Skype's Fatal Flaw in their Blog Site Redesign

skypeblogs.jpgA while back, the good folks at Skype did a thorough redesign of their blog. They moved the blogs to the "" domain and created a nice portal page that shows blog posts across all their various blogs. That portal page easily lets you see the "top stories".

They added in some great pictures of their primary bloggers. They spent some time just refreshing the overall artwork.

All in all the blog site looks great and the redesign was, to me, very nicely done.


While the form may be quite pleasing, the function is unfortunately not.

Here's the problem... from the "" portal, you can easily get an overall sense of what is being written across all Skype blogs and can visit posts you want to read. However, within a single blog (like this one) you see only a single post followed by this lovely link:


Yes, indeed, there is no way to quickly browse through the contents of a single blog! Instead you have to view each post individually and step through them one-by-one. That may be fine if someone has the time to go through and sit there scrolling down and then waiting for pages to load. But if you just want a quick view of what they are writing about... it's a mind-numbingly slow process.

For instance, I recently wanted to know what was new with the Skype client for Linux (not much, it turns out), so I went to the Skype Linux blog to learn more. The first post was quick and I could easily scroll down and click the "Old articles" link. The second post has 182 comments - and ALL comments are displayed! Given that the "Old articles" link ONLY appears at the bottom of a post, I had to scroll all the way down to the bottom to go back to the previous post.


If I were Skype (and I have no affiliation with them beyond being a very active Skype user), I would encourage them to:

  1. Provide a way to see recent posts for a blog - Either display the posts on the main blog page in full form or as abstracts - or at the very least provide a widget or box that lists titles of recent posts, allowing someone to jump to a post based on the title.

  2. Provide navigation on the TOP of posts - Forgetting about the issue with seeing all recent posts, if I am reading any blog post and want to go to the previous or next post, it's annoying to have to scroll all the way to the bottom. (And yes, my blog (this one) goes the other direction in only having nav links at the top, which is fine for browsing but kind of annoying if you've scrolled all the way to the bottom. I personally like blogs to have both links at the top and bottom.)

  3. Consider not displaying the comments - If they left the blog as it is, I would at least not display comments by default. I personally like the display of comments by default... but if you have to scroll all the way down to see the navigation link, it can be a bit of a pain. I would not display them - as they seem to already do for the first post on each blog - and let people click the "Comments" link if they want to view them all.

What would you suggest? How could Skype make the navigation better?

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Ragan's "WordPress for Business" Webinar - Oct 21

raganwordpresswebinar.jpgWant to learn about how to set up a corporate blog using WordPress? Want to find out how you can get involved with social media on a limited budget?

I'm not usually one to promote commercial webinars on this site... in fact, I don't think I've ever done it before. But I'll make an exception for Ragan's "WordPress blogging for business" webinar coming up October 21, 2010, from 2-3:15 US Central time.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. I'm a huge fan of WordPress, have built Voxeo's multi-blog portal on WordPress and maintain a blog about using WordPress for business.

  2. Because I'm a heavy user of WordPress, I want more people to use WordPress for business... the more business users of WordPress there are, the more plugins will be written that are business-focused, the more tips will be shared, the more consultants will be able to specialize... etc, etc.... it's one of those opportunities like the Apache web server where all win by the collective usage and sharing.

So I applaud Ragan for running this webinar. It's not free, but at $99 it's not expensive, either. The agenda also look great:

  • Use the right strategy to name the blog—using a subdomain or a separate URL
  • Install WordPress software using or
  • Customize your blog's settings and create various user profiles
  • Find the best plugins for your blog's needs
  • Create your keyword publishing guide through search optimization strategies for blogging
  • Design a publishing calendar to keep your blog relevant, interesting and useful
  • Establish and publish a blog comment moderation policy
  • Know how and when to participate as publisher and commenter
  • Sprinkle social media content throughout the blog
  • Use Google Analytics to measure blog traffic and activity

If I were giving this webinar that is the kind of agenda I'd choose.

Now, I'm going out on a limb here a bit as I don't know the presenter, Pete Codella... I've never heard him before and so I have no idea how good he may or may not be. Ragan is NOT a non-profit, though... they need to keep their lights on, so I'm going to assume that Monsieur Codella is a good presenter.. his bio seems solid, too.

Anyway... if you are interested in potentially using WordPress for your blog site, do check out this webinar.

Disclosure: I have NO financial connection to Ragan Communications and they have no clue that I am writing this post. I should note, though, that they are one of the sponsors of the "For Immediate Release" podcast to which I contribute weekly reports. I do not, however, receive any financial compensation for my involvement with FIR. I just think this is a cool webinar that Ragan is offering.

