Friday, June 8, 2012

#ArmchairBEA Day 5- Experts Say

Its the last day of ArmchairBEA, for today, the prompt is:
Today's topic is Ask The Experts. In your post, ask the visitors to your blog for blogging advice. What did you always want to know about blogging but were afraid to ask? Now is the time! Alternatively, if you've been blogging for awhile, you've probably learned a thing or two. Whether you stumbled upon a something that makes blogging easier or made a mistake you'd never want anyone to repeat, share your experience and wisdom with others.
I've been mucking around with websites for my hobbies for eight years now, and livejournal use for nearly as long, so I will provide tips on things I've learned and noticed over the years.

  • Learn basic html- The 'What you see is what you get' (WYSIWYG) editors of Blogger, Livejournal, Tumblr, and Wordpress are limited in their usage. So much can be done with html, if you only bother to learn it. It is really easy, and it makes your blog 100% customizable, especially when you learn about Custom Style Sheets (CSS). If you don't know it, or need a refresher, Lissa Explains it All is a fantastic and easy to use resource. Also, finding a book on the subject at your local book store is an excellent offline resource. A bonus is, that once you learn some html, it is a skill set you can list on your resume.
  • Do not imbed music into your blog & limit flash and java script usage- Probably one of the most complained about things I've heard from the dolling community on website design is auto-play music. They are large files, and slow down loading speed. Same with using too many javascripts and flash additions. If I can't get a blog to load reasonably on my dsl connection, its not worth revisiting.
  • THOU SHALT NOT HOTLINK- Hotlinking is bandwidth theft. Everytime you load a page, bandwidth is used to display the content. Some people pay for their webhosting, or upgraded Photobucket accounts, so they are paying real money for a certain amount of storage and bandwidth. You know how Blogger has the "Insert Image> Or add an image from the web" option? Do not use this unless the image is in an account you control (ie. your Picasa, where all your Blogger pictures are kept). It will just use the link you provide and not reupload it. There are many people, if they find some to be hotlinking (or by default have coded into their site), will upload at best a graphic declaring the using this image to be a bandwidth thief. At worse, some use some extremely Not Safe for Work images. You really don't want those showing up on your blog. If you want to link to book covers, Goodreads has some awesome blogger/website tools. Open a book's page on Goodreads, and look in the sidebar until you find the 'Share this Book' section. Click 'Your Website', and pick any of the top four selections. That way, if someone enjoys your review, they can click on it, and add it to their Goodreads list.
  • Don't Spam your Twitter followers- If people follow your twitter, they know when you are hosting giveaways, hops or when you are updating. There is no need to retweet every tweet made to advertise you event. Those are to get the attention of people who don't follow you already. Don't constantly post links to buy stuff at amazon, every pintrest post, or every single Formspring post. Have you every had 5+ people you follow on twitter answering Formsquare questions at the same time? Then you know what I'm talking about.
  • Less is more in sidebars- Do you really need ~all~ of those things in your sidebar(s)? If your sidebars are twice as long as the content on your blog, they are way too long. Tags/Labels are essential for readers to find certain older posts, but if the vast majority of the ones you use are only used once, you might want to reorganize them. Blog buttons are super huge in the book blogs, when compared to the pixel art world. Pixel artists use 130px x 55px and 88px x 31px as the most common standard size. And they are plenty big enough. That being said, all other advertising images (for hops, readalongs, etc) should be reduced in size as well. Limit your blog rolls, put them on a seperate page, or better yet, make a twitter list. Make the things for following your blog (twitter, goodreads links, RSS subscriptions, GFC, etc) in a place of priority at the top of a sidebar, and not halfway down the page.
Well, this turned into more of a novel than I intended to be. The TL;DR of it: If people can't load the page, they can't read the blog


Book Nympho said...

Some of your advice is new to me, so thanks for sharing! I'm bookmarking your post for future reference. I've still got a lot to learn!

CurlyGeek04 said...

These are great suggestions, thanks. I'd really like to learn more about html and formatting my blog. I'm currently on the free version of wordpress but would like to do more.

Like your suggestions about limiting music & graphics. I hate when I open a site and music blares at me.

Kim Ukura said...

I agree with you about learning basic HTML. It's not really hard, but can make all the difference in keeping your blog looking nice and not standard.