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WTF Blog Clutter: Video and Pictures

WTF Blog Clutter: Video and Pictures

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.
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.

Before adding video or images to your blog’s design, specifically the sidebar, really consider your motivation. A lot of bloggers want to share videos and pictures with everyone, whether or not it’s important to the blog or the readers. A comical video, a sexy or controversial YouTube, pictures of their vacation, their family photos, their Flickr stream…a lot of visual images clogging up the sidebar that adds to the story of who you are and what you are doing, but really doesn’t offer usable and valuable content. They are more of a show-and-tell.

A lot of YouTube and entertainment videos have a limited life. Once seen, it’s over. If they are really popular, many will have seen them before ever landing on your blog. How long are you going to leave these videos in your sidebar? Are you willing to update the list and change them frequently? Or do you use a Plugin, Widget, or gadget that updates these often so you don’t have to? Or has that funny pet video been sitting in your sidebar for three months? A fellow blogger told me that blog videos are like guests and fish. After three days, they stink. Not precise, but a good analogy. The same applies to pictures and Flickr streams.

If your blog still shows a Flickr gallery of pictures from your vacation four months ago, don’t you think your readers are bored? The last thing you want in your blog’s design is an opportunity for people to mentally ignore any section of your blog. Redundant images and videos get ignored over time.

Embedding Video and Images in Your Blog’s Sidebar

If these videos and pictures are important to your blog’s purpose, reputation, and expertise, then feature them prominently within your blog’s sidebar. Put them in their own area, free from the rest of your sidebar clutter, with an HTML heading and ID titling the section. This way, you can link to the heading idea with a jump link from within your blog content, reminding your readers of the importance these images and video are in your blog.

For example, a heading would be:

<h5 id="videos">Blog Videos</h5>

The jump link would be:

...take a look at the <a href="" title="Blog Videos">videos in my sidebar</a> for information on...

If these are images and videos you’ve created, proudly tell the world this is your work. It’s a rare blog that features original images and videos. Too many take advantage of images from Flickr and YouTube, the work of others. Promote yourself and your creativity by claiming these as your own.

See Also

There are many Widgets, WordPress Plugins, and methods to embed video and images into your blog’s sidebar. Most services offer these as customizable packages. Whatever you use, make sure that the design and format incorporates itself well into your blog’s design so it doesn’t add to the clutter but enhances the overall visual impact of your blog’s design.

Make sure the video you add has an image in the first frame. Some videos start with a black screen. When it sits on your blog, that’s all people see. If you created the video, make sure there is a good first image. If you didn’t and the first image is black or hard to see, make sure you add a good descriptive caption to encourage readers to click and watch.

Flickr with Flash Block enabled
Flickr with Flash Block enabled
However, take care if presenting Flash versions. Many savvy web users are now using Flash prevention and blocking browser add-ons, which prevents downloading and automatic playing of Flash, thus saving bandwidth and time. The user is greeted with a white box with an F logo in the middle. To view the images, they click the logo. If the images and video are critical to your blog’s success, you may want to consider another option to Flash.

Remember, consider the relevance of the sidebar content to the reader’s experience. If the videos and pictures benefits them and helps them understand you and your blog better, and may answer their questions, then include it. If it doesn’t, don’t risk a WTF moment or a chance for them to ignore a section of your sidebar because they’ve seen it all before.

WTF Blog Design Clutter Articles Series

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