a lot of work to get it to that point.

    1. awaldstein

      Huge amount.Been looking for a country place and low maintenance and country do not go hand in hand.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Ha. they do but it helps if you build them from scratch….

        1. awaldstein

          I really like the modular prefabs as a solution. They suit my aesthetic and ease of most everthing.Channeling your cabin experience on Instagram has been helpful and fun!

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Don’t worry about trying to have a front yard like a putting green at Augusta: Once I asked my father in law, a serious farmer, about his front yard, a long way from a putting green, and his instant remark wasIf I’m going to grow a crop, I’m going to get paid for it.

          2. Mike

            But what will the neighbors think? I like the idea of searchable archives.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Out in the farming country, each farmer knows how important it is to get paid when growing a crop — the Augusta style putting green lawns are rare unless some farmer just wants such a green because he is big on actually playing golf.More generally, in many rural areas, it’s easy enough to get a few acres; if the land is rocky and hilly and not good for farming, then it is more scenic and cheaper. With a few rocky acres and lots of trees, the neighbors don’t expect to see putting greens — heck, from the road they might not even be able to see your house.

  3. awaldstein

    Been thinking along the same lines.

  4. Bipper Media

    I strongly recommend considering / taking a look at Duda (Duda.co). Clean, fast, efficient, modern, super easy to use… and we build a lot of sites and blogs for our clients on this platform so I’m confident in the recommendation.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I’ve switched several of my clients over to Duda over the last year and putting new clients on the platform.

      1. Bipper Media

        definitely… WP used to be our platform of choice, and it’s fine for a few sites here and there — but once you start getting a lot of sites (20, 50, 100+) under management, WordPress becomes a resource drain across the board and is no longer realistic.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Absolutely. In full agreement about WP being a resource drain.

        2. Susan Rubinsky

          I use Drupal for larger, more complex sites.

  5. Gary Chou

    Aw yeah!

  6. TanyaMonteiro


  7. Doug Calahan


  8. jason wright

    Not just a new look. Push the antifragility button. Rock and roll.I wonder if any of your other portfolio companies also have applications that could be deployed to enhance the experience of this place.Nothing’s falling here. It’s boiling hot.

  9. William Mougayar

    The easiest maintenance with gorgeous potential looks could be Squarespace, but I’m not sure about the content migration capabilities.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      SquareSpace is buggy and has some issues that I would recommend against in this case (I do put some of my smaller clients on SS just to get started then, eventually migrate them to either Duda or Drupal, depending on their needs).

      1. William Mougayar

        Curious, what sorts of bugs?

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Mostly responsive issues. Headlines that crunch together in smartphone view, rather than wordwrap; sections of pages that mix up in the wrong order when viewing in smartphone. Duda has much better options for selecting unique page flows and views, depending on screen type/size (you can set unique custom rules for Desktop view, tablet view, smartphone view.)

          1. William Mougayar

            Also, I heard the SEO is not great on SS.I’m looking at Duda now. Can you point me to some good Duda examples in the blog category? Thanks for mentioning them.

          2. Susan Rubinsky

            I don’t know of any blog examples. All the sites I’ve done are larger business sites — some with blogs, some without… But I will be on the lookout. I just think the duda platform is a no brainer. It’s affordable and highly customizable, yet there are plenty of great click-and-go templates that are amazing as well. FYI, there is an option to plug-in Disqus. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          3. William Mougayar


  10. Noah Rosenblatt

    Try 99designs.com. Hold a design contest. Explain your design or provide a wireframe of UI/ux functionalities you want.

