Sue Waters Blog

The Messy Aspects Of Blog Cleaning

| 22 Comments

Don’t you get frustrated with mess? I do! But I’ll procrastinate how I can clean up the mess until I can’t take it anymore. Only then will I take action.

Today was my blog cleaning day! I’ve finished what I can but still not happy (are we ever totally happy with blog cleaning?). Anyway let me show you what I’ve done so you can give me your thoughts :)

Importance Of Blog Cleaning

1484354764_18f80608a6_m.jpg

Unfortunate fact of life, we do judge a book by it’s cover! People are more likely to both read our posts and subscribe to our blog if it’s pleasing to their eyes.

We need our blogs to immediately engage first time readers, highlight that we offer great information that they will like, so they want to subscribe to our blog.

Photo from Flickr uploaded on October 4, 2007
by metz79 licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

Changed Block Image Header

I use Cutline theme for my blog because I want a clean template, with pages along the top and ability to add a tagline.

The concept behind a blog tagline is to create a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of a blog. Ideally all blogs should have a tagline since they instantly tell first time readers what your blogs all about and whether you write posts in topic areas that interest them.

Unfortunately Cutline doesn’t include a tagline but it does include a customisable header which means I can add the tagline to the image in my blog header.

But I’m not the most creative person so wasn’t happy with my image. Hoping my new image header with a person staring at the ocean and my tagline Helping Others With Web 2.0, e-learning and m-learning are better.

This is what my previous header looked like:

previous.jpg

Decluttered My Sidebar

Sidebar clutter is bad because it can make your blog look messy and pulls readers attention away from what you want them to do (read your posts)!

Saying all that I think Kirsten’s comment on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post is important to consider:

I sort of view sidebar widgets as being partly for the blog owner and partly for their readers. So I guess if they make you happy then that’s what counts. I don’t see them as distracting, but then I’m a total global spatial and my mind is probably full of widgets.

But some of the clutter had to go!

1. Removed my blogroll

Bloggers often feature a list of their favourite blogs in the sidebar of their blog; this list is commonly called a blogroll and these are important to edubloggers. One of the reasons for adding a blogroll is so your readers can use this list to locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Trouble is my blogroll list overwhelms my side bar so I’ve relocated it to a page on my blog. Sure some won’t be happy with this but it was that or no blogroll. And now have a pretty link to it :)

Check out my blogroll here!

2. Rearranged My Subscribe To This Blog Links & Information

I want new readers to subscribe to my blog!

Your RSS feed, email subscription and advice on how to subscribe to your blog needs to be obvious! So I’ve made it look nicer and hopefully it’s grabbing readers attentions with the icons I’ve added (check it out at the top right hand side of my blog).

3. Added a Translate This Page Widget

I’ve added a Google translator widget to my blog to make it easier to read my posts in words other than English as I have many readers that English is not their main language.

I also tried to find an Aussie slang translator but had no success. My readers definitely need this! As Kate Quinn pointed out in comments I used this aussie slang “main drag to refer to the main road through the town” in a post.

4. Changed the name of My Categories Widget

Tags, categories and search widgets are important because they help your readers locate the information they want on your blog (read more about the difference between tags and categories here).

I’ve changed the heading of my categories widget to “Some of the things I write about” because I felt the word Categories didn’t have much meaning to many of my readers.

5. Customised My CoComment Widget

Kirsten convinced me of the value of having a Cocomment widget on my blog when she said on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post:

As a blog surfing addict I like the cocoment reader widget – if something you have commented on else where catches my attention then I can follow it and explore further. I also know can come back to your site and follow other comments of interest – so I like that widget

So I’ve adjusted the size of the widget and changed my cocomment widget’s title to “My Comments on Others Blogs.”

6. Where I Share

I wanted to add a Show Yourself Widget like Vicki Davis has on her blog (located in her left sidebar under the title of “Where I Share”). Unfortunately this is one code I can’t seem to embed in this blog. So instead I’ve added an About Me Widget from MyBlogLog but it’s not really what I wanted.

If you know of a better widget please let me know :)

Added A Visitors Map

While I was busy decluttering my sidebar I couldn’t help looking at more widget to add.

