Monday, December 15, 2008

Critique this Blog #20: DanceAdvantage

Today we're critiquing the blog Dance Advantage by Nichelle. Nichelle describes her site as "a comprehensive resource for students of dance and their teachers." As you can see from her detailed questions, Nichelle has put a lot of thought into the utility of her site. She would like to know:
  1. The Sidebar: I know it is really long. Is it way too much? Are there ways I can improve the layout/offerings of the sidebar? I was hoping to find a 3-column theme that has a customizable header and which has a look I like - so far no such luck. Anything I can do to improve the sidebar length with just the two? On a related note, I have experimented with offering one post, three posts, and five posts at a time on the screen (settling on the current five to match the length of the sidebar). Is there a magic number for my blog or does it not matter?
  2. Categories and Tags: Are the categories and tags I've created functional? Are there too many? Are they too broad or too narrow? Can you find them? Is Cloud or Menu better?
  3. The Parent Connection: Obviously, dance is a pretty specific niche which I've mainly directed at students and teachers. However, parents play an important role in dance studio life too. Is the information useful for parents, too? Suggestions to make it more useful?
  4. Post Length: My posts tend to be long. Should I divide my topics more? Does breaking up the post with subtitles and pictures help, or are the posts still just too long?
  5. Search & Stay: I feel that I get a lot of people hitting the blog when surfing/searching. How can I entice them to subscribe right away, or at least ensure they'll come back?
  6. Feedback and Hype: Ok, last one, I promise. I'd just like feedback on the overall impression, look, design, branding, etc of the blog. And I'd like to pick some brains about creative ways I could promote the site and get it (and the companion network- DA Interactive) out to their intended audience- dance studios/teachers/students/parents (a group which has been slow to adapt and make use of online technology).
Dearest BlogCoach readers and ├╝ber-critiquers (this is our 20th, after all): What feedback can you offer Nichelle? Can you respond to a few of her queries?