Times have changed. Back in 2014, for every 1 visitor that read ToolGuyd content on a mobile device, there were nearly 2 visitors using a desktop or laptop computer. Now, that ratio has flipped, and there are no signs of the trend plateauing just yet.
For January 2019 so far, the ratio is now 2.16 mobile visitors for every 1 desktop visitor. Visitor trends and tendencies have also changed.
So, it is time for a site redesign, or at least some changes.
I take pride in ToolGuyd’s look and feel, and I worked hard to create it. I made changes over the years, some big and others small, and like to think that ToolGuyd is as user-friendly as can be. But, if I’m being honest with myself, the design has started to look a little dated. It’s not as good as it could be, at least for readers on a smartphone.
Before I delve deep into redesigning the site, I’ll be doing some testing. There might be little changes here and there. And of course, I’d like to hear your feedback and requests!
I want to modernize ToolGuyd’s look and feel, but without adopting some of the popular trends that I don’t care for or agree with. When reading a post or article on my smartphone, I don’t want to have to scroll through and see an ad after every other paragraph. Or read two paragraphs before coming across grayed out text that requires a click on “read more.” If I clicked on a headline, doesn’t that already mean I want to read the story?
Part of the challenge will be designing the site to be better for both mobile and desktop views. The other part will be in trying to determine whether there are better ways to make published content more accessible. For instance, how do I ensure that the work put into a post from 6 months ago, 12 months ago, 2 years ago is still visible and accessible to interested readers?
So, in effect, I will be working out two new designs – one for mobile, one for desktop.
How can I make your mobile viewing experience better?
How can I make your desktop or laptop experience better?
For instance, at least 75% of desktop and laptop resolutions can support additional content on the sides. Do you want to see bigger images? A large featured “hero” image in reviews? Another column with more related posts or featured posts? Social media content?
I’m not going to ignore tablet viewers either. But, due to viewport sizing, the tablet view will likely be a slightly narrower version of the desktop view, similar to how it is now.
(While I say I, I want to recognize Benjamen’s contributions and efforts. He helps a LOT with rolling changes, and with the last major redesign as well.)
What about ToolGuyd’s look and layout would you prefer to see changed? What should we absolutely not touch?
Please keep the RSS feed! I prefer to follow websites with changing content (like ToolGuyd) through my RSS reader. It lets me digest more content from more websites in an efficient, one app/program manner.
The only change to RSS that I keep flip-flopping over is whether to keep the full feed, or headlines and excepts only. A lot of RSS readers can open posts within apps, but so far I’m still heavily on the “stick with the full feed” side.
I certainly prefer the full feed. It’s easier to read the article without jumping between the RSS reader and the website. I sometimes still click to visit the side to read comments or search.
I haven’t dabbled in WP for too long (need to resurrect my own blog), but would it be possible to provide two RSS feed links, one providing the full feed, and one providing headlines/excerpts?
Also, my impression was that readers almost always prefer full feeds (so they could read everything from the RSS reader), but many sites didn’t like it, because they wanted site visits, advertising revenues, etc. (I was never a heavy RSS user, maybe I need to look at it again. Then again, I’m sure I’d be visiting frequently to comment anyway).
The way RSS reader used to be, you’d have to click the headline, wait for a browser to launch and the site to load. Now, it all happens within most RSS services or app windows. That reduces the hassle for readers, but the hassle is still greater than zero, compared to supplying the full RSS feed.
My rss reader and the mobile version of the site are basically the same. I get a grid of posts with a title and a photo and when I set the post the entire content comes up. That’s exactly what we want. I like your site but other sites but really so the rss reader asked me to take back control to make content useful to them. Some sites the site itself makes the content no good because the design is too crazy. If you want full control of the layout, publish a magazine. Web should allow consumers things like preferred font size for their bad eyes and other accommodations for user needs.
The site is essentially a digital magazine, and we are fully compliant with techniques to approve accessibility, such as enlargeable font sizes and alt codes. I test on multiple devices to ensure that the font size is large enough and legible, and enlargeable using browser or device settings if or when needed.
