Blogging Tip #7 – Looking good

Presentation is the key to tip #7. This applies to both the appearance of your blog site as well as the standard of your writing.

Picking up the latter point first, I think a good standard of writing is vital. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, just competent. I’m basically talking spelling and grammar here. There is nothing worse than reading blogs full of weird spellings, txt spk, un-punctuated sentences and, my personal number one bugbear, errant apostrophe’s. So check your words before you write them. It makes you look more professional, and like you care more, as much as anything else.

See if you can include some graphics or images to accompany your text to enliven the appearance of your posts. I’m pretty useless at this, as you can probably tell by the text based nature of this blog so far. The one thing I do do, though, is try and grab logos and things from other sites to use to brighten things up.

Templates and themes

How your blog looks is important. Don’t believe people when they claim otherwise. Often the argument goes that as people are going to be reading you through your feed anyway, what does it matter? The answer to this, of course, is that people have to visit your site before they can subscribe, and if it is some multi-coloured nightmare with scrolling text and other horrible c1997 type stuff, they aren’t going to be subscribing to anything. Here’s a quick list of stuff you might want to bear in mind:

  • Make sure your site is reasonably standards-compliant so that as many people as possible can read it. Check it with the validator
  • Ensure that the site won’t take too long to load – so not too many fancy graphics!
  • Try to keep things clean and simple – ensuring that your navigation is obviously separate from content, otherwise people will be confused
  • Let us know who you are: let’s have a photo and some contact details on the blog home page
  • Don’t have a gigantic blogroll on your index, which makes the page go on and on and on. Have a separate page for links if you are desperate to show them off
  • Make it clear where people can subscribe to your blog – a little orange RSS icon never goes amiss!

The other issue is what your blog system allows you to do to tart up your blog to add a little extra content which might well enrich your readers’ experience. Why not consider:

  • A list of recent posts towards the top of the page
  • A recent comments list
  • A Flickr badge showing the latest photos you have uploaded
  • An update from on the latest sites you have bookmarked
  • Clickable icons for readers to subscribe with their aggregator of choice

There really are tonnes of options to have a look at – check out what your blog engine will let you do!