How to make your blog more useable in 3 steps

Filed as News on August 24, 2006 12:00 am

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You don’t need a killer design that costs $3,000 to have a decent looking blog. You just need to make sure it’s useable. That means paying attention to a few details, but nothing that requires a professional designer.

1. Line-height is important.

Open up your stylesheet. Find the rule that defines the font size and font family for your main paragraphs. It might look something like this:

p { font: 1.2em Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif; }

Then, add a quick rule:

p { font: 1.2em Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif; line-height: 1.4em }

It doesn’t necessarily have to be 1.4em, just make sure that it spaces out the lines in your paragraphs a little bit more than the default. It will make reading your posts a much better experience for your users.

2. Make sure your title tag includes the title of the current post.

I hate when a blog doesn’t include the title of the latest post in the title of the page. When I bookmark a particular post I have to add the title of the post on my own. Not cool. Let me know what post I’m reading. It’s usually pretty simple code. If you’re using WordPress, look at the default template and copy & paste that code from the title tag and edit it accordingly.

3. Make your links stand out

This has been beaten to death by every single designer that has ever talked about standards. Make your links stand out. They don’t have to be blue with a underline, they can be bold and red. They can be italicized and pink. Just make sure it looks different from the rest of your text. At the very least make sure the color is noticeably different. I want to know what is a link, that way I can actually click on it.

A useable blog means happy visitors, happy visitors like to come back, and that means more traffic for you. Make sure your blog is easy to ready, easy to navigate, and easy for users to enjoy. After that you just have to worry about writing great content – and that’s easy, right?

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  1. By Chris P. posted on August 24, 2006 at 12:24 am
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    I can’t tell you how many people have line-height issues…It drives me nuts.

    Otherwise sane individuals, too. Gimme some whitespace in there, people!

  2. Jack of All Blogs » Blog Archive » Blogs and UsabilityAugust 24, 2006 at 2:37 am
  3. By Thord Hedengren posted on August 24, 2006 at 4:05 am
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    “But it makes it look bad!”

    I actually got that response to the line-height from a client. Needless to say he was wrong, both estetically and on the usability part. I got my way and he’s happy, with non-squinting readers.

    I’d also like to add: use a decent font size! No line-height in the world can make 10px Arial readable.

  4. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on August 24, 2006 at 4:06 am
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    Yeah, our single pages need some line height adjustment. Thanks, Ben, for the heads up.

  5. By Marc posted on August 24, 2006 at 11:29 am
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    Hey great advice, I am going to try to add this to my site thanks.