Crash and burn or why I’m not a web designer…

As you’ve noticed I’ve been playing with the header image of the blog, this is because unfortunately we have a bounce rate of over 90% from search. That means that over 90% of the new folks that stumble across this blog after doing a search for something leave in under 30 seconds and never return. That is not good and it makes it very difficult to grow… 🙁

The first thing potential new readers notice is the header and most have been hitting the exit button as quickly as possible without reading a word of our great content or joining our community. And that folks is the reason that I’ve been working on the look and layout of the blog – to lower our “bounce rate”.

To be honest, I’ve never cared much for any of the headers that have topped this blog over the years, unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at designing, graphics or headers. I know this to be a fact because every time I’ve put up a new header image over the past couple of day, it only takes about 5 minutes for someone to tell me how much that they hate it…

If you’re good with graphics and web-design, then feel free to design a new header to top and email it to me. If I get several different designs I’ll put them up in a contest of sorts and let readers choose.

Sorry, but I don’t have the resources (money) to pay for your designs but if you have a website or blog I would be happy to give you a bit of free advertising via a link back to your site and a thank you in a blog post…

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  1. PGCPrepper says:


    I got to this site due to a search that had nothing to do with my desire to be a prepper or survivalist. I didn’t even know what the term meant. I was on twitter talking about the state of the economy and a follower said, “yep, I’m a prepper” and I did a search on it and came across your site and the “other” site. I immediately left the site as I just wanted to know what he was talking about so I was in the percentage that left immediately.

    Point is most folks do not want to accept that they believe in conspiracy theories nor do they want to consider themselves belonging to a perceived fringe element. One just does not want to and normally, initially, they get their ostrich on (head in the sand). I think you are over thinking this. How many times have you heard that someone’s spouse on here was not accepting of the prepper concept but eventually comes around? They do not want to believe because they want to be an optimist. Think about it.

    Your blog seems quite successful and has done much to convince many that we should prepare. I can’t see that it has anything to do with a header. I can see that it has to do with pretty much anytihng but. JMO

  2. I have two blogs that I go to and check every day. This is one. The other is totally unrelated to prepping and is a decorating site of which there are thousands to choose from. The reason I go to this particular one is because it is easy to use and is logical in its setup. I actually went to the very beginning and read every single post all the way through to present just because I could navigate the site easily. Now, keep in mind when you go to look at this that it is targeted at women decorating their homes, so I’m not saying to use the pretty colors or pictures, but the basic layout and the features used to maneuver are very user friendly and one of the main reasons I continue to go back. This is her page.

  3. This site is the most common sense blog I have seen on prepping. The IDEA or the FEELING of “the lone wolf” is more the point, I think, rather than an actual vicious animal. I am sure that there have been times when we have all felt like we were alone in our preparedness struggle until we discovered thesurvivalistblog and our fellow wolfies and friends.

    Perhaps just “Emergency Preparedness and Survival Strategies for Everyone” and remove the rest of the hard to read white writing would simplify the header. I have to admit that “Join The Pack” does seem a little daunting, as well.

    As events come faster and faster at us, our time gets shorter and shorter to prepare. The 30 second visitors could just be “tourists” looking for an instant fix for a long term problem.

  4. breadmomma says:

    been a member on this for quite a while…still lurk quite a bit as well…lots to learn here and always on the mark…love what you have done…I think some might be put off by the lone wolf…I think one of my favorite headers was the one with the hills in the back ground…a year or two back…less foreboding…I know we live in interesting foreboding times, but perhaps for those less inclined to be thought of as militia types, more mom and pop and the kids…this might work to get the message out to more to be prepared.

  5. Now that I think on it, the lone wolf image is not particularly newbie friendly. A bit counter to your message, I think. From Wikipedia: “A lone wolf or lone-wolf fighter is someone who commits or prepares for, or is suspected of committing or preparing for, violent acts in support of some group, movement, or ideology, but who does so alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.”

    Another thing: the LONE wolf usually has low life expectancy – cut off from the pack (family), he cannot rest without fear.

    The big bad wolf is always evil, huffing, puffing, and blowing houses down, or sneaking to grandma’s house and eating her. You need something more PC, less in-your-face.

    How about a switch to coyotes – a pack or whatever, instead of the wolf/more wolves. Cuter, less threatening, cuddly, and so forth. Then add the quote “Nobody ever saw a fat coyote, but nobody ever saw one starve to death, either.” Sucks to lose the “Wolf Pack” meme, but…

    • Encourager says:

      Coyotes??? Have you ever been around any? They sure aren’t cuddly or less threatening! They will take out your dog, your chickens, your lambs, your calves, you name it. We live in a rural area in Michigan and they are a real problem.

  6. PreppingMomma5 says:

    I actually found your blog by typing in something like “top survivalist blogs” after I became more familiar with that term on accident. 90% of people leaving after one look? I’m guessing they are the 90% of the population who don’t really care too much about prepping and stumbled to your site by accident. Honest to goodness, that is exactly what happened in my life and made me start planning. I was looking up something that apparently had a connection to the prepper world (don’t remember what anymore), and came to an article on a blog and started reading other stuff on it. Panicked at first, started buying things like crazy, continued researching and then calmed down a bit and had a plan. I agree with others, people may or may not like parts of it or all of it, but hopefully they are coming for content. I know you want it to look pleasing, but I don’t come here because your site is pretty! Just glad you keep posting as you do and really appreciate yours and everyone’s articles.

