Tuesday, January 10, 2006

JIB Awards 2005: Best Designed Blog

Previous posts on the JIB Awards: The Nominees..., Best Post - The List, Best Post - The Good, Best Post - The Better, Best Post - The Best.

Continuing on the analysis of the JIB nominees, here's my quick take on the nominees for "Best Designed Blog".

Group A:
  • Beyond Teshuva
  • Cross-Currents
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • Hassidic Gentile
  • Jewlicious
  • Jewschool
  • Kesher Talk
  • Life Of Rubin
  • Group B:
  • Mom with a View
  • Ocean Guy: Somewhere on A1A
  • Orthodox Anarchist
  • Realitygaps
  • Solomonia
  • The Four Questions
  • The Jewish Connection
  • The View from Here
  • The Wandering Jew
  • This is probably the easiest category to write about, as it requires just quickly glancing at each one and then making a completely subjective decision.

    First, there's Group A:
    Beyond Tshuva started off with a nice header, clear formatting, and has quickly organized their 3-column format with links to the recent comments and posts, along with the most commented posts. The small type in those columns is a little rough, but it wisely focuses the attention on the posts rather than the sidebars. Like the next blog, CrossCurrents, wisely links to each contributor's posts under their names.

    CrossCurrents has a good, clear, wide main column, and though the font is good and clear, it's a bit small. I like it, but don't love it. Their sidebar is a bit unwieldy, however. Decent header. As mentioned, wisely places posts under their author's name.

    ElderofZiyon's header is okay, though I don't like the fade all the way to white. I also am not a fan of pure white backgrounds, though it actually looks decent on his blog. Fonts and font colors are good, links are well organized. The message board is a nice addition, though appearance-wise it's kind of ugly.

    HasidicGentile is really fancy, but a bit too much. There's so much texture and background it's hard to really read the posts. Cool ideas, though toning it down a bit would help a lot.

    Jewlicious is... interesting. It does a great job of focusing you on the posts themselves, but has all the requisite links (and of course the [new] famous Jewlicious girl). It also has the 'recent comments' and 'most commented' links, which makes it easy to find their big discussions.

    JewSchool is also different. It's got an extremely organized main section, with link buttons at the top, and an okay header and funky sidebar. A lot of ads, but they're unobtrusive; I don't like their posts seperator, but it's a cool idea at least. Clear type, too.

    Kesher Talk is a great blog, and it's got a really funky header... but the header is too big. It takes up almost half my browser (and I've got 17"!). There's a lot going on on the sides, but it's unobtrusive - and the links on the left are really well organized and in categories. The ads are wisely placed off to the right, out of the way. Good typeface.

    LifeofRubin has a cool header, though I'm a big fan of colors and not black. The little things all over the sidebar look nice, such as how he lists his "Notable Posts", for example. Clearly well-designed. Plus, he wants to make me a header. :)

    Okay, so for my first vote on this Group, I took Jewlicious. The next ones will likely be LifeofRubin, BeyondTshuva, and then one of these three again. I guess I have to realize that a blog with too much color would be distracting.
    Now, on to Group B:
    Mom With a View has a few cool things: Her sunglasses and logo; the (important for a periodic blogger) calendar that shows when there are posts; and the tiny Aish roller on top. It's very clean and refined, though I don't get the huge space on the right.

    OceanGuy's pictures don't come out on my browser (Mozilla), so I checked it out on IE - still nothing. Luckily, I'd seen it in school, and it's really cool. He has cool ways of titling sections on the sidebar, and a decent enough main section which is not distracted by the sidebar.

    Orthodox Anarchist has the best - albeit freaky - header and logo, and a good sidebar. It's too bad his type is so small and he has a black background, because otherwise he'd run away with votes.

    Reality Gaps is the blogger I feel terrible for, and want to vote for out of sympathy. Just last night, the server they were on or webhost or whatever disappeared, and now he/she/they are gone. Nothing to do but express sympathy, really.

    Solomonia is really clean, with a pretty inspiring header and really great sidebars, despite the white background. I'm a big fan of the design - and I am especially impressed by how the comments popup looks - really cool, I must say.

    Four Questions is cool, but it's just too dark for me. I like the header, and the layout overall (though the type in the sidebars is too big), but the dark outweights the rest too much. Funky background, though I'm not a fan of the non-moving backgrounds.

    The Jewish Connection has a very nice header, including tagline, but really not much else to write about.

    The View From Here has a great header and design, and while the typeface below of light blue strains the eyes a bit, it's really great overall.

    The Wandering Jew's design is so great, from header to sidebar to typeface, it's a shame the huge empty space on both sides is being unused. Shifting the main column to the middle of the screen and putting this sidebar to the left, and either widening the main column or adding a third one would do so much.