I don’t see a need for any changes, this site works just well right now. Well, actually there is one thing: when I search something the search results seem to come in a random order. I would like to have the search results listed by date from newest to oldest.
Not to mince words, the search function is barely functional. It’s built-in, and does a search of the database, sorting in order of perceived significance.
I can pay for a service that improves the search, but it’s still built on top of the existing service.
Google offers a built-in site search, but I didn’t like it very much when I used it a few years ago. For a really detailed search, nothing beats a Google search of “something site:toolguyd.com .”
I’ll this to my to-list, thank you! I can’t make promises, but I will at least research what options there are for improvements.
As a consumer of the site on both laptop and mobile, I am pleased with the current experience and agree that a change is not required. I definitely don’t want a mobile experience with more adds between paragraphs within posts and articles.
Okay, noted, thank you!
I totally agree here. Totally.
And as an aside I only read Toolguyd on an iPhone.
Not my laptops, desktops or iPad. N e v e r. Dunno why but there it is.
And thank you for asking us.
The site is fine. But what really irritates me is when I’m on a “family friendly” site like ToolGuyd and I regularly see ads with scantily clad women that have zero relationship to a tool site. I feel that’s unacceptable on a site like this. I don’t want to have to worry about what ad might pop up if I’m sitting next to my wife trying to catch up on Tool news.
The only other thing I would like to see is Tool reviews from pro-users, actual woodworkers, tradesman, etc. Drilling 24 holes in a couple 2x4s isn’t even remotely close to a “torture-test”, that’s about six minutes of work for an electrician. When developing tools and actually torture testing prototypes I run the tools hard all day long for days at a time in order to give accurate feedback and understand how a tool will work in real world conditions, and that’s the type of person I want to see a review from.
Interesting. I get mostly Milwaukee ads on here. Probably because that’s what my personal search history is and the ads are targeted toward me.
You can remove the tongue from your cheek because no, I do not search for women’s leggings, women’s workout products, or drones videotaping women.
Well now your gonna get more of those ads from typing that LOLOL
Well you should probably find out who is using your device that’s making those ads come up.
I have the Google ads set to block potentially offensive ads. Sometimes things slip through.
The Google ads are often linked to site content, or browser history and perceived interests. So if you visit say an outdoor retailer site, you might see ads for that site on a subsequent visit. Or, you might see linked interest stuff.
I’ll take another look at the settings.
At the top right corner or every ad there should be an arrow and an X, and clicking through that will usually allow you to block an ad for being offensive.
If you can send a screenshot I can try to look into it. If you’re on a desktop or laptop, and open to it, I can give you instructions for obtaining information that would allow me to permanently block those ads for everyone.
I like the Tool Guide website, so if you changed nothing, that would still be fine with me.
A couple thoughts anyway:
1. If there’s some way to make it easier to follow replies to my own posts, that would be nice. I sometimes post a question or comment and forget to check back if I received any responses. I realize I can click the “notify me of follow-up comments” button, but then I still have to go into my email and click subscribe. Is there anyway I could just do it in one step?
2. Your forum feels archaic and I’m not sure it’s even possible to navigate there from the regular website (but I assume it’s a low priority and the main website gets all the traffic).
I have the same ideas/concerns as Jared!
1) Unfortunately, there is not, at least not without implementing a 3rd party commenting service. I have looked into this in the past, and it’s just not something I want to do, as the cons outweigh the pros.
2) The forum is on its own server and uses a very slimmed-down forum service. The only link is on the desktop sidebar, or at the very bottom on a mobile device.
There are a number of reasons why I won’t be expanding it into a fully-featured forum.
Did you just add a link to the forum (on the ad bar on the right hand side of the main page)? Or am I blind and only just noticed it for the first time.
That’s been there since I launched the forum. If it makes you feel better, I know that it’s too subtle and even invisible..
I view toolguyd on my mobile, tablet, and desktop depending on where I am at the time. Usually check for new posts a few times a day when I have some spare time.
So far, the site seems to load and work fine on all 3.
I use a desktop. Where are all the scantily-clad women?
