Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Guess where I am?

Well, physically I'm in Utah at my grandma's for the holiday. Yay! I haven't had Thanksgiving here in more than a decade.

But online, I'm over at Mindy McGinnis's blog, Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, doing a guest interview. Isn't that the coolest? Head on over and check out my querying story.

And have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blog Critique: Praise, Prayers and Observations

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, go here.

We're diving in today because as soon as I finish I get to watch the latest Walking Dead. So head on over to Jessy Ferguson's Praise, Prayers and Observations and we'll talk below.

Jessy, first of all, thank you for the blog love! I appreciate the shout out.

I'm really impressed with your blog structure. It's very functional. Overall, there's not much we recommend. Of course, we're never without a few opinions.
  • We appreciate your simple neutral header in contrast with your very busy background. This is a good design choice.
  • However, we would like to see a few more colors pulled in from your background into your blog. Right now, you're using one color really - that rust red that turns more orange when hovered over. We'd like to see your date stamp and perhaps your links in different colors. On your latest post, you used blue for some of your links. You usually don't, and we say you should always be consistent, but that blue does add a nice color. You could use that blue all the time and pull another color in from your background as well.
  • Your template may not allow it, but I'd love it if your sidebar could be a shade different than your post area. Especially if your post area is lighter, it draws the eye to the most critical information.
  • If you added Link Within, I think people could get lost in your blog for hours. I recommend the addition. 
  • Make sure all your links open into new windows. You don't want to lose people when they click on a link.
  • You have great depth, I'm referring to your other pages. I enjoyed reading each of them. I'd only suggest adding a way for people to contact you to one of your pages, and also a Home button so people can easily get back home when they've clicked elsewhere.
  • Move your followers up under your Hearts, Hearths, & Holidays. I'm glad the link to purchase your book has place of pride, but after that, the follower button should be next so new followers can easily sign up.
  • Some of your sidebar could be cleaned up. Your A to Z Challenge badge could be put under achievements, for example. The more you have in your sidebar, the less people look at it. Put what you want seen up top, clean up as much as you can.
  • Some of your books deserve some explanation and links, if possible. I'm guessing that you have a piece in Chicken Soup for Chocolate Lovers and the Daily Devotions, but I don't know this for sure. If people can still purchase them, have them linkable to other places. If they aren't sold any longer, you may want to put those under your achievements instead of in your sidebar.
Overall, like I said above, I think your blog functions well. You're a great writer and I'm glad you've come back to it. Great work and good luck with your future endeavors! (I love the premise of A Bad Guy Forever - hope it works out!)

What other advice do you have for Jessy?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blog Critique: Becky Povich Writer

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, go here.

How are you all doing post Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy? I live in Denver, far from the disaster, but I'm sad to hear about all the crap that friends and family have had to go through. I'm thinking of you all.

Okay, enough chit-chat. Let's get to our critique. Rush over to Becky Povich and meet below.
Becky, I love your header. It makes me smile. Coffee in general makes me smile, but even if they're only drinking hot chocolate, it still makes me smile.

We do recommend changing the wording on your header. Your name - the most important part of your entire header - is hard to read. If you put "Becky Povich" to the right with your subtitles (writer- humorist - bliss follwer) smaller underneath.

You have beautiful quotes. But as beautiful as they are, we need to see your profile up top. Give it the top spot on your sidebar. This blog is about you! Let us be able to find you easily.

Under your profile, put your follower button. You want your followers to be able to subscribe with ease.

Under your followers, put your publications. Those are mighty important.

You have lots of great colors in your header. We'd like to see you pull some of those colors into your blog to give yourself a nice color palette. Like that red would be a great color for your post titles. And that yellow couch color would be nice as your date stamp. If you're afraid of color, just pick one to use throughout your blog. You'll be surprised how much it uplifts your look.

I'm glad you have the Link Within widget, but I'd reinstall it and choose 5 stories instead of 3. It will look more balanced.

Another thing that needs to be moved up on your sidebar is your labels. People do use those to find past posts. But, first, it needs to be seriously cleaned up. I would go through and remove anything you only have one and maybe even two of. Right now, it's pretty difficult to make use of it.

We'd like to see your sidebar better separated from your posts. Can you put a color behind it? Make it a light neutral color. Just something to show some contrast.

The link to your newly created website is broken. When you fix it, I recommend your links open in a new window. That keeps people on your site even when they click to go elsewhere.

There are some things you could clean up from your sidebar, but it doesn't look too crowded to me. I wouldn't mind if you widened your post area a bit. I think most people have bigger screens than that.

Other than those few little things, I am enchanted with your blog. You have delightful posts and I enjoy visiting. Good job and thanks for being a victim.

Any other suggestions you have for Becky?
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