    Okay, so I was in a rush the first time and gave The Jewish Connection my vote. Next time, Solomania gets it.
    Hope you've enjoyed! I know I did.

    Technorati tags: , , , , .


    1. Any blog (such as this one forexample, since you aren't in the running) uses a different colored square in the middle of their post to highlight an article or quote from another place lost my vote.

      I think they are distracting, and the font inside the box is usually smaller and harder to read.

    2. I actually like the boxes - they clearly delineate what's a quote and what's not, and it shows that the quotes are less important than what the person is saying. I'm not sure if you use Mozilla or IE, but on IE mine looks terrible, especially the boxes. On Mozilla, it looks crisper and finer, and the font is only slightly smaller - not hard to read at all.

      Also, check out "CodeScripter" from my blogroll. Mirty's latest post there gives a 30-second explanation on how to switch your screen to ClearType, so it all looks better. Takes about a day to get used to, but it's really nice and pretty.

    3. The truth is I prefer blogs that rarely quote outside sources. If I see an article quoted in a post I usually move on to the item.

    4. Since I nominated Elder of Ziyon, I found the design to be simple but elegant. I wasn't bothered by the white. Still it would appear that a lot of people don't agree with me. (I don't get what's so wonderful about the design of Jewlicious. For one thing it takes too long to load.)

      And I agree with you on the boxes. That's why I figured out how to make them instead of just having the quotes indented.

    5. Interesting. Personally, I do so if the article is too long and irrelevant, but if it's short or interesting, I stick around. Often, the quotes are just well-said points or background.

      I also use the blockquote on occasion for things that are not quotes, if only to format it more clearly.

    6. Jewlicious is easy to read - I think that's the main thing. The background is not plain, even if it's not great. Plus, their readership brings them votes, period.

    7. I'm a firefox user and, for some reason, yours is the only blog that takes more than a second to load. I get it in two parts: First the header and, then, a few moments later, the rest. Love the new header by the way.

    8. Oy, I know. No clue what it is, either.

    9. You are actually right about my tagboard being ugly. I just made it match the rest of my board color scheme as much as I could so it is a little better.

      I used to have a nicer looking tagboard, along with two scrolling news tickers and lots of other bells and whistles. But it caused problems for some people with pop-ups, pop-unders and the scrolling news (which Israpundit uses) ends up taking tons of CPU time in Mozilla, affecting other Windows apps! I can't run Konfabulator at the same time that Israpundit is open on any Firefox page, for example.

    10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    12. Elder - much, much nicer. Heh - something IE has over Mozilla, I guess. Firefox hasn't yet figured out how to control CPU usage - it's the only thing about it that really gets to me.

      I should note I didn't mean to make it sound overly critical. I think the tagboard is actually a cool concept in general - adds a mini-message board for less 'bloggy' discussion. Neat.

    13. I consider Jewlicious well designed for a number of reasons. The blog is easy to read. The posts are often cleverly illustrated with photos and sometimes with custom made graphics. The Islamic style background featuring mogen dovids is funny and ironic. There are other things to consider as well. Their prominent display of recent comments and most commented posts goes a long way towards promoting continuous dialog, even on posts that are months old. The site loads slowly but it is graphics intensive and once the graphics are cached, the load time is significantly reduced. Look at their URLs too. No long and annoying URLs like those generated by blogspot. If a story is titled "JIB Blog Awards" then the url ends with "JIB-Blog-Awards" - a format that search engines love. Let Jewlicious be a lesson to us all - a well designed blog, in every respect, is both entertaining and effective. The large auddience enjoyed by Jewlicious is no coincidence. Love them or hate them, there are few if any Jblogs that are as well designed.

    14. Anon - Interestingly and well put.

    15. I think the longest delay is when it's contacting technorati. beats me. did you check out wandering jew's photo album? Amazing. Just, amazing.

    16. I've seen some of it - really cool.

    17. "Plus, their readership brings them votes, period."

      We are, at best, reluctant participants in the JIBs. We have never urged our readership to please, please, please vote for us - like some other Jbloggers. There is no JIB Award nominee logo on the side of our site with handy links to ONLY the categories we've been nominated in. The thing we like about the JIBs is that they increase the profile of JBlogs. To that end we've done (time consuming, as you well know) nominee reviews - so far in categories that we're not in.

      If we win anything, we hope it's because of the quality of our product, not because of the blind adherence of our fans. And frankly, given the ugliness and acrimony surrounding this year's awards, we couldn't care less how we do. But thanks for your vote and your visit!