How Often Do You Preview Your Blog Post?

Filed as Editorial, Features, Guides on June 16, 2008 5:46 pm

How many times to you save your blog post, explore the preview pageview of the post, and then continue editing before you hit publish and are done with it? Or do you just trust the WYSIWYG visual editor and never preview your blog post before you publish it?

I’ve been asking bloggers at conferences informally and the average number of saves and reloads are four, with some doing it only once or twice, but some bloggers reload their post previews as many as 8 times or more before they are satisfied with the post for public viewing. Personally, it’s about four times for me, though more for longer posts.

Many bloggers admit that the longer and more complex the blog post, the more times they will preview the post, making sure that all the links are right, the headers look good, the images are aligned properly, and nothing is out of alignment or wonky. Bloggers who tend to blog 500 words or less per post rarely previewed their posts before hitting the publish button.

Many of the “older” bloggers miss the inclusion of the post preview in past versions of WordPress and are frustrated with the current preview process, keeping two tabs open for their blog, one for writing the blog post and the other for previewing. Among the new bloggers I’ve talked to, many didn’t even realize they could look at the “final” version of their blog post before hitting the publish button.

In WordPress, the post preview feature is a frustrating area for bloggers and for blog developers. Many wish they could just have an interface similar to Windows Live Writer, agreeing this is the best and fastest way to publish to their WordPress blogs. When you can see what you are blogging in real time, within the format and style of your WordPress Theme, you have better control over what your blog post looks like.

WordPress developers told me that they removed the built-in post preview from due to the high number of page reloads and complaints about slow page loading of the Write Post panel. Personally, stuck on slow Internet connections, I found the page loading sped up as the team worked harder and harder to streamline and increase the speed of WordPress in general. However, saving and waiting for the Write Post panel to reload, then switching tabs and hitting the page refresh and reloading the post preview within my blog’s Theme takes even longer.

As for hits on the server, the number of reloads have not changed for me. I reload the Write Post panel and reload the post preview tab equally as much as I did before, except that the process is now more inconvenient and time consuming for me with the two pages on separate tabs. In a perfect world, the Theme’s styles, at least the post content area, would be incorporated into the WYSIWYG visual text editor so you would honestly see what you get and we wouldn’t have to bounce back and forth between tabs in order to see what we’re going to get when we hit publish.

Why Preview Your Posts?

For the few who didn’t realize they could preview their posts before publishing, they wanted to know why any blogger would want to preview their posts?

Because we are serious about our blogging and want our blog posts to be our best work.

Post previews help the blogger see what the final version will be. If their post is just text with no links or images, then it isn’t as important as there are only words to misspell and little else could go wrong. Once you start adding links, bolds, italics, lists, headings, images, and more blog bling, there are more things that can go bork in the blog.

Links can be easily screwed up if a bit of the code isn’t right. WordPress will convert the remaining code to HTML character entities or the URL will be to your blog instead of the external site. A forgotten closing tag on links, bolds, italics, headings, fonts, and more can turn half of your post content into a hard to read design style. An image too wide for the post column width can overlap the sidebar or push the sidebar down to the bottom of the page. Or maybe the image is overlapping a header or blockquote, pushing the text around in a way that isn’t pleasing to the eye. All of these things can be spotted when your web design is displayed and never seen in the default design of the WYSIWYG visual editor.

Many just find it easier to read their blog posts when they are in blog format rather than within the Write Post panel. I catch a lot of little mistakes I missed when I see it in its final version.

The best bloggers edit their blog posts thoroughly before they hit publish, and previewing their blog posts as they would look in the final version on their blogs is an important step.

Are you previewing your blog post before publishing? Or do you just trust that it’s right? How many times, on average, do you reload the post preview before you are satisfied it is ready to publish? What would you recommend to WordPress or your blog program for post preview methods? Do you like what they offer?

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  1. By Rob O. posted on June 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm
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    I’m positively old-school – I write my blog posts mostly offline and/or in Google Docs in straight up HTML. (This is more driven by time constraints than anything else – I just don’t often have the opportunity to hack out posts in a single setting.) Then I copy & paste this into Blogger, but still don’t ever use the WYSIWYG editor. I do preview my posts thoroughly before hitting “publish.”

    And especially on longer articles, I usually review the published post in both IE & Firefox very quickly afterwards just in case I missed something. This way, if I have to do one last tweak or two, I can usually catch it before the RSS feed has hit the readers.

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  2. By Jon posted on June 16, 2008 at 9:01 pm
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    I never use the “rich” text editor. And I preview posts sometimes 20 times before publishing. When the preview count gets that high, the post has little chance of seeing the light of day, though. It’s usually because I simply shouldn’t have written it. That’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes.

    And I run two tabs in Firefox when writing or editing, switching between the two many times as I write. And since the only thing I hate worse than sounding stupid is being stupid, what’s this Live Writer? I’ll look for it when I finish here. Thanks in advance.