I fell in love with Ronaldo Lima Frappr visitor’s map and had to have one. Absolutely no logic in my desire and since it caused clutter I’ve added it to my About page — which makes completely no sense!

But cheer me up add your name to my vistors map!

FINAL THOUGHTS

What have I missed? MyBlogLog for “Where I Share” isn’t working for me. Can you recommend a better option?

And if you’re enjoying this blog, please consider Subscribing for free

Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

22 Comments

  1. You’re such a professional Sue – I feel like a wannabe in comparison. I don’t know how you find the time to get everything you do done! I’m struggling to achieve what I can and cleaning up my blog is last on my list – good on you for showing us what we probably should be doing – you may even shame me into finding a couple of hours somehow to have a go at doing what you have done (my husband thinks I spend enough time already on the blog!)
    Jenny Luca.

  2. Sue,

    It looks great!

    Larry

  3. It does look cleaner than before. The “Where I share” gives you a lot of info in a compact space.

    Does it seem like the header image leads your image off the right side of the page though? Look at the line of the rocks and the direction the person is facing–it seems to all be pointing off to the right. I wonder if you flipped the image horizontally if it would work better. You’d have to move the text somewhere else, perhaps, but with the image flipped it would draw your eye right down to the content.

    Just a thought–you might want to check with Christine Martell or someone else more visually inclined. It’s possible I’m simply imagining things!

  4. Looks much cleaner. Good work.

    My only comment would be that I really dislike Time New Roman (or any serif based font) for that matter) on a website. Serif fonts are designed for print, sans-serif fonts are for screen.

    Fonts such as Verdana which have been designed expressly with screen reading in mind are so much easier to read and easier t look at. I find serif based fonts online way too busy to look at, not to mention very olde skool.

    People who like serif fonts sometimes have the ability to override this in their browser, but in this case your CSS sheet is taking priority so I can’t do anything about it.

    I’d also agree with Christie Tuckers point about the header image… looks unbalanced to me too.

    On a more positive note, you don’t moderate comments. ;-)

  5. Its weird because now you have changed your header image, I thought I was at a different blog and had to check I was in the right place. But I like the new photo and particularly like the translation widget.

  6. @Jenny Please never feel “a wannabe in comparison”. As Robin Ellis talked about in her post Participating in online communities just because we’re not as vocal as some doesn’t mean that we aren’t each contributing in our own ways. Each and every thing we do is meaningful. You do what you can when you can.

    @Larry Glad you like but still not convinced by the MyBlogLog.

    @Christy I agree with the Where I share concept just still not happy with the widget – perhaps changing the colour will help. I had flip the image previously but didn’t like the text on the right side. Was thinking of asking Christine because this concerned me too so looks like I better. Will let you know what she says.

    @Chris unfortunately as you know we can do anything except change themes. Trouble is I find I change themes and like some aspects and hate others. Hoping Christine will provide her insight to visuals with the header. Definitely a plus that I don’t need to moderate comments. However would love to on my podcast site as it’s getting hit all the time.

  7. Sue, let me know if you get the Aussie slang translator up and running! I had quite a time understanding when I visited your country as a US Navy sailor. At times, I wondered if we truly even spoke the same language!

    Chris, Georgia is the primary serif font in the style sheet used by the Cutline theme. You are correct that most usability experts prefer sans-serif type for on-screen reading, however Georgia is a serif typeface that was specifically designed for viewing on the computer. I kinda like it myself, but I’m pretty weird! :-)

    Overall, I think this looks great, and it’s making me think I should go home and work on mine!

  8. @Sue, I do agree with the color being bad. Can you just do something similar on your own in html? It’s essentially a bunch of links with some icons. That isn’t something that really needs to be dynamic, and you could always update a link if you want. But maybe you could just create one yourself that does what you want.

    @Chris, what browser are you using? If you’re using Firefox, you should be able to override the fonts. It’s under Tools > Options, in the Content area. In the advanced Fonts & Colors options, there’s an option for “Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of the selections above.” If you uncheck that box, your choice can override everything. If that doesn’t work, there’s an extension called Stylish that gives you lots of options, assuming you know some CSS.