I must be a real outlier. I have an iphone but I can’t recall ever going to toolguyd on it. I tend to only use smaller devices for sites I have to visit while outside the home or office. Otherwise I’d rather use a laptop.
I’m the exact same. And I think the site is great as is but whatever changes people need certainly won’t change my visiting habits.
Oh! I thought of something else – when I use my phone there’s no “recent comments” section. I like that feature on the desktop version and would appreciate if there was some way to access it on my phone.
Lots of times there’s valuable information it the comments and the “recent comments” section helps me jump to the new stuff instead of scrolling through the content I’ve already read.
On my phone (I typically use Brave on Android), the most recent comments and most recent posts are at the very bottom
Yes, it’s there, way at the bottom, right under a white blank space that belonged to a broken sidebar ad. *Fixed* The blank white space is gone – do you see the Recent Comments now?
That’s one of the things I want to find a way to improve – to make it quicker to see more stuff like that.
Maybe the first 10 posts will be full headlines, the next 5-10 can just be headlines.
Then “Recent Comments,” maybe “New Releases” that features tools that were covered and soon hitting the market. “More from Popular Brands,” or other such categories.
Maybe put a dropdown menu at the top to jump to the different sections of the page and site for mobile users?
I’m not too HTML literate, but can you mark a section with something like #recent and have the menu jump to that section of the page? You might even be able to do that now.
Longer and more sectioned posts and have a “table of contents” at the top that does just that. But if it has to be done for content, then there’s something wrong with the way the content is done.
I’m not sure if any changes are needed – I don’t think I’ve ever felt frustrated at the current layout on either desktop or mobile.
Still, there are little tweaks that I’d like to do, and cannot given the current structuring.
For instance, the top menu on mobile could be improved, but there’s no way to do what I want without recoding it.
Consider a bowl of chili with nacho strips on top. You can use whole chips, and you can use a plate instead of a bowl. But it’s still going to look like chili with chips on top, rather than nachos with chili. I can try to use the same exact ingredients, but the end result won’t look the same if I start out set to layer things differently.
Even if everything looks fine, things have changed. Readers’ activity on ToolGuyd is a lot different than a few years ago. Attention spans are shorter, and with the majority of readers visiting on mobile devices, the top menu and sidebar available to desktop readers are essentially hidden.
There is more I can do to clean up the mobile look and feel, and to make past content more accessible.
For desktop, there’s unused whitespace, to the sides of a page, and in the sidebar next to the content column once the reader scrolls way down to the comments.
I have always wanted to implement a “featured story” display at the top of a page, or after a few of the latest headlines. That kind of thing needs to be fully developed around.
Maybe for mobile there can be swipeable “new releases” widget, and on desktop it’d be 3 thumbnails next to each other.
But to create different “sections,” in a similar style as newspapers and magazine sites, it requires digging into code. Think of it as adding a window or counter to a wall. The top might look the same, and the bottom, but to change the middle you need to make changes to the framing beyond the wall surface, spanning from top to bottom.
Long story short, things might be fine, but readers needs have changed, and I haven’t met those needs well enough.
So it’s not really about changing the way things are, but enhancing and adding to them. To do that, I have to work on the infrastructure.
The unused white space is a feature that is part of what is great about the current design and what makes the site more enjoyable and why both experiences are basically the same already. Don’t turn into some busy stuffef to the gills page.
I like the layout as is, the simplicity and clarity. On a laptop, I like the sidebar of related articles.
What I would really like is a pair of buttons at the top of each page saying “next” and “previous “. I tend to catch up a day at a time, and it’s slightly tedious to have to go back a page to get to a link to the next post.
Thanks for all your hard work!
There are actually “next post” and “previous post” links at the bottom of each post, right before where it says Comments. The links are headlines, though.
Click this link and then scroll up a little to see – https://toolguyd.com/toolguyd-mobile-friendly-and-desktop-redesign-phase-1-2019/#comments .
I can perhaps add a “More Recent News” heading to the links, or something like that, or “Previous: ” and “Next: ” to the posts themselves. The headline/post title links were requested when they went missing with the last redesign. I don’t remember what I used to use, but post titles seemed reasonable.
