ikeahacker

Published on April 14th, 2010 | by Jules IKEAHacker

30

I need your help to make Ikeahacker better





After almost 4 years of managing this blog, I am going to say I need help. The volume of hacks has grown and honestly, I’ve not been able to keep up with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy receiving all your wonderful hacks and be amazed at your creativity. That has not changed.

What gets to me is that instead of spending time improving and enhancing the content of this blog, I’ve spent many hours cutting and pasting, downloading pictures, resizing photos, setting up links and the like. I know it comes with the territory and I do take it all in my stride. But, I am sure there are ways to work smarter and be more productive.

So I came up with a Hack Submission Form. The goal is to make it easier for you to share your hacks as well as simplify the process for me to get it up on the blog. This is where I need your help. The Form is in … ahem, cough … beta. I need your help to iron out the kinks, report any issues and give me feedback on whether it drives you up the wall. If you have a hack that you wanted to share but haven’t, this is your moment. Read this post on how you can post your hack.

Now, on to the help I really, really want
The Form is in essence a contact form, nothing fancy. What I REALLY, REALLY want is a WYISWYG editor. Something like this (pix, right), where you can compose your message and get it to me in 99% “ready-to-post” form. Alas, I couldn’t get WriteToMyBlog to work and I my email to its support failed to get a reply.

WriteToMyBlog uses TinyMCE, an open source word processor written using the JavaScript programming language. If you know how to achieve something similar (and integrate it with Blogger), please, please contact me at ikeahacker [at] gmail [dot] com. I would love to explore possibilities with you.

Besides this, I am also working on a new template. This one has been around for a year or two now and it looks tired. Hope to unveil it before we hit the start of our 4th year. (Phew! Has it been that long?)

I’ve also received ideas from some of you. (Thank you!) Second the idea if you think it’s good and I’ll see what I can do.
1. Some one suggested having a “Wish list” for people who like a hack but can’t/don’t know how to build it themselves. Others can choose to fulfil the wishlist for free or for a fee.
2. Another suggested that I have a “Visitor’s Lounge”, where first-timers to this blog can familiarise themselves with the weird and wonderful world of Ikea hacking.
3. I’m also thinking of having the “Most popular hacks”, a list of the most commented/viewed hacks.
4. As well as a “Table of contents”, to make searching for hacks easier.

If there are other improvements you want to see on this blog, let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hacking this site with you.

Read this to know how to post a hack. Then share your hack via this form.

More hacks on IKEAHackers.net
Macbook vertical laptop stand
Ikea Hacked OFFI Woody Table
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The Author

Jules IKEAHacker

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

30 Responses to I need your help to make Ikeahacker better

  1. joana says:

    i’m sure i won’t be of any help, but this editor of you looks to me like something i saw on wikipedia, when i was contribuiting to it (up to 1 year ago, so it could be discontinued but not that far).
    i feel like i won’t your looking/template to change, but if it’s your wish, well, do it ;-)
    put the link at the submission form in a more visible place, i had some difficulties in finding it

  2. Anonymous says:

    I check on the site a couple of times a week, here and on Facebook. A cleaner, less cluttered look to the site would be appreciated. Between the content column, and the info/advertising column, the site appears really text heavy. Drop down menus for the Archives, Friends, Resources etc would clean things up a lot. Can’t wait to see what the changes bring!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here’s my two cents:
    - Is there any way to get less ads on this site? I understand you probably make money from them, but it’s distracting. I read a lot of blogs and this one is in the top three for most ads
    - In the same direction, can that explore content toolbar at the end of each post be smaller if not disappear?
    - Can there be more than three posts on the main page? Or at least a link at the bottom of those posts directing to older posts? I know I can just click the most recent month in the archive list to see more, but that tends to load up a lot at the end of a month.
    - A lot of stuff featured seems repitive at this point. You covered your Lack table with a sticker? Awesome, I’ve seen that 45 times. Maybe there can be some sort of voting system set up so readers can check out the top hacks, not just for the previous year. I’d have to think that would help you determine the top hacks of the year too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wish List, Most Popular Hacks, and Table of Contents are all great ideas!

  5. Jules says:

    Thanks peeps for the comments. :) Keep them coming. Some one has also come on board to help me with an WYSIWYG editor. Woohoo.

