The WTF Blog Design Clutter continues with a look at your uncategorized category. Have you been ignoring it lately?
Most blogs start life with a single category as an example called “Uncategorized”. I don’t know why or who started it, but it’s a dumb category name, especially if users don’t know they can change it from the start. It could be called General, Topics, Articles, Stories, or a lot of other non-specific labels. Unfortunately, it is Uncategorized and we’re stuck with it.
With more and more people covering their categories and tags into heat maps or clouds, they often choose the design look emphasizes your most popular categories or tags in the largest, most bold font. For many, the word most emphasized in these category clouds is Uncategorized. read more
The design will feature several new features, such as Friend Lists:
Friend lists enable you to organize your friends into groups. With friend lists, you can get updates from your family separately from your coworkers, or you can add an acquaintance to a list and remove them from your home feed.
Another new feature is seeing a feed of your friend along with all of their subscriptions:
You can now see a feed of a person and all of their subscriptions. This new feature is a great way to show your uninitiated friends what your FriendFeed experience is like, and it is a great way to find interesting people you haven’t subscribed to yet.
Many of you asked me what title or label should be used to lure your visitors into clicking on your ads and subscribing to your feeds without driving them away or confusing them. Let’s brainstorm some possibilities.
Naming Ad Sections on Your Blog
If you use a misleading title for your advertising or “sponsored” section, you can really upset your readers and visitors when they click through to an ad. That’s a sure way to lose visitors. You need to warn them, but you also need to entice them to click, if your blog is serious about making money.
“Visit Our Sponsors” is simple and generic, as is “Our Commercial Recommendations.” You can be blatant with “Advertisements” or “Ad sponsors” as long as that still complies with the terms of service for the advertiser.
What about something more appropriate to your blog’s topic?
If your blog is about cars, why not title them, “Drive Some Business to Our Sponsors.” If your blog is about cats, what about “Our Sponsors are the Cat’s Meow” or “Here Kitty Kitty! Shop Here!”
Contextual ad services require keywords near their ads and on the page, so why not add more by being clever, not deceptive. You cannot imply the links in the ads are publisher-created content, but you can say they are ads or sponsors with some imagination.
You can also color the background or the area around the ads to set them apart but also integrated into the blog’s design to draw the eye towards them without distracting from the content. There are many ways of highlighting your ads without words that helps the visitor recognize them. Research the guidelines the advertiser provides, as some do not allow graphics or design emphasis, and check their top revenue earners to see what they are doing.
As part of the ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, it’s time to tackle all those videos and pictures you want to share with the world through your blog.
There are two ways of sharing video and pictures with your blog readers and friends. Only one influences your blog’s design.
Example of appropriate use of videos in a blog's sidebar, reflecting the blog's purpose.
Typically, pictures and videos are shared through your blog posts as part of your blog’s content. Many bloggers want to share videos and pictures through their blog’s design, typically in the blog’s ever crowded sidebar. Some even want to go so far as forcing videos to start the moment someone lands on the page with the video, a serious no-no on the web. Let the reader choose to initiate the video. read more
Maps have come a long with with the advancements of Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps, especially with the integration of satellite maps and introduction of Google Earth where you can actually see where you are going or want to go. Or where you live. Online maps make the world closer and smaller, and they can make your blog more personal.
Is it important to have a map of where you live or work or play on your blog? read more
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
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
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. read more
As you’ve probably seen, The Blog Herald doesn’t look they way it used to. This is intentional, luckily, and part of our efforts to get better at everything. That’s the goal after all, so let’s be frank about it.
I mentioned the relaunch with a new design when I took over as the editor a few months back. I would’ve wanted to do it sooner, but you can’t get everything you want, and besides, the poor designer’s schedule was really full. Being my schedule, I did the design, and I hope you like it.
So let’s talk a little bit about the relaunch, shall we? read more
This is slightly off topic perhaps, but still important, I think, being a designer and all. Design community sweethearts A List Apart is conducting a survey aimed at people making websites this year, and the result will be made available later this year. If you think you’re the target audience, do take the survey, it just takes a few minutes so don’t be daunted by the fact that it is 18 pages long, most of them are really short.