Adding it to the top of a post won’t be possible.
On a desktop or sidebar there are “recent posts” visible on every page but the homepage. I have been trying to figure out a way to improve that for mobile. But how many mobile readers keep scrolling down beyond a post or comments section?
Thanks, Stuart. I know now. I reckon that if I hadn’t worked that out for myself after reading probably hundreds of posts, it really wasn’t clear that they were the surrounding chronological posts. Glad the functionality is there, and using the headline is probably useful, but I reckon the signposting could be improved. At least for me. And thanks for responding.
I’ll see what I can do.
Frankly, someone asked for the links back when I did the last redesign, I said “sure,” added them in, along with campaign code so I can see if the links were popular or not, and stopped there. There should definitely be a way to improve it.
I think adding “Prev” and “Next” before the post titles, or instead of the titles (which can be long), would work well.
Overall, the site is readily readable on both desktop and mobile. I don’t think it looks dated.
On mobile, the menu bar needs to be sticky at the top for easy access as you scroll down or a button to scroll to the top. Also, on the index page, infinite-scroll would be greater than having to click the page number/next page button.
On reader commenting section, adding the ability to edit/format comment would be cool. Not sure how people feel about this, but ability to upvote/downvote comment is helpful.
The menu is sticky on desktop, I can find a way to slim it down and sticky it on mobile. Slimming it down was on the to-do list, stickying it sounds good. I really want to rework the menu as well, or the pages it links to, such as “new tools,” to allow for filtering.
Editing comments isn’t possible. On the back end, you have to be able to edit posts in order to edit comments, and there’s no way to even give that to contributors, let alone subscribers. I thought that would be an option, but it was impossible.
Upvoting/downvoting requires an entirely new 3rd party commenting system that requires logging in. Frankly, I’d much rather keep things as they are, where anyone can comment or ask a question. I also don’t like the idea of relying on 3rd party systems, which can introduce tracking or other things. A few years ago I had a floating “like” box, but got rid of it when I realized it allowed or could allow those services to track user activity.
Assuming you’re using wordpress, have you checked out this plug-in that let anonymous user to edit comment within 5 minutes? Doesn’t use 3rd party, so worry about user tracking.
I’ve seen that and other plugins like that, but I really have to look at the code to see exactly how it works.
I don’t really trust the security of giving anonymous users privileges usually only given to editor and admin roles. There could be security vulnerabilities or unintended consequences of having the ability to edit database entries. Or, there’s the potential for it to affect server load or performance.
The way WordPress is built, comment-editing is stacked with other high-level permissions, and I’m afraid it’s too big of a risk.
Please do NOT add a button to jump to the top! Maybe it’s just me, but I strongly dislike floating buttons over posts. Also, I seem to accidentally hit them when scrolling – way too often! 🙂
Your strength, to me, has been and remains your content quality and consistency. Now that is not to imply that your layout or presentation is a weakness of any sort, but the minimalist feel I get, without the bombardment of ads, compliments the “no-nonsense” atmosphere I appreciate and respect about toolguyd. There’s several tool related sites I view daily, and I can think of 3 immediately which have more involved graphics/design investment, all three of which have weaker more advertising adjacent content/opinions, are presented with a much less eloquent and more rudimentary hold of English typography, and are only ever checked in sequence after toolguyd. Your content is the strongest around in my opinion, and I’ve long thought that was represented perfectly in the simple and effective layout we’ve grown accustomed to.
Thank you, I appreciate it!
I perhaps should have gone deeper into why changes are necessary, but I didn’t want to bore anyone.
The fact of the matter is that the mobile experience is so much slimmer compared to desktop and laptop views, both literally and figuratively, and I feel that we can do better in bringing more existing content to visitors and readers, new and current.
At the least, the mobile menu and entire top-of-page layout could be reworked. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but it’s not an easy task. The desktop menu could be reworked as well, to bring more categories and content links, without overloading it with too much.
There are things I’ve wanted to do, such as product-category-specific pages, more fine-tuned that the tag system I have now.
