Monday, October 24, 2011

Blog Critique: Brooke R. Busse

Monday's here again and that brings a new blog critique. In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

Today's blog is Brooke R. Busse's Paper Mountain. Take a moment and check out her blog. 

There is so much I love about your blog, Brooke. So much you have spot on. You have a straight forward title. I can see your name and pic clearly. You have a page for WIP info. You tell us when you're going to post. Truly an awesome job. Here are just a few tiny suggestions we have for you:
  • Overall look: Interestingly, Brooke, your blog brings our first disagreement from our designers. Joe says, "It's lovely. The color scheme is good, the design is clean." Joe does say that you could use a textured background like natural paper in the same color. He also likes your fonts (and he's a font priss). Tom, on the other hand thinks it's too plain. Though he says the fonts and colors are "fine", he says he's "bored".  As for me, I love that it is simple, straightforward and clean but I also think it's a little too plain. Texture would help a lot. So would...
  • Color: Most of your posts lack pictures or any color. Throw in some color now and then. Add one pic per post. This is a great way to attract a reader's attention. Remember many of your readers are using Google Reader and they won't see any of your design, but they will see the pic.
  • I'm not sure who you are: I know you are petite and bubbly and can get a sense of your writing from your prompts, but your readers should get more a sense of what your writing is about before even reading a post. I'd like to see your profile include a line about what you write or that you are a writer. On that note...
  • Title/Blog message: I want your profile blurb to tie in with your title or what your blog's message is. I see you use your blog to share writing posts, which is great, but I'd like to know that in your profile blurb. Just one sentence could say both that you are a writer of YA fiction and you exercise your writer's mind through prompts on daily posts. Or whatever. Not that what you have isn't cute and full of personality - it is and that's awesome. But it is a little jarring to arrive at your blog on a day you have a prompt post and not really understand what I've walked into. Just explain in a prominent place in your sidebar. 
  • Contact Info: Missing! Put up a contact page. I know we can find your email in your profile. Make it easier.
  • Fonts: You are inconsistent in your fonts. I am guessing that when you do your prompts you copy and paste them from another document. If you do, just switch it to the default font. (I am horrible at keeping my fonts matching so it's hard for me to even mention this to people :)
  • About Me page: I don't have one either, but it's a good idea to have a bio page. 
  • Followers: I'm glad it is easy to follow your blog. Move that up under your profile so it is even easier. I think it's more important than your blog archive.
  • Add a search bar: I think every blog should have one. That's just me.
Seriously, Brooke, this looks like a bunch of stuff, but it's minor. I really, really like your minimalism. Keep up the great work, and thanks for letting us dissect you!

Readers, do you agree with what we said? Any other suggestions? Please give us your opinion!


Leighcaron said...

Hi, hi! First, thanks for following me. I'm following you now too. This is a great post. I've seen critiques on everything but this. I will definitely use your tips to work on mine. And speaking of mine...because I didn't use any of Bloggers templates, I'm limited in what graphics I can add.

Sarah Pearson said...

I think the biggest thing I take away from these critiques is how important pictures are. I very rarely use them :-(

Michelle Fayard said...

I always enjoy the look of Brooke's blog, but these tiny tweaks are the icing on the cake, Laura.

Susanna said...

I've never been to Brooke's blog before. I don't disagree with your suggestions for improvements, but I really like the blog and am so glad to have discovered it!

gail shepherd said...

Another great blog critique. I'm still working on implementing your advice. Go, Laura.

Elizabeth Arroyo said...

Some great suggestions. I gotta go look at mine. =)

Brooke R. Busse said...

So I've got me a little list of things to work on tomorrow. I already fixed up a few things, like the search bar and my email being more open on my blog. I also moved up my followers. I'm going to have to get used to seeing them there. XD

I would definitely like to try the textured background idea. However, I don't really know where to find something like that. Any suggestions?

Brooke R. Busse said...

Ah, thank you. ^^

LauraBarnes said...

Brooke, love the changes already!

And yes, we wouldn't leave you stranded on the background. Here's a site Joe suggests for getting free textured backgrounds:

Choose one you like and download it to your computer.

To add it to your website, go into your template and then choose customize. From this menu choose Background and then upload image. You can actually browse through Bloggers pics here - you might find a texture there you like.

Try different textures out and see which you like best. Ask your followers to vote!

Theresa Milstein said...

I agree it all sounds minor.

Laura's critiquing my blog in December. I think I'm going to hear some of the same advice.

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