Blog Design: WTF Is That Doing There?

Filed as Guides on July 24, 2008 4:55 pm

Remember the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? You personally may get a second chance to sway that first impress, but your blog doesn’t. If you don’t grab them within the first micro-seconds of a visit, they won’t subscribe and they won’t be back.

Digging through a lot of blogs recently to research an upcoming article, I found myself thinking “WTF” as I looked at the designs. I was constantly distracted from the content I was eager to read through and quote towards things that blinked, flashed, or listed irrelevant stuff. My eyes had to work overtime to stay focused on the information I was there to glean.

I often wonder what WordPress Theme and web designers think when they see how a blogger has treated their design in use. How quickly a nice clean Theme become a garbage dump for gadgets and gizmos. The sidebar is notorious as a great dumping ground for every widget, Plugin, and gadget around.

More importantly, I wonder how all this clutter impacts the visitor’s experience? Do visitors think WTF as I did when they see cluttered and clogged web designs?

A visitor stumbling upon your blog is honestly looking for only two things: an answer to their search and any excuse to dismiss your site for not having the answer to their search. If the blog’s design, structure, layout, and content doesn’t give them the correct answer, you’ve given them just cause to bounce away fast.

Could part of the confusion be that WTF experience of your blog’s clutter?

I mentioned Blog Archives as clutter recently, and I’d like to start a series that explores all the different types of clutter we have on our blogs and their WTF factor.

What do you think qualifies for WTF on blogs? What do you think is overkill and doesn’t belong? What do you think does belong in a blog’s design?

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  1. By Megan posted on July 24, 2008 at 6:10 pm
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    Love:
    Comment feeds
    RSS buttons that are easy to find
    Search fields

    Hate:
    Anything that blinks
    Widgets that tell me what time it is or how cold it is
    Music I can’t turn off
    Ads

    Reply

  2. By Brian Carnell posted on July 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm
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    Umm, okay, but have you really looked at the Blog Herald theme lately? 40 shades of ugh. WTF is with the popularity of 3 column web designs with WordPress? They look like crap because they’re so busy. Look at all the different elements just on the page this article resides at. Ugh.

    Why do they have to replicate most of the front page of the blog in the “news” column on each article page?

    And the sad thing is, this site is one of the less busy on the web.

    Reply

  3. By Rik posted on July 24, 2008 at 7:00 pm
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    Have you looked at your own blog recently?

    Please do. Thanks.

    Reply

  4. By GoingLikeSixty posted on July 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm
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    How do you do it? You just hit the hot buttons regularly to make us think.
    Nice job.

    I rarely have trouble finding the content I want to read.
    (Never mind the fact that I do most of my reading in RSS!)

    I HATE: every myspace.com page. Every one.

    I dislike:
    -autoplay
    -Huge headers that take forever to load and that I have to scroll past to read.
    -”too clever” substitute words for category, contact, about, etc.

    Reply

  5. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 24, 2008 at 7:53 pm
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    @ Rik:

    Your input is welcome but specifics would be even more welcome. Are you talking about my own personal blog, my business blogs, the Blog Herald, and which elements are the ones you find to be clutter?

    Reply

  6. By Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach posted on July 25, 2008 at 3:29 am
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    I like:

    RSS icons
    Newsletter signups
    Definitive here’s what in it for me statement

    I dislike:

    Confusion

    One thing I did discover – whenever you declutter your blog, make certain you DON’T lose key elements (like your USP….)

    Barbara

    Reply

  7. By Brock posted on July 25, 2008 at 8:07 am
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    As others have said, I hate flashing or otherwise animated ads. Those ads that expand across the screen are a whole new kind of evil, but those may not be on personal blogs as much as commercial sites.

    I’d also agree about the inside sidebar on Blog Herald being too busy. Then again, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to clean up my sidebars (especially regarding archives, categories).

    I won’t even say anything about myspace pages.

    Reply

  8. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 25, 2008 at 11:59 am
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    @ Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach:

    Good points. And for those not up on the jargon, USP in this context means Unique Selling Proposition.

    Reply

  9. By Marisa posted on July 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm
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    Great advice and yes, I’ve uncluttered the blog! Hell, I’ve even exorcised it.

    I’ve uncluttered it so thoroughly, it doesn’t look like a blog anymore. :|

    (sad.)

    Reply

  10. By Rob O. posted on July 25, 2008 at 5:15 pm
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    I get flustered with blogs that have some much junk in their sidebars that the miniscule content column is a mere afterthought. Granted, I have no intention of monetizing my blog, but my aversion to clutter is why I went with a single-column design. There’s room at the top and bottom areas for navigation tabs and links, but the content doesn’t have to fight with sidebars, widgets, plugins, or any other doodads.

    Reply

  11. By sc posted on January 3, 2009 at 1:10 am
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    jeez, some folks seem to be comparing personal and portfolio blogs with business/professional blogs. i consider 3 columns perfect to organize ads, menu and content. I also expect ads to be in the sidebar. there is something nice and neat about 125 by 125 ads. this series on clutter has been excellent all in all. i think this site layout is well-stocked and nicely organized, cant really ask for more. keep up the good work
    .

    Reply

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