Monday, October 22, 2012

lOOk at YoUr bLog

Hello, lovely people of the blogosphere! This week will be a designer's look at what you're doing on different platforms and will be called lOOk at YoUr xXx. Follow along and learn! Today I'd like to talk to you all about a scary trend I'm seeing in blogs: too much CLUTTER and not enough Legibility.

Do you visit your own blog? Do you pay attention to the clutter/continuity/legibility? If I click on your blog, do I know instantly who you are and where I am? Is your blog well organized? These are questions we're going over today so grab that pencil and paper and let's get going!

Go take a look now and write down the following:
  1. Number of Ads (count them)
  2. Size of Font (large, small, decent?)
  3. Contrast (red on black? purple on black? yellow on white?) of both posts AND sidebar matter.
  4. Legibility (how many spelling errors do you spot?)
  5. Ease of Navigation (search box or link list?)
  6. Recognition of Name (is your blog title and url the same?)
  7. Busyness (how many elements do you see before you scroll?)
  8. Ways to Follow (how many, and how far must you scroll before finding one?)
  9. Easy Links (count them and where do they point?)
  10. Imagery (does it match your content?)
  11. How many other blogs are you linking to?
  12. Can I contact you or connect with you in an obvious way?
  13. Does your blog title match your URL?
Got all that? Excellent! Let's really take a look at your design and work on making it user/reader friendly. Answer these questions based on your observations:
  1. What do those ads do for you?
  2. Can a large number of people read your blog easily?
  3. How's your contrast? Contrast is how well your type shows up on the background.
  4. How can you reduce spelling errors?
  5. What links or content can you ad to help your readers find what they're looking for?
  6. If you didn't know who you were, would others if they found you from an outside link?
  7. Do you see your name right away or a way to find/follow you? How does that impact your readers?
  8. Can you improve upon letting interested readers find you elsewhere?
  9. Think about your photo for a minute. Is it relevant?
  10. Of those blogs you link to, how many link back?
  11. Where do your contact links lead me?
  12. How can you fix the consistency?
Now, take these steps to improve your blog:
  1. DELETE 9/10 of the ads. I don't need to scroll longer than your post. Bottom matter does not get my attention and clutters up your blog. Keep your ads relevant. If you want to promote your book, GREAT! Make a new page and link me to it. If I find your writing interesting, I'll click it and buy.
  2. If your font is small or curly or grungy, go to a larger font size and do away with the "cutesy" elements. You don't need them and it irritates readers.
  3. Please, for the love of all that's good in the world, make your font black and your background white or some other color combo that's high in contrast (no purple or red on black, PLEASE). Make sure there's a background for other elements, as well. I hate it when I can't read what you've posted.
  4. Give me easy to find ways to follow you on every platform you appear on. Make it easy to find. Don't hide it in a barrage of ads or other crap I'm gonna have to sift through.
  5. Be consistent. If your blog doesn't match your FB, Twitter, LinkedIN, and website, change it to match, please. Your readers and fans need to be able to identify you at a glance.
  6. Break your blog down into topics and give me a handy link list or go tag your posts with relevant key words and provide me with a search box.
  7. If your picture is your book cover, that's great and all, but what happens when you have fifty books out there? Are you gonna use them all? No. Make a decision. Either brand with your face or a logo along with your color scheme and font choices, please.
  8. Are you promoting other people more than you're promoting yourself? Yes? Well, if they don't return the favor, STOP. Work with people that work with you.
  9. Change either your blog title or the URL that goes with it. They should be the same.
I hope this helps in some small way. If you look at my myriad of sites, you'll see consistency of imagery, colors, and style. You won't see a ton of ads to distract you, the urls and usernames are synonymous, and you'll have a pleasant experience overall. Check them out:

Note the URLs of all are either jomichaels or writejomichaels. You'll know, by the consistency, that you have the write one when you find me.

Remember, you can get tips like these in my book The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book. For just $2.99 I talk branding, formatting, and design for indies.

Don't forget to enter the blog party giveaway! There's three copies of The Indie Author's Guide in there just waiting for you to win!

Question of the day: Did you find your blog needing a lot of changes? Did you implement them as you went?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Hmmm...
    My blog, Twitter, FB, etc names don't all match -- but they are EITHER my name (Helene Poulakou) OR my blog name (WritersWritingWords), so I hope they are not so confusing!
    What do you think?

    1. I think you should find a way to brand them all together. Either by using a common color, background, layout, logo, or something else. I had no idea you were the author of your blog until I actually saw your photo down in the comments section. Even then, it's not accompanied by Helene. I've been a subscriber since June... Thanks for the blog luv! :)

    2. Thanks for the suggestion, Jo!
      I'll work something out.

  2. Amazing tips! They are all easy changes too. Great work!

    1. Thank you! I try to keep it simple. It's the small things that make the biggest differences. Thanks for the blog luv, Heather!


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