Monday, August 29, 2011

FAMP: Get a Little Color, You're Looking Pale

Let me tell you a little secret:  readers like pictures. I know, we're all grown ups and our books don't have pictures anymore, but we are still drawn to reading material that has color. That's why advertisers are willing to pay more for a color listing.

That being said, it's a natural conclusion that adding color (pictures, variety in font color) to your blog will also draw people to read your posts. But here's the catch, when I say add color and pictures in your posts, I don't mean to your background.

If your background is too colorful, it will draw the attention away from the post - remember, the color should be where you want your readers to look. A background with a minimal amount of color isn't bad (like the one on this site, though this is even a little more color than ideal) but when you post a detailed picture in the background of your blog, a snapshot, for example, you really risk losing your readers.  Yes, it looks cool.  But did you bring people to your blog to look at pics or read your writing? Just sayin'.

The best tips for adding color that draws your readers:

  • Stick to using color in your posts, not your background.
  • Add a picture to every post...
  • ...but try to only add ONE picture unless absolutely necessary (too distracting!).
  • Use one or two primary colors (or dark colors) to liven up longer posts or draw the readers eye to important bullets.
  • Don't just add color arbitrarily.  Make it mean something or your readers feel like they were cheated. You told them "Read this, it's important" with the color and if it isn't then you kinda lied.
  • Don't add too many colorful badges and ads on the sides of your blog. It gets cluttered and the eye doesn't know what to do.
Of course, this is all From a Marketing Perspective. If you love your background busy and filled with design, keep it.  If you love your posts simple and white, go ahead and keep them that way.  Just know it's against my marketing advice.

How do you use color in your blog? Do you like to use pictures? What draws your eyes to a post?  

22 comments:

Abby said...

Good thinking. I always like to read the posts that have pictures in them. They are just more fun. And specific colors trigger specific things in us. Weird! I don't even remember what they are. I think you are supposed to use red for food and yellow for sales. lol. Crazy stuff, but so interesting. :)

Katie Gates said...

Interesting advice. I've not included photos/illustrations in my posts because I want to clearly convey that my site is about writing. But... if a pic will lure more people? Hmm, I may give it a try one of these days.

Laura Barnes said...

It's worth a shot, Katie. You do have a very clean blog and not any distraction for your readers. That's a huge plus. But a picture may draw people - especially if they are linking your blog to Google Reader.

Abby, and isn't orange like the color for crazy? Pink is calming. I need lots of calming in my life and therefore gravitate to pink. Or I just like it cuz I'm a girly girl!

Michael Offutt said...

OH my. I may have too many distractions. I'm such a clutterbug.

Laura Barnes said...

@Michael, I have definitely seen SO MUCH worse. You could cut back a little. Just trimming your blog so it only had one side column instead of two would make a big difference. But I wouldn't call you a clutterbug. Just an enthusiast :)

E.R. King said...

I agree with all of your advice, but sometimes I have a hard time finding the right image for a post. Because the eye goes to the color first, the picture is very important. So if I can't find one that fits my theme or if the picture doesn't enhance my message, I leave it out. I'd rather have black and white than a picture that doesn't belong.

Laura Barnes said...

That's an excellent point, Emily, and I agree. It goes back to the lie. If you have a picture that doesn't fit, you've cheated your readers. Better to be black and white and honest.

E.R. King said...

Thanks, Laura. Sometimes I spend a lot of time hunting Google for the perfect picture, but in the end, if none of them work, I skip it. I was so tempted to post a picture of a foxy fox when I wrote about Diana Fox. I didn't because I didn't want to offend her or come off too cheesy. : )

Laura Barnes said...

Ha ha, awesome story! yeah, probably a good choice...

Andrea Mack said...

Great tips. I agree about cluttered or too colourful backgrounds being distracting. I haven't been using pictures, because I used to have an older computer and images just took way too long to load. And it takes me some time to write a blog post I'm happy with, so I can imagine how long it might take for me to find a picture I like to go with it! But it definitely is something to consider.

Michelle Fayard said...

I like to think of color in my designs like jewelry for an outfit--or, as my grandma used to say, "A little dab will do ya!"

Peggy Eddleman said...

I totally agree! And I completely LOVE the picture you've chosen.

McKenzie McCann said...

Huh, I've never seen a post quite like this before. Although, what you're saying completely makes sense. With the way my blog is formatted, I think pictures might clutter it up. Still...I might have to look into that.

L.A Speedwing said...

Very true! Hi Laura, so you're a campaigner! Great stuff! Talk soon on the other sphere.

Gail Shepherd said...

I guess I tend to clutter a bit, and I'm always so impressed by people whose web sites look really clean and crisp. Like this one. : )

Charmaine Clancy said...

Great advice. I used to have loads of awards etc on my blog but recently trimmed it all back. I do laugh now when I see new bloggers with clutter all over their page and pics of swimming fish for you to feed - reminds me of when I first started.
Enjoying the PB Campaign :)
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Nicole Zoltack said...

Very interesting! I used to have all of my awards on the side of my blog but now I have a separate page for them.

J.R. Williams said...

Hello fellow campaigner! It's nice to meet you. I love, love, love this post. Why? Because everything you've said is true. I used to work as ad sales rep for a bridal mag and the yellow pages. People love color. They do. It draws the eye to the page. I agree on using it sparingly. In any case, I look forward to learning more about you throughout the campaign. :)

Carol Riggs said...

I suppose I could add more photos; I do on occasion, but I also know they make the page load slower. No one has enough time to wait for multiple photos on multiple posts to load! So I add those minimally.

I WAS using color in my posts until Blogger started being ornery and the color wouldn't show up. It may have been a temporary glitch, but I haven't checked...still using just bold and caps to differentiate titles and so on. :)

Laura Barnes said...

Carol, I kinda think that bold counts as a color. It draws the eye anyway. And I agree about not wanting long page loads which is part of why I say use only one picture if you can.

JR - great to meet you! I love have worked a lot with yellow pages reps on the other side of the table, so I know you know what I'm saying!

Great comments, folks. Thanks for the input :)

Melissa Sugar said...

This was very helpful. I a afraid that I have added far too much color to the background of my blog. I was just so tired of everything else in my life having to be neutral & bland. As an attorney, everything from the color of my suits, handbags and even fingernail polish to the colors of my law firm website must be neutral & conservative. So when I designed my author's blog, I went a little overboard with mixing a variety of colors, texture & patterns.

LauraBarnes said...

I understand that. Really, you always have to fall back on what you are comfortable with. You can find some ways to be colorful and still be "clean" as they say in design terms :)

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