Introducing the newly Re-designed DealerRefresh!
It’s been awhile since we’ve had any major changes to the design of the blog. Unbeknown to most, I’ve been working on this new design for over six months now.
With this new design, I’m pursuing something different. The new DealerRefresh allows a focus on great content, as well as frequency. If you’re familiar with tumblr, over the next few weeks you’ll see where the inspiration for the new blog format comes from.
While this design contains several new key elements and features, the overall user experience hasn’t changed much – at least for now.
Some of the major changes include:
1. Two columns layout
You’ll be quick to notice the transition from a three column into a two column design. This two column design has several benefits, but most importantly there is now additional space for expanded content. The two column design also benefits our approach to mobile.
2. Adaptive Website Design
We’re taking full advantage of adaptive design. Whether you’re reading DealerRefresh from your computer, tablet, or mobile browser – you’ll find the new design changes accordingly. Adaptive website design IS the future of web design and user experience. I’m very excited about leveraging this new technology on DealerRefresh.
3. Share effortlessly
As mentioned above, some of the new blog design has been inspired by tumbler. If you’re familiar, you already understand how tumblr allows you to effortlessly share content and can envision how the new design will work.
This new approach is a hybrid of incorporating the 8bit Standard theme and unique custom widgets and design. If you’re not familiar with 8bit and their WP themes, I’d recommend paying them a visit. Just be a cool cat and not copy – like some have.
My goal here is to place DealerRefresh back as home-base for important and engaging content regardless of whether it’s a simple video, tweet, question on the forum, or an article from myself or one of our regular columnists.
4. Guest articles
DealerRefresh, as a blog, has never been an open format for ALL to publish on, and never will be. However, over the last year we have accepted “guest articles” from time to time. As a reflection of the growth of this format, I’m excited to announce the addition of our Regular Blog Columnists.
DealerRefresh’s columnists are industry experts from both the dealer and service side of our industry. You’ll recognize most of our columnists due to their previous articles on the blog. Whether they like it or not, they now each have their own spot with photo and short bio in the lower right column.
Side note: I’m fortunate to have a great professional relationship with each of our regular columnists. A huge thanks to each of you for your dedication and willingness to share your knowledge and opinions regularly with the DealerRefresh community.
*Please note that as of writing this, not all of our regular blog columnist are yet reflected in the side column.
5. Increase synergies between the blog and forum
A recognized issue we’ve had since introducing the DealerRefresh forms (almost 4 years ago) is the lack of synergy between the two. It’s amazing how little crossover traffic exists between there and here on the blog. With the new design, we have introduced additional synergies between the two.
One feature you’ll quickly recognize is the addition of our “latest forum posts” widget found in the right column. Another feature is baked into the new theme and allows us to quickly post the latest forum thread right here on the blog while pointing the conversation over to the forum.
We can’t forget about our sponsors. They help fund these new changes and redesigns. It’s always a challenge to maintain a fair balance between great content and a great user experience while also making sure our sponsors are receiving the advertising exposure they’ve purchased. With the new design, you’ll see that our sponsors have additional advertising (rotation and frequency), without taking up additional real-estate or being intrusive.
7. Super Search
This isn’t really a new feature but it’s one that’s often overlooked. On the the blog and forum, we have incorporated Google Custom search. This feature will return search results from both the forum and blog. With over 7 years of content, articles and discussions – it’s likely you’ll find what your looking for with a simple search here on DealerRefresh.
We’re not done.
The new design is a work in progress. We have several more features that will be introduced to the new blog design and several features in the hopper for the forum as well.
Do me a favor and keep your eyes open. I’m sure there are a few bugs, broken images and links. If you find something broken – let me know!
As always – I truly appreciate everyone’s continued support and dedication. It’s hard to believe DealerRefresh will soon me 8 years old. Yes – contrary to what others like to say, DealerRefresh was the first and original online blog/forum channel in the industry. We’re still here, stronger and more dedicated than ever before.
Here’s looking forward to a unique and exciting 2013 here on DealerRefresh.