Some pet peeves about blog design

Now that 8 million of us have blogs (sorry, can’t remember where I got that figure), you’d think some of the mysteries of blog design would be sorted out. For example, why does everyone put the goofy little calendar in their menubar? What purpose does it serve? Does anyone ever scroll down to the calendar and say to themselves, “hmmm… I wonder what Munger said on the 21st of January. Let’s click here and see.”

No, no one ever does. Of course, I do have the calendar on my site, though I’ve thought many times about taking it down. I keep it there because it’s a reminder of my own industriousness (or lack thereof). It’s a point of pride for me to blog every weekday, and the calendar-thing lets me know if I’m keeping at it. Come to think of it, I guess that’s probably what other people use them for, too. People can visit my blog and quickly note that I’m a weekday blogger. Others blog in fits and starts, and still others can’t go half an hour without posting something. The calendar gives you a quick visual impression of what type of blog you’re dealing with.

I guess that’s not much of a peeve. But this one is: don’t you hate it when you want to link to a blog and you can’t immediately tell how to link to a particular post. The best blogs offer a convenient “permalink” link for just that purpose. Mine doesn’t, though. You have to click on the title of the blog post to get the permalink address. That’s not so bad, either — it’s pretty clear from the visual arrangement of my site that that’s what you need to do. Other blogs put the “permalink” in the time stamp of the blog post. This strikes me as amazingly counterintuitive. Why would I ever click on “7:51 a.m.”? Worst of all is when you need to click on the name of the person posting the article. Shouldn’t a click here bring up all the posts by that person? Or maybe an e-mail address? Half the time I end up clicking on the name, just to check to see if it’s the permalink, and all the sudden my e-mail app opens up. Ugh!

Here’s a relatively minor one: the “comments” link. Many blogs (including mine) use this link for a dual purpose: to let readers know the number of comments so far, and to take them to the commenting engine. But if there are no comments yet, the link shouldn’t say “no comments.” This suggests that comments aren’t allowed.

And why do some blogs have text widths that go from here to Albania? I think I keep my browser window at a reasonable width: it covers about 800 pixels of my screen, or roughly the width of a sheet of business paper. If your text can’t fit on 800 pixels, it’s TOO WIDE! That’s like writing a business letter with no margins — and then some. That’s like a newspaper that carries narrow lines of text all the way across the entire page. It’s almost impossible to read. I’ve seen blogs formatted so wide that I can’t see the whole thing, even when I stretch my browser window to the full 1024 pixel width of my screen. Enough, already!

Finally, the blog title. The title of your blog should do something, people! What should it do? Take visitors back to the home page of your blog. What if someone finds your blog via a link from another blog. They won’t be on the home page, and if they actually like your blog, they want to see what else you’ve done. Make it easy for them!

Oh, and one more thing… don’t you just want to puke when people make their sidebar some gaudy color like purple? Or yellow — that’s the worst. Especially when they’ve got some dorky animated logo. And don’t get me started on disingenious wordplay with blog titles and author names…

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4 Responses to Some pet peeves about blog design

  1. Anne says:

    Design problems are terrible. I couldn’t even wrap my head around them so I just caved and picked the simplest blogger template. Thanks for visiting–I was going to write you. Anyway, things have been really interesting here of late. Cheers, Anne

  2. Anne says:

    sorry–by “here” I meant at WordMunger…

  3. Dave says:

    Sometimes the “simplest template” means a really useable design. I think the biggest design flubs happen when people try to make things more complicated than they need to be. And yes, I am sometimes guilty!

    I added your blog to the list, Anne — I’m glad to see you’re blogging now. (For those not “in the know,” Anne’s blog is “Fernham” on my links list).

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