Thursday, September 20, 2007

Discussion on Objections to the Permanent Book Ad at the Top of my Blog

Once again on Josh Strodtbeck's blog I'm being lambasted. One of the things brought up has been concerning the design of my blog. In particular, some folks (Josh himself, vociferously in the past) object to my permanent book ad at the top of the blog.

Lutheran Pastor Gregory House wrote:

You have to admit that Josh's criticism of your site design is valid.

One of his criticisms was, and so I followed it, many weeks ago.

Josh wrote:

I pointed out that they're [book ads] excessively large and ugly. I should not have to scroll through three pages of ads to get to your first post. . . . giant images that force you to scroll through three pages.

Earlier (about three weeks ago) Josh had written:

If you took down the obnoxiously large book ads, what would you have? Some Catholic ranting that he thinks Protestants are mean. Big whoop.

I removed (many weeks ago) the large book images from the top (that were themselves recommended to me by a commenter on my blog, by the way) and have only 11 small images of the e-books I sell (all bunched together, like one medium-sized photo).

But Josh (so it seems) didn't know that and so has to lie about me again:

It's serious advice on website design, but apparently you can't take any advice as anything but an assault on your character.

Right. So I followed the advice because I am a masochist? Interesting . . . what will you come up with next, Josh? I'm an ass when I don't follow your advice and I am when I do. Is there a third choice? :-)

In fact, I will even partially follow the advice a second time, by reducing the size of the permanent ad. I want to move the tax-deductible section off the top, and will instead make a link to that. So there will now be one fairly small book ad permanently at the top (and currently right below it an ad for a friend that I have there for two months).

If someone has a rough time with that, they can lump it. I am a writer. That is a large part of my income (some people seem to think I should be ashamed of that for some reason). In order to sell books (in the tiny Catholic apologetics market) you have to advertise. Economic reality. My publisher has very little money for that. So I have to do a bit myself.

I don't waste my time with sites that are poorly designed. If I have to work to find the actual content, sorry... I have better uses for my time.

If that causes someone to not read any of my 1700 posts online, because it's too difficult to scroll past an ad (that will now be reduced in size a second time), then I encourage them to not visit my site. I'll live. If that is their priority in the overall scheme of things, little of what I write will benefit them, anyway. Different strokes . . . be well, etc.

I think people are far too hung up on images and presentation and too little concerned with content and substance. That's our modern society. If everyone isn't up to the latest technologies and the "in thing" computer-wise, with all the latest gadgets and bells and whistles, then they are irrelevant troglodytes and no one should even bother reading what they have to present. The Madison Avenue mentality . . . I reject it. And I don't care if someone gets upset if I reject it. I've never lived for what the crowd may think of me. I'm a nonconformist and I do what I do based on conscious reflection, not simply following the masses like a sheep. This is one such instance.

If someone wants to have cutting-edge graphics, I don't have the slightest problem with that. I love good graphics, I love art and architecture. I love the work my friend Chad Toney did on eight book covers for me (seen above). More power to them. It's wonderful and great. What I am objecting to is prioritizing image over substance. I reject the thinking shown by Pastor House, whereby he won't even visit my site because he objects to the presence of an ad at the top and how large it might be.

Meanwhile, I get about 850 hits a day on my blog (he gets 85, just for the record), so I must be doing something right. If my designs are so horrendous, then by all means, I'd like to see the snazzy designs get anywhere near the number of visitors I am receiving. Is the proof not in the pudding? Maybe some of those folks don't like how my blog looks, either, but they're getting something out of my writing, ain't they, or they wouldn't keep coming back, to the tune of over one million page views in three-and-a-half years.

And of course, now I'll be accused of bragging. No. I'm saying that in a large sense it is ridiculous to be griping about how my site is designed, when the very purpose of a blog (as in all writing intended to serve some useful purpose) is to get as many readers as one can. I'm doing fine. Why is it that many other blogs get so few readers? Why don't you critics examine that and the possible stewardship issues involved (spending lots of time with little effect) rather than go after my site? So it rings a bit hollow to hear criticisms about an ad, with all those people reading my blog every day.

But like I said, I did follow some of Josh's advice before on that score, and will again today, because I (how did he put it again?) "can't take any advice as anything but an assault on [my] character." :-)

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