Milwaukee M18 content can be found here: https://toolguyd.com/tag/milwaukee-m18/ , but there’s no link to this section, except for after posts, and I’m finding that the bottom-of-a-post links aren’t drawing any attention. So, for today’s mobile users, perhaps there could be a #milwaukee-m18 section with the top 5 headlines.
There are 10 years and more than 6,000 posts, many if not most being still-relevant (maybe not the deals posts). There are some (but not enough) paths to that content for desktop users, but for mobile? I have to work on that.
And of course, there are always little things that can stand to be improved.
The deal posts can be still relevant – IF the comments are good, which I suspect happens here more often than most sites.
Personally I currently like the look and feel of your site. Toolsinaction redesigned their site around a year ago and I haven’t visited their page since. The redesign for them anyway was a negative.
I initially read ToolGuyd on my laptop, but now I read almost exclusively on my phone. I haven’t had any issues nor have I had any negative experiences.
I appreciate your effort in keeping the site’s layout updated. Your content and authenticity have always stood out and I hope that any changes don’t distract from that.
I appreciate that, thanks! But surely, there must be something we can add to make things even better?
I’m still waiting for the full-on commercialized version of the site with full gutter ads and a color theme matching the site/content sponsor of the month or season.
It’s your site so you should do the tweaks you feel need to be done, though I would say no drastic changes are really needed and would likely be unwanted by loyal visitors who probably enjoy the semi-basic layout and focus on content and comments rather than being overwhelmed.
As for mobile, my position on that is, despite the fact that tens of millions more people around the world access the internet on smartphones, they do that since they are dirt poor and don’t have desktop or laptop computers at all, not because their habits have changed from using a computer to using a phone.
It’s probably necessary to have a mobile version of a site to make viewing easier, but I wouldn’t focus on that despite the higher number of mobile visitors. The world is collectively getting dumber with everything being mobile-focused and people only caring about the clicks they get.
The chart above is drawn from anonymous ToolGuyd data. It pertains to users, but a chart showing sessions or pageviews would look very similar.
Based on the numbers, people are using mobile more than desktop and laptop computers. Maybe only some regulars, but many more new visitors who might become regulars. There’s more that we can do to bring some of our past content to potentially interested readers, new and regulars alike.
Even if the core of the site is maintained, or recreated with new framework, there are small tweaks that can be made for minor improvements here and there, starting with the top menu. For instance, does the “post comment” button need to be as large as it is? Little things could use renewed attention.
First off, let me say I use your website to find good deals on tools and information on new tools (DeWalt and Milwaukee mainly). So take what I say with a grain of salt.
At the end of your posts it just gets messy before the comment section with the related posts and announcement section. If I want to see related posts I just search your site. To me it’s ugly and not needed.
Same goes for everything after the “post comment” section. I’m not a graphic designer so I can’t help you with making it look nicer and more modern/minimalistic, but I encourage you to try out some layouts that aren’t so bulky with the add-ons. (I don’t notice the ones after this comment section like I do the related posts in between the comment section and your main posts.)
I enjoy the comment section and the cleanliness of the main post though.
Thanks! I can see what I can do about tidying it up, but the “related posts” links get used a lot. It can be a little nicer-looking.
After a post but before comments, there are “related posts,” and then links related to the “section” (categories), tags (model numbers, product families such as Milwaukee M12, Dewalt 20V Max, and others), and brands (Dewalt, Milwaukee, etc.).
After that, the titles of previous and next posts in chronological order. That needs to be tweaked.
There also used to be social media “sharing” links, and I took that down a few months ago as a test. Nobody seems to be missing it.
Somethings I can remove, move around, or tweak, but the Related Posts is too popular to remove.
Yeah, that’s the nice thing about statistics. You know what’s working. Well, I will just have to man up and shut my eyes as I scroll past. ?
Maybe some simple borders around the related posts or… My brother’s a programmer and he used to have me look at all his designs. Sometimes a slight style change made a big difference.
Keep up the good work!
What’s the ratio of mobile people who post and those who simply browse?
