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.


Layout
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.

Color
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.

Readibility
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?

14 comments:

  1. I agree about the kindle. My thing is captcha--I hate it and end up not commenting.

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    1. I hear you, T. Blogger asks for your feedback and then makes you jump through hoops to give it? For real? :-)

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  2. Yo!

    Loving the new digs girl! :) The only downside to my switching over to WordPress is how font is limited to the theme. You cannot change the font like you can in Blogger, unless you cough up an extra $30 per year... But I figure most people have browsers that allow to zoom in easily. I like this here though, like what you did!

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    1. Only changed the header and tabs. Your header inspired me. By your response, it makes a significant difference. Blogger is limited in so much that you only have generic size options versus point size. I love the look of Word Press but that ala carte, pay for function is why I've never switched. Zooming often means cutting off content. Like I said, larger font is easier on my eyes but many of the blogs I visit regularly have small print. I wait until I'm home to read those blogs but a girl can hope. :-)

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    2. I hear you on the eyes thing. When I click on a site with colored background and white font I cringe so much... Just hurts me! Bleh... Which those options were illegal, by all means!

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    3. Ok, Marie. Thought we were friends. Haven't you figured out I'm slow at times? Mister after much huffing (He admits he's a lousy teacher) did manage to get me to understand how to change my own browser to help me see) I knew how to change sizes but that's not the issue I was having. I didn't get the how to change my browser. HA!

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  3. def something to consider...i rather like clean websites...ad free....easy on the eyes...a bit of creativity...you know since day 1 i have never changed mine...i just write...smiles

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  4. I love your uncluttered blog.


    & this is Faaabulous..."one woman's terrifying and glorious leap off the cliff of midlife" xx

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  5. That's interesting about the Kindle vs. comp. I don't have and have never used a Kindle, so it was news to me. I use a light gray background, because white backgrounds start to hurt my eyes--and resultantly my head!--pretty quickly, as I'm a little bit photosensitive. I have my comp and tv screen brightness turned way down because of this. So the gray is much easier for me to read, and I was hoping, for others, too. I do try to always choose a dark enough color for the text so that it can be seen easily.

    I hear you about all the widgets and moving parts. I would rather get a quick load than to know what the weather is in Spain, or what phase the moon is in, or see a slide show of someone's kids.

    I'm a big believer in tabs at the top, a you know since you've been to my blog! And I do try to give a sense of who I am via my layout and extras, without it becoming overpowering; the poetry is the main thing, after all. But that said, if a blog is too spare and gives no hint about the person behind it, that turns me off.

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    1. Is the shade of white here, too stark for you? There's always the issue of balance. The amount of white space versus complementary colors. I read a few minimalist blogs, and the layout is stark and cold, and while the bloggers have personality, they're underwhelmed by the design in my opinion. On other blogs, there's a lot visually going on, but you don't get the sense of the writer. The blog lacks tone and personality.

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  6. Ha! I actually just sat down last night to finally change the colors on my blog to match the cover of my book (I'm annoying like that) and I picked a template that has the text on an off-white background. People have been telling me since I started my blog that it's hard on their eyes, but I don't feel that all white suits my blog. I'm still messing with it, but hope it's easier to read for folks now! Plus, I'd never considered that someone might be reading my blog on a kindle or another device that I'm not familiar with (I have the old kindle that's only power is to download ebooks), so I'm glad I read this.

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    1. Off-whites and grays work. I don't mind colored borders either. What I prefer is the content on white/off-white. I learned writing this post that I have more options with viewing other blogs so I'm really glad for the exchange here. It wasn't until I got my Kindle, and I wanted to share my blog with a friend did I learn how different viewing and navigating on portable devices are. My friend couldn't read the font which at the time was set to standard, and zooming online on a portable is awkward (zooming is easy and effective on my desktop).

      I didn't think I'd like white. I love color. One reason why I use visuals is to break up the white space.. I need color and love images, but reading text is another story. I read a lot online and white which doesn't look stark white but off-white on my desktop is a good compromise for me.

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    2. Your changes are subtle and effective and yeah, the blog still exudes your personality. :-)

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