Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blog Critique: Shannon O'Donnell

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.

It's Monday again. How does that happen?

But the good news is that it's blog critique day. That's always a good way to start off the week, isn't it? Today's bloggy victim is the amazing, wonderful Book Dreamer, Shannon O'Donnell of Book Dreaming.  Go take a peek and come on back.


Now, it's likely you are already a follower of Shannon. She's pretty popular. And I always have to give this little caveat before I crit a popular blog: If you have followers - you're doing something right. So out of everything I say, remember I'm just one opinion and only you know what's best for your blog. Okay. Since that's out of the way, I can talk to Shannon.

Shannon, my lovely. I do so love your blog. And I adore you. A fellow picture book/MG writer - How could I not? So let's talk a bit about your blog and see if we can't give you some things to think on:
  • First I have to say you post wonderfully. You have a message. It's clear. It's consistent. Love it.
  • Your header should be wider. Let your pictures fill all the space.
  • As I always say, your name should be in your title or at least your subtitle. I'm glad it is in your blog address. 
  • And speaking of your subtitle...It's cute, it is. It makes sense because you are a teacher. But when I read that subtitle I think I'm going to get lots of posts about things your students or children say and how those things make good book ideas. Just something to think about.
  • I love the location of your profile. But your name is so little. Can you make it bigger?
  • I adore that you use color throughout your blog. It really makes it feel like it's about/for children without feeling too kiddish. 
  • Your three column set up (not usually my favorite) works for me, but you need more differentiation from your posts and sidebars.
  • The white background of your posts does not bother my non-artist eyes. But my designers feel it is too stark of a contrast to your background. Joe suggests a really pale blue for the background of your posts - blue like the lightest blue in the clouds of your main background. And then your columns should be a bit darker - maybe a green. These should be very pastel though and text should be readable over them. Play around with it. Maybe it won't be for you, but try it.
  • It's a little tricky to tell where one post begins and the other ends. This is mostly because you use a lot of colors and so it's hard to spot your headlines. You could make your footer's have a background shade that differs from the rest. Or you could add the Link Within app. This would add a distinct row of pics between each post. 
Okay, I'm done. These are all really just aesthetics. Your blog functions perfectly. I love reading your posts and it appears that many others do too. Great blogging, Shannon!

What do you guys think about Shannon's blog? Anything you'd suggest?

19 comments:

Jamie Burch said...

Yay, Shannon! Thanks, Laura, for sharing all these wonderful tips. This is a fun and helpful blog to follow!

Hope you have a fantastic week!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions, Laura--you're amazing! Now, I have to learn how to do those things! :-)

AlexJCavanaugh said...

I think you made good suggestions.

Dianemestrella said...

I'm already a fan of Shannon's and luv her. :O)

Merrie Hansen said...

I totally agree with the designers suggestions for contrast of Shannon's posts & sidebars. I also agree with your observation about the divisions between each of her posts. However, I don't know understand your remedy of changing the footer's background or of adding a Link Within app.; would you please explain to a novice like me.

I appreciate your suggestions to others...wouldn't want to put my feet to the fire & have you critique my blog! Maybe I will take the plunge one day.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I agree the Link Within app helps separate posts.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What is the "Link Within" app? And how can I make the background of my sidebar different than the background of my posts? I want to, but I can't figure out how. :-)

Laura Barnes said...

I'm at work right now so I"m only giving you a quick response but let me know if you need more than this and I can help later :) For link within, go to www.linkwithin.com It will add those little pictures of related posts that shows up on the end of each of my posts.

You can adjust your side column backgrounds in the template design under advanced. Look through the options there and see if you can find it. Otherwise, let me know and I'll help figure it out for you!

Author Savannah Rose said...

I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Please go to my page for further instructions. :)

Beth Stilborn said...

I have to confess that although I found the content of Shannon's blog interesting, the set-up was just too hard for my eyes to follow. The sidebars and the posts seem to meld together until it's just words words words. I like the header with the buttons, although the green was again, difficult for my eyes. (Maybe it's just my eyes. There's a thought...) I love the background picture.

Coleen Patrick said...

Shannon's blog is new to me. I like the colors, it seems to fit with her theme and posts.
:)

Laura Barnes said...

Thank you, Jamie! I'm glad you find it helpful :)

Laura Barnes said...

I hope they are helpful! Let me know if you need any other assistance. I'm happy to help!

Laura Barnes said...

:)

Laura Barnes said...

I love her too!

Laura Barnes said...

And it's just a cool app :)

Laura Barnes said...

Wow! Thanks!!! I'm heading over now...

Laura Barnes said...

I agree. The actual posts need a color separation - that will help. Thanks for the comment!

Laura Barnes said...

I like her colors too. It seems to fit her personality.

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