At 50 I’m not into reading reading stuff on my mobile which is why I have a desktop computer for most of my computing. I like screen real estate which is why I have (7) monitors at work. I love opening up tabs to browse (often more than 80 at a time) and this can’t be done effortlessly on any mobile device.
Long story short, whilst I might click on one of your posts via email on my mobile, I won’t post anything or research any tools until I’m at my desktop.
I don’t know, but I can tell you that a majority of readers are not inclined to reply to a post, and that’s okay.
I like screen real estate too. I moved to a 34″ display and can never go back to a dual-screen setup. https://toolguyd.com/dell-u3415w-curved-monitor-review/
I respond to comments on my phone, and there are definitely a lot of comments tapped out on mobile devices.
I very much like the simplistic site layout – as a regular reader I can scroll down a few screens to catch whatever posts I may have missed over a couple days away, that’s good enough for me. “Featured post” slideshows at the top and anything else that slows load time is a detractor for me – I particularly avoid sites with auto-play video whenever possible.
One thing that I’ve come to appreciate is a site with a “night mode” option that basically switches from a light screen and dark text to a dark background and lighter text. For folks that spend all day essentially staring at a light bulb (I do a lot of writing and copy editing at night after days spent in the field, ToolGuyd is the 20 minute “reward” break I give myself between editorial projects), less light bulb and more neutral color is always nice.
That is something I can look into. At a glance, it seems possible. In the meantime, it looks like there are some browser add-ons that can try to convert sites over in the absence of built-in functionality.
Definitely no auto-play video, I hate that too.
I trust whatever you do, even if it’s nothing discernible (which would be fine by me!) will work out great. Thanks for the site, Stuart!
I mentioned dark mode in my post as well. You just mentioned browser add-ins for that. I am not aware of that ability for the mobile version of Chrome, which is probably one of your users most used browsers.
If you’re able and willing, it would be really interesting (to me!) to see a breakdown by browser that shows OS/browser/platform in the details. I’m not sure if all of that is obvious by just looking at the browser identification, but I suspect it is.
Interesting graphic. I never would have guessed that trend. I have all but abandoned my laptop. I love the layout. It’s clean and easily navigable. I trust your tweaks will be top notch. My issue is with the forum as another reader remarked, but per your response, I guess it is what it is.
I honestly like a lot of things about this website. It is very easy to read and navigate on my phone or laptop. Every once in a while I run into an issue with an add covering content but that is only a very minor annoyance. Despite what I have read, the search function has worked well for me the few times that I have needed it. Keep up the great work!
Can you please send me a screenshot the next time that happens? I’ve never seen that happen before. I did have an issue with a Google ad not respecting size settings, so I created an encapsulating box with fixed dimensions, cutting misbehaving ads in half.
I sure will. It is relatively infrequent but I will use the Snipping Tool next time I see it.
I am a “visual learner “
So I would like to see more pictures if possible.
Also. If you could fix the issue of me not winning any giveaways. Lol
You have to check the the “I’m a winner” box when entering. It’s only visible to users whose ages at the time are odd numbered, use at least two different battery systems, have used both desktop and mobile browsers, and are greater than or less than five foot nine and three eighth inches (but not that exactly, sorry). Oh, and you must be open to the metric system.
The checkbox is on the left.
HA HA HA
I think I qualify based your the requirements.
I like the top navbar and general layout of the site. I primarily use view the desktop version, and don’t have any complaints.
A couple suggestions to enhance user experience:
1. Add a scroll to top arrow, can be static or appear after x% scrolled.
2. Collapsible comments section. Lots of scrolling on desktop and mobile if there’s a large thread.
3. Add a favorites button for users to save favorite articles to local storage (cookie).
I would be more than happy to assist with any site improvements as this is what I do for a living :).
The problem with a scroll-to-top arrow is that it can behave differently depending on the device resolution or size, and cover up parts of the page.
There was one site I stopped visiting because it was such a chore to read, with a “back to top” button covering entire words.
What I could potentially do is add links to the bottom of the comments section, or end of a post maybe.
