The first fight I remember having with my mom centered around hair. She had spent a painstaking amount of time curling mine. Only I didn’t want curls, so I made some kind of smart-mouthed remark (as I was wont to do then) and in a room papered with Holly Hobby the battle began and echoed down through the years. It raged over curled or not-curled hair, dresses vs shorts, the length of dresses and shorts, and whether or not I could wear high-heeled jelly shoes to prom. (Yes, I wanted to wear high-heeled jelly shoes to prom.) Whatever genes I luckily inherited from my mother, a similar fashion sense did not come included.
Probably my glory days of style were a few years in high school in college when grunge reigned supreme. I bought an identical coat to the one Jordan Catalano word in My So-Called Life, and my mother rejoiced when I traded it for a black pea coat my sophomore year of college. I have no proof but am fairly certain she burned my Jordan Catalano jacket in the backyard. To be fair, I never did wash the thing.
It was the first time I had a style. I rocked my men’s corduroy pants and baby doll tees like nobody’s business. Plus, most of my clothes came from the thrift store where a bag full cost less than the Guess jeans I had coveted a few years before. Despite the benefit to her wallet, it was probably my mother’s least favorite time in the life of my wardrobe. That is the thing about style: it is so very subjective.
Let’s get down and dirty with regards to blog style. What are your blog design pet peeves? What makes you click away? (Click to Tweet)
This, too, is subjective. Here are a few things that tend to drive me away or at least ensure I won’t return:
-fonts I don’t like
-colors I don’t like
-animated clip art
-pop up ads
-lack of images mixed with the text
-lack of accessible “about” page or photo of the blogger
-dark background with light text
-lack of paragraph breaks
-too many misspellings in one post
I feel like Judge-y McJudgerton with that long list! And I know I’ve broken several of those myself at times. (Ex: there has been an ad playing a video when my page loads that I JUST now realized. Ick! Taking down!) Is your list similar? Please share your pet peeves in the comments!
While there are different lists for everyone, blog designers often have their digital fingers on the pulse of what is hot and what turns people away. Here is a great post on blog design for non-designers and another with common blog mistakes that turn people away. A lot of the pet peeves on my list are addressed there. Still, there is a time and a place to break the rules. Ann Voskamp, for example, has a wild following but autoplay music that drives me batty. I could handle the music, though I didn’t like it. But when she changed her blog design, despite my admiration for her writing, I simply can’t navigate her site without frustration. So I don’t. For me personally, then the lesson to take away is this: You can choose to break one cardinal rule of blog design, but break two and you might lose your readers.(Click to Tweet)
Why, exactly, are we talking blog design in a series for writers? The thing about blog as a genre is that your very words exist within the framework of your blog. Unless the majority of your audience reads via RSS feed or an email with the entirety of your blog post, they read your words in the visual context of your design and this affects how they hear you. Your blog design choices directly impact the way readers hear your words. (Click to Tweet)
Blog as a genre is a strange (but tasty) cocktail of words plus visual plus sometimes auditory. Are printed books really so very different? Think about this: does the cover of a book influence your purchase? I’m not talking about your absolute favorite writer. I mean if you come across a book in the book store and are debating about a purchase, what besides the blurb on the back influences your decision? This may sound ridiculous to you, but I’m a book smeller. I will absolutely be swayed by the smell of a book. Thankfully I like the smell of most books, but if I’m buying used and there is the odor of cigarettes, we’re done. (Oddly, I like the smell of smoke when actual people are smoking. Just not on my books.)
So this week as you are thinking about how to hone your craft as a writer and a blogger, I want you to take a moment to think about your blog style. Your preferences and your hang-ups and where you might need some tweaking. Where might your readers be getting stuck? Could a layout issue be the reason for a high bounce rate? (Bounce rate being people that click to one page of yours and then leave.) If you need help or want feedback, I’d suggest asking a fellow blogger to give you feedback. Our Facebook community might be a good place to start! (I’ve also started a group called Blogging Writers on G+ if you’re interested in more community for blogging and writing.)
This week (and henceforth), I’m giving you an optional prompt to link up. I know that prompts are helpful to some, annoying to others, so you choose. If you need a prompt, take it! If you want to link up another post that flexes your writing muscles, do that!
This week’s prompt: Taste.
The rules are simple: link to your post. Visit all (yes, ALL) the other posts on the linky. It’s okay if you’re slow at this; some weeks I am. If you like what you read, share via social media. I will be reading all and sharing all.
What are your blog design pet peeves? Do you break any rules intentionally? If you need a laugh, check out these websites that will hurt your eyes.