    Joana, yes, I realised that the “post a hack” link is a little hidden, so I’ve added a button on the right sidebar.

    Anonymous, I was doing some testing on what ad works and does not and will be phasing out some. So, yes, I do want to see less clutter on the site as well. Note to self: Drop down menus! Thanks.

    Anonymous2, I did use to have more posts on the page but I thought having less may shortened load time. No? Seems like having a week’s worth of posts would be most ideal. Yeah, I don’t quite like the Explore Content either. Will be taking that down or moving it out to the Sidebar.

  6. Thanks for all you do! I enjoy seeing everyone’s hacks. I had just been thinking of submitting this suggestion before I saw today’s post. Have you considered making a button for your blog? A button that readers can “grab” and put on their blog? Tip Junkie http://www.tipjunkie.com/ has a couple of good ideas in her sidebar: one button advertising the blog, and one proclaiming “I’ve been featured!” which I thought could be useful to your readers and increase your blog traffic. (Although I know you may not be focusing on that right now.) Her blog is similar to yours in some ways. Thanks again for all you do!

  7. Jules says:

    Khurt, too bad I’m not on WordPress. I wouldn’t be having this problem now if I was. ;)

    Jonathan’s Mom, yes, I’ve thought of having badges for hackers. Coming soon.

  8. meritxein says:

    hi all, first of all i LOVE this blog and almost every hack posted. Thanks for your effort, Jules. Now my contribution:

    - you can export all yout blogspot content to wordpress. I’m learning how to use it right now and I’m thinking of migrating all my blogspot blogs to WP. it’s really better

    - I’d love to have a section in which i can post my ikea piece and ask someone for ideas to hack it. I’ve thrown stuff because I didn’t know how to hack it just before someone posted a hack on it.

    that’s all! keep on the good work, Jules!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Could easily implement a WYISWYG editor for your hack submission form and you’d have it nicely formatted in HTML to copy and paste into a new blog post.

  10. If your problem would be solved by being on WordPress, why not move to WordPress? It’s super easy to import Blogger to WP. I’d recommend using self-hosted, and not wordpress.com.

    I don’t think there are a lot of ads on this site. I hate the big one at the end of the posts, not so much because it’s an ad as because it wakes up way too much space.

    I like the hack voting system idea.
    Dropdowns to hide lots of the sidebar test would be nice.

  11. Szilvi says:

    Hi, I love the site a lot!
    I love the template, I’d be sad to see it go…
    I love the hack voting system idea too.
    Keep up the good job!!

  12. Brian H. says:

    I agree, a move over to self hosted WordPress would allow you a ton of flexibility as far as the functionality of this site goes! For example the following WordPress plugin allows you to rate by stars or thumbs up/down.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gd-star-rating/

    I am pretty sure there is a way to import your blogger blog in a way that setups up redirects for the Blogger version of your links, to the WordPress version of your post links. I did that for my family blog.

    I recommend bluehost.com (and so does WordPress.org), they have a tool which automatically installs the latest version of WordPress for you, and they are only $83.40 per year.

  13. jkudish says:

    As many others said. WordPress would be a definite improvement for this site. If you want help with design, deployment and migrating from Blogger. Give me a shout, http://jkudish.com

    Thanks and good luck

  14. Jay says:

    Hey Jules,

    Firstly, some background. I have only just stumbled across your site about 4 months ago as I was in the process of renovating my house and was looking for Ikea themed ideas. I guessed I have pretty thoroughly looked through your archives in search of ideas!

    So here are some thoughts of mine that kept popping up as I was digging through your site :)

    1. Oftentimes, I was looking for hacks on a particular furniture but had to scroll through tons of posts in order to find it. (e.g. lack, expedit) Although I used the search function, do you think it would be feasible to have it categorised as such? Though I realised tt would involve lots of tagging. Maybe just implement it prospectively? Love the many styles of redesigning the table top for lack btw.

    2. I wish that I can just keep clicking older posts on the main site instead of going into the categories, as I enjoy reading through all hacks instead of focusing on certain hacks. All hacks are created equal, they should be treated as such ;)

    3. Great work btw. I really enjoyed reading your site. And wish that there are easier options of sharing the posts and the site with friends and families. Some of the hacks are really ingenious :)

    Good Luck with the site redesign. Will look forward to a new and improved site.

