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Top Ten Blog Design Mistakes

Jakob Nielsen has put together an interesting article with the Top Ten Design Mistakes that he sees bloggers making. It’s a pretty insightful list – not definitive by any means – but definitely helpful in my mind.

1. No Author Biographies – I’m amazed that so many blogs don’t have any information about who is the behind them. Not essential information but common sense in my books to be transparent enough to tell people who you are.
2. No Author Photo – for me this is not a must – but it does add something personal to a blog.
3. Nondescript Posting Titles – regular readers will know about my passion for post titles – enough said
4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go – I agree – it also helps with SEO to use make links more descriptive
5. Classic Hits are Buried – So true – highlight your best posts or they’ll go unseen after dropping from the front page
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation – has anyone ever used a calendar to navigate a blog or is it just me who avoids them?
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency – again something I’ve written quite a bit about. It’s not about high or low posting frequency – but regular posting. Find your rhythm and stick to it.
8. Mixing Topics – Stick to you niche
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss – so true. Once you hit publish you lose control over who will ever see what you write. Be careful.
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service – the quote of this article is ‘Letting somebody else own your name means that they own your destiny on the Internet.’ So true.

What mistakes do you see a lot of bloggers making?

I’ll add a brief one which is related to Jakob’s first one:

No Contact Details – A few weeks ago I was surfing through some blogs in an effort to build some relationships with some new bloggers and I was amazed – not actually I was stunned – but the number of bloggers that have no personal way of contacting them. Most of them had comments – but so many had no way to get an email to them.

The result was that I didn’t/couldn’t contact them and we both missed out on an opportunity to connect.

Favicons on Blogs

Today I had a nice surprise waiting for me in my inbox – an email from Tiago who had kindly taken it upon himself to design me a favicon for my blog in thanks for the advice I’d given him and others through this blog.

For those not familiar with favicons – they are the little tiny 16×16 pixel pictures that appear to the left of a site’s URL. They also appear in the tabs of firefox and in bookmarks on some browsers. – in my case Tiago had taken the ‘p’ from my logo and constructed one as follows.

Picture 2

He then pointed me to this favicon instruction site which told me how to add it to my blog – it took about 2 minutes.

I’ve been meaning to add a favicon here to ProBlogger for some time as it adds another element of branding to the site, increases useability for tabbed browser users and those who use bookmarks regularly to surf – but unfortunately it’s always slipped to the bottom of my ‘to do list’ – so a big thank you to Tiago.

Experimental blogging.

Duncan has a useful post on experimenting with the design of your blog at Don’t be afraid to experiment. Well worth the read.

BusinessLogs Redesign in Process

I’m watching with interest the redesign process of BusinessLogs.com which has already won awards for it’s designs.

Mike Rundle explains some of the reasons for and thinking behind the design (which is slowly coming into effect on the site). I can’t wait to see how it ends up because these guys always come up with innovative design and create a feel that makes me purrrrr with delight. Wish I had this type of design ability – in fact I wish I had any at all!.

Redesigning Blog Templates

I just stumbled across a useful page for those wanting to give their blog a bit of a design overhaul – it’s a blog tutorial on Blog Templates using Photoshop. In it they talk about how to design header banners/logos, give photos borders, make button etc. They also give a lot of useful links to help in the process.

Blog Designers Database

If you’re looking for a blog designer (or you are one) you might be interested in this new central database for blog designers – arranged by location (not that I think location really matters that much these days – the people I work most closely with, including designers, are scattered all over the world).

Cool Little Tool

My last post asked the question of how you build blog and website traffic. Tim left a comment that caught my interest regarding the syndication of one blog’s headlines to other websites he has an interest in – an effort to create stickiness at the website and drive visitors to the originating blog.

I’ve taken Tim’s example to heart and have done the same thing.

I found a cool little tool – free – that converts RSS to JavaScripts. The service name is simply RSS-to-JavaScript.

Have you been noticing the growing popularity of RSS, RDF and ATOM feeds? Would you like to easily add them to your web-site to create sticky content that’s always updated? Then you’ve come to the right place, RSS-to-JavaScript.com was designed to easily convert any valid RSS, RDF or ATOM feed into easy to implement Javascript. No XML or programming experience is necessary.

Use our 100% free tool to easily insert dynamically updated RSS, RDF and ATOM feeds into any web page, blog or content management system.

The way I use RSS-to-JavaScript is to aggregate posts I write on two other blogs and present them on my maim blog, JSLogan. The thought is to make JSLogan readers more aware of posts I write on other blogs and drive more readers to the other sites.

Thanks for the idea Tim!

Are there any other cool little tools like this you use or have seen in the blogosphere?

Strategy for maximizing page views

I was going to call this article tips for maximizing page views. But tips implies that what I suggest is going to work! These are merely thoughts and suggestions. I hope to encourage a bit of experiment and conversation with this post. Please use the comments and trackbacks to let us know if you try something as a result of this.

So, page views. A page view is not a hit, nor is it a visit. Total page views tells you how many individual pages have been seen over a given period. Dividing that total by the number of unique visitors gives you your average page views per visit.

How ever many you have, you want more. Page views are the add-on items of the web world. They’re the rust-proofing on your new car. The guacamole with your nachos. They’re where the profit is made. More page views = more ads seen = greater chance for your visitors to click on an ad.

Of course this is all completely moot if users are clicking on ads on their first or second page view. But if they were doing that we’d all be out shopping for Porshes instead of playing in Darren’s playground while he’s on holiday.

There are two main strategies I want to discuss here. The first is easy, the second requires some creative thinking.
[Read more…]

Pretty pictures :a question of blog aesthetics.

Is a blog that uses pictures in its posts more likely to succeed that a blog that posts identical content but doesn’t use the pictures? Sure, we know that there are many other considerations in the success or otherwise of a blog, but take a pure economists view of a perfect market where both blogs are identical in every other way. We know that the quality of content is important, but I’ve come to a rather interesting conclusion, at least in the field of consumer and general interest blogs (as opposed to political blogs): blog aesthetics matter, and the prettier the pictures in your posts the more likely you are to succeed.

This in itself causes me a great deal of stress, mainly because editing and uploading pictures is slow in comparison to the creation of content. WordPress doesn’t allow you to just paste a picture directly into a post, and I’m presuming that other DIY packages are similar. The case in the free market may be a little different, for memory I believe you can cut and paste using blogger, but at the end of the day as a Problogger you’re more likely to be using a DIY or Paid hosting package as opposed to a freebie. The second point of stress is the extra demands on your site in terms of bandwidth: pictures slow down site loading times and cause bandwidth to be gobbled up at a faster rate. My immediate example is my new Weblog Empire Blog: The Gadget Blog, lots of pictures here, which are necessary and I’ll add are working a treat, but the bandwidth usage is 4 times that of the Blog Herald over similar visitor numbers. In other words pictures can also cost money.

The consideration though is whether the expenditure on pictures is rewarded by increased traffic and repeat visitor numbers. I’m thinking yes at this stage, although I’d welcome everyone’s views.