  11. sigmaalgebra

    RememberIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.Not worth the botheration.In combinatorial optimization and also commonly in life, that last 1% can take more in resources than the first 99%.Some of what you are after is art: Ordinary art is fairly easy, but great art is a tiny fraction of 1% and no matter how much effort is expended can only be done by fewer than 1% of the people. There’s not much role for ordinary art.E.g., currently I’m furnishing a new office. Long ago I found that for light I want the 4800 or so lumens from a 300 W or so incandescent bulb high, behind me, with a big shade, over one shoulder. Soooo, I’ve been shopping for such a floor lamp.Bummer: They want to sell me from dozens of really low grade attempts at art, really AWFUL art, and typically with LEDs with less than 1000 lumens. Bummer.The attempts at art are grossly insulting — apparently the vendors don’t see that.Their art is so bad that there is a DIY theme of using steel water pipe, 1/2″ or 3/4″, for the vertical post, a steel pipe floor flange at the bottom, some reducing couplings at the top, and finally lamp standard externally threaded 1/8″ pipe to attach the light socket. So, can find associated details in videos, e.g., at Lowes. Lesson: The attempts at art are so bad that just steel pipe can be competitive.Generally in lighting, what has worked is what people are used to which was from what they were used to from lamps with oil or candles, that is, brass, and FUNCTIONAL for oil/candles. Soooo, e.g., long could spend big bucks — Mom did — on a Stiffel lamp, from some art guy in Chicago, which was brass borrowing from the old oil/candle functionality with sometimes associated Victorian decoration. So, the Stiffel attempts at art were acceptable because people were used to them from when they were functional. Similarly for Georgian architecture in the $5 million and up house neighborhoods. E.g., they still put shutters on the outside, fake, but people are used to them from when they were functional. Same for columns with vertical flutes and curls at the top left over from 2000 or so years ago when art was an abstract of a woman with curls in her hair and in robes. As silly as those old column designs are, we see what Truman did that was MUCH WORSE. Same for the mutton bars in the windows. Similarly for a lot of academic architecture with windows with little pieces of glass joined by lead strips left over from the days when that was functional because they didn’t know how to make larger pieces of glass. There are lots of other examples.Big Theme: People are happy enough with what they are used to even if it was last functional 500 years ago, and starting with a clean sheet of paper now nearly always yields just sickingly bad art.Net, everyone is used to the present, whether at first it was good art or bad. A change will be no better at art, that is, bad, but people won’t like it for art, because it is bad art, and also won’t like it because they are not used to it.Again, since it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.Want to fix something that VERY much needs fixing? Okay, fix the mess, the disaster, that Disqus JavaScript has made of the standard HTML multi-line text box control. THAT really DOES need fixing! The fix is easy — just return to the standard control, that is, as usual, severely throttle the JavaScript programmers that with their own totally sick-o nonsense are making a big mess out of much of the Web. Next, find a way to expand the hidden posts so that when copy the text of the page to the system clipboard can get all the posts.

    1. Peter J. Mills

      Ooh, this is a sad surprise. You seemed (in your earlier remark) to have learned the art of the brief comment.

  12. Vitor Conceicao

    A redesign is something good from time to time and would be welcome. I would just add one more topic to the things to achieve: Keep it clean and simple like it has always been.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Remembering this by Fred https://avc.com/2018/01/own…, I doubt if he should be open to host his content on any external domain.

      1. fredwilson


  13. Scott

    I recently migrated my blog from WordPress to Jekyll. It loads 10x faster.

    1. JLM

      .What kind of hosting were you using before? Any idea why it is “technically” loading faster?Thank you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Scott

        I went from Dreamhost+Wordpress (with a ton of plugins) to Github Pages + Jekyll (with very limited plugins).Some but not all of the efficiency is due to the latter’s static site vs. the former’s dynamism.

        1. JLM

          .ThxCan you quantify the actual speed difference in loading times?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Scott

            Yes, the post I linked to in my original comment shows 3 seconds vs. 300ms (according to Pingdom).

          2. JLM

            .Wow, that IS huge. Thank you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. fredwilson

      yes, it is amazing. we are using it on the new and not yet launched usv.com

  14. Andu @ Widgetic.com

    With the redesign it would be good to get onboarded on Gutenberg, WordPress’s Block Editor. This would make things easier to edit on the backend too.

    1. fredwilson

      i use that

    2. Vinish Garg

      Gutenberg is a classical example of product teams where UX does not have a seat on any table at all. Such a poor and broken usability for authoring and editing experience… and not to forget that it violates many accessibility standards. More here https://twitter.com/vingar/

      1. Andu @ Widgetic.com

        I very much disagree. It’s on par with many platforms in the vertical it is moving towards (non-technical users). I made a list of more than 100 such platforms and you can look at them here – http://bit.ly/DIYWebsiteBui….I’d say it’s beyond these, and takes things to a new level. Did you have a chance to read through their design patterns (https://developer.wordpress… or understand how they approached content differently from their peers?I bet this comes as a shock to many WP developers, who will have to focus now on building blocks, and not themes – who’s customers will have the ability to easily build most websites themselves now – but that’s a good thing. It frees the devs up to focus on other stuff, and it enables people to make their own websites.

        1. Vinish Garg

          Point taken, for simple and informational page-like experience. So, possibly for a basic (very basic) blog too. However ask a random set of UX engineers/designers, and they have an altogether different take (including mine). WP as a CMS when we talk about omnichannel and personalized #CX is broken. The post types mapping with custom taxonomy is a pain, and to address it was never their priority.PS: My own blog is in WP and my agency website is also in WP.

