Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Critique: Random Thoughts

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.

Day 3 of Blog Critique Awesomeness. It's unbelievable how fast this week is going! And let me just give you a heads up that the rest of the week is going to bring some unexpected blogs. But today is less unexpected and more random. Random Thoughts, that is, a blog by Cynthia (I don't know if she wants to share her last name - she leaves it off her blog). Go ahead and peek over there and pop on back.

Cynthia, I have to tell you how I love that red. When we moved in our current home, I immediately painted the walls in my living room that color. But then we thought we were going to sell and we painted the walls this really neutral beige. We ended up not selling, and at first I was really bummed that I had painted over the red. Since we've been living with the beige, however, I've discovered that the thing about neutral is that it makes the rest of the stuff in the room sparkle and shine more than the red did. Before, the red was the attraction. Now, the room is.

My point is - though I'm not sure this story illustrates this - is that the red color that I love in your blog, would have more impact if it didn't consume so much of your blog. Joe says this in design terms with, "you need to get a palette".  (He says this often enough to me that I think it can just be a Joe catch-phrase.) What this means is picking several colors that go well together and using them consistently. You aren't completely one color - we do see that - your header is darker than your post and so is the footer. You have a nice yellowish color for your title color. But the white on the red is hard on the eyes. And the red you sometimes use in your query critiques is hard to read. Even switching the white to the headline color and using that yellow would help more. I would prefer to see your post area to be another shade of red or pink. It would broaden your palette plus separate your center section from your sidebars. Use this website to help get some good coordinating colors.

Other than that, you've got some real good stuff going on. Here's five things I love about your blog:
  1. It's not cluttered, even with two sidebars.
  2. You have your schedule posted. Love this.
  3. Your profile is up top.
  4. You have a search box.
  5. You help people write their synopses.
Here's a few things that could really polish your blog up to the next level:
  • Use pictures in every post. People who read on Google Reader will not see your colors, but they will see a picture. It's a nice touch.
  • I know you don't like to share a lot about yourself, and that's fine. But a little more info in your profile would be good. Even just a line about what you write would be helpful. You could also tell us you're a mother or that you love dogs.
  • Move your followers up under your profile. Let them know they are important plus it makes it easy for new followers to follow.
  • Your tagline is true, but it doesn't really say anything about your blog. Tweaking your tag so it has purpose would be a better choice. Let us know you are a writer. Let us know you help other writers. Tell us what you mean for your blog to accomplish.
  • I'm not so sure about the Daily Puppy. It's kind of cute, and gives a little of your personality. Perhaps just don't put it in such a prominent position. 
Great job blogging, Cynthia. I'm impressed when anyone makes it over a year and you offer a great service to your readers. Keep up the great work and I'm certainly going to ask for your help when I have to write my next synopsis. Ew, I hate those!!

What are your thoughts, readers? Do you like the Daily Puppy?


Margo Kelly said...

Fantastic critique. Great tips that we can all use to improve our own blogs. Thanks!

Laura Barnes said...

Thanks, Margo!

Julie Hedlund said...

I love the red too, because I love red. But I also agree with Laura that a little goes a long way. :-)

Jessie Humphries said...

Wow, I just learned a lot! My blog sucketh! I need help.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

The red is rather dominate. I agree the followers gadget needs to be higher.

Carol Riggs said...

Yes, I suppose the red IS rather...a bit much. I'd also like to see a photo of Cynthia rather than one of the top images. But I do realize some people are profile-photo shy. ;o) Good comments and critique, Laura! White on red IS hard to read. But in general the blog isn't cluttery, and that's a good thing.

E.R. said...

Beautiful job, Cynthia! I agree with Laura's review. Your blog is uncluttered and I like that you have your schedule posted.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I'm already a fan, Cynthia, but Laura's advice is always helpful. Good luck with any tweaking and keep up the great blog!

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