  15. bronwynmaye says:

    *It would be great if posts could feature bigger photos and bigger, less fine text. If you need to have less empty space in your next template, so be it.
    *Less off-putting ads. I don’t have a problem with Google text ads, but when they look so similar the the post itself are integrated into the same space at the post — its very confusing. Put them in their own column or something.
    *Easier to access sidebar. I never take advantage of it because its all just text — there are no colours or shapes to break it up.
    *Make it easier to just browse back in time with an OLDER POSTS button at the bottom of each page.
    *More hacks per page.

  16. Jules says:

    Thanks for the great comments. Yes, WordPress is definitely worth considering. But it seems like a big move and I’m not sure it if it is worth doing.

    meritxien, that’s a nice idea. Thanks.

    anonymous, if you have a solution for the WYSIWYG editor, drop me a note. I would love to see it.

    Jay, yes, tagging the item names is doable. Will begin incorporating that.

    Jkudish, thanks for offering your help. If I do decide on WP, will definitely drop you a note.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t agree about removing the ads, you definitely deserve to be making as much money as possible off of this blog. However, in the interest of making the site easier to browse for your readers and thus increase readership (and ad revenue) you shouldn’t be hiding your navigation in between ads. The explore links should go first, you should have a header that includes some of your best photos, you should maybe reduce the two columns on the right to one and allow your ads to stretch further down the page (thus increasing your slightly narrow area for the actual content), you should make your most popular/useful navigation links MUCH bigger and easier to find, you don’t need both an RSS link and icon, the counter is unnecessary and can be removed or placed much lower on the page, the top hacks should go higher, recent comments should be removed or changed to a link because they’re not as important as the blog entries, you should include a snippet of images or an image gallery that draws people in (a flickr account would be perfect!), you should include a list of related blog entries on the bottom of each entry… this site has so much potential but I think the poor organization (sorry!) really holds it back. The website should be much more content rich, it feels very sparse and it is definitely difficult to browse. Maybe select a moderator to help out, there must be a regular poster or a friend whom you can trust to help out.

    If you were ever going to remove any ads, it should be the video at the end of each entry, it is very distracting. It might be smarter to add more ads to the side bar (moving them further down the page, you have a ton of room) and allow the entries to “breathe”.

  18. Anonymous says:

    the order of the content on the right side is really confusing, I would move the important stuff (archives, top hacks, subscribe options) to the top. I would also be nice if you tag each article with the furniture used and display these tags on the right side as well so one can easily browse for a specific item.

  19. April says:

    Didn’t read the other comments, so sorry if I repeat.

    I can’t help with the form thingie. I’m no programmer. :/

    But as for your 1–4 suggestions:

    1. If you have wish lists, each list will be miles long. A better idea would be to allow those willing to make an item to list themselves (the list of people who’d offer would be shorter) with a “buy it now” kind of button. This would allow those who want the item to get it on a first come first serve basis, as available. The two can then work out payment or the gifting process from there, privately.

    2. & 3. You could combine these with a good “About” page and an “FAQ” page. Explain the point of this site (familiarizing themselves) and offer links to the best of the best, so they can see examples. Just make two posts with the comments turned off, and link/make a button that directs to those pages.

    4. Tags might be easier than a TOC (which would have to updated regularly). The tags you can just pick as posts get published. Much less time consuming, once all the initial tagging is done.

    Best of luck!

  20. Phil says:

    Others have already posted some great ideas. A cleaner look would certainly be nice. Looking at older hacks is certainly a bit of an issue. It’s a bot cumbersome to have to go through every previous month one by one (trust me, I’ve gone through the lot!). A previous page button would be a welcome addition.

    These days there’s a lot of rave about image heavy sites so maybe you could have a page with small 100×100 thumbnails of each hack arranged in a grid fashion.

    That brings up the one thing that I wish were improved on here: image resolution. Photos on here are just far too small. When you click on a photo to enlarge it, it doesn’t get any bigger. There have been many instances where I’ve wanted to look at a hack in more detail but couldn’t.

    Of course the main thing you need is for an easier way to maintain the site yourself. Easier submission posting etc. The easier it is for you to do, the more you’ll enjoy doing it and the more time you could maybe put into other aspects of the site.

