Time for A Review
Welcome Friends from 31dbbb and Readers,
Pull up a chair, sit right down, and let’s have a cup of coffee together this morning. I am really looking forward to comments, suggestions, ideas, tips, and techniques for creating a better blog. So here come the questions:
- What is your opinion of the design layout? Do you like the borders or should I find something else to frame the sides? Does the color complement my theme?
- What suggestions do you have for a header?
- “Sneeze” pages–I have the “Getting to Know Me” and “Contact Me”. What do you think about adding a “Categories” page or should I just leave the categories in the list format on the sidebar?
- Any suggestions for how I can make the text column wider?
- How can I remove the “view my complete profile” line now that I have the About Me Page?
- Do you think the text size is readable? Are the posts too long? If I shorten them, how will I make my point or tie in the analogy?
- What do you think of the writing style? Is there anything with the posts that needs improvement?
- What do you think of the sidebar? Design? Text size? Content?
- Any suggestions for increasing traffic on my site?
- Any other suggestions?
Thank you everyone for your input. I appreciate this greatly.
Kevin, Thank you for your extensive feedback. I like the suggestion about the email. I will try that!
Always good to have you drop in.
1. Borders and all look great.
2. I don’t speak tech talk, so I think by header you mean that space where it says Open my ears….Although your site is amazingly beautiful, I don’t quite see anything pictorally that tells me anything about what you are writing about. Good luck. Figuring out the problem is a lot easier than solving it.
3-5. I really don’t know, I’m not good at that.
6. Yes, your posts are too long. But so are mine and nearly everyone’s at some point. I think the trick is to write them and then go back and make yourself change three things. Make something less wordy, take out anything that doesn’t have direct meaning in the post, and then don’t worry about it.
7. Your writing style is perfect because it’s you. The only time your style can be wrong is when you remove the “you” from it. Wear your style loud and proud.
8. It goes a long way down there.
9. Ok, get ready. Every time someone sends you that forwarded email that says “if you don’t pass this on then you don’t love God”, hit the “reply to all” button and send them all a link to your site. In the message put, “I didn’t forward this on, but God loves me anyway and He loves you too. To learn more, visit my site.” (I just came up with that, but I promise that’s what I’m gonna do.)
10. No more suggestions…that last one wore me out.
God Bless you for what you are doing and thanks for visiting my site. Your presence there brightens my day just like your site does.
As far as design and layout go, I think that what you’ve chosen really speaks to the core material you’ve chosen for your blog. It’s a little pink for my taste but that’s a personal issue, don’t change it if you like it.
The header is a little busy – I think the textured background distracts from the text. It’s going to be hard to find a good graphic to correspond with the title of your blog. Maybe a picture of someone putting headphones on?
The side bar is kind of long, so putting together a “categories” page for the top of your blog would probably help a reader navigate through different themes. Something else you can consider for the side bar is to replace the “archive” widget with a “top posts” or “most recent” function.
Text size, writing style and length are great. Be yourself. Be genuine. The moment you step out of yourself like Kevin said, and try to sound like someone else, is the moment your blog loses authenticity.
Another idea to increase blog traffic is to include it in your e-mail signature.
Great site overall, God Bless!
Hi Janis. I just became your follower. I’d love it if you’d check out my site and follow me back! (Good traffic building tip #1).
I wanted to let you know about http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com where she does “How To Grow Your Blog” weekly videos every Thursday. They are short and helpful. All your questions will be basically answered there. I think she’s done 5 videos so far.
Also, I agree that the textured header is a bit busy for the text and I would like to see it a bit wider, personally. Try using the minima stretch layout to have a wider post margin. That’s what I use. I’m still figuring out this blogging thing too. Any suggestions for me, feel free to share! Have a great weekend.
The design took longer to come up than the rest of the page. It caught me off gaurd when I popped back on this window. I don’t usually have an issue with slow loading pages. It is a bit busy and hard on the eyes. I do think though that if the post margin was wider, this would not be an issue.
I like Kevin’s idea for #9!!!
For profile, find the profile gadget, select layout, look for the gadget in the sidebar, open it and remove it. For text width also go to layout and select HTML. Copy and paste all code to word before changing the code. Then do a Ctrl+f and search for main-wrapper – increase the width (one of the lines will say width: 700px or something like that so make it say 750px. Then find sidebar and reduce its width. review – if happy, save and there you go.
Overall your site looks great, albeit pretty feminine which is fine if that is your audience. You don’t need to use gadgets that show ads, but you will have to search the net for them.
I do think white on pink is a problem for your banner – need more contrast – also use a description to state what the site is for.
Thank you all for your helpful comments. I can hardly wait to implement them this weekend.
