Monday, October 22, 2012

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.

Later, I have to tell you about my fabulous last week when I got to celebrate my CP and good friend Gennifer Albin's debut of Crewel with her in Kansas City. What a blast! And I feel a contest might have to accompany that post.

But now, it's critique time. Head on over to Stephen Tremp's website. And meet below to discuss. Cool? 

There's much I admire about your blog, Stephen. Particularly I admire that, according to what you've told me, you have gone through several looks trying to find the right one. I appreciate your courage to experiment.

I also like the clean separation of your sidebars from the main area. It's easy to read and pretty organized. Most importantly I want to give you kudos for having easy to find links to your books. RIGHT ON! (I'd like it even more if your links opened into new windows so that people didn't have to leave your site to purchase.)

But there are also several things we'd like to see you change:

  • We'd love to see your blog have a title not a "Welcome to". In other words, make it simply: Author Stephen Tremp's Website.
  • Your title also uses a color and font that is not used anywhere else in your blog. Make it uniform.
  • The picture choice is also unclear. You write sci-fi, but I don't feel like your writing or blog posts exhibit enough sci-fi to warrant the picture. If you still want your blog to say sci-fi, add more to make it clearer.
  • I'd like your blog header to line up with your navigation bar. Right now the header extends past it. Also have your sidebars line up under the navigation bar.
  • I'd like to see your post section widened. I do have a big screen but there's an awful lot of dead space. 
  • I don't like the gray bar that extends all the way across your top. I think that's part of the template. This template is one of my least favorite because of its restrictions like that. Play around with it some more and you may be able to make it work.
  • That blue that you use as your main title color confuses me because that's the traditional color for links. So I want those to be clickable, and they aren't. We recommend changing that color.
  • While you're at it, pick a more distinct palette. Right now it's sort of blue and red and white and pink and gray. It's a little dull. Instead pick maybe the blue or the red as your main color and build around that. Use if you need help.
  • I'd like to see your Followers higher on your blog so that it's easy for people to follow.
  • I'd also like to see your Welcome to my Website box with your pic with Dean Koontz go to a story about the event. Or else changed all together. Right now it feels like it's going to link somewhere and it doesn't.
  • Since your post section is so small, five posts makes the page go on forever. You could limit to three. Especially when you have your blog archive at the bottom too.
  • I'd like to see you use the Link Within widget. I think people would enjoy clicking through your past posts with it. 
Okay, Stephen, I think I'm finished with you. Did you survive? Thanks for your willingness for the torture.

Anyone else have any tips for Stephen?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Guess I never noticed until now the header didn't match in size.
Crap, is my blog science fiction enough...? Uh-oh!

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks Laura, Tom, and Joe for taking the time to review my Home Page! I really appreciate the constructive criticism. Like Alex, I never noticed the header extended out farther than the rest of the blog. Question: How do I extend the post section and the sidebars out to take up more of the dead space? The only tool I see on Blogger Design is formatting the width of the posts and sidebars at the expense of each other, not extending the entire page out to take up some of the dead space. Thanks again!

Beth Stilborn said...

I didn't notice that the header extended further than the posts until you pointed it out, Laura! What I did notice is that the sidebars on either side of the post section were distracting and detracted from my reading experience. To be perfectly honest, I rarely look at the sidebars of someone's blog unless I'm looking for something in particular, so all that is wasted on me. So sidebars that intrude on my reading experience just annoy me. Not an emotion one wants to encourage in one's readers.

Callie Leuck said...

My screen isn't terribly wide, and there's dead space. Laura's right on with the suggestion to widen the posts. That might help lessen the number of stretched lines in the posts, too.

Maybe I'm dumb...I'm not seeing an "about the author" information anywhere. Help? That's the first place I go when I check out a new blog -- I go see the writer bio.

lexacain said...

Great points and suggestions, Laura. I love reading your blog critiques. :-)

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