More Changes Coming to OPC: Your Thoughts Welcome

February 8, 2012 | by Fred (email) |

Two weeks ago I told you about a few significant changes here at OPC, and you all responded with some great feedback on our ideas and changes. We certainly appreciate all the perspectives you added, and especially appreciate the few dozen of you who comment on the majority of articles we write. We have been making a few minor changes I wanted to communicate, and we have some new ideas I’d like to get your feedback on.

First up, the minor changes:

  • RSS Snippets: We’ve decided to publish only snippets of our articles in our RSS feed. For years, OPC has been the target of rampant content theft by spam web sites. We have taken many steps to try and combat these sites. Unfortunately, this theft is made easier by publishing full copies of our articles in our RSS feed. Robots read the feed and then republish the articles in their entirety on spam web sites, sometimes by the dozens. Occasionally, search engines will rank copied versions of our articles ahead of our own, which robs us of readers and revenue. We hope this doesn’t inconvenience any of you too much.
  • Discontinued Coupon Newsletter: You may or may not have known that we published a weekly coupon e-newsletter that had more than 8,000 subscribers. We’ve decided to discontinue that newsletter because our statistics indicated our time was better spent elsewhere. If any of you were subscribed to the newsletter, you should have received a final email 10 days ago. Our home improvement coupons section will continue to provide this information on our site.

And now, the future plans I’d love your feedback on:

1. New Subscription Categories Coming This Week

When you subscribe to us via RSS or email, you get every post we publish delivered to your reader or inbox. The reality is that topics on OPC are somewhat diverse, appealing to different interests. Our subscribe button is over on the right hand side of almost every page. If you subscribe today using this button, you’ll get everything…

We think that DIY can broadly be divided into two categories: the “harder side” (e.g., construction projects, tool reviews, and material reviews), and the “finer side” (e.g., crafts, decorating, and style). On our site, most of the “harder side” is written by Ethan or me–it’s where our talents and interests lie, while most of the “finer side” is written by our wives–it’s where their talents and interest lie.

In less than a week, we’re planning an upgrade to our subscription system will allow you to choose whether you want to receive every article we publish, or only articles in one of these two groups. Of course, some articles span both of these areas, and those articles will be published to both subscription feeds.

2. New Layout for the Finer Side

We’ve asked dozens of people over the years what they think of our site design. Almost universally, people describe the design as “masculine”. We think our masculine layout looks great for the “harder side” of our site, but for the finer things that Jocie and Kim write about, it really doesn’t resonate with readers.

Our plan is to divide the site broadly into two components. The current home page will retain its masculine theme and will house most of our “harder side” articles. Our “finer side” articles will get a new, more feminine look, as well as a homepage dedicated to the topic. The entire site will still be called One Project Closer, but the finer side home page, which will be a re-make of our current crafts home page, will have some type of differentiating sub-brand attached.

There are a few sites who successfully achieve this division online today. One is John and Sherry Petersik’s Young House Love, which offers its readers a companion site Young House Life that focuses on John & Sherry’s (and their daughter Clara’s) life. We’re shooting for something similar to what they’ve done, although we likely won’t use a sub-domain, as they have.

What do you think?

Let us know what you think about these changes. As always, we love to hear your suggestions about what we can do to improve your visiting experience! (Wow, that makes us sound like a hotel or something :-))

12 Responses
  1. William says:

    I think all of these changes are improvements. I’m glad that all four of you are not only working to constantly improve your homes and lives, but also the manner in which you share those improvements with the readers. I like that none of the changes have been just for the sake of change. I’ve gone back and read through all of the past blog entries back to the beginning in 2008, and I like where you guys have gone with the whole site. While even the first posts were educational and relevant to a variety of home improvement interests, you’ve managed to expand on that base and go further. The pro follows are a great thing. It kind of sucks, because your blog is good enough that I’ve been too busy reading it to get my blog really going. It’s a totally unrelated subject matter (Bacon), but so far, your blog has beaten bacon. How impressive is that?

    • Ethan says:

      Thanks William. We always appreciate reader input so if you have suggestions, send ’em our way.

      Fred has been going back through a lot of our older articles and trashing stuff that doesn’t meet the quality standard even though it shrinks our content base. The goal is that everything on OPC be worthwhile.

      Mmmm… bacon.

    • modernhousewife says:

      Where’s the bacon blog William? You’ve got to start linking to it! 🙂

  2. For a long time I was a RSS reader only. It wasn’t until you guys started up project rewards that I really started reading every article in detail instead of just skimming. Not for the points but to engage with you, the authors, and other readers. I won’t miss full RSS articles. I really like how the OPC brand has developed. The only thing I want to caution you with is that the finer side doesn’t look too different. Let there be no question that visitors to the finer side are still on OPC. Sort of weave the brand into the finer side.

    • Ethan says:

      We had similar concerns about the “finer side” design. It’s super confusing to be on a site that poorly utilizes multiple themes and layouts, so we’ll be working to keep certain elements consistent throughout. I’m confident we can present two sides of the site without losing people. As always, thanks for the comment.

    • Fred says:


      Really appreciate your thoughts on this one. We’ve been agonizing (err, planning? thinking?) hard on how to do this well. It might take a few revisions for us to get it perfect, but I think there will be enough cross-branding between the two components that it will work.

      While I am no fan at all of eHow (they’ve stolen tons of our stuff), they have a good multi-brand setup… If you go to their main page ( and then click on any of the “home” or “style” articles, you’ll see the branding differences. We are taking some cues from what they’ve done there for OPC. If you’re interested in weighing in on ideas, I’d love to have you comment on it before we go live – I can send you a screen shot or give you a non-public URL.

      I’m still in the “drawing” phase (which means most of what I have are graphics in Paint Shop Pro, rather than the web code to lay everything out). I usually start and go from there. It’ll take a few weeks of every-other-night type work to get it completed.

  3. I think this is a great idea! I just started following you with Google Reader recently and I usually categorize the stuff as for my husband, but I’d love to still get a feed of the “finer side” stuff!

    • Fred says:

      Ashley, that’s the feedback we get from most women who stop by. For those who want to follow both, it’ll be easy. For those who really just want one or the other, well, that’ll be easy too 🙂 !

  4. Mark says:

    I started reading OPC via Blogtimore, Hon (boy, that was a long time ago…) and was thrilled to discover such we had such a far-reaching blog local to me. 🙂

    I’ve since switched to consuming virtually all of my content through Google Reader. I have to say I will be sorry to see the full feed vanish. While I understand you guys need to fight the theft of your content, I can say with certainty that it will likely be the end of my readership. :\ When blogs I read go partial-feed, I inevitably stop clicking through and they eventually just migrate off of my radar.

    If you wanted to keep up some kind of super-secret non-googleable (hello, robots.txt?) full feed URL, I’m all ears! (and promise I wouldn’t share)

    • Fred says:

      Mark, I 100% understand your situation. We’ll look into some alternate solutions, but its hard to image a scenario where the bots don’t ultimately pick up the feed and continue. From what we can tell, the robots are very automated, and it’s a game we just can’t win. I do hope we can make you a regular visitor to the actual site by publishing content you love to read (maybe you could add us to your bookmark bar?)

  5. Eek565 says:

    I only read a few blogs, this one included so the full RSS feed won’t be missed by me, but the wife is all about Google Reader as she follows quite a few different blogs. That said I’ve noticed a lot of the blogs on her Google Reader don’t show the full feed unless you click to the actual site so I really don’t think you’re the only ones in this quandary.

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