|Most people seem to have one or the other –
there are others but these are the two most
popular blogging platforms.
I know that this is a weird post for a running/fitness blog, but runners or anyone really, if you have a blog – when was the last time you really looked at it?
– Does everything work – right?
– Can I easily subscribe to your blog?
– Do you have the same theme that you started with all those years ago?
– How do you think that a visitor sees your blog?
Okay Shaw what are you up to? Honestly I am probably going to put my foot in my mouth and piss a couple of people off, but other than that not too much.
I have gone through my feeds and I looked at a lot of blogs over the past couple of weeks. I have seen the full spectrum of blogs from the ones that are very visually appealing to the ones that – well to be honest looked like crap to me. When I say a blog looks like crap it means that they are poorly thought out, cluttered and distracting me from reading a blog post.
Who Do I Think I Am?
I am not a professional blogger and certainly don’t have a lot of background in web or blog design, but have done this blogging thing for a little while and have developed a pretty good idea what a decent looking blog looks like and what doesn’t work all that well.
Since I started this updating my feeds, I have come across a few blogs that to be honest turned me off so badly that I didn’t subscribe to their feed. Sometimes I didn’t even bother to try to read their posts, because I was so distracted by all the crap that they had on their blog.
Not Pro Bloggers
I know that most runners are not professional bloggers, web designers or have boatloads of money to go hire someone to make their blog look good – hell I am not and can’t either. However, just because many of us don’t have the ability or money to do what we would really like to do with our blog’s appearance, it doesn’t mean that our blog’s shouldn’t look neat, clean and be somewhat visually appealing, have everything work correctly and be able to subscribe easily if they want to.
No One Right Way
Your blog is a reflection of who you are. What image do you project to your readers or potential readers? What image do you want to project? Are they the same?
Go to your blog and what is the first thing that you see when you land there? How does it affect you, is it appealing or is it busy and cluttered? If this wasn’t your blog, would you like it?
There is no one right or wrong way to set up a blog, sometimes it is refreshing to see someone try something new or different, but there are surefire ways to drive people away from your blog and I saw too many that did that to me.
One of the biggest problems I saw was how some bloggers were attempting to monetize their blog. They have so many advertisements, links, flashing ads, invitations to sign up for their page, or newsletter. Then they have a video that automatically starts, when I land on the site and other visual or audio distractions that make it so, I couldn’t focus on the blog long enough to read the posts.
It also takes so long to load some of these sites, that sometimes I thought that there was a problem with my browser.
Hell I understand wanting to make some money through your blog(s), but when you overdo it, I know that it turns me off. If you want to make you blog look like the Sunday coupon section of the paper, go for it – it is your blog and your choice, but I probably won’t subscribe to your feed or purposely go back to your site again.
Then again that is just me.
There are ways to advertise on your site that are bit more subtle and give your readers a better visual experience when we visit your blog. Do I expect everyone to stop advertising on blogs – hell no I don’t plan to. I am just asking you to stop and look at your blog to make sure you are seeing the same thing that your potential customers/readers are seeing.
Then there were the sites who have sidebars and feels the need to add every sidebar widget they can find, using .GIF files and then don’t get rid of them when they have something else that does the same thing or heaven forbid they don’t need it. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to where the widgets are placed or why they are even a part of this blog. All of these widgets again, slow down your load times and can frustrate your readers.
Look closely at your sidebar and you should have a specific purpose or reason for each widget that you have there. If there isn’t one, why do you have that widget on your sidebar. After you do it once, go back and look at your widgets again and see if there are any questionable widgets left, why do you need them? If you really don’t get rid of them.
I know that we are proud of the races we have run, the distances we have completed, the “athons” we have participated in and all the awards that our blogs have won. However, at what point can the badges be retired or added to a page that readers and blog owners can look at if we want to, instead of having them in the sidebar. That doesn’t mean get rid of all of your badges, but take a look at them, which ones really matter to you and what ones are just there because you don’t have anyplace else to put them.
The reality is that
the blogs that are not visually appealing to me, are cluttered, way too freaking busy, don’t have any sense of what goes where and make difficult to focus on the reading (which is why I go to most blogs – to read the posts, not look at advertisements or cool widgets – even though sometimes I do see something that looks interesting or is cool), because so much is going on around it.
That is one of the reasons why I started using Google Reader so much, I don’t have to look at some of those blogs when I only want to read an article.
I am not an expert and I will be the first one to say it and I don’t mean to be critical of anyone else’s blog, because mine is nothing all that special either.
Just take a look
All I am asking is that you take a good long look at your blog and then look at it from the view of someone who just clicked a link and is arriving there for the first time. What kind of first impression is your blog going to make to that person.
Is your blog a reflection of you? Will it entice someone to stay and look around or will it confuse them and push them away.
How you setup and have your blog look is your choice. You have to decide if you are blogging for you or your readers, then you will have a better idea of how you will setup your blog.
I would never tell you how to set up your blog, but if it is not visually appealing or if it is too cluttered or distracting for me, I won’t be back.