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  3. By Muhammad Siyab posted on June 16, 2008 at 11:01 pm
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    I always preview my blog post, no matter how long or short it may be. Previewing is like proof reading, and just as a good writer would proof read his book before making it public, a good blogger also previews their blog posts to make sure they’re upto the mark.

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  4. By Barbara Swafford posted on June 17, 2008 at 1:28 am
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    Lorelle,

    OMG, I sometimes lose count on the number of times I preview my posts. I try to make sure I don’t have any typos (although an occasional one will slip through). I try to look at my post as a reader would see it, and I want to make sure it’s worded completely correct. Sometimes I think I’m too picky, and waste time, but I’m also thinking of how my writings will be in blogosphere forever.

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  5. By Silky posted on June 17, 2008 at 4:03 am
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    Yeah, I’m a preview obsessive too.

    Firstly, I find it easier to read (and spot typos in) what I’ve written on my blog rather than in the rich text editor.

    Secondly, I really care about the layout of text in my post. I think positions of line breaks, bold text, italics etc really changes the impact of what you’re writing on the web.

    Finally, I want to see what I’ve written as my readers will see it. Again to see how my posts will come across when finally published.

    Previewing is an essential part of the blogging process in my opinion.

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  6. By Tammy Lenski posted on June 17, 2008 at 4:22 am
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    Like Jon, I never use the rich text editor, preferring to hand code for control of the look and to make sure all is correct. I also keep two tabs open in Firefox, one for writing and one for previewing, and can’t imagine doing it any other way!

    Because I blog as part of the outreach strategy for my business, I want what people see to reflect well on me…and so to minimize mistakes. Like Barbara, I try to look at my post with the eyes of my readers.

    I’ll often preview 5-10 times while drafting a post.

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  7. By Louis Liem posted on June 17, 2008 at 10:11 am
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    As often as possible. I use Windows Live Writer and even if after I hit the publish button, I’ll still check how they look.

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  8. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm
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    @Jon:

    Windows Live Writer is a free blog publishing program by Microsoft and a neat article to help you learn more about using it with WordPress is 12 Reasons Why I Like Windows Live Writer for WordPress.

    I never use the visual or rich text editor unless I’m testing or writing an article, it is THAT annoying, so I’m with you. And while I agree that some articles never should see the light of day, I hadn’t though of the post preview reloading score card as a good hint that there is something really wrong with the post. Excellent!

    When my preview reloads get that high, it is usually because of code not content. Lining up a table of information, images, nested lists, things that go bork due to a small missing bit of code. It’s always some little overlooked annoying thing. That’s when I really want to blow the whole thing up, even if the content is good. :D

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  9. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm
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    @Rob O.:

    I recommend you check out my article on using a good text editor to write your blog posts as it will safe you a lot of the pain that using Google Docs to write HTML can cause. And you don’t have to be online or use Google Gears to write your blog posts. :D

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  10. By Michael posted on June 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm
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    I always preview a post after I’ve finished writing it but rarely edit it afterwards. I only edit after previewing if Images are not aligned how I want them to be otherwise I leave it be.

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  11. By Spamboy posted on June 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm
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    I preview incessantly — so much so that it takes significant time away from my overall pool of writing time. I even review my own RSS feeds post-publish in an effort to get the entire experience correct. However, I’m a perfectionist and would be embarrassed if I didn’t correct errors sooner than later.

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  12. By AnneTanne posted on June 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm
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    I never use the WYSIWYG-editor, and I often preview my posts. It’s exactly for previewing of my blogposts that I installed the ‘Split browser’ FireFox extensions, that enables me to see both my edit-screen and the actual post in the same browserwindow/browsertab.

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  13. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm
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    @AnneTanne:

    I tried the split browser Firefox extension for a while and it’s very nice, but I had problems with it and with a small screen, it takes up a lot of real estate, and shows me only a little. When I’m in the office, I can use it with my larger monitor, so maybe I should take another look. Thanks for the reminder!

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  14. By Epic Alex posted on June 18, 2008 at 5:34 pm
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    For me it varies quite a lot, sometimes, when my posts don’t contain anything other than text, I probably won’t preview at all.

    As soon as any code is to be posted, then I definitely have to preview, and I tend to do it a few times throughout the writing process, rather than once at the end.

    I’d often wondered if there was a plugin for splitting the browser, but never looked, I reckon that would be really handy, definitely going to check that out.

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  15. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 18, 2008 at 11:14 pm
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    @Epic Alex:

    Sorry I didn’t supply the link earlier. It’s Split Browser :: Firefox Add-ons and I wrote about my first attempts with it last year in Blogging With Split Browser Firefox Extension.

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  16. By facebook posted on June 19, 2008 at 4:57 am
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    I always preview my blog post, no matter how long or short it may be. Previewing is like proof reading, and just as a good writer would proof read his book before making it public, a good blogger also previews their blog posts to make sure they’re upto the mark.

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  17. By Doug C. posted on July 4, 2008 at 3:02 am
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    I do this a lot, but with me I publish the post, go read it, and then edit. I usually write posts and edit them late at night while I’m at work. And I always write them in HTML view, because of horrid memories of my old FrontPage days (lol).

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