Making Blogs Attractive and User Friendly

This morning I commented on Wendy’s site about how we can make our blogs more user friendly*; now I’ll elaborate some on that comment for newcomers to the blogging world.

#1 – BIG One– Install a RECENT POSTS widget.
I check out a number of newer blogs and often leave this comment. Otherwise the person who arrives at your site hasn’t a clue what you’ve written about unless they scroll… and scroll… and scroll… But if I see in the recent posts that someone has written something that piques my curiosity, I’ll click on that and read. Otherwise I’m apt to judge the whole blog by the Home Page post, so it better be a good one.

For those just learning the ropes: Click on your blog name, upper left side; WIDGETS is one choice. Click on the widget you want and drag it to the right hand box. Save changes. Installing ARCHIVES is a good idea, too; most themes have this widget already in place. For one thing the archives tell a visitor at a glance where you’re at in your blogging adventure.

#2 – Choose attention-grabbling titles for your posts.
“Another Day” won’t cut it. Our post titles all go to WordPress’s TOPICS index and I often scroll through these to see what other people have written about my favourite topics. Write something people will care about and then let them know it. Sad Way to Lose a Friend; Best Way to Rescue a Marriage; Turnip Souffle Can Taste Great. Etc. Lists often catch people’s attention: “Three Best Books to Scare You Out of Your Wits” will attract more visitors than “My Winter Reading.”

#3 – Install a SUBSCRIBE by E-mail widget.
Otherwise I must subscribe with the top FOLLOW button… which sends the post into my Reader… which I rarely look at so I don’t see your new posts for several days… and by then they’re buried… so I don’t subscribe by RSS feed if I can help it.  Some folks use their readers all the time, but some prefer to get an e-mail notice of new posts on your blog. Allow us that option.

#4 – If you wish to comment on someone else’s blog post, type up your comments in your word processor and save the file.
Then go away for a few minutes.  Come back and read your comment again, straighten out spelling errors, cut and paste into the comment box on the other blog. Typos sneak in as you write and if you don’t watch it, you’ll be positng typeos on someone else’s blog and that will make you look not so bright.

Also, I’ve spend a fair while thinking out sensible comments and typing them onto someone’s blog, only to have them disappear forever the instant I hit the POST COMMENT button. For some reason I wasn’t logged on through my own site and by the time the computer demanded who I was and what right I had to post this, I had to type in my password –why does it forget sometimes?– the comment was GONE.

Plus you never know when your comments, pondered longer and expanded on, may lead to an interesting post of your own someday.

#5 – Install an Icon or blog image.
For newcomers to blogging: Use a downloaded photo of yourself if you wish or go to Google.com Images and select whatever neat little picture you like from one of their categories. (Flowers, sports, mountain, space, etc.) Choose several because some may come out smudged.

Name & save your chosen picture, then go to your blog Dashboard, choose Settings, then General. There in the upper right hand corner you’ll see the box where you can install your Icon. Click on Browse and you’ll see your files. Select file, then click Upload.  You will get the full size image you’ve downloaded; this you must Crop and Save.  If you don’t like it, choose another.

#6 – Choose carefully which blogs you really want to follow and interact with those bloggers through Likes and Comments.
Subscribing to 500 blogs, then deleting their posts as they come in because you just haven’t time to read them is a waste of precious minutes, in my opinion. Having 500 followers and only five people responding is discouraging.

#7 – Choose your Header wisely; it sets the tone for your blog.
“One picture is worth 1000 words.” If your blog supports a custom header and you decide on one with a serene, family &/or friendly scene, you’ll get the attention of those folks who enjoy peaceful, family-friendly articles. If you choose darker or twilight nature scenes, it will ring a bell with contemplative people.

When I click on a site and am smacked with a jumble of artwork Salvador Dali would have loved, I’m outta there on the next click (unless their Recent Posts lists some really interesting title I might check out.) Ditto with four-letter words on the Home page. Some others would love it. Thus YOU choose your readers.

#8 Post a Sensible “About”
Say something about yourself that others can connect with. You don’t have to give your town and street address, but at least tell people whether you’re male or female and what country you’re in. It’s hard to relate to a mysterious entity somewhere on the planet.

#9 Don’t Bedazzle and Bewilder visitors.
Rather than cluttering up your Home Page with all manner of colorful but distracting sidebars, awards and what-have-you, make a separate Page for these. The page title will show up in your header without being clutter on your page. I’ve almost gotten lost navigating some folk’s Home page! Drop-down lists for Archives and Categories helps, too, if you have long ones.

For newcomers: PAGES comes right under POSTS on your dashboard and you can create or delete a Page anytime. The option for “drop-down list” comes with some of your widgets.

#10 – If you’re promoting or selling something, be upfront about it.
“I’ve just written this wonderful and very helpful book.  Click here.”  NO WAY
“I’m on a terrific Jamaican holiday because of all the money I made by blogging.  To find out more, click here.” NO WAY  I’m cynicaland so are a lot of others.  I’m suspicious that you’ve made your fortune posting SPAM comments on my blog. If you have something worth crowing about, tell people up front what it is.

These are my suggestions in random order; take them for what they’re worth to you. Now I’ll list a few blogs I think are well worth reading:

School teacher G I Picone has some great thoughts about schools and young people today and the foibles of US society in general on his blog, http://ipledgeafallegiance.wordpress.com
I especially enjoyed his Saturday post: http://ipledgeafallegiance.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/guns-and-moses

If you want to learn more about writing with the thought of becoming better at it, see http://suebe.wordpress.com

Prefer travel and adventure? Heights of the Himalayas or sands of the Sahara? Check out Bucket List Publications at http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com

If you like nature photos –especially of hummingbirds ☺– and poetry to match check out http://apronhead.wordpress.com

Do Bible verses and bird pictures interest you?  Check out The Birding Bunch (see link on right.)  In fact any of the links I have listed there will give you some worthwhile reading.

http://searchingforthehappiness.wordpress.com/opportunity-to-get-more-exposure-to-your-blog

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7 thoughts on “Making Blogs Attractive and User Friendly

  1. Good afternoon from Toronto! 🙂 I hope you and Bob are doing well!

    I read this & was curious as to what you thought about my blog. It’s rather bright in design, but I do my best to keep it orderly (only 1 page), a short “About Me”, and a few things i love on the sidebar, as well as a bit of general information, ways to follow, that sort of thing 🙂

    Take care. I hope to see you around some time 🙂

    Like

    • Hello Bekah! Hope all is going well for you in TO. I think your blog is well-suited to the people who read it, but will have another look and offer any further comment privately. I ran into Ruth K yesterday at Smitty’s — nice surprise. 🙂

      Like

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