Thanks for the headphones idea for the header and the suggestions about replacing the sidebar Archives with a Categories page. I like the idea of a “Top Posts” on the sidebar much better.
Will be adding my blog to our email signature.
Okay, we’ll help each other out here. I am now following you as well. Those video ideas sound great. I will check them out this weekend.
Everyone agrees–the header has to change. Will gladly do that this weekend. I liked Seiji’s idea about headphones. Will play around with something new.
Thank you for taking the time to review my blog. I have noticed that it does load slowly. You think that is a design problem?
Thank you for telling me it is too busy. I will be trying to enlarge the post text with the technical info Peter gave me. Then it should have a cleaner look.
Janis, except for the readability of the header image, your design is a good fit and helps show your personality.
I do think it would be good to move your categories from the sidebar to a page linked from your “menu” at the top. I am probably going to do the same on my blog. I may even move my blogroll, just to reduce the amount of “stuff” in the sidebar — though that’s more debatable, because I also want readers of those blogs to come by and say, “Oh, you read that, too? We have something in common.”
To reduce the length of your home page without shortening your posts, use split posts. Basically, it lets you decide how much of a single post will be shown on any page that shows multiples posts (front page, category pages). I think you can do this in Blogger by clicking the icon that looks like a page is torn in two, “Insert jump break.”
– Jon from 31DBBB
Thanks for the technical info on how to change the width of my posts. Will be trying that out this weekend.
Also, I wasn’t sure what you meant about following the ads but not posting them on my site. Could you explain that a little more?
Will be changing the header this weekend. Besides design, I will put a description of my blog in there.
Thank you for your help!
Thanks for your helpful comments. That header has definitely got to go! I will be working on that this weekend and a Categories Page to cut down on the clutter in my sidebar.
I guess I’m so pink because my household is full of males. We are sports central, ESPN 24/7. But I have wondered if I should become a little more neutral. I think I will want to keep it on the feminine side, though.
Good thought about keeping that blogroll on the side.
Oh, don’t change the pink! Like I said, I think it’s a good fit. But do check out the page splitting and see if you like it.
OK, Jon. Will try the page splitting. There is a page-break feature on the posts.
It is going to be a busy but exciting weekend!
I really love pink and brown together! Very pretty! I don’t know much about designing. My twin designs my blogs for me. I am very blessed. I do think having a page with your most popular posts listed is good for newcomers to your blog. Looks like you are very motivated to get your blog going!
Larry Westfall said…
1. The borders and design look fine to me.
2. I would go to flickr http://flickr.com and search the creative commons photos for a picture that would complement your layout and expresses your personality and add it to the header. Richard did a great job on his and he uses blogger.
3. I don’t think your “getting to know me” and “contact me” pages are considered sneeze pages. If you had a page with all the post from a specific category, I thing that would qualify as a sneeze page. As far as your categories I personally like searching these in the sidebar. But I realize this is personal preference. Again, this is personal preference, you may ask the others what they think, but I like to see the categories higher in the page. I would move them up above your google friend connect, the comments badge, and the archives. Your categories tell me more about what your blog is about and gives me more options to explore than the other items I just listed.
4. Don’t know.
5. It has been a while since I have worked with blogger but I think that this is just a widget in your sidebar and you should be able to delete it. If you choose to do this I think you should add your photo to the “getting to know me page.”
6. The text is fine to me. There are different thoughts on post length so I am not sure there is a right answer. I am shooting for an average of 500 words. Sometimes is is 370 and other times it is 640. However, 500 words seems to be enough for me to get my thought across and compact enough to prevent me from rambling.
7. I have enjoyed reading your posts. I like the way you look through the lens of your life and see God in the midst of it.
8. I am still working on my sidebar as well so I am no expert. But here are my thoughts. I don’t think you need the “all material is copyrighted” in the sidebar. I would try and put this in the footer area or at the end of each post somehow. You may be able to find a widget that would allow you to put text in one of these areas. If you removed that and the “view my complete profile” that would pull everything up. This would put your subscription options at the top right near you post title for everyone to see. And if you moved your categories up, they would be near the top and searchable. Again this is just my opinion, I don’t think having a blog roll in your sidebar is a good idea. It just gives your readers more opportunity to leave your sight and go somewhere else. The idea is to get them to stay and search your blog. You can link to these blogs in a single post by highlighting an article or sharing their links on twitter (just my opinion).
9. I am still trying to learn this myself.
10. Be persistent and keep writing. Even if it doesn’t draw big numbers, God will use it to change lives.
I hope this helps. Again, most of this is just my opinion with very limited experience. God Bless!!!
