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Thursday, June 02, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Your Blog

I found this post on Hope Studios and it brought up some very good points.  She points out a site, 10 Things I Hate About Your Site, that gives critiques on websites and blogs.  It’s a fun site to look through without having to publically have your own site blasted to bits.  Anyway, Hope Studios wrote up her own version of top peeves she experiences in the blog world.  And I’m going to add my two-cents here.

10 Ways to Make Your Blog More Reader Friendly:

1)  Auto-play music.  Turn it off.  Get rid of it.  Especially on a craft or food or other general topic blog.  I do have music on my family’s blog.  If you insist on music, put the player at the top of the page so viewers can easily turn it off if they want.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate music.  I love music, but I often blog surf while watching TV with my hubby… he’s not so fond of having his current TV show or movie interrupted by blaring strains of the Dixie Chicks or anyone else.

2)  CAPTCHA or word verification.  Turn it off, please.  I promise you will get more comments if you do.  Blogger has a pretty good spam filter that catches almost all spam.  If you want to monitor comments, turn that feature on.  But turn CAPTCHA off.  Pah-leeze.  Pretty, pretty please.  It’s on by default in Blogger, so double check your settings.  There’s a full tutorial HERE.

3)   Too many font sizes and colors.  Stick to three or four different fonts through out your entire blog.  You should also stick to three or four font colors through out your blog.  All the colors should be easily legible.  Black backgrounds with neon green font are not kind to eyes.  Majority consensus is a light background with black text is preferred. 

4)  No personalization.  Your blog should reflect several things.  First, whatever it is that you blog about.  Second, it should reflect you.  What makes you stand out as a person?  As a blogger?  Why should I read your blog?  There are millions and millions of blogs out there.  What’s special about yours?  Personally I prefer a blog that has a distinct look.  One that I click on and, as the page loads, I know exactly where I am.  Cookie cutter templates are easy and convenient.  But, when I’ve visited seven other blogs today that look just like yours… they all just kinda meld together.  Stand out.  Custom backgrounds and headers are a great way to do this.  If you need help, ask for it.  I’m more than willing to help you out.  For a small fee, I and many talented others offer to do it for you.

5)  No button code.  If you want me, or anyone else, to post your button, make it easy for us.  If you don’t provide the button code it’s a lot more work for me to post it on my site.  Especially if I have to resize it to fit my blog.  With the code I plug in one more line of text and BAM!  It’s good to go.  Don’t know how to make a button code box?  This is a great step-by-step tutorial.

6)  Enable your email.  Or at least post contact information somewhere.  Enabling your email is the easiest way to connect to other bloggers.  I get every single comment in my email.  If you ask a question, and your email is enabled, I simply answer it and send it flying through cyberspace to your inbox.  If you don’t have your email enabled, I may answer it in the comments, but who knows if you’ll ever see it.  For example, I got a super sweet comment from a lady about one of my printables.  Unfortunately, the date on it was wrong.  Had I been able to find her email address, I would’ve made one up with the right date and she would have had the printable she wanted, with the correct year.  Just like that.  But I didn’t know how to get it to her, so… If you don’t want your personal email address floating around cyberspace (and I don’t blame you), take 5 minutes and set up an email specifically for your blog.  If you want to be a successful blogger, you will need one eventually.  Just set it up now.

7)  No Navigation.  I will stick around your site longer if I can easily find your content.  Blogger offers a list of popular posts.  You can choose how many posts show up, most popular of all time or recently popular.  The drop down menus that list the months aren’t helpful.  How do I know if anything you wrote in June 2010 will interest me?  I don’t have time to sift through every single one of your posts, so show me what your got!

8)  Photoless Tutorials.  It’s hard to explain things perfectly for everyone to understand.  Photos will usually help people get the idea, even if you don’t explain it perfectly.  That being said, you don’t need to include photos of every single little step.  I don’t need to see the salt in the teaspoon and then in the bowl and then as you mix it up.  I know how to measure out salt.  Now, beating meringue until stiff is something not everyone will know what that looks like.  Take a picture of that.

9)  A cluttered, disorganized sidebar.  Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have anything in your sidebar.  But, you should be selective about what you give priority in your sidebar real estate.  Also, if you are going to have a “Followers” button for me to push, put it near the top of your sidebar.  That makes it easy to find, but it doesn’t look quite so vain as putting it above your posts.  It’s also helpful to group your subscription and follow options together.  That way your readers can see all the choices at once.  And blogs with lots of ads… big turn off for me.  I get why, but again, be selective.  Very selective.

10)  Comment Etiquette.  This isn’t so much your blog, as the way you interact with other’s blogs.  And this may be my biggest peeve…  I read every single comment I get.  Yes, every single one.  And I respond to many of them.  I appreciate people taking the time to comment.  Reading comments on other blogs from someone who points out all the things that are wrong with a project is such a downer and makes the commenter look like a meanie.  And I know from experience, it makes the blog owner feel bad. 

If you don’t have something constructive to say, move on.  I said constructive, that doesn’t mean you can’t disagree.  If you want to express your disagreement, do it politely.  If you have an issue with someone (like finding your photos on their site), send an email.  Can’t find contact info?  Ask for an email address in a comment.  Attacking someone publicly makes you look like a jerk.  People will ALWAYS side with the blog owner.  Regardless of who is at fault.  Other readers are there because they like the blog, and subsequently the blog owner.  They aren’t there to read mean comments.

The great thing about the blogosphere is that there are no rules.  If someone does something differently than you would, it’s not wrong, just different.  A simple suggestion is a great way to suggest a different way to accomplish the project.  Just be nice.  And don’t leave comments that have nothing to do with the post.  Especially “I’m following you.  Now come follow me.” kind of comments.  That is the best way to make sure I won’t come visit you.  I get you-can’t-make-me syndrome.  Stopping by from a blog hop?  Just say something along the lines of “Hey, stopping by from such and such blog hop.  If you’d like to come visit, you can find me here.” and leave your blog address.  If you’d like to share a link, a simple “hey, you might enjoy this post” will get the job done so much more effectively.

Ok, you know my blog peeves, what are yours…?  Is there anything on While He Was Napping you’d like to see changed?  Be honest, but please be gentle and tactful too…
ps… no promises I’ll change anything, but I just might…


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