Last night I dressed up my dog as a cow and my daughter as an elephant and, what? What is that? I can’t hear you. Oh, OH! You don’t like the redesign of this site? Guess what? YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY!
“The new dooce site screams ‘sell-out’ in a really busy, sell-out-y way… So distracting. So disappointing.”
“Checked out the new design and I honestly don’t like it. Wayyyy too many ads.”
“Long time reader of both of your blogs, and… umm… those ads are gratuitous and hideous. It’s cool that Heather is trying to make a living from her website, but didn’t she used to be a web designer? And, um, doesn’t her site now fly in the face of any reasonable aesthetic?”
“I’m hating it.”
“The new dooce layout strikes me as both over the top and boring at the same time… It seems poorly thought-out and only half-executed.”
“GOOD LORD! Could you put some more ads on???? SHEESH!”
“This is just a Halloween scare, right?”
“Get a job Jon/Heather.. The ads were there before but new design just makes you wanna hit the little x in the right hand corner of the browser. If I wanna see that many ads, I’ll goto yahoo or whatever.. I’m sure writing little posts about what your daughter, husband, family does is HARD work, but pardon me if I don’t do that everyday and dont get paid for it and sell cute pictures, etc.. Stop the madness, get jobs.”
“I’m sorry but it looks horrid.”
“It’s sorta hard to look at. I know jon is out of work and all, but holy cowmoly.”
“You’re killing the content and it almost makes me not want to read you anymore.”
First, I want to say that no one should apologize for their gut reaction to the redesign. All of this feedback is valid. You, my readers, have seen me and supported me through some of the roughest times in my life and the last thing I want to do is alienate you. I understand why some of you are upset about the ads.
That being said, I cannot possibly make everyone happy. Some of you want less ads, some of you want a bigger header, some of you want bigger fonts, some of you want smaller fonts. I’ve made a few tweaks to the design according to some of your feedback, and Jon is working on a few more changes as I type this. This design may change over the next few months, but right now we want to see how this works out. We’re working hard to make this the cleanest design possible, a design that will have ads. They aren’t going away.
Right now my website is supporting my family. It is feeding us, paying our mortgage and our insurance premiums. I happen to think that this is pretty cool, and I can’t help but believe that this is a good thing for personal websites in general, for people who want to make a living by publishing themselves. This means that you don’t have to be a gadget-freak or political junkie to turn your online writing into a livelihood. Maybe your website about Monarch Butterfly migration patterns will one day pay for your kid’s college education. COULD HAPPEN.
One thing you should understand, though, is that I have never and will never write anything on my website to appease an advertiser. I have never and will never censor myself to make an advertiser happy. I’d take down my website before I’d let an advertiser have any say in my content.
While thinking about this redesign Jon and I researched several options concerning how to make this whole thing work. Some of you have suggested that I charge a subscription fee so that I could dispense with ads, but I really don’t want to put that burden on my readers. Plus, I don’t think that the subscription model is a viable way to go. By using ads I’m making my livelihood my problem and no one else’s.
Some of you think that I should just write for the pure joy of it, that I should keep it as a hobby and go and get a “real” job. I have a couple things to say to this. One, I do have a real job: I’m a mother, but the pay is shit. Two, if you could make a living doing what you love to do, wouldn’t you go for it? Wouldn’t I be crazy not to go for it?
I hope this answers some of your questions, and even if it doesn’t change your opinion about the design I hope you understand that my narrative hasn’t changed. I hope you understand that I haven’t just gone and given a big middle finger to people who don’t like the ads. Like I said, your complaints are valuable. I should let you know that having Jon at home has changed my life. It’s changed Leta’s life. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves like two ducks pecking at each other’s faces, but having him here has almost eliminated my anxiety. By having my website support my family he can continue to stay home. You don’t have to like my decision, but maybe you could wish us luck.