I’ve learned a number of things since I began blogging many years ago. I think these things are really important and I am passing these tidbits on to you. I am by no means an expert.
* NO MUSIC players. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Try to be courteous to your readers. Where might they be reading from? Work, library, Starbucks? We know you love your music, we all do, but this drives me mad trying to find your music player so I can turn it off, quickly before it disturbs those around me. Rarely do I enjoy the music that the player is playing.
* Links should always open in a new window. Always. Readers open links as they read. If they are instantly taken to a new site before they finish your article, it is very frustrating. They either have to click back and go back to your page OR they will just continue on and never finish the article from your site. Totally defeats the purpose of linking up.
* Group your media sources together. Facebook, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Networked blogs, etc should all be in one spot on your page, grouped together. Especially if you are a Giveaway site and are going to require people follow your media sources to enter a Giveaway. Nothing is more frustrating than having to search all over a site just to find the Twitter button so you can follow a site.
* Do not make your readers jump through 5 hoops just to leave a comment. If you have a WordPress blog, you can use a simple plug in to monitor for spam. If you are going to require a captcha, you most likely do not need to also moderate every comment. Set your site up to email each time someone comments, then you can delete spam if it shows up. Also, keep everything to ONE page and ONE time click to submit. Folks want to leave a comment quickly, if they have to hit submit and then fill in a captcha and then hit submit again, they might just give up and leave. Or they may not realize their comment didn’t post and change pages before they even see it. I know I did before I realized some sites require more steps to comment. On their next visit they will likely remember how long it takes to enter comments on your site and may not even bother to attempt the next time they visit. Growmap Anti Spambot plug in will eliminate most spammers.
* Flash banners are out. Stick with static ads, buttons etc.
* Simple is better. Really. Think about the blogs you love to visit. Why do you enjoy being there? Because of the content and the clean and neat design? Or are you attracted to the flashy blinking ads all over the place? Focus on what you love about other sites and mimic them. Chances are, your instincts are spot on. If there is too much going on, on your page, readers may feel overwhelmed and leave w/o even reading your content.
* Organization. This is one I’ve learned the hard way It was a big part of the move to this site. Simplify and organize your site as much as possible.
* Use paragraphs. Unless your first sentence just grips me and pulls me in, I will leave if I see a huge, long paragraph to read. Might be a personal preference but if it looks like too much to read, I tend to move on.
* Thinner headers. Your header should not take up the entire screen when I reader comes to visit. Don’t make your visitors scroll, and scroll, and scroll just to get to the articles on your site.
* Have fun with it. Readers are coming to your site for a reason. Hopefully because they enjoy your content.
My blog is not perfect by any means but I hope that this helps you make your site more inviting. Write on!