  7. Schatzie Ohio says:

    How about “Don’t be a lone wolf – join our community and learn about preparing to survive and thrive”

  8. georgeislearning says:

    I don’t know why people are concerned with the image of a wolf. I dont think that has anything to do with someone coming to the site and leaving before they click the archive link and start gathering up information. If the image has anything to do with how long a person stays on the page put a picture of some boobs up. Everyone likes boobs. Im staying longer just to see if you put the boob pic up. As Ron White says once you’ve seen one set of boobs you want to see them all 🙂

    Make a link to must have gear bigger and more in your face. Everyone wants to see what gear to have, especially newer preppers. Pick 3 or 4 real important stories and make them in your face.

    if those ad’s on the right side are not paying you get rid of em, ad’s suck infact I leave pages that have to many ad’s in my face. Each ad displayed is a possible malware drive by downloader, especially if they are not hosted on your server.

    The ad’s that really make me lol are the ones that say FEMA banned this video click here to see it. Well if its banned how am I gonna see it lol. I dont think you have those.

    People want information not ad’s. Just my opinion do with it what you will.

    • georgeislearning says:

      ps I really like a forum. make folks register for the forum. If someone posts crap thats just way outta line then ban their ip. Get some longer term members and make them mods. No fuss no mess and forums are great for creating convos imo

      • If you do a forum monetize it. Say 20 bucks a year to be a member, forums do eat bandwidth and man hours to set up accounts after all, plus you could still have your advertising there as well. A one year membership could also be a give away in the contests and used to extend a current membership for a year. The upfront cost should also hold down the trolls.

        Select folks you trust to be moderators, if they do well after the first year give them their membership free in exchange for their continued work. And it is a lot of work as you well know.

  9. I found your site about a week ago and have been reading non stop every since. ALOT of good info. As for the Header, Very nice, the only thing I would change.. Switch the position and size of “” and” Emergency Preparedness and Survival for Families”. In my opinion that could hook more people. But that is just my opinion.

  10. M.D. – I meant to comment earlier, sorry for the delay. I too have struggled with what I feel is an outdated header. In my case, the graphic was just a temporary photo that I was going to replace when I could afford a more professional version. Long story short, a header can soon become an indelible identity and more than anything, change can be disruptive to the traffic flow.

    That said, I feel your pain. Spending 20 to 30 hours on back-end blog stuff is not fun especially when you can be writing or prepping instead.

    I agree with the others that have said if you get a bounce, it is probably for some reason other than your header. Different readers have different interests and some flip through the “top 50” until they find something they like. So I guess what I am saying is keep doing what you do since you do it well.

    Yours is one of the few survival and prepping sites I still visit these days. That plus you seem to be an upfront and honorable person.


  11. PGCPrepper says:

    I still don’t think it’s the header at all. I had a little extra time this week to read more because I’m bed ridden as I’ve said and I’m suggesting that I would look at other things. If I were not bed-ridden I doubt I would be here at all.

    For instance, on the “what you did to prep” article each Sunday. It’s just too much to get through if you have a life. I just can’t keep up and it’s boring for the most part. Folks list of litany of things that is not about prepping at all. I just don’t want to read that someone had to replace a toilet or I had to correct a low tire pressure issue from 600 people. I don’t even read it anymore. Not trying to be an asshole but often it is not relevant to prepping at all. I guess it’s great for some folks that NEED an outlet but personally, I do not read posts that looks as long as what I’m writing right now. If one wants to write a book, submit an article. I also do not read certain folks that have to comment on every dang post. I’m sorry but all this bogs down the blog and it seem sort of rude to you, MD. I don’t have a fix for any of this other than some folks just need to self police themselves.

    When I’ve posted in the past on weekly preps, it was similar to:

    Wife went to range for first time.
    Bought glock 19, and X amount of ammo
    Read whatever book

    Good luck all. No hard feelings; just being honest.

    PS. I’m just an old crusty warrant officer; some will know what that means. GL

  12. M.D.

    A lot of traffic comes from twitter. Twitter is like the new RSS feed. I have a component to my blog that automatically publishes my blog to my twitter account. I hate twitter and I never put anything in there other than what my blog automatically does. However, lots of people like twitter and I’d imagine you’d double the twitter followers than you have for your subscription. At least, it works that way for me, more like triple.

    Here’s a wordpress plugin that will automatically tweet each of your posts for you:

    Hope that helps.

  13. I love this site and check it everyday. Thanks for what you do.

    I personally think that you should just brighten up the colors. Make the colors friendly and inviting then once the colors get their attention they will read the banner or look at the pictures, then move on to the articles.

    I think the trick is to make it look inviting with colors, sounds crazy maybe but the use of colors is very important in advertising as that is what makes them read or look around.

    My 2 pennies worth.