I somehow posted this by mistake on another post as I was surfing your blog. So I went back and found it and brought it where it is supposed to be. Sorry!
Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it. Pink and brown is really “in” now isn’t it?
This weekend I will be making changes and doing something that lists the most popular posts.
I like your design. If you want to make it more current, a less ornate look would do it — maybe a textured/mottled look for the sides. I like them like they are — but I’m old. 😉
You can do better on a header. It doesn’t have to be ears or headphones (though I like the headphone idea). It could be a bar of music artfully included; a singing bird (not animated!); a silhouette of a person listening to someone — maybe cupping a hand to an ear . . . there are lots of possibilities.
WordPress has themes to choose from, some wider than others. I learned that the design/development team makes the text columns narrower for ease of reading. I’d still like it a little wider, though.
I would get rid of much of the stuff in the sidebar. It’s so long no one’s going to read it. The categories page sounds good. You could also add a page for links to your friends’ blogs. Drop anything that’s there because you feel you “should” have it there and not because it will be used by your readers. I’ve trimmed mine down a LOT since I started.
I try to keep my posts to 750 words or less, but I will go longer if they’re especially engaging (in my opinion!). This is how you trim — not because I’ve analyzed your posts and find them to have these particular extraneous bits, but out of my own experiences writing to a word limit:
Go through the post and search for “ly”. If you can get rid of an “ly” word, do. (Instead of saying “She walked slowly.” you could say, “She shuffled” or “She inched forward.” This doesn’t always make your writing shorter, but it will always make it more interesting. So much for your adverbs.
Now do the same thing to your adjectives. Be merciless. In most cases, adjectives weaken writing and make it longer.
Now look for the “be” verbs. Replace them with active verbs if possible. (“I am sitting at my computer and typing” could become the more interesting and shorter “I sit at my computer, typing.”) Writing shorter takes more effort, but it’s worth it.
I like your writing style. It doesn’t call attention to itself. Your writing style allows me to enjoy your content without the distraction of awkward word usage.
To increase traffic to your site . . . first, I’d make the appearance more streamlined. There’s a lot going on and it distracts me from your content. I like the floral sides, but they do distract. And the sidebar — it shouldn’t be blank, but you don’t need all the things you’ve got there.
Second, comment often on other people’s blogs. Every time you post something, go through the blogs you read and comment on those you find interesting. Make sure your name is set up as a link to your blog. Your friends can easily click it and hop over to see what’s going on at your place. If your comments are interesting and knowledgeable, others may also click.
Link to other people’s blogs in your posts. Talk about the good things they’re doing. They may or may not reciprocate, but what goes around comes around. If you concentrate on blessing your friends, the return will take care of itself.
Post frequently. I like people to post no more than once a week because it’s hard for me to keep up. That said, I’ve discovered that when I post 3-4 times a week, my stats go up. So even if you’re only posting to link someone else, I’d try to post several times a week.
Love you, Sis!
Oh yes . . . I forgot to say . . . always post your new blog articles to Facebook and Twitter and any other social network site you use. Always have a picture — this will show up in FB. It may be you can set Blogger up to do some of this automatically when you publish.
Janis – bit late but do have a couple of things to add. Before I dive into thatthough I think in general the whole effect ispleasing and works well together.
I think it’s a blogger blog restriction but for the size of font you use you could do with making the actual text area wider if you can.
I agree with all the comments about the header. It’s non-descript and a little tough to view.
The next thing – and possibly a reason for the slow loads – is that the sidebar is waaaaay too busy for me. After the first few bits I gave up reading it but it went on and on 🙂
Finally, your ‘About Me’ page doesn’t appear to have a link.
Thank you, Ceal, for taking the time and the heart to respond to this review. It was delightfully unexpected! Thank you for your honesty my best friend. You know me inside out, and to have you say that my writing style has improved since the beginning is the equivalent of having a Beth Moore stamp on my writing.
From my heart to yours,
I don’t know anything about blogging and so I do not know how it is supposed to look, but since you want comments from me, here it goes:
1. I personally don’t like the borders and the sides with all the information. I like the colors that are used but not the design.
2. I think the person who suggested headphones or something like that would be good.
3. I don’t know what sneeze pages are but your profile seems good.
4. I have no knowledge of this.
5. Same as above.
6. The text size seems good to me. Yes, the posts are long, but I know you and that is just you and your style of writing.
7. I think your writing style has improved with each of your blogs. At first, I think you were trying to hard, but now I think it just flows.
8. If the sidebar is all the things printed on the side. I think it is way too much and it looks cluttered.
9. Don’t know anything on this.
10. Don’t give up and just keep on writing!!! You are doing a Great job.