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Creating an Attention Wave - A Case Study in how multiple corporate blogs can deliver different perspectives

What is the value in having multiple corporate blogs? How can they help you tell multiple sides to a story?

When I wrote my original "Creating an Attention Wave" story, I mentioned in the "Package Components" section about creating multiple posts in different corporate blogs to go out as part of the overall "package". Commenter Tamara Gruber liked this emphasis and relayed her own story:

A client of mine just did an announcement through a blog post from the CEO that talked about the new features and business benefits. That was followed on by a post from the CTO that got into the nitty gritty details. All of these pieces help tell the story. We always need to remember to step outside and take an outsiders view and guide them through the news with multiple forms of content to make sure they "get it."

I thought it might be illustrative to provide a specific example of how I and my team used this concept with a recent announcement we made at Voxeo.


Back in August at the SpeechTEK conference in New York City, we put out this news release on August 25, 2009, announcing the newest version of our software, Prophecy 10:

Voxeo Announces Prophecy 10: The Unlocked Communications™ Platform

We followed that with a series of blog posts and a video podcast across several blogs:

Voxeo Talks (our main corporate blog)

Voxeo Developer's Corner (technical topics for developers)

The Tropo Blog (posts about our platform)

IMified Blog (posts about our IMified platform)

VoiceObjects Developer Blog (posts for developers using our VoiceObjects tool)

Emerging Tech Talk (video podcast)

Altogether we had 5 supporting blog posts on the day of the launch and a total of 7 blog posts and 1 video podcast within 48 hours of the launch.

All of these blog posts, once posted to our blog sites, also were distributed to readers via:

All of this distribution happened automatically through our platform.


As I look down the list of posts, several points pop into my mind:

  • MULTIPLE AUDIENCES - As you look through the different posts, you can see that they are written to cater to the different users of our various platforms and tools. They get specifically into how the announcement matters to the specific audience.

  • DIFFERENT DEPTHS - The posts vary in technical detail. Both the Voxeo Talks post and the ETT video focus on the overall message. Some of the other posts touch on the very basics of how someone can get going - and then a few dive into technical details and even include code samples.

  • VARIED HEADLINES - The headlines... the titles of the posts, vary widely. There is the Voxeo Talks post title that uses the "Unlocked Communications" theme we were announcing in the release. There are longer, more descriptive headlines. There are shorter headlines. You can easily tell which are my titles... they are the longer ones (outside of Voxeo Talks). I tend to write my headlines for Twitter. I literally do copy/paste my title over into Tweetdeck to see: 1) will it fit into 140 characters with enough room for a retweet and for a link; and 2) how does it look in Twitter. The goal is of course to get people to open your link. But I do also like having the shorter titles mixed in there as well. Some of them are short and succinct... I might have changed a couple but overall it's a good mixture.

  • DEVELOPER-CENTRIC - In looking over the posts in hindsight, outside of the Voxeo Talks post and the ETT video, they are all focused on developers who use our various platforms and tools. While that is great to reach out to folks working on our platforms, developers are only one of our audiences. What's clearly missing as I look at this is anything related to more of a business focus, outside of the VT and ETT posts. The opportunity was here to put up, for instance, a post like "Prophecy 10 Brings SMS and IM To Your Contact Center" or "Want to move your customer interaction beyond voice?"... you get the idea... something that addressed the business impact of the announcement. (Next time...)

There were also different authors of the posts which provided different wording, different writing styles, etc.


So the good news was that we had multiple posts across multiple blogs addressing multiple audiences and using multiple headlines.

Going back to my Attention Wave post, though, for a variety of reasons we didn't package all of this content as a "wave". Even on the first day, the 5 blog posts streamed out over the course of the day, and the other 3 streamed out two days later. Largely the major issue was that we were simultaneously involved in the largest trade show presence we have all year... so our own internal attention wasn't able to focus on preparing the package of content.

Now I don't know that this was necessarily a bad thing. The upside of streaming the content out over the course of several days is that you kept the mention of the announcement flowing out through the distribution channels. There is a case to be made to have an initial wave of posts - and then follow that with subsequent posts to keep the attention. (Wait! Shall I call those "attention ripples"? :-) )


So in the end, what kind of coverage did we get? how effective were the multiple posts, etc.? That will have to be the subject of another post at some point because this one is already way too long...

What I wanted to do here in this post was illustrate how I/we used multiple blogs to tell different sides of the story. I hope this was helpful and if any of you have pointers to other posts where people have similarly outlined how they used multiple blogs to tell multiple sides of a story, please do leave links in the comments. Thanks.

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Speaking at OSCON 09 in July about building a corporate blog portal with WordPress MU

OSCON 2009 As I noted today over on the Voxeo Talks blog, I'l be speaking out at this year's O'Reilly Open Source Convention OSCON on the topic of "Building A Corporate Blog Portal Using WordPress MU". I'll be talking about the challenges and lessons learned while building using WordPress MU, much of which I've documented over on the "Behind The Blog" weblog.