2) I can think about that. Here’s the question though – if I can do that without much difficulty, should there be a “show comments” button, or “hide comments” button? On other sites that have 3rd party comments, I don’t like having to press a button to show comments because it takes a while to load. What I’d use would have them loaded but hidden, but it could potentially frustrate regular commenters or those that enjoy reading through the discussion.
3) I don’t quite know what that means. There’s no “printable” version of posts because there hasn’t been a need for it, and in a pinch browsers’ “Print” function often allows for pages to be saved as PDFs. Or if on a desktop, copy and pasting to a Word doc isn’t too bad.
Thanks, I appreciate it! Will keep you in mind. I’m stubborn though; it takes a lot of wall-hitting and going nowhere before I ask for help.
I hear you on the scroll to top arrow.. I’ve seen some atrocious ones.
I would personally show all comments by default, either letting the user collapse all or root comments with replies. It would just be a front end style change using bootstrap with no dynamic loading of data.
The favorites would be it’s own page, just displaying the url of favorite articles loaded from local cookie if it’s there.
It appears that mobile device screens are poised to only get larger with foldable screens. Is this the time to change? So much is lost when a website skinnies down to a hand held device.
My question to you is, what are we gaining here?
As far as the overall look, feel, and function of the website, I really like it. One of the things that kept me coming back to this site when I first discovered IS the way that you set it up, as well as the content. I would be happy if it stated the same, or if very little was changed. Your time, effort, and design has resulted in one of my favourite websites.
Toolguyd is actually one of the more functional sites I visit. I’d say, please don’t muck with it too much.
More than requesting anything, I’d say there are a few things I’d appreciate you stay away from.
First, as mentioned above, don’t move to a “click to read more” format. This is especially true for comments. Please don’t move to Disqus, where you’re constantly clicking, and have to do it a dozen times on popular discussions.
Second, it would be nice if you stayed away from designs with “sectioned” front pages. For example, showing the first 6 posts of each major tag type (reviews, news, opinion, etc), and we have to click on to see more.
Lastly, stay information dense. Don’t put big pictures across the page or add lots of white space at each post for the sake of design. It’s nice to see things succinctly. This is especially true if you’re like me and occassionally take screenshots on a phone (or snippets – I have a Galaxy Note phone and tablet) to use for a note, reminder – or gift hint!
One thing I would love is a “dark theme.” This is becoming quite a thing on phones. Android phones (not sure about Apple) are all getting this now or in the next update to have dark settings. The main benefit is battery savings on modern OLED screens that only power individual pixels. It is also easier on the eyes, especially at night. (I used to not like white on black, but got used to it, and now white screens seem to be glarey!)
Thank you for asking up front. You run a great site, and I think we all appreciate it.
I’m happy with the format on both mobile and desktop.
I think finding a way to help get older, still-relevant articles is important.
I often stumble into interesting content on your site while looking for something else (maybe searching to see if you’ve reviewed a tool I’m thinking of buying), but I have a tough time finding it intentionally.
Maybe more categories would help?
E.g. you have how-to, general tool info and debate posts sometimes. Not sure where I would find those except by accident or by seeing them when they’re fresh. I’m trying to think of examples… I recall something about filling a hole in your foundation recently. There was the one about Milwaukee bits and how they could have been made tougher etc. If I didn’t see that content when it was posted, it’s unlikely I could find it again unless I’m searching for something specific and it pops up as being related. But that’s the kind of content I could read at any time and still enjoy just as much.
Maybe your “guides” tab could be sub-categorized more. It’s just “best of” right now, but maybe you could have “how-to”s under that category too. Maybe technical information too.
Maybe break down other categories too. E.g. EDC gear is under “Hand tools” – but there’s a difference in my mind between a post about a specific tool (maybe reviewing a new Leatherman or some such) and posts about types of tools that might have more general appeal – for example, that post about the best pocketable-EDC multi-bit screwdriver (which I really enjoyed by the way and keep going back to as I encounter new ones in the wild).
Basically, I know there’s good stuff back in your archives, but I have a tough time finding it.
