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 , Tina, Ryan. 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.