(…and Advertising is kicking the crap out of Dooce.)

I’ve been a big fan of the blog known as DOOCE since shortly after I began to blog in April 2004. Dooce is owned and authored by Heather B. Armstrong of Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the quintessential “mommy blogger” and has had minor fame in the blogosphere due to the fact she was fired from her job due to her blogging. Over the past year and half, I’ve almost felt a kindred spirit to her blog since she is/was(?) a graphic designer as well, a photography nut, and had her first child shortly before we had Erin. She has a fantastic sense of humor and wit, which she uses to blog about life in SLC, life after the Mormon church, her husband Jon, daughter Leta and fawn-like dog, Chuck. I loved seeing the masthead and color schemes of her blog change on her whims. Sometimes I liked her new designs, sometimes I didn’t, but the core design was always good enough to grow on me (and that says a lot). From almost the first day I discovered dooce, I have had her linked in my blogroll.

The last few months have brought some major changes to dooce-o-sphere. You see, her husband Jon quit his job and is now a stay-at-home dad (lucky). Their sole income is derived from the advertising spaces they sell on dooce.com. At first, it was only two or three ads at the bottom of the sidebar. It’s gotten worse. Much MUCH WORSE. A few days ago, Heather gave her blog a new layout that now includes flanking sidebars that have nothing but ads from top to bottom. Her actual blog content and navigation is getting crushed like Luke Skywalker in the Death Star’s garbage compactor. Her masthead is not the design of the talented artist I’ve witnessed her to be. Instead it seems as if she just discovered the SHAPE tool in Photoshop and went to town.

When the change first took place, I considered blogging about it but I decided to give it a few days. Hopefully, I mused, she would wake up the next morning and see what she had done and scream “OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE? NEVER AGAIN WILL I REDESIGN MY BLOG DRUNK AND HIGH!”

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, this evening Heather posted a personal reflection [Wherein a whole bunch of you just roll your eyes] on her blog in which she admits to the horrible advertising pox that has come upon her house, yet is more or less unapologetic to her faithful readers. I left with the impression that she was basically telling us, “sorry if you hate it. I have a feeling that you do. But the ads are staying ’cause it’s making us money and that’s more important than if you like how my site looks or not.” And I can totally dig that. I really can. I mean really, if my blog was my sole source of income for me, my wife and my baby I would totally be advertising… yet at the same time, I would hope that I would have the sense to use the design and organizational skills that I have naturally, and through training, to make my blog an aesthetically pleasing place to be – instead of a depot for loud, screaming ads. Ads that scream more than Heather does. Drug stores, North Country and Save the Dolphins – oh my…

So, I am now thinking of removing dooce from my blogroll. I will continue to visit and read (so long as her quality of writing doesn’t go the way of her design), but I don’t think I can, in good conscience, send my readers (neither of you) to a site that is in such a state of disrepair. It’s actually embarassing as a loyal reader to see her do this to her site. Maybe I’ll give it another day to see if she can breathe some life into her design/layout before removing dooce from the blogroll.

Are you a dooce fan? What do you think of her layout?

Oh, and Heather, if you technorati‘d yourself and wound up here, please leave a note and tell me what for!