    • Annie Nonymous says:

      What I noticed right off is comparing this to some of the headers from the past was this one looks a little dark.. comparing it to the one of the mountain vista…

      The one thing I *did* catch was the blog seems to change every few weeks. Format, header, etc… Compare it to that other blog… their format doesn’t change. THAT may be what keeps people moving on – when it keeps changing, it gives the feeling of instability.

      There is one other thing as well… the mood on the blog is beginning to get more political than the past. A lot of preppers aren’t into the political stuff – they’re into being prepared for the upcoming whatever. They may see some of that and move on, looking less for the politics and more for the substance.

      This may seem harsh, but honestly, were I a just starting prepper, thinking not of the evils of dotgov and more about how to keep my family alive after another Sandy Hurricane, and reading about the heavy stuff that starts to edge on Tinfoil Hat stuff, I might mve on as well. Compared to that, the header is small beans.

  14. Don’t have alot of experience with web design and headers – but I do know that I prefer clarity over colors because I have blue-green color blindness. Buddy’s and other’s suggestions of augmenting the color scheme is a good one – woodsy, natural tones, might be in synch with the message of survival and prepping.

    Whatever you choose to do, I am going to read this blog. 🙂

  15. In all fairness, observe overall internet users, we have ADD, they could be bookmarking the site for later reading, and come back at a later time, is it displaying that?
    One of the reasons I love frequenting this site is due the the simplicity of it.
    K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.
    That said I understand part of keeping this up relies on new people coming on, expanding knowledge as a community and donations of whatever people can. As a Wolfpack member, IF I knew anything about design I’d help you out on this project, but I am of no use.

  16. I’m not sure I even qualify as a prepper. Let’s just say I’m someone who is concerned with what is going on, so I’m trying to educate myself as to what I need to do and when. I googled survivalist, and this site popped up. I’ve read it, and every other site that popped up as well. Some of those I won’t go back to. This one, I continue to read. Why?
    You haven’t tried to scare me to death. You keep it simple, basic, and realistic.
    I haven’t paid attention to your header, your colors, or the wolf. I could care less. I’m looking for valid information.
    I realize that most of your subscribers have been prepping for years, so they’ve got the basics down and maybe they are ready for the more hard core stuff. Me? I want the basics.
    Personally I’d make that list of yours, the one where your list the food to stock up on right now, front and center.
    Just my 2 cents,

    • Warmongerel says:

      Hear, hear, Farmgirl.

      I came here about 6 months ago. I had been prepping and didn’t even realize it.

      I stayed because the people here wanted to help, as opposed to the other sites where all of the comments turned into a big pi$$ing contest.

      If you’re worried about the state of the world and are doing something to prepare – even just reading websites – welcome to the world of prepping. You’re ahead of most people if you ever need to survive. Most people won’t.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        Well, warmongerel, we get that here sometimes, too; generally speaking, we refer to those as “troll posts”, and try to take MD’s advice by ignoring them. I know you’ve seen them, as you’ve been here long enough.

      • Thanks Warmongerel. I’m trying to learn and not make foolish mistakes. I have a farm and grow my own food. I’ve been doing that for many years. I have a well and 3 ponds, so I have water. There’s just so much to do and try and learn! I need food! No, I need guns! No, I need a bug out location, vehicle, bag, etc… I feel like I live out in the boonies, and would be safe enough here, but then I read something else and realize, maybe not.
        It’s a lot to take in and still live my life.

  17. Backwoods Prepper says:

    MD I miss the wolf but I like the big chocolate bar lol! I sure don’t visit for the header. But like I said you may be changing it for nothing all the trolls were probably searching for some more hardcore with hardcore ideas. But I’ll stay here no matter, I’m hooked.

  18. Warmongerel says:

    M.D., no offense, but I think that you’re over-thinking this.

    I come here every day – and I didn’t even realize that you had changed the banner until I read the post.

    People who come to sites like this search for “prepper” or “survivalist” or “SHTF”. That’s how I found it. And, when I got here, I doubt that I even noticed what was on the banner, I just started reading. And I liked what I read.

    I don’t blame you for wanting more readers. Nobody who creates a website doesn’t want more readers. That’s kind of the point of putting information on the web.

    But people don’t come here for fancy graphics, or the layout. They come here for information. I’ve been to other sites with all of the “bells and whistles” – but this one is the one that I come back to every day.

    I know how to make web pages using pure HTML. I can make them Active Server Pages (ASP). I could rewrite your whole website for you. But it’s unnecessary.

    Those who are serious about prepping aren’t looking for “lovely” webpages. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure that anyone with an attention span of only a few minutes would help The Pack much anyway. The opposite would be my guess.


  19. Was wondering after reading the comments, what about a mother wolf with a couple of babies, making it a softer look but still with our wolf theme. She sitting and they around her.

  20. 90% of sheeple just can’t handle the truth. I joined about 2 years ago and comment off and on. The only thing I don’t see in the header that may keep more people interested is the word, Homesteading. There is so much information on this blog, in MD’s books, and on the CD that I think just about every subject of preparedness and self sufficiency is covered. Thank you MD and the ‘Pack. People who pass up this site may be of questionable character anyway.