  9. I have my serif fonts set to display using Georgia and my Sans Serif fonts set to Helvetica. Monospaced fonts are set to Courier. Check box doesn’t seem to have an effect.

    These settings don’t seem to override the CSS, but then some CSS is like that.

    It would be nice if Edublogs let you edit the CSS. The old Blogger use to let you access the CSS… you could do some very cool stuff in this mode.

    Thanks for the Feedburner help today. You were right, it’s a good idea. :-)

    Chris

  10. Ooops, I take that back… looks like I can override the CSS… just needed to refresh.

  11. Looks great Sue – very clean and well organized. Every time I add something to my blog sidebar I think I should take something away. Haven’t yet, but maybe I’ll actually start after reading this post :)

  12. Thanks Sue, I like your “new look” I also still like the clean cut image and was just thinking about changing my blogroll to a page as well, as I would like to include all those who take the time to comment on my posts so that I can follow them as well. The translator is a great idea and another one of my contemlations.Have just started a collaborative project, with a teacher in France, and unfortunately, I did not pay much attention to French at school, so now I have to use google translator. Guess it means that his class could read our students posts by converting them to French for them.

  13. @billgx Looks like I need to nag a widget creator to write. I’ve managed to grab the Aussie Slang widget that changes slang but won’t display properly on my sidebar. So I’ve added it below my visitor’s map on my about page. Check it out — really cool. Thanks for telling me the font was okay. Sorry if I’ve created more work for you :)

    @Christy It was one of those moments = user error. I’m not well. Failed to noticed the option to change colour underneath the area for customising it (DUH). Meanwhile it’s finally started working and I’ve been able to add the rest of my sites. I now totally love MyBlogLog about me widget and I lay all blame at me! Check out the new colour and see I’ve got more sites. Cool to know that readers can change the font themselves. I contacted Christine and she’s having a look at the image so thanks for the advice.

    @Chris Yes it would be cool if we could fiddle. But lets be honest knowing most of us we would end up stuffing thing up and then poor James would have to fix.Glad the help with Feedburner helped (PS believe most woman are always right?).

    @Kim Thanks glad you like the cleaner look. Oh no I’ve inspired you to spring clean when we are meant to be getting ready for a comment competition (war).

    @Anne While I know that having a blogroll on a page is breaking edublogger etiquette it’s even worse if your blogroll overwhelms your sidebar. I’m also like you and trying hard to remember to follow everyone that comments on my posts. I’m hoping readers that are less proliferic with English tell me their thoughts on the translater widget. I think it is a good option for blogging platforms to have easy translator widgets that we can add to our blogs for exactly the reason you mention.

  14. Pingback: Does my header make my blog look fat? » VisualsSpeak Blog

  15. I’m glad you liked my frappr map. I’ve noticed that cluster maps are more popular because visitors don’t have to click anything, just by visitng your site their location is marked with a red dot. I prefer Frappr maps, though, because people can leave their photos and a comment (a shoutout).

    Your blog really does look good, a definite model to be followed!

    Kindest regards from Brazil,

    Ronaldo

  16. Wow! Sounds like a lot of work, but has inspired me to do similar on my blog (tonight maybe??).

    I did like the previous header better… sorry!! :)

    Alex

  17. Thanks for the ideas. I jumped in with the Show Yourself widget. I was frustrated with the colors but a little bit of playing blended it with the colors on my site. Thanks!

  18. Ronaldo,

    Totally loved your frapper map for exactly the reasons you specify. Personally I’ve not been a fan of Clustr maps because the red dots drive me crazy but saying that now realised that they are cool for checking out the location of your readers. Thanks for the nice comments about my blog.

    Alex,

    For me blogging cleaning is necessity because I go widget crazy and then need to clean up the mess. Whereas your blog is always nice and clean. So not convinced you need to do any cleaning.

    Yep I know, Laura also preferred the last header. It’s staying for some time as it’s a photo of Mr13 (my son).

    Pat,

    Glad you were able to use the Show Myself widget. I just wasn’t able to use it here but fortunately was able to customise MyBlogLog.

  19. The Messy Aspects Of Blog Cleaning its intresting
    and nice thanks

  20. Hi Yes It is highly important and pleasing to the eye for a nice site and asy to use blog!!
    Lucy xx

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