Blogger Design Tips

Over the last few years, I’ve surfed a lot of weblogs, and I’ve discovered that there are well-designed blogs aplenty and poorly designed blogs even more aplenty. The good ones make me smile and inspire to hack my own code to create something just as nice. The bad ones, though, send me racing for that little ‘X’ in the upper right corner (or to center-click that tab) in order to close the window because I’m permanently scarred. So, out of the generosity of my heart, I offer a bit of advice derived from hard experience.

  1. Create a color scheme that is easy on the eyes. I can’t tell you the number of times I have surfed into a site and nearly been blinded by the horrendous soup of ghastly colors. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that the designer was completely color blind. Unfortunately, it couldn’t have been that simple, and it merely boiled down to bad fashion sense. If nothing else run a “Google search”:http://www.google.com/search?q=color+scheme&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official/. There are lots of “color scheme generators”:http://wellstyled.com/tools/colorscheme2/index-en.html out there that will quickly set you up with colors that look good together.
  2. Theme should suggest content. Along the same lines as point one, it generally looks better if the visual theme of the site matches the content. It doesn’t necessarily have to, mind you, since there is a bit more room here for artistic license. But some of the best sites use graphics and patterns that reflect the overal textual theme of the site.
  3. Lose the background music. I know it’s cool and fashionable to load a sound file, especially an mp3, into the background of your site. Weblogs are notoriously guilty of this sort of thing. There are several problems with doing this. One is that many people listen to music on their computer as they surf, so when a site loads that launches its own music, the clash is nothing short of teeth-grinding. A lot of sites also hide any possibly way of turning said music off, so it’s left to either turn off your own music as you read and deal with whatever tune the site owner has loaded, turn off the speakers so you can’t listen to either one, grit your teeth and deal with the clash until you’re done reading, or kill the browser and end the music abruptly without ever being able to read. (I usually tend toward the latter.) One final problem is that a lot of sites somehow manage to use up a lot of computer resources when loading the background music, sending the computer into electronic convulsions until the file is completely loaded and running. Ultimately, background music ends up being more headache than help, even though it lends that personal touch to the site.
  4. If you have trackback, use ’em. I’m only just recently discovering a love for the power of trackbacking. Essentially, what trackbacking does is contacts a post on someone else’s blog that you might happen to be writing about and tries to leave a copy of your post as a comment on that post, thus notifying the site owner that you’ve written about their thoughts and adding your thoughts to the ongoing discussion on that site. It sort of helps aggregate discussion between many sites. So far, I’ve not written much that has been inspired by another site, but the couple of times in which I have, the trackback has ultimately failed because the feature has been disabled on the target site. It’s really a personal choice whether to enable it or not; there are some spamming issues concerned with trackbacking. But since I love discussion, I have it fully enabled on my site and welcome the feedback. I highly recommend that anyone with trackback functionality enable it, and let the discussion ensue!
  5. Keep the ranting to a minimum. I’ve seen a lot of blogs established with one purpose — to rant and rave against a person, a company or product, or another site. Ultimately, such blogs are less than enjoyable to read and a waste of everyone’s time and energy. They generally serve no purpose other than to tear down someone else, and the writing becomes very redundant. Ranting occasionally about a particular issue of interest is fine, so long as their is a point to it and the ultimate goal is to find a solution. But aimless ranting because of anger is pointless. So don’t do it.

Just a few tips for those of you serious about your blogging from one man’s perspective. Everyone’s ideal is going to be different, but these are just some things I have discovered about my preferences for blogging.

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