Now, I’m already fairly familiar with technical blogs, from doing research at work, and with a fair few writing and gaming blogs, from my extracurricular activities. But something I didn’t realise was just how much blogs were out there about... well, ‘Writing Blogs!’
I suppose this type of blog could ether be seen as being akin to someone who has never written nor published a fictional story publishing a how-to book on writing and publishing fiction, not that I’m dismissing the relevance or usefulness of such books. Or in some cases the blog could be more akin to the successful writer publishing a how-to come chronicle type book... something like ‘A Memoir of the Craft’ by Steven King for example. I know most of the blogs I visited seemed to be written to give this impression, although in many no credentials were given...
Here’s the thing though, like most stuff on the internet, these blogs all seemed to contradict each other in what they said was ‘good’ blog construction and etiquette. Some seemed overly concerned with the page layout and colours used, while others talked much more about ‘widgets’ and the mechanics of the underlying HTML code. Even then some site directly contradicted each other. For example, I read that you should always open linked to windows in a new browser on some sites, as this doesn’t take the reader away from your page hence they don’t get lost. Then I read more sites saying you should never do this since it can confuse the reader, making them lose your page as they can’t use the browser ‘back’ button, or irritate them as you may be seen to be ‘taking over their browser,’ something that I admit wouldn’t have occurred to me. I personally quite like when things open in another window or tab, providing it’s something you actually want that is. Yet others said ‘keep it simple, don’t clutter, and make it work how the user expects’ while others said ‘make something fresh, unique and interesting that captures the interest of the casual browsers, making them notice your site.’ It may just be me, but those two statements don’t seem all that compatible. Yet others said ‘never include adverts’ while others said ‘it’s ok to ask people to click your adverts if they like your blog.’
This all got me thinking about how I laid out my own blog, not to mention the all important content... a whole other bone of contention according to these bloggers-of-blogs. I looked at my blog with a view to some of the things I’ve mentioned above, and had a look at some other writing-based blogs, trying to decide if there is a basic template that is more common for writing related sites. If there is I couldn’t see it!
Now, I quite like seeing the latest ‘Add-Sence’ and automatically generated ‘Amazon Associates’ adverts etc. I find some quite interesting, or at least amusing at what they sometimes throw up in context. So does this type of thing put you off a blog?
I suppose my page is also quite cluttered, although the background and foreground colours seem fairly unobtrusive to me, making the page quite east to read. Most of my ‘clutter’ isn’t really trying to sell anything, it’s just things I found interesting and would like to pass on. A lot of these ‘guides’ said you should try to make some innovative use of the footer. I thought I’d don non to badly here, but now I’m thinking that maybe others will just see this as ‘clutter.’ I haven’t really done any pop-up windows in my writing blog but have in my Computer games one. Am I inadvertently irritating someone by ‘talking over their browser?’ I would like to think I am not.
I realise this could all come down to a simple matter of taste, and no blog is going to appeal to all people. That’s pretty-much the nature of blogs I think... after all it’s quite probably the worlds largest niche self-publishing outlet.
So do you think there is such a thing as a ‘good’ or ‘best’ layout for given types of blog?
Do you think the layout even matters all that much?
We read with our eyes, so does an ‘eye candy’ site invite more readers or simply make the reader feel sugar-sick?