In my Voxeo Talks post, I included the abstract. I'm looking forward to passing along what we've learned and helping others build blog portals on top of WPMU. The more who use WPMU for such portals, the better we'll wind up making the software in the end.

If you are planning to be out at OSCON, please do stop by and say hello.

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Ending the year as I began it... introducing a new blog! (This time, "Behind The Blog" from Voxeo)

BehindTheBlogBanner.jpgThere is a certain delightful symmetry to the fact that I began 2007 rolling out a new blog, Disruptive Telephony (followed shortly thereafter by this Disruptive Conversations blog), and now I end 2007 rolling out another new blog. In today's case, though, the blog in question is for my employer, Voxeo, and is simply titled "Behind The Blog". As I explained in the introductory post, the goal of the blog is to tell the ongoing story of what it took us to create the corporate blog portal and what we do to evolve the site in the time ahead. We'll write about WordPress plugins, code we have to change and other things we do. The intent is that it will be a fairly technical blog diving into the innards of WordPress MU.

To a large degree, the point of the site is to help others who want to create blog portals using WordPress MU - hopefully they can learn from what we've gone through and not necessarily suffer some of the pain that we did. If you are considering running a blog portal on WordPress MU, feel free to join us as we explore the world of running a corporate blog portal using WordPress MU. If you use a feed reader, you can subscribe to the direct feed for the blog or simply get new posts as part of the "all Voxeo blogs" feed. (Behind The Blog posts also appear in our new Twitter feed.)

I'm delighted to bring out this new blog... and am very definitely looking forward to more blogging and podcasting in 2008!

Happy New Year to you all!

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Choosing WordPress Mu for a blogging portal...

200711191441As I've been discussing, I'm in the midst of evaluating various pieces of software for Voxeo's blog portal. When I last wrote, I was debating between WordPress MU and Lyceum... I've now made the decision to move ahead with WordPress MU into the next stage of pilot testing. Why? Really one word...


As noted in the announcement of Wordpress 2.3, there is now native support for tags in addition to categories. It happens that I very much like the use of tags on a whole number of levels. Lyceum looks to be an excellent multi-user blogging platform, but its current release is based on the older WordPress 2.0.11. WordPress MU, on the other hand, is based on the current WordPress 2.3.1 release. (I'll note that somewhere in the site I saw that the Lyceum folks are working on a Lyceum 1.1 release that will be based on WordPress 2.3.1, but I need to move ahead now with the blogging project.)

That's the latest... stay tuned for more as I plunge into all the customization and configuration.

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Blog Portals - looking at WordPress MU and Lyceum...

As I've mentioned in previous posts, one of my tasks in my new role with Voxeo is to create a "" blog portal for the blogs the company will create. Given my interest in open source, I've been investigating options there for a "corporate blog portal". Why open source? Primarily because I'm a huge control-freak and I want to be able to control all aspects of the portal, even if it means diving deep into source code. So my first inclination is to investigate open source options and then if I can't find something there that meets my requirements, I'll move on to commercial software.

On first-glance, though, it would appear that there are two viable open source options out there:

Both options look good. Both let you use the zillion WordPress plugins out there. Both provide front-end portals. Both can be customized to the nth degree. Stay tuned for more analysis... and if any of you reading this have used either of them, I'd appreciate any insight you can offer.

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"Corporate Blog Portal" area now opened up on The New PR Wiki - please contribute! (or send feedback)

200711071344Per my last blog post on the topic, I've now added my "Design Suggestions for a Corporate Blog Portal" to The New PR Wiki. There is now a "Corporate Blog Portal" page which includes the suggestions I've blogged about here, as well as some examples and a placeholder for links to software.

Feedback would be definitely appreciated! What do you think about these suggestions? Are there other items you think should be on the list? Do you have examples of corporate blog portals that you thought were really well done?

Please feel free to leave suggestions as comments here on this blog post, email me, or make the edits directly in the wiki if you have the password. If you don't and want to edit there, please feel free to email me.

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Do you have a favorite example of a "corporate blog portal" that works well?

Question for readers - do you have any examples of "corporate blog portals" that you think are done "right"?

One of my tasks with Voxeo will be to create a "" portal with some of the blogs that we are looking to launch. Obviously, I'm looking to learn from what others have done and come out with something that works well. Back in April, I posted the second round of my "Design Requirements for a Corporate Blog Portal" and that naturally serves as a background for my development, but I'm curious for feedback six months later... are there more items you think should be added to the list? (For instance, I'm thinking that a "tag cloud" would be a worthwhile addition.)

