Your Blog: Less is More

I want to first start off by saying that this post is not directed at any blog writer in particular. I would never call anyone out on anything like this in a public forum. If I had an issue, I would privately email or DM the person to offer what I hope would be helpful advice. This is more or less about a general problem that I’ve noticed amongst several different blogs in several different niches. In case you are still worried, I also want to add the disclaimer that if you’re on my blogroll or if we’re friends on Twitter, I am most definitely not talking about you.

I’ve been blogging only since July. I don’t know too much yet about how to make our blogs better. I do know that there are so many good writers out there who can tell us the best way to enjoy our blogs and make them joyful for others, people like Katy, Averie, Julie , TinaRyan. The only advice I could offer would be keep your blog simple:  Easy navigation, easy buttons to find, and a clear path to the content that you as a writer seek to share with your base and a site that doesn’t take too long to load. 

What I have noticed is that far too many of us overuse plug ins and buttons and extra who sits and whatsits and it’s hurting the appearance and functionality of your blog. It’s a hard balance because on one hand, you want to show that you have a strong web presence. So you want people to know they can find you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Youtube, Foursquare, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Pinterest, and yes, I’ve seen quite a few who are still on Myspace. That makes total sense. Your brand is yourself and you need that exposure to market it. On the other hand, poor website design, using servers that can’t support your site and poor integration of said buttons and plug-ins are shooting you in the foot. In the last week, there have been no less than 9 blogs that I have had to stop reading, not because of poor content but because of poor website design.  The reasons are far too numerous but center on a site that takes too long to load, which inevitably result in my browser (IE8) freezing, then shutting down. Because so many of us are photo bloggers, my browser is still trying to load all your buttons, all your plugins and all your pictures. And it can’t.  After weeks of experiencing this, what happens? I, as a reader, stop coming to your site and instead read the email from my subscription to your blog. The problem with this is that google reader gets over crowded with emails and suddenly, what used to be a site that stood out and was bookmarked on my browser is now one of over 60 emails I have received during the course of my day. And that “select all” checkbox to delete all the useless emails about making certain body parts bigger than their natural state sure does look appealing after a long day. You get lost in the sauce and I wind up missing your new content constantly.

Katy has stated that not everyone needs a Facebook page. I agree wholeheartedly. Some of your sites are already far too packed with stuff, but I as a reader have to wait 3 minutes for your Facebook fanpage plug-in to load.  Why?

I’m writing this now because too many of you are just plain excellent writers with amazing content! But the mindset that you need every cool thing, gadget, etc. on your site is making it hard for you to thrive and you don’t even know it. Intergrating your Youtube videos into your site is not worth it if it means that 9 times out of 10, I’m getting errors when I come to your site because of your videos loading improperly – and I don’t even watch your Youtube vids.

If you were a reader of your site, how would you want to experience your blog?  

It’s great that you have a Foursquare or Fark account. But if those buttons are slowing down your site, then these buttons are not helping you and they are making your site unnecessarily cluttered.

Less is more. I’m challenging each of us to take a good hard look at our blogs and figure out what is important for content, design and functionality and what isn’t. Do you need a Youtube button on your site, if you only have 2 Youtube videos, each under 2 minutes? Do you really need to have a Google+ button added to your site if the majority of your contacts reach you through Facebook and Twitter? If your Fan page has only 5 followers, do you really need the Facebook plug in added to your site at this point in time?

I’m saying be sure that whatever is on your home page is useful for both you and your reader. Be sure that you are not compromising your web page just so you can showcase your latest social network. I’d rather see your pictures on your site than stare at the Pinterest button as it loads.   

One last note, your Facebook page is supposed to be different and so, so, so many of you have the exact same content on both your Fan page and your blog. What is the purpose of your fan page? And why have it when the plug in makes your site take an extra 2 minutes to load? It’s your blog that suffers and your readership.

Don’t be too upset with me but I decided it best to be completely honest instead of merely diplomatic. For once.

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the shout out! Great post! :)

    • I completely forgot that when I link to another site, that it tells the blog owner they’ve been linked! I am so honored and thankful that you read, liked it and responded. You set a fantastic example of how blogs should be easy to read, navigate and have interesting, useful content. Thank you so much for commenting, Tina!

  2. So many blogs have so many different outputs. I felt pressure to add a facebook page, but I honestly didn’t know what extra content it would add, so I didn’t. Thank you for your thoughts on the topic!

  3. I completely agree! I’ve unsubscribed from blogs that have too many unnecessary photos (I’m sorry but I don’t need to see 12 pictures of your oatmeanl…) and I don’t go back to websites that have too much “junk” on them. It’s too much and takes away from the content!

    • Yes! Exactly. I completely get showing a few pics but 900 of them for the same set of leftovers…unnecessary. So many sites have plug ins, pop ups, etc. that are “eye sores” and do not help the overall layout. You’re exactly right.

  4. Totally agree about the FB pages… I barely even use my personal FB, so I don’t want to be on there for a blog.

    Using a ghetto IE7 makes it really hard for me when it comes to some sites.

  5. Hear, hear. I hate all this diplomatic wishy-washy saying-a-whole-lot-of-nothing-ness going on in the blog world. Writing is about being real so let’s get to it, right?

    Honestly, I have a HUGE PROBLEM with bloggers who:
    1) Publish non-content. If your post this morning is identical to yesterday morning and the morning before with a few exceptions, please don’t post it. It’s a waste of time. AND/OR:
    2) Are obviously in the game to make as much money as possible. STOP LINKING BACK a million times to your own posts. There’s one big blogger who does this incessantly — all of her posts link back to a million other posts and it’s just annoying. I know you’re trying to get a ton of pageviews. Stop. If you write great content, I’ll click.

    My web design isn’t great but I try to make up for that by publishing good, thoughtful content. I also don’t have a billion and two high-res pictures, so it’s not like my blog crashes anyone’s browser, but I know it could be prettier.

    • Thoughtful content to me will always supercede useless buttons, plug ins that take too long to load and unnecessary self promotion. I do understand linking back to previous posts, but those pingbacks should indeed be well thought out and add to your current post. There are many, many bloggers I’ve found that think a new post is just referring readers back to all of your old ones. On some different bloggers this comes across as simple lazy writing. I try to write when I think I have something useful to add, but people are smart enough to check out the archives on their own or use the search box. So yes, excellent points by you.

  6. love this!! And not just for the blogging world. When Google+ came out everyone was excited about it for .2 seconds I kept thinking, “why do we need yet another platform to communicate with each other about the same stuff?!” Twitter and Facebook are more than enough. (Needless to say…I do have a personal Google+ account lol).

    And I agree with Sable that people are in it for the money. When I first started blogging, I wanted to have people read what I have to say but now I just blog for myself and plan to print it all out down the road as a keepsake book (theres a company out there that does it for you. forgot what its called). I dont even think I have any subscribers and you know what, it’s not a big deal! Blogging is supposed to be fun not stressful

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