Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun Friday News: Blog Updates and New Features for Kalyn's Kitchen!

Kalyn's Kitchen has changed a lot through the years!

Do you know there's a site called The Wayback Machine where you can enter the url of a website and see how it looked in the past?  I love seeing how my site has changed through the years, and please repeat after me: Change is Good!  I do try to embrace that motto, and for a few months now I've been making a series of little changes to Kalyn's Kitchen, adding features designed to make the blog more user-friendly.  It started in the summer with social media buttons at the top of the post to help people share recipes using Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon, something I resisted for quite a while until I saw how many people used them on the blogs I visited.   Now I'm used to that row of buttons, and I greatly appreciate readers who use them to share my recipes with friends.

Since then there have been so many little tweaks I thought I'd do a post pointing them out.  The latest change is a feature I'm very excited about called Ziplist.  Read more below about how this service will let you save recipes to your own Recipe Box, something quite a few people have asked for through the years!  Thanks to the uber-talented Jennette of Make My Blog Pretty, my brother Rand (the blog design Ninja), and Erin R. and Erin G. from Ziplist for their help with new features.  And now, here's a quick rundown of what's new, with apologies in advance for my poor graphics design skills!

Use this button to save recipes to your personal recipe box.
Look at the top of each post and you'll find a new blue button that says Save Recipes.  The first time you try the button you can sign in to create an account with Ziplist.  Then use the Save Recipe button any time you want to save a recipe. (You need to be on the recipe post page, not the home page, to save the recipe.)  You can save any recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen or save recipes from any site on the web where you see the Ziplist Save Recipe button.

These links let you see saved recipes or make shopping lists.
Look in the left sidebar for SAVE your recipes and you'll find two links to help you manage your saved recipes using Ziplist.  The link for See Recipes will let you look through all the recipes you've saved, and the link for Create a Shopping List will let you make and print or e-mail a shopping list with the ingredients for any recipe.  You can access these features on any site that uses Ziplist.

There's a button now to help you pin to Pinterest.
If you're a fan of the ultra-popular website Pinterest, I've added a button at the top of each post to help you pin things more easily.   If you don't have an account with Pinterest, you'll be prompted to start one the first time you use the button.   (Again, you need to be on the recipe post page, not the home page, to pin the recipe correctly.)  If you have no idea what Pinterest is, here's the page for Pins from Kalyn's Kitchen.

A new tab can help you find my Cooking Tips.
In the row of tabs under the main header, we've added new tab for Cooking Tips.   Those tips have always been on the blog, but I'm hoping this new tab will make it easier for people who want to find earlier posts about things like freezing garden herbs, using the crockpot or pressure cooker, or making homemade stock.  I'm also planning to add new cooking tips on a more regular basis.

There are thumbnail photos in the search results.
I moved the search bar to the top of the right sidebar, where I think it might be a little easier to use.  You can enter an ingredient or recipe type and find any recipe on my blog that matches those search terms.  And I can't take credit for it, but Google has now enabled thumbnail photos to show up next to search results, so when you're searching you can see the recipe photo next to the link!

The archives are now ready to be explored.
When I re-designed my blog in late 2010, changing the width of the middle column messed up quite a few posts, plus the jump breaks I previously used were no longer active.  I spent months editing the archives to make them easier to navigate.  I like to use the monthly archives links to see what I was cooking in a certain month in previous years, and if you'd like to peek around in there too, look for this in the left sidebar.

Find out which are currently the most popular recipes.
In the left sidebar right below the link to the main archives page, there's a new list of the ten most Popular Posts for the last 30 days.  I love watching this change, and I've actually been fascinated to notice how long Stuffed Peppers have been one of the most popular recipes!   This popular posts list can let you know what people are cooking at a certain time of year.

Latest posts are now easier than ever to access.
Last, but not least, at the bottom of the center column there's a new list of links for the ten latest posts.  This list appears at the bottom of every page on the blog, so no matter what recipe you're looking at, it's easy to see what's new.  This should make it easier than ever to go back to a recent post if you decide you want to take a second look at it.

So those are the ideas that have been swirling around in my head over the last few months!  I want to give credit one more time to the fabulous Jennette Fulda from Make My Blog Pretty.  I'm good at thinking of things I'd like to change, but without Jennette to implement them for me they wouldn't go very far.  I'd love to hear in the comments about how you like some of these new features, and if there's anything else you'd like to see added to the blog, let me know about that as well!
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  1. Thank you for the "pin it" button. I'm on an android tablet, and don't have one for androids yet. I actually found you through pinterest, with your delicious stuffed peppers recipe. I love reading your recipes, keep up the great work (:

  2. So glad it's useful for you. I am really loving Pinterest these days!

  3. I love all of your changes, Kalyn. It makes your blog even more user-friendly.

  4. Thanks Dara; that is ALWAYS my goal!

  5. Wow, it is so interesting to see how a blog evolves over time - things move so quickly in the blogging world, with all the new social media types, it's hard to keep up. Thanks for pointing out all the different features on your blog - I'd missed a few.

  6. Thanks Jeanette. I laugh sometimes when I see the earliest versions of my blog! But all we can do is move forward, right! Glad you like the changes.

  7. As always, you've put your readers first and made changes that enable all of us to use your site more efficiently. And I know what a monumental task it is to update years of recipes; I've been working on it, but it's slow going. Hurray to you!

  8. Thanks Lydia! As you know I'm still working on increasing the photos size on the old posts, but what a relief to have the jump breaks and formatting issues done so the archives aren't just a long string of posts any more.

    I guess we will never get done, will we? It's that perfectionistic gene that we both have!

  9. Lots of great changes. I especially love that you change up your header often. Always fun to see what's new.

  10. Thanks Barbara. That is the great team of Rand and Jennette who change the header. Rand makes the new one and Jennette puts it on for me. I am so lucky to have them!

  11. Your blog looks great Kalyn and is an inspiration in looks and taste. I really enjoy visiting :)

  12. I love all the great new features, Kalyn! You're such an inspiration. :)

  13. Thanks so much Jacqueline and Susan. It's been fun thinking about how I would like to change things through the years.

  14. Great changes Kalyn! It is hard to keep up with all the possibilities one can offer on a blog; focusing on reader usability is always a help.

  15. Thanks Susie. And I think making the blog easy for people to use is one of the most important things you can do!

  16. Thanks for the info on Ziplist...I've always wished I could collect recipes from around the web in one spot, and I like the idea of people being able to gather mine in the same way. I'm looking forward to not forgetting about all the great things I intend to make from this site.

  17. So glad you like Ziplist. I really do think it's quite an ingenious system!

  18. Thanks for the Save Recipes section - just what I wanted!!! And I've already filed several of my favorites. A great addition to a wonderful blog.

  19. Ronnie, you're welcome. So glad it's useful!


Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

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