Do you have examples of companies you think did it well? I listed Cisco and Sun in my post, and a commenter suggested Edelman... and then there's the rather minimalist Microsoft MSDN portal. Do you have other suggestions?

Also, if any of you have built corporate web portals, do you have any suggestions for software? Anyone done it with open source solutions like Wordpress? Or have you used commercial software? Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks in advance if you have any suggestions for either corporate blog portals or software.

P.S. Ultimately, my aim is to capture all this inside of The New PR Wiki so that others can learn from this exchange.

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What does a "corporate blog portal" need to have to be successful?

In report today into For Immediate Release I raised the question of "What do you want to see in a corporate blog portal?"  Either one for internal blogs on an Intranet, or one on a public site.  I first posted this list back in February, but have refined it a bit since then... and this is where I'd like your help:

  • What do you think a corporate blog portal needs to be effective?  (intranet or external)
  • Are there specific corporate blog portals you have liked better than others?
  • If you have implemented one, what have you found made it most successful?
  • Also, what software (or combination of software) did you use?

I would love to have your comments either posted here or sent in to FIR ([email protected]) for the next show.

P.S. If you don't understand the kind of site I'm talking about, take a look at or as two examples.




The following is a list of requirements for a "blog portal" for a company or organization.  This could be for either an internal or external (i.e. public) blog portal.   I've broken this into two area: 1) the web interface that visitors see; and 2) the technology used by the software program implementing the blog portal. 

User Interface Requirements 

1. LIST OF AVAILABLE WEBLOGS - Ideally if you went to the blog portal you would first see a web page that listed all the various weblogs that are hosted on the website, complete with brief descriptions, links to their RSS feeds, etc. 

2. AGGREGATION OF BLOG ENTRIES ON A MAIN PAGE - There should be a listing of "recent entries" across all blogs. This would allow someone unfamiliar with different blogs to simply look there and see what people are writing about. Two approaches I've seen work for this: a) raw aggregation of all recent entries across all blogs; or b) recent entry for each of the various blogs. 

3. RSS FEED FOR ALL BLOGS - It would be great if the portal provided an RSS feed for this aggregation of blog entries. Think of it as the "everything" feed. There might not be many folks who would want this "entire" feed (outside of true company junkies, analysts, and competitive intelligence staff at competitors) 

4. SEARCH ACROSS ALL BLOGS - On that same "main page" that lists all blogs on the platform, there should also be a Search box that allows you to search across all blogs for any entries in any weblogs that have the search words/phrase. Another search box (or the ability to use the same one with an option) for "tags" or "categories" would be a bonus. 

Technology Requirements 

5. DESIGN INTEGRATION WITH MAIN WEBSITE - It probably doesn't need to be said, but a company is going to want to integrate this with the rest of their corporate website, so there needs to be the ability for the web design to be modified, customized, etc. to seamlessly fit in with the rest of the enterprise web site. So full ability to modify CSS, change headers, footers, graphics, etc., etc.

6. SUPPORT FOR USERS AUTHORING IN MULTIPLE BLOGS - Ideally a user should be able to login to the blogging platform and then contribute to whichever blogs they have been granted access. I don't want to have to login separately for each of them - and from the admin side, it would be nice if there was an interface that made it easy for the admin to set permissions across blogs. (Step 1 could be requiring the admin to config ACLs on each blog, but ideally a Step 2 would centralize that into an interface that shows who can write where, etc.)

7. PRIVACY/PASSWORDS - There should also probably be the ability for a weblog author to "opt out" of the cross-blog search and appearance on the main page. Similarly, I could see the use in the ability to restrict access to *viewing* the weblog (and/or subscribing to its feed) to specific users. There could be a blog with content that is ideally only for executives, for instance. To me this is a lower priority because I think the greater value is in sharing information widely... private information can still be kept in email or on a specific hard drive. Still, I could see it being a request at some point. 

8. STATISTICS - Everyone loves stats and at some point champions of a blogging project will be asked how it is going. Anything that can give overall stats, typical web stats like number of page views, etc., but also more blogging-specific things like total number of posts, average number of posts per day/week/month, total number of comments, average number of comments per day/week/month, avg number of comments per post, subscribers to RSS feed (which I grant is tough to discern), number of posts in last day/week/month, etc.. If the portal was for external blogs, you could get fancier and give stats on number of trackbacks, external links, etc. Overall summary stats would be great, but also stats for individual blogs. Ideally even a page that compared all hosted blogs in those stats. This would enable the champions of the blogging program to see which blogs might be doing exceptionally well, which might be struggling and indeed which have stopped - without having to visit all the individual blogs. Bonus if the software generates nice pretty charts that can be used as eye candy in powerpoint presentations.


Comments and feedback are definitely welcome!

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