As many of my regular readers will know I develop websites– big ones, small ones, ecommerce sites and blogs. Website development is a hobby that keeps me on my toes. The industry is always changing…there is something new to learn every day! Sometimes it is mind blogging, other times it’s just what I need. Mind you, there is a down side to studying web development. One of those downsides is that I have trouble just visiting websites and enjoying them nowadays. I want to look inside…I want to see its engine, know what is running the site, who designed it and what components the site is using. I just can’t look at a custom site and simply enjoy it anymore. Oh well, that’s not really a grumble or a downside, just a curiosity that springs from my delight. 🙂
Anyway I love blogging and studying pro bloggers is also an interest of mine. I have absolutely no aspiration to ever be a pro blogger. Goodness, I don’t even keep a stat counter! I simply do not obsess over comments, visitors or anything like pro bloggers do. Then again my motivation for blogging is quite different to theirs so obviously our sites will be quite different. (I actually started a blog as a place to collect my thoughts that I had been referring to frequently. Threads and posts on forums and email groups had me re-typing my thoughts so I started a blog to keep them all in one place). Despite my lack of blogging aspirations I still like to learn about effective blogging as a mode of communication. Blogging has been a great tool for my continuing learning about communication.
In my travels I’ve come across some beautiful blogs, some blogs with great content and some blogs that I can only read via my RSS feed reader due to the website/blog design. I have a few pet peeves when it comes to site design…and before I ask you to tell me your website pet peeves I thought I’d tell you mine.
- Music players that are set to autoplay. Usually they are stuffed in a sidebar which makes it near impossible for me to find so I can turn it off. Sometimes I’m reading blogs very early in the morning or occasionally at night when the children are asleep. I may even like your choice in music…but I like to listen to music at a time when it is convenient for me. Bloggers could consider not having the player set to autoplay. As far as web development goes, this option is more courteous.
- Spam is yucky. We all hate it but it is a fact of the blogosphere. There are a few plugins and features designed to combat spam but I really have to say that if you want me to leave a comment then please don’t make me jump through firing hoops to do so! make it easy for me to leave a comment. I just don’t like the captcha images where one is supposed to enter a string of numbers/letters. Sometimes I can’t even read the silly image…making commenting quite difficult. (However, this is largely my own personal preference. others may strongly disagree)
- Cluttered sidebars…yes I know this is personal preference but for an adult who is highly distractable I find that the very popular trend of cluttering every little available space with images is just mental clutter. Too much for my lil brain. Images, widgets, buttons and ads- oh my! What is most important on your blog? Images, widgets or the content? (Darren is an Aussie ProBlogger who made a video blog on this topic. Take the 2 min to view his thoughts.)
- Multiple blogs: let me explain this one. I used to have several blogs. A food/nutrition/fitness blog, a homeschool blog and my family journal blog. Aside from being difficult to keep track of it also made it it hard for my friends who wanted to keep up with my daily activities and thoughts. The beauty of blogging is categories! One blog- many categories. I’d much rather keep up with your one blog and its many categories than try to keep up with 3 or 4 different blogs by you. If I (cyber) know you and have a relationship with you then I want to hear all you have to say! make it easy for me, the reader! (exception to this can be business blogs- but even this should be assessed on an individual basis)
- No contact functions. It’s important for readers to know how to contact you privately.
Things that make me subscribe or return to your site:
- I love it when I can easily discern who you are, what you like to write about and, where you live. An ‘about me’ page or widget, with a photo. It adds the personal touch and immediately lets me know a little about you and the purpose of your blog.
- I also love it when I can easily find content on your site. Give me multiple ways to find information! Search bars, archives, popular posts, recent posts, categories, tags and tag searches, etc are great ways for readers to find relevant content on your site.
- When referencing a Scripture I love it when the author actually links to an online Bible! This allows me to dig deeper and run off on bunny trails.
- Publishing your RSS feed. This was I can keep up to date with all your posts. (Publishing the feed for your comments is even better!)
- Having a ‘contact page‘ or widget. Maybe I’d like to send you an email rather than leave a public comment…sometimes this is more appropriate. Let users know how to contact you.
- I love it when bloggers write with paragraphs. Writing for web content is actually a little different to typical or proper writing. Web authors need to use more paragraphs, bullet points and typography than when writing for books or magazines. Breaking your content into more paragraphs makes it easier on the eye for people to read.
- When a blogger is relating a story, thought or incident and they link to their previous posts in order to give the readers some background. If we are to develop an online relationship then it’s really helpful to not assume that I know your history or previous thoughts. Link them so I can find out. I love it when bloggers do this!
Okay, I’ve really put myself out there and possibly risked offending some of my readers…but please understand where I’m coming from – a perspective of website development. Of course, you may very well disagree with me and that’s fine too- tell me about it! I love to help homeschool mums with their blog design…I love to encourage the Aussie homeschool community, so let’s brainstorm and tell me what you do and don’t like about website/blog design.