Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ten Pet Peeves About Blog Layout

I'm busy these days, which leads to both procrastination and to being grumpy. Hence this post.

Much of the following may not be under an individual blogger's control -- it may be up to the system the blogger uses. And, of course, as on anything, YMMV. But here are some things that bug me.

1. No second page of main-page material.

If I get all the way down to the bottom of your front page, chances are I'd like to keep scrolling. Many blogs have a "next page" button, or something equivalent ("older posts", "next X posts", etc.). Some don't. I wish they did.

While I'm at it, give us a decent number of posts on the first page, ok? Ten at least. Don't just give us two or three -- it's irritating.

2. No easy link to the home page from individual pages.

If I click through to a specific post on a new-to-me blog and find it interesting, I might want to check out the main page. The link to do so should be obvious and big -- the title of the blog, right there at the top, is a natural place for it. I shouldn't have to hunt around for a small "home page" link somewhere -- I might not be that interested.

3. No easy access to archives.

If I click on an archive link, particularly a content-type link, I should get all the posts on the content -- or at least the first page of a series of those (see #1, above). I hate it when I get only the most recent posts on a topic -- and when there seems to be no way to get at the rest.

4. No easy access to an individual post's permalink.

If I want to link to a post, don't make me hunt around for the link. Make it obvious -- even better, put it in multiple places: the time stamp and the title bar, say.

5. Comments on a pop-up window only page.

Some blogs have comments on a page which opens in your current browser window, with the post visible on top. This, to my mind, is the proper format as dictated to Moses as Sinai. Others have little pop-up windows, that won't open in the main browser, and open in little windows. I hate those -- and am far less likely to read the comments in blogs that do that.

6. Blogs with tiny, thin main columns.

Let us see more than a few words of text at a time. Please.

7. Linking to videos without the least indication what their content is.

I've sort of gotten use to this for text pieces -- you know, links with only a "this is funny" attached to it -- but for videos, I really want to know what I'm getting into before I click over: they take longer to load, annoy other people if any are about and/or make me turn off the music to hear the sound, etc. Give some sort of hint, huh?

8. Keeping most of a post on the front page, but putting a bit behind a "read-more" tag.

If you're going to put the whole post on the front page -- which in my book is usually a good thing, except in cases of spoilers, lengthy technical discussions, picture-heavy posts, etc. -- then put the whole thing on the front page. If you're not, then don't give us enough of the post to really get us reading for a while and then make us click through -- just give us a bit. (The worst form of this is the false "read-more" tag -- when the read-more leads just to comments, or nothing at all.)

9. Multiple-author blogs should let us know who's writing a post at the top, not just at the bottom.

Let us know who we're reading, folks. (Honestly, didn't Patrick already cover this?) People who use guest-bloggers, this means you!

10. No best-of.

This one is less of a pet peeve than a preference -- the others are things that actively annoy me; this is just a feature that I like. A lot of blogs have some sort of "greatest-hits" list in their side-bar: I like that, because if I find a new blog, it lets me get a sense of what sort of thing they do quickly, and often read some good material.

I love the blogosphere, folks, but really: on these I gotta say Bah. Humbug.


Rick Rottman said...

How do you decide what your Best Of should consist of? Do you go by how many hits it got or do you instead use some other criteria? It's a good idea, I just don't know how to implement it.

Stephen said...

It wasn't by hits. I just picked ones that seemed to epitomize what I wanted to do on my blog. Not quite personal favorites, but close.

Anonymous said...

you have your blog text set fairly narrow, & in long posts, you like to put in lots of footnotes explained aaaaaaallll the way at the bottom. i don't like to scroll up & down & up & down while reading, so by the time i get to the footnotes, i have no idea what each one refers to.

this seemed a good place to mention that.

Stephen said...

Miriam: it's a fair cop. In both cases, I'd put in fixes if I knew the html: the former is part of a standardized style sheet (which I otherwise like); if anyone knows how to patch that, I'll give it a try. As for the latter, the solution is to put in links back and forth, but I don't know how to do that - but I should try to figure it out.

Thanks for reading.*


* Really. It means a lot to me.

Rick Rottman said...

Personally, I prefer the text to be in a narrow column compared to a wide column. It's easier to read if content is at about 60 characters per line. Something like that.