    A wysiwyg submission might be quite daunting to some users who aren’t comfortable with the added features and could be put off a little. I’m also not sure a wysiwyg editor will make it easier for you since you could end up having to go through other people’s edits to make it site suitable.

    Since this site has grown so much since you started, maybe you could think about getting someone to help you maintain the site. I don’t know how many page hits you get per day but I’d guess that most sites with similar popularity to this have more than one member of staff.

  21. Alex says:

    I think the blog is good right now, but I think maybe some guest posters would be a good place to start. Or even cross posting, maybe try get your articles onto Lifehacker and sites similar to that, other people doing articles to get some more news. I find here it doesn’t update as much as other sites I look at.

    I’m also a designer and have some heavy use in wordpress and hosting if you ever look at switching :)

  22. Jules says:

    Thanks again for the comments. Phew, that’s a lot to do/clean-up/reorganise. haha. But will eat the elephant one bite at a time.

    I’ve been receiving a few hacks via the Form and it seem to be working out quite well. Thanks guys.

  23. Dot says:

    First, I love this site!!! I agree with the others that navigation could be improved — a dropdown menu by category might be good, or a table of contents, focusing on the end result because that’s what people will be looking for.

    The tag cloud after each post has not been very useful for me, so I’d be okay with it disappearing. Also, I hope you’re going to ask people to resize their own photos, except for those who have no way to do that.

    A very enjoyable blog, either way!

  24. DJinny says:

    I think all the ideas are good, of course, its not really easy to find stuff, especially to potential new visitors… so the index is one of my favorite!
    I think that “search by…” would be great too…
    subject
    date
    popularity
    relevance
    most comments
    name
    price
    newest…
    *just ideas…*
    You’re doing an amazing job, wish I could help you! I sure wouldn’t want you to give up!

    You hackers are a kind of soul mates to me!

    xx

  25. Anonymous says:

    not sure if someone else suggested it but a previous page would be helpful. sometimes i don’t check back for a couple of weeks and can only see the main page. i would love to be able to see what was posted earlier.

  26. Phil says:

    One other thing I’ve noticed recently is that the email updates now have more than one article per email. It would be much better, in my opinion, if we got one email per article.

    For example, the email I got on Tuesday was titled “Akurum cat cabinets” yet within it there were four articles. I’d rather have one email per article or if that isn’t possible, a subject title that has all of the articles names in it.

    On another similar note, it would be nice if there was a way to subscribe to the comments section on certain articles. Some sites I visit email me whenever someone has made a comment on an article that I’ve commented on. For one thing, it would be great for submitters to answer questions they get months down the line.

  27. cheek says:

    I develop websites for a living; thought I’d throw my two cents in on your request.

    I would also recommend that long term, moving to a self-hosted open-source blogging platform is going to give you the greatest flexibility. It also is going to put a little extra work on your plate in the short term. While there are tools to help, a move is never easy.

    To make sure I’m being clear… self-hosted does not actually mean that YOU personally have to host the website, just that you are responsible for putting the site online, rather than simply creating a blogger account. There are many many good hosting providers available for relatively low $$.

    Your hosting provider will be responsible for making the site available and things like maintenance, while YOU are responsible for the site’s programming and content. i.e. they provide a blank slate. This is slightly different from blogger, where you are responsible for (and have control over) ONLY content. I don’t think you’ll be able to accomplish what you’re trying for purely with blogger.

    However, that does not necessarily mean you have to make the switch away from blogger NOW though. You could self host a “hack sumission form” at your own hosting and keep the blog with blogger, and connect the two via a simple link. Your “website” would live on two domains, but this is the price you pay when you host with companies like blogger.

    They make it easy, but they can’t do everything.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Check out this link for a list of different javascript based WYSIWYG editors

    http://blog.insicdesigns.com/2009/07/rounding-up-the-best-javascript-wysiwyg-and-markup-editor/

  29. Yonas Yanfa says:

    Great site Jules! I found a hack here that I used for my home music studio.

    As for the WYSIWYG editors, check out:

    http://www.tinymcesupport.com

    Let me know it’s you when you contact us and I’d be happy to give you a discount.

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