Last weeks tip was to consider your options with regard to third party commenting systems, especially if you are using the native blogger system which is pretty un-user friendly when you compare it to what else is available.
That made me think of other ways we can make our blogs more user friendly, and the first thing I thought about was blog design.
I know this is dangerous territory because everyone's taste is so different, but I do still think that there are some fundamental things that we can all so to make our blogs as user friendly as possible when it comes to design.
So this weeks tip is:
Regardless of what layout you use (one sidebar on the right, two sidebars on the right, a sidebar on either side etc etc) there are ways of keeping your blog design simple and clear.
First - there are always exceptions to these suggestions that work really well. If you do the opposite to these suggestions, I don't think that you have an unattractive blog :-) These are suggestions not rules.
Here are some suggestions for keeping for blog design simple and clear and your readers happy:
Light coloured backgrounds: A light coloured background with dark writing makes it easy on the eyes of people who are reading the content of your blog. Don't get me wrong, I love many blogs that have dark backgrounds, but there is no denying that they are harder to read than blogs with light coloured backgrounds. Good content will bring people back, but it can't hurt to make it as simple and easy as possible to read that content either. (When I say a light background, I mean under the area where you are writing).
Solid background: I only raise this because I know that there are some blogger templates that have a see-through option, so your writing is visible over the top of your background image. Again, this can make it a lot more difficult for people to read the content on your blog.
Avoid bling: I couldn't think of another word for this, but essentially what I am talking about are things such as moving graphics, flashing fonts and music that automatically plays when a visitor open the web page. Why avoid it? Generally speaking, if not used well (and I reckon its pretty hard to use that stuff well) it just becomes distracting from what people are really there for - your book reviews and other book discussion. Also, if someone is checking it on an old computer or just a crap one, then a lot of that stuff either isn't going to load or its going to load super slow which is super annoying and might turn people away from your blog.
Standard font: Standard fonts are easiest for people to read. That's why they are standard. Some blogs I have come across use font that looks a bit like cursive handwriting, which is so much harder to read than a standard font.
Clearly marked sections: By this I mean using headings in your sidebar so that it is clear to readers what information they are looking at and it doesn't all blend into one.
De-clutter: Sometimes the more information in your blog (particularly your sidebar), the more difficult it is to find things. For example, rather than including images from all the blogger awards you have received, why not create a page/post where you keep this information and leave a link to it somewhere in your sidebar or About Page? At the risk of repeating myself, the clearer it is, the easier it will be for your readers to navigate.
An 'About' section: This is really useful for new people who are visiting you. It means that there is one place that they can go to learn about your website and decide whether there is anything that interests them.
I am sure that there are many more suggestions people might have for keeping your blog simple and clear.
Why is it important to have a simple and clear blog?
In my view, simplicity = easier on the eye = easier to navigate = more user friendly. You might have the most interesting content in the world, but if your blog isn't user friendly or easy to read you risk losing visitors. The more user friendly your blog, then hopefully the more people will come back for more :-)
Given I have posted today about blog design being important, I thought that it might be worthwhile also talking about what to put in the contents of your book review. Again this will be very personal, but I will be brave and make some suggestions anyway!
#6 WEEKLY BLOGGING TIP: REVIEW CONTENT