Mar 19, 2012

5 Ways to Improve Your Blog

Alternate title: Blog formats that annoys the living fuck out of me.

I don't often go on about blog layouts because I understand that it's not something that comes naturally to most people and it can be a very difficult thing to learn. I have been designing and coding websites for over a decade, so I think I know a thing or two - but even still, word press and blogger can have me up at 4am trying to figure out some ridiculous motherfucking glitch.

Apart from the golden rule that applies to most things: Keep It Simple, Stupid (or KISS), there are a few things that I think are design NO-NOs which are all easily avoidable. Please, for the love of all your readers, abide by them. OK? Thanks.

It is so important when choosing a look and feel for your blog. I don't care if your absolute background is piss yellow with poo brown smeared all over it (obviously, that wouldn't look pretty, but stay with me here), it is the color combination of your body copy background and your text that is key. There is a reason why most books are black text on white paper - because it's EASY TO READ. Some might seem OK for short lines or words, but for paragraph after paragraph, it can be straining on the eyes - even white on black can get annoying.

Here's a diagram that you won't see in any web design text books (because it's just too awesome).

I'll be honest here and say that if a blog has a funky font for the body of copy, 9 times out of 10, I will leave (the exception being an added photo of a questionable nature that would make me stay for a perv). Stick to the standards - again, because they are proven to be the easiest to read. If your default font is not on this list, the odds are that it's probably obnoxious. Sorry, but it's likely the case.

When buttons and ads are wider than the column that they are residing in. UGH.
OK, so this might be a bit trickier to fix for the non-coder, but I'll try to make it really simple.
  1. Turn on the HTML view of your widget.
  2. Find the dimensions in the <img> code. It will look like this: width="250px" height="250px"
  3. As long as you keep the ratio of the dimensions the same when you shrink it, it will still look OK, so change it to width="200px" height="200px" (or smaller if you find it's still over-lapping).

If your blog is snowing, I will not ever, ever return to your blog.
Not ever.
Not even in July.
Whomever created that code needs to be strung up by his short and curlies and whipped with a dead fish.
Anyone who uses that code should be made to eat that fish after the beating is complete.

Don't try to make your blog look like Martha Stewart because the more crap you put on it, it will look more like Anna Nicole Smith, (either alive or dead). Referring back to my first point, just keep it simple. If you don't know how to do something, ASK! Putting up something that doesn't work or looks like shit doesn't reflect well on you and will take away from your writing. Twitter is awesome for this too. There's tons of people that would be willing to help you out with an issue or two; all you have to do is ask.

Remember, as much as some want to deny it, for the most part, and for whatever many different reasons we do it, blogging is a hobby. And just like any other hobby, it can cost a few dollars here and there. If you're willing to spend $100 on a purse that you probably don't need, invest that money into your blog instead and get it done by a professional. It will be worth every penny.

If you don't have cash to put towards your blog, just use a basic, clean template. Easy peasy!
And after all, at the end of the day, it's about what you write, so write well and enjoy your blog.

"It is a piece of shit. But don't worry, I don't even have a piece of shit; I have to envy yours."
~ Ferris Bueller


This (belated) post is for The Great Blogging Anniversary Linkup in honor of my dear bloggy friend Sweaty. Congrats on your first year - I know it's not been an easy ride.


  1. Do you offer blog reviews, you know, like suggest something friend to friend??

    just an idea...

  2. Can we talk about music players?

    Yes, I like music too, but I don't want to listen to Dubstep every time I click over to your blog....

    And the white text on black background is a huge turnoff for me. I'd rather read in papyrus-font than white on black!!

  3. Oh, I agree with the snow issue! And popups suggesting you subscribe or buy something will make me run and never come back either.

    What about font SIZE? I've seen fonts so small I need to enlarge it to read it. And I won't.

    And white space? I keep hearing white space is your friend because it is restful to the eye and sets off what's really important.

  4. OOOH YES.

    If I was doing a Top Ten, auto-playing music and font size would've been #6 & #7 ;)

    Auto-play? DON'T DO THAT.

    Font size? Don't ever go smaller than 11px for main body copy.

    Brandon, white on black can be hard on the eyes after a while, but NOTHING compares to any RGB (particularly lime green or red/pink) text on black. A fucking crime!

  5. What about blogs that have umpteen bazillion buttons, links, and ads on them so that the page takes a year and a half to load?
    Those go out of my reader list faster than anything...biggest pet peeve I have.

  6. Yep. That is No. 5.
    Anna Nicole Smith blogs.

  7. Agreed! So totally agre-


    Okay I think my blog's in the clear. As I was saying. Hell yeah!

  8. I was hoping someone was going list music!! Music on a blog is okay but I think it should be an option not an assault!

    I'm not a big fan of the whole "captcha" thing either, especially on blogs that have owner approval anyway. Seems redundant.

  9. @MiMi

    OK. CAPTCHA - No. 8.
    See my Kiss my Captcha design for further confirmation.

  10. Sigh, I suspect that I am guilty of several of these sins and I know that I am for at least one of them . . . the whole button bigger than column thing . . . I will do my best to fix it dear Lady E.

    Oh and I am totally on board with the Empress's suggestion . . . rip apart my blog design because I honestly have no idea what I am doing!

  11. Love this! Thank you!
    I hate the captcha makes me never want to leave comments!

  12. Now I feel all self conscious of my blog. lol.

    How does my blog stack up to the standards?

  13. @Foxy

    I dunno, hun. I've been to art school - I've seen enough "constructive criticism" tears to last me a life time. HA!

  14. Great advice! Now I'm all paranoid about my blog layout though. I may be calling you for an update soon... it's probably time.

  15. Preach it sister! I have had so many people ask me to review their blogs and they just gave me a headache to look at much less try to read. I like the design I have now. It took me weeks to get it to look, I hope, simple, elegant, yet totally me.

  16. I like your color chart. I totally agree with you about the idea of paying for someone to help with blog design.

  17. Best colour chart ever. Light grey font on white makes me want to stab people. Will now go double check my own blog as I'm sure I am blogging shitfight.

  18. Great post. My design is changing so much over time, just in little ways. I know it needs work and a professional eventually. If you're not wanting to do constructive criticism for a fee, although I think you'd get some $ for sure, maybe you could have a weekly design tip post or suggest some designers, or let me hire you to design my page ;)

  19. Also, you say $100 but I see people advertising for blog design at $250 minimum, is that too much?

  20. This post kicked ass!!! Seriously, I hope MANY BLOGGERS would read this because the points you mentioned are SO TRUE! And boy, how you've described each point loud and clear, it should be in the Idiot's Guide to Blogging.

    Thank you for your honest and heartfel guest-post, and for writing this excellent post as part of my 1st blogversary celebration. I'm going to be extra mushy now and say this: LOVE you, you crazy woman ;)! My life and my journey in the blogosphere in the past one year wouldn't be complete without you in it. You hold a special place in my heart. Always!


  21. Yo, when u gonna announce a winner for the hand sanitizer names? Get on the ball gurl!

  22. Snow and other animations make me stabby!! Love this post.


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