In the creation of blogs, there is always a misconception that the best is always better, much like how some car manufacturers think that by machine gunning their brand new cars with all the latest in gadgets, it will somehow make it better than their rivals. But that’s hardly the case.
Given that there blogs are quintessentially content based, it’s not hard to actually create a layout whereby it yells out “Look here because this is what matters”. But like cars, you’d be surprised to know just how many blogs out there get carried away with the garnishes that would otherwise cloud the delicious core that is your whole point of blogging in the first place.
Now I don’t claim to be a great designer of how a blog should look like because really, I still have trouble trying to design my own blog in the midst of some of my peers who just blow you away with what they made for themselves and for others. What I can claim is what I learnt from those that do know a thing or two about blogs as well as those that have come in from time to time to help steer me in the right direction of what’s most important in blogging. So now I’m just wiping them clean and summarizing them down to what’s important, rather than another one of those ” list what is a good blog layout” posts.
Build what you actually like
A lot of people, new bloggers especially who get excited at this whole blogging thing, tend to chuck in what other people have on their blogs. I emphasize on the word “other” simply because for the most part, as I understand it, (personal) blogging is a reflection of who you are. If you’re going to imitate what other people do. Who are you then? For other genre blogs, if your blog is just another “me-too” copy of other blogs of the same type out there, what’s the point of you being there in the first place.
The usual excuse that we don’t have the knowledge to code isn’t much of an excuse anymore. Not in this day and age where you can find so many hands on tutorials on the basics of web design and even down to the step by step instructions of how to build certain things for your blog. The resources are endless, if you could only get your fat lazy fingers off the mouse to start searching for them.
Think about it this way, a lot of us didn’t know how to code too at one point, but somewhere along the line we got sick and tired of not having the design we want or one that works for us. So we got up and started learning and trying out, even willing to endure the many mistakes we did when we messed up our sites. It was never ambitious, it was never too much. It was just one small step at a time till we got it right. And now we have something we can call our own. It’s not about being smart, it’s about liking what you do, being who you are and just doing all you can to do it.
Put in what you actually need
Especially for users that run on WordPress with our ability to add in plugins that add to the dynamics and flexibility of the blog. Blog bloat is often cause by the itchy fingers of the blogger who machine guns their blogs with all the tech-savvy plugins which they will never expect to use in their time. Think about it this way, if you’re a personal blogger that never touches the latest in technology; why in the name of all that’s holy and sacred would you have a Digg button on your post? Del.icio.us I can understand. But Digg? Small unnecessary things like this often contribute to cluttering your blog with things that might shoo away people that read your blog, especially in the first 30 seconds.
Ads are another thing. I remember when we used to avoid site ads like the plague. Now we’re putting them all back in. I don’t mind if they are neat and tidy and purposeful especially if you’re one of those people that serves a thousand hits a day. But there has got to be more than just a reason to plaster an ad right in the face of readers when you only have a handful of readers.
People do not like ads, that’s a known fact. It’s also a known fact that ads should not the main content of your blog. It’s also a well known that personal blogs do not usually have the kind of readership that genre-focused blogs have. It’s pretty easy to work the rest out from there what you should do with ads given the status and type of blog you run.
All you really need to do is to focus on what needs to be focused. Your content. It doesn’t matter if its the latest post, or the top read posts or even the most comment posts. It matters that what is needed to be viewed for your blog depends on what you center your content upon. Anything else is just a colourful garnish you should top up lightly.
That’s all to it really. No one is asking you to strip your blog bare or take a day job as a web programmer. All that really works is a little effort in what you love and to take what you really need. The heart of blogging is about the passion for your work or whatever you did and your content should reflect that. Don’t let yourself be sidetracked by anything else that doesn’t matter. No one is asking you to be perfect from the moment you start typing. Things like this take time, patience and a effort. Some of us are still going through that phase. We all got to start somewhere.
Why not now?