And we're going about this critique in a different way, if you don't mind. Even if you do mind, I guess you don't really get a say...
Take a look at Shah Wharton's blog at WordsinSync.blogspot.com and we'll meet below.
Rather than give a full list of things I like and/or would do differently, I'm going to concentrate on just three elements. Ready, Shah? Let's go:
1. The blog header: It's beautiful. It really is. I love the colors and fonts. But it's way too big. We shouldn't have to scroll down to see your profile or your first posts. Also, we can't tell what's more important - the picture or the quote. I would pick one and lose the other.
2. Organization: Shah, your blog is going to allow us to have a much needed conversation about organization. In general it is best to MINIMIZE,MINIMIZE, MINIMIZE. It makes blogs easier to read, follow, enjoy, etc. I'm all for simple, clean, uncluttered blogs.
That being said, I get that you are a collector and that's the spirit of you. Which means you've got to spend extra time working on organizing and cleaning your blog. First, make a list of the top five or so elements on your blog. For sure your blog posts and profile should be on your list. They could be, for example:
- header picture
- blog posts
- follow button
- popular posts
Whatever your list is, they should be prominent. That means immediately we should see them. If this list were your list, you'd already have some work to do. I can't see your profile without scrolling down, I can't find the follow button or popular posts very easily, and I have to look for your posts! You should then cut out anything that prevents us from seeing those things (such as your announcement, the header quote, etc.).
Now that doesn't mean you can just throw everything at the bottom of your blog (you told me you do this, so I know you already are aware of this). The next step is to list the next five to ten elements that you really, really want to keep. Twelve elements tops. Maybe your list looks like this:
- subscribe box
- search box
- social media connections (just one with all of them, not a ton for each one)
- followers (only one follower box, not several)
- poll question
- cool blogs
- Linky links
These should go be on your sidebar in a clean, easy to find style. All the rest of your elements need to go. Cut them out entirely. Delete them. If you absolutely can't bear to part with them, create a page that's just for your stuff. Call it something like My Stuff or Random or whatever. Put the extra elements there.
I know that people who read your blog on Google Reader will not be affected by all of this, but the reader's who do physically visit your blog will be much more happy to stay on your blog and read more.
3. Advertising: We've never talked about it here, but I'd be interested in knowing what people's thoughts are on blogs that have paid ads. My gut is that unless you want to be a professional blogger, you should do without. It confuses your readers. Is this blog for us or for you? Is this blog about your writing or is it about what Google wants us to buy? I don't want to knock a source of income if it is important to you to have it, but these are important things to consider.
Just because it seems I've been really critical about Shah's blog, I must say there are several things I am very happy to see:
- soothing colors
- blog depth (pages)
- linky links
- search box
- she has her contact info
- she has polls (polls are an awesome way to interact with readers)
- she has some great post content
- she's really involved in the writing community
Trim the fat and your blog will be ready to go. Keep up the good work, Shah, and thanks for being here (and for dealing with my change of schedule)!!
What do you think about ads, dear readers? And about Shah's blog in general? Please share!