It’s hard. With respect to a menu, being too specific results in diluted interest, and then you have links that aren’t popular enough to justify the space.
Take “lubes and grease,” for example. https://toolguyd.com/category/lubes-grease/ . Or tool brand Anex. https://toolguyd.com/brand/anex/ There’s not enough there to link to them in the menu.
If you look at brands, https://toolguyd.com/brands/ there are so many links. I do know exactly how to improve that, though, I think. Or rather, I know what I want it to look like, but it’ll take time to work it out.
Still, that’s an example of what happens when categories are dumped onto a page. There are 98 categories, 3,956 tags, and 710 brands. I also have a “stores” section and “tool types,” but didn’t do much with them after initial testing.
One thing I want to try to do is expand the top menu to include more “major category” links, and that will require a complete restructuring. There’s still the question of what makes the cut to be included, and how to display it all.
I almost always view on my phone on my lunch break.much too busy after work …..
….I have no experience with any type of computer stuff…so whatever you do great.
..two things ,
Love to see tool deals posted asap and daily…many YT sites post deals almost hourly..it would be great to see the same deals on Toolguyd.( Get yourself some commissions)there are great tool deals around the clock, post em and we could buy through your link..that would help immensely. Toolguyd Tool Alerts sent out.
COO..is very important to many of us actual tool buyers.Made in America matters. Love to see COO on everything discussed.
…it’s Toolguyd, not really a review blog, it’s a guide, which is great because there are maybe 3 people on here qualified to comment on actual tool use and no, home owners and diy are not experienced enough nor have enough time using a tool to leave a relative comment.
Personally, I like this blog and have recommended it to everyone, I think you do a good job and I’d love to see those changes.
Tool deals are posted about on a case by case basis. I really don’t want to make it a daily thing, except maybe holiday shopping seasons when the deals are great and worth the attention.
A lot of regulars aren’t looking to buy new tools every day. By the time new visitors come upon a deal post, the deals are long-expired. That means that a deal has to be of especially strong interest to be worth the time, effort, and editorial space.
If you want daily deals, there are other places you can get that.
We’ve talked about this. COO is important, but if it’s not disclosed by a brand or retailer upfront, it’s difficult and very time-consuming information to get. If anyone wants to do the legwork, I won’t say no. If enough people contact brands and retailers asking for COO info, maybe one day they’ll start including it in product descriptions or specs lists.
Honestly I think you already have a great mobile site, one of the better ones I have seen. I can’t think of any changes I’d like to see to it.
In the past several years I have visited your site, it has never felt “dated”. It has a great simple presentation feel, and I personally have little desire to see it change in any major fashion. I am, however, not one to use the mobile apps, and prefer a laptop for surfing the net, and so can not express any opinions that might improve the experience for those who prefer the more portable options.
Whatever you do, keep it simple and looking like the desktop version. I generally can’t stand mobile versions with the three bar hamburger menu and all the forced clicking around …. that I always go looking for the full site version.
Having a sticky menu bar would help the mobile view, so would that back to top button that some people hate. Or have a logo at the top left to instantly take one home ………. Just way too much clicking, scrolling and hunting down what one wants on mobile versions of countless sites.
Have you ever thought about making toolguyd an app for mobile devices? I’m not sure what’s involved in doing so and I’m not suggesting it’s a good or bad idea. Just asking the question.
I have briefly considered it, but realized that an app would be something else to build or manage, and it’s unclear to me how an app would benefit readers. For just displaying the latest content, what can an app do that the website cannot? I could think of some special content to build for an app, but any efforts on new content would be wider received on the website.
I would like it if the thumbnails on the homepage weren’t such garbage quality, other than that, change nothing. Except, I guess maybe if you could find a way to consolidate the Toolguyd logo and the hamburger menu into one element.
Overall I think your site functions well. I almost exclusively visit this site on my iPhone and I don’t have very many complaints. The few areas that “bother” me are probably the search function which I see that you are aware of. The other is figuring out a way to offer another option for how to organize the articles. I wish there was an easier way on mobile to see the different categories of articles.
i only view on a desktop , so the mobile to me is less important.