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August 9, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: How’s the Weather on Your Blog?

Let’s talk weather with our ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter.

Honestly, do you need a weather report on your blog?

Before you answer, ask yourself if it important to someone who lives 3,000 miles away that it’s a pleasantly cloudy day in your neck of the planet? Does it help them understand what you blog about or why?

If you are blogging the weather, then temperatures, humidity, and general weather status reports are appropriate and helpful. If you are a financial adviser, you better display the weather report for the stock markets you cover as that can impact commodities, and skip the rainy forecast in Montana where you call home. read more

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August 7, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter Design: How Many Feed Icons Do You Need?

A question came up during this WTF Blog Design Clutter series asking how many feed icons to we need on our blogs. We looked at feed clutter on your blog but how many is too many and which ones do you need?

How many do you think you need?

The two most popular feed types are RSS and Atom. That’s it. How many feed icons do you have on your blog? Hmm?

These are the types of feed, the code that generates the feeds based upon XML formats. From here, there are different types of content that can go into the feed, various off-site alternatives for handling your feeds (called feed subscription services), and many colorful, cluttering feed icons that promote all the different feed readers. read more

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August 5, 2008

WTF Blog Design Clutter: Incoming Feed Clutter

Yesterday, we looked at the clutter that can be found on many blogs for visually displaying outgoing feed information. Today, let’s explore the clutter of incoming feeds as part of the WTF Blog Design Clutter series.

With the ease of adding incoming feeds to your blog through widgets, bloggers are stuffing their sidebars with incoming feeds. Incoming feeds have become the next generation blogroll. Like the long blogroll lists, these incoming feeds can quickly get out of control.

At first, this made sense. If you want to recommend specific blogs and content, then having a feed or feed aggregator in your blog’s sidebar acted like a scrolling ticker blogroll in a way, giving your readers more options to explore. Unfortunately, many bloggers found too many visitors were finding the help they needed on those incoming feed links, clicking away instead of digging in deeper to their own blogs.
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August 4, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Feed Clutter

In How to Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 254% on Copyblogger, author Willy Franzen had a light bulb moment when he realized that by asking our readers to subscribe to our blogs, we were actually asking them for money.

A week and a half ago I had a sudden realization. Subscriptions generally cost money. Think about that for a second. It’s jarring, especially if you’ve spent the past few months or even years incessantly asking your readers to subscribe…

Are you being completely clear with your word choice? When you ask your readers to subscribe, are you asking them to do the virtual version of writing their name underneath? Or are you asking them to agree to pay you a sum of money?

This is a great example of the WTF Blog Design Clutter. The words you use to entice someone to “buy” your free service can confuse readers. By changing the words, Franzen saw a huge increase in feed and email subscriptions.
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July 29, 2008

WTF Blog Design Elements: Twitter, Tumbler, and Microblog Babble

As we explore our blogs and clean out the clutter in this ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, we’ve looked at the pros and cons of blog clutter with too many “friend” pictures and badges, calendar archives, and most recent comments and shout boxes. Remember that clutter is in the eye of the beholder – the visiting user – not necessarily the blogger. What we see when we visit and use our blogs is not necessarily what the visitor and return reader see or experience. We need to explore our blog’s design through their eyes to help them use and read our blogs.

The usability factor in web design is critical. We often add design elements (widgets and gadgets specifically) to our blog for fun or novelty. We’re flush with the excitement of the latest and hottest whizzbang goodie and we want to share the fun on our blogs. If your blog is getting cluttered with a lot of WordPress Plugins, Widgets, Gadgets, Scripts, and whizzbangs, maybe it’s time to analyze these design elements to find out which ones are most important to your blog and its users – and which one are just clutter.

Today, I want to explore the pros and cons of microblog clutter on your blogs. Are you microblogging?
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July 28, 2008

WTF Blog Design Elements: Most Recent Comments and Shout Boxes

In this ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, we’ve talked about blog clutter with too many “friend” pictures and badges and calendar archives, two of the many elements many use to clog up their blog’s sidebar. “Clutter” is a matter of perspective. If these added design elements really work for your blog, serve your blog’s purpose, and enhance the reader’s experience, leave them. In fact, put them at the top where they are the first thing people will see next to your post title and content beginnings. Promote them. If they are that important, let them stand out.

If they are not important, then they do become clutter.

One of the most popular blog clutters are the Most Recent Comments and Shout Boxes that many feel are important elements to a blog’s design.

The web is now social. People are experimenting with all types of methods to bring the social to their blogs and emphasize how social their blogs are – or at least appear to be. Among the most popular and easy to do are most recent comment widgets and chatting shout boxes. read more

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July 24, 2008

Blog Design: WTF Is That Doing There?

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.
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July 22, 2008

Are Blog Archives Working for Your Blog?

Your blog archives are the list of months some bloggers keep in their sidebar that link to monthly chronological collections of their blog posts. In the early days, a site with such a monthly listing in their sidebar meant this was a personal blog. Without it, it was a website or professional site.

Are you still displaying your blog post archives? What benefit do bloggers get when the offer a long series of months and years in the sidebar of their blog? Do visitors and readers really use them? Do you?

With all the worry about duplicate content and Google’s PageRank, if your blog is generated similar or duplicate content within the categories and tags, then why do you need to clog their databases with archives?

Have you ever found archives in a search result? I do all the time. I click though hoping to find the answer to my question and find nothing. That information might have been on page 4 of that month’s archive of posts, but now, the natural chronological push from the present to the past of the blog structure may have pushed the information I need onto page 6.

How would I know? read more

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