Monday, August 5, 2013
Reader-Friendly: Blog design & aesthetics
Recently I read a comment that a site's layout is basically an aesthetic concern and the blogger need only be pleased with it herself. I think what we like matters up to a point. For me, how reader-friendly a site is affects my reading habits. None of the following are deal breakers alone. Still I priortize where I hang out and the following influence my choices.
I like mulitple, easy ways to access content. Multiple paths to same information make it easier for me to find what interests me. Labels at the bottom of post, tabs at the top of the page, and most popular or current widgets are what I use and look for. I like updates clearly visible. I like permanent reference links but not long lists. Drop down menus provide access without clutter.
White works best in today's environment of background lighting and tints on portable devices such as tablets and phones. On my Kindle for example, dark colors are even darker behind my screen protector. Color or black background increases eye fatigue. Light font on dark background might look good but it makes for lousy reading.
That vintage 12 point type font is cool but it is hard on the eyes when reading a blog where writing is the focus. On my Kindle this font is killer. Yes, I can increase the font, and then the content is cut off. Who wants to spend more time scrolling than reading? A pc screen is not a page, a phone screen is not the same as a laptop, and the difference between a 19 inch and 42 inch desktop is vast.
Images and widgets
Some blogs have beautiful, elaborate backgrounds and images. These can take forever to load. I try to be mindful how readers are accessing my blog. On my Kindle, memory is limited as is connectivity speed. Pretty isn't pretty if you're waiting for it to load.
Bells and whistles
If there are multiple columns with widgets, ads and moving images, it's stimulation overload. It detracts from the primary content so I often bail quickly.
I'm visual and gregarious so I like a sense of personality on a site. A site needn't be spartan. Still, a clean, streamlined design can enhance a reader's experience. I write to engage my audience so I don't want unintentional impediments.
What about you? Did you consider your readers' experience when designing your layout? How is my space? Is it inviting, easy to navigate? Easy on the eyes?