          1. Andu @ Widgetic.com

            I guess engineers should stop using WP for complex websites. :)Don’t get me wrong, we also used to get paid tens of thousands to make WP websites back in the day – http://vuzum.com. But those days are long gone, and people should be able to do that kind of stuff with WP too (otherwise they just use any of the competing platforms I shared),

  15. JLM

    .If you go to speed testing websites like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix, your site is operating at a suboptimal speed when compared to the rest of the world.This could be a simple WP plug-ins issue — meaning you could benefit from some simple plug-ins to do things like “lazy loading” and optimizing size of pictures, though you don’t use a lot of pictures. Jetpack has a setting to lazy load.[Edit: I forgot how much video you use. So, lazy loading and optimization are probably important.]I am in the midst of doing this exact same thing whilst migrating from AWS to another service. I had a hack that AWS was particularly unhelpful in dealing with and had to hire an outside consultant to get under control. This got me to studying speed issues.That’s why I had to learn some of this stuff. I am running a “test” location of my site, so I haven’t yet gone public with the changes, but I can see enormous improvements in scores.Getting to optimum speed is a little tricky. I turned loose three highly recommended consultants and amongst the three of them each had 2-3 unique ideas that the others did not. When I shared the entire list, some of the non-overlap they agreed upon and two of them they had a donnybrook over.I am pretty handy on WP, but this type of stuff is at the edge of the envelope. There is a WP plug-in for everything and the compatibility issues of the plug-in and the version of WP are critical.I also notice that my test results vary greatly over time. I will get meaningful differences over 5 minutes.WP sent me the name of an outfit overseas that did a great job in the end.Obviously, your choice of hosting and the host capabilities has a huge impact on speed.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Nice! Read, kept, indexed! Thx!On my site, not live yet, alpha test on the way, the largest page sends for about 400,000 bits. Soooo, with an upload data rate of only 10 Mbps that will permit sending 25 pages a second. So far I will be using my own server, the one I plugged together, AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz, 8 cores, with software Microsoft’s .NET with ASP.NET for the Web pages and ADO.NET for getting to SQL Server. I wrote no JavaScript although ASP.NET writes a little for me having to do, maybe, with cursor positioning and is optional. And all my CSS usage is in the file of the page itself so that there is no loading, cached or otherwise, of CSS. And of course my CSS is dirt simple.So, it will be fun to use the tools you mentioned to see how fast my site is! So far I’m using all rotating disks and no solid state disks, but SQL Server no doubt does a lot of caching, and my use of database in production is 100% read only so that maybe solid state disks are not very important yet. Maybe my server will be comparatively fast — maybe!!Gee, we are all programmers now!

    2. Matt Zagaja

      When it comes to software like WordPress talented consultants and “managed” solutions are gold. WordPress is popular because it is user friendly from a business owner standpoint, but from a technical standpoint it is an aircraft carrier. The surface area of challenges and bottlenecks in optimizing a WordPress install is large. The big bet that Matt Mullenwag and company made is that UX of the publishing interface was the most important thing and Moore’s law meant that performance would catch up. This is mostly true, especially for large orgs, but definitely a little rough for smaller shops and solo users.

  16. Chris Phenner

    Maybe build it in Libra?Okay, how about Blockstack instead?I see six blog-making dapps at app.co.One thought: If there were a way to tokenize each post, and set it up for the time when dollars or tokens or <whatever> gets attached to your posts being visited, shared or otherwise cross-posted. And proceeds from engagement can flow to charities.Maybe’s there’s also innovation in moderation (Decentro Disqus?), where voting ‘against’ certain Comments is handled more transparently.

  17. Harvey Beck

    As I understand your post, you care less about SEO issues like speed and discoverability and more about ease of use and look and feel?If correct, here’s an idea. What if it were really easy for you to go more visual? Use selfie-videos, audio voiceovers on pictures, as well as text, and do it all very easily from mobile, desktop or both? Easy and maintenance free :)If that’s of interest, here’s something we’ve been lightly experimenting with for fun using our tech platform for private story-sharing. It’s still a basic proof of concept but might be interesting to further develop. https://lifetales.com/stories/harvey-publicWe also have tagging in place but not shown in the example.

  18. Rick Mason

    Two words, go static.

  19. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Trying to imagine a redesign of this absolutely minimal design…So, managed WordPress on Blockstack?Out of curiosity, what don’t you like about the archives?

  20. Artem K

    Hi Fred,I would recommend to give a look/try on https://tilda.cc/ in terms of lowest maintenance at highly appealing visual performance. This is not a blogging platform, but web2 hosted websites platform for almost any SMB purposes. The devs did all their homework with full content backup / export, high quality search, ability to introduce any kind of external code or objects. They have a rather intriguing API, that can even provide you use it as external content generator with posting via tilda to your wordpress, though i’m not sure about automation for importing external blog archives, needs research. Worth a look.The sweet thing that being smb you can build visually great modern website with integrated major analytics, optimization, e-commerce and marketing tools within hours by yourself without coding at all (just copy paste code snippets from external services for integration). I did our first landing page for cusdev with payment via coinbase commerce within hours https://uhodl.io/ and i still feel rather proud about it while developing more advanced version (still based on tilda, in respect to such a convenience)

    1. creative group

      Artem Krotov:Anything not Western based is subject to poor customer service and a firm with no track record holding your medium hostage.Not even a consideration for anyone who had built a reputation for the last thirty years.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENTANT