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August 11, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Where Are You?

We talked about whether or not to show the weather on your blog. Now, it’s time to talk maps in our ongong series on WTF Blog Design Clutter.

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?
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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 2, 2008

The Blog Herald Relaunches

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

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July 30, 2008

A List Apart Web Design Survey 2008

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.

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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 25, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Pictures of Our Bloggy Friends

If you are a member of a social networking service, it’s natural that you want to put the HTML code in your sidebar that shows off the faces or avatars of your buddies. After all, that’s what these social networking sites are all about. Your face on their blog and their face on your blog.

Is it? What good it is? How does it help your blog?

As part of this going series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, let’s look at the visual social clutter that clogs our blogs.

If your blog is a social blog, and the pictures of the folks participating on your blog might be helpful. People like seeing their faces or avatars on other blogs. Besides, it should be good link juice, right?

Maybe. 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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