If you have been in the blogosphere for the past two months, you will notice that the number of contests have just kept rising over the past month and after a while it gets almost difficult to keep track of them. Its only ingenious that someone have a blog about contests and that someone is The Original Contest Blogger or Brian Aldrich (seen to the right). The Prize Blog was one of the first contest blogs that I had come across mainly because it was the ONLY contest blog at the time that I started blogging back in May. When Brian sent me the request to review his blog, I was more than excited to do so. Brian also owns Blog Duck which, unlike The Prize Blog, is focused on giving people blogging tips and ideas. I am currently a guest blogger for Blog Duck but I really hope I can contribute more in the future to that blog. Lets take a look around The Prize Blog, shall we?
Brian has done a great job recently by changing the design of his blog. I have stressed several times that branding is one of the best ways to reach through to your audience and by having a character designed to represent The Prize Blog, its only fitting that he has made the right move. As far as design goes, the blog is very easy on your eyes and doesn’t use annoying flashing graphics or neon colored text for that matter either. I felt that the theme works well for Brian as the navigation menu is easily accessible at the top of the page along with a search bar. The RSS button is on the top fold of the page and is placed in an appropriate position which is also two things that I have stressed several times.
As far as color schemes go, I think it has been intelligently designed. If you notice, green and blue are the two colors prominent on the website. The same two colors are seen in the title of the blog on the page and when you move your mouse over the title of a post, which is in blue, it turns to green. I really like the way it is set up and my hat is off to him in terms of blog design and meeting all the requirements of being a successful blog. I also decided to see the improvements that Brian has made to the blog over the past 9 months and here is how it looks and if you are like me, you should be more than impressed by the changes.
I have always been a fan of The Prize Blog and even though I have been familiar with it since the end of May, I decided to look back in time to see the type of content that The Prize Blog has delivered over time and to my surprise he has always been consistent in delivering information about contests the same way. In almost all of his posts since the beginning, he has mentioned the URL of the contest, the prize involved, the end date and if necessary, a picture of the prize. I think his combination of including the critical information in the first few lines of the post itself is a major plus. I think that it has become a standard for him to post contests in that manner and it is makes it very easy for a visitor to know what a contest is about just by glancing at the post. It should also be noted that Brian personally screens the submission of a contest before posting it on the site only to make sure that he is leading his readers in the right direction.
There are quite a few things that work in favor of The Prize Blog and I think you would agree strongly with these.
1) Great Design Integration
2) RSS Feed Button Placement
3) Consistent Content Over Time
4) Easy To Obtain Contest Information
Now for the suggestions, there were a few things that I think need a little attention but they aren’t any major issues but they can certainly help The Prize Blog quite a bit.
Note: Clicking on the images on the side will enlarge them.
1) Fewer Categories – If you notice on The Prize Blog there is are about 32 categories and at times, it becomes a problem for the reader to decide which category to pick. I have to agree to one thing that most of the categories cannot be consolidated but there are some categories that could be done without because of the few number of posts in that particular category. For example, “Information”, “Musical Instruments” and “Perfume and Cologne” are a few of the categories that only have one post in them so if the contests have ended it would be good for him to remove the posts until another contest in that category comes about.
2) Move “Submit A Contest” Upwards – On the sidebar you will notice that the space dedicated to submitting a contest is located towards the bottom of the sidebar. I do know that a button to submit a contest is present in the top navigation, but it would be a good idea to move that sidebar item towards the top, preferably under the RSS button, like so. I think that moving it upwards will help bring more attention to it and because Brian offers an upgrade to “Featured Contest”, this could also mean more sales for him in the long run.
3) Submit Contest Font Mismatch – The submit contest form on the contest page has a little font mismatch going on and it was a little difficult for me to figure out where the input boxes were to enter my information in. I figured that if Brian was able to get one of these two plug-ins I am going to mention that would be able to solve that problem. The first is the Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form and the other is Enhanced WP Contact Form. Both of those plug-ins help you integrate a better contact form in your blog and that could tremendously with the issue I have seen in the contest submission form.
Overall, as I said earlier, I have always been a big fan of The Prize Blog, and I really hope that Brian will be able to keep some of my suggestions in mind. I also am going to offer to help him implement some of the changes if he needs it. If you haven’t checked it out already, now would be a good time to visit the site and subscribe to the feed! Also, do let me know your thoughts about The Prize Blog and how you liked my first direct review!
This was my first direct review offer through the blog and Brian was smart enough to take advantage of the 50% off full-site review offer I have going on. If you would like to take advantage of this offer and get a full site review for only $20, you will also get a free 125×125 ad spot on The Wall of Blogs! So what are you waiting for, get your full site review and a spot on The Wall of Blogs for only $20!
Note: Please include your email address in the notes or description so that I can contact you regarding the website, product or service that needs to be reviewed. Thanks!