Monday, January 9, 2012

Blog Critique: Callie Leuck

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.

Before we get going with today's critique, I'm letting you know we are now back to Monday's only for critiques. I hadn't wanted to make people wait so I added extra dates, but then I felt like I was never able to post about anything else. So when you see me back here on Wednesday, it's not going to be a crit.

Now let's get to today's subject. Our blog is Callie Leuck's Write On!  The exclamation point is there always; I didn't add it. Go on over and look over her blog and we'll meet below.

I'm going to be really pun-ny right off the bat and say, I like Callie Leuck.  That's pun-ny because Leuck is pronounced "like". You didn't know that? It's a great tidbit - an important tidbit, since it's about Callie's name - and it's at the bottom of her blog. Are you catching the hint that I think this should be more prominent? Well, I do. 

Callie, seriously, I like you. I like your personality, I like your posts, I like what you talk about. I like you. And you're cute. You are very organized - or, your blog is, anyway.  I like your neutral colors. I like the lighter color you use for your posts. You have most of what I consider "essential" elements on your blog: a search box, your profile featured in a prominent place, your name in your blog title, an about me page, a tagline that tells what your blog is. Lots of good going on here.

But I always have something to complain about, don't I? Okay, not complaints, really, but suggestions. So here's what I suggest you think about:
  • Include better access to your writing. You have a lot of experience as a writer and your website has the samples. But I wouldn't know that if I found your blog first. Either include a page with links to your writing directly on your blog or include a link that says "Writing Samples" that directs readers to your website samples.
  • I'm generally not a fan of two sidebars. It's more cluttered. You do the best job you can with two sidebars, keeping it clean, but IMHO, I would go to one and get rid of some of your "stuff".
  • Just FYI for the readers: If you must have two sidebars, learn from Callie. The color differentiation from the sidebars and the center posts is very helpful at keeping it clean and straight forward. She also has a background that is neutral enough to not compete.
  • Tom would like your post headlines to be a little larger. They aren't much bigger than your text right now. I'm not sure it will work for you because you tend to have longer headlines, but that's what the graphic designer says, so I'm sharing.
  • You use a mish mash of fonts throughout your posts. And really, I don't mind. You use different fonts to express things, and you do it quite well. It fits with your personality.
  • I'm kind of picky about labels/tags. First, these work so much better if you have a place where people can click on them from a list - like a label cloud. They act like an index in a book.  But if you decide to feature this, you will need to cut out half of your labels. Stick to just a few basic tags.  The way you have it now, I'm not sure it's very functional. The Link Within feature you have does the same thing.  This isn't really an issue; I'm just giving you something to think about.
  • And last, but not least - where are you? You haven't posted since 2012 started. I totally get taking time off, just tell us where you are. :)
I love your blog, Callie. I'm so glad to have met you through this process. 

Readers, what do you think about Callie's blog? What are your thoughts on the labels and tags? And what about the two sidebars? Just asking!


AlexJCavanaugh said...

I have two sidebars and yes, they are very full. But both are narrow, giving room for the posts.

Callie Leuck said...

Thanks so much for the feedback, Laura! This is so great, and super-useful :) There was only so much self-improvement I could do in solitude. I posted a thank-you on my blog today and discussed actions I took, did not take, and plan to take based on your feedback for my readers. I've been big on the value of getting feedback lately, and this seemed like a prime example.

Callie Leuck said...

To respond to your question to readers about dual sidebars...

I did really think about the two sidebars. I made a few changes (made the left one narrower, like Alex does; and I removed some superfluous things) but ultimately decided to keep it for now. I went into some detail about it in my post.

Laura Barnes said...

If you have that much stuff that you have to have, then go for it. You do a nice job with the narrow sidebars, I must say.

Laura Barnes said...

Love your post! Thanks, Callie!

Mithril Wisdom said...

Very good review. I've toyed with the idea of 2 sidebars in the past, but I know I'd fill them with rubbish. I'd rather trim the fat and have more space for my content.

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