Personal Blogging – Looks Matter

Sunday I was made aware of a dead link on the Homepage of my blog here. Oh the horror!
Something like that is SO hard to deal with for a perfectionist like myself. Especially since it was on the HOME page. THE most visited page to every blog. Yikes!
I wanted to instantly drop everything I was doing (which is generally not a good thing to do during a date, I’ve been told) and go into fix-it mode right then and there. The software tester in me cried that day.

When it comes to my blog and its layout – I’m not a very high maintenance type of blogger. I picked a standard free theme, tweaked it to suit my needs and taste and just plopped it into the blogosphere without giving it too much thought. I mean, I have put effort into building it up just right, don’t get me wrong. I DO want people to open my blog and think ‘damn, I like this lay-out’ or ‘this looks pleasant’ or something along those lines, that will entice them to keep clicking and reading. I do. But the look of my blog is not a huge constant in my daily thinking.

I don’t usually work on this lay-out a lot either, outside of sometimes updating some of the ‘Must-read’ links on the homepage to give different content a spotlight. Everything that’s here has been here since the beginning, with only slight modifications and additions over time (like the Personal blogging, Puzzling Poetry and Tinder Tales overviews).

On the opposite of the spectrum: I know bloggers who switch themes every month or so. Or that spend every weekend switching and building new bits and pages to an already extensive blog. That’s all a matter of taste of course, but not something I’m ever going to be spending a lot of time on. Although this recent mishap does have me thinking…

But just because I’m easy-going in the themey lay-out part of blogging – I AM still VERY invested in quality and user experience. Everything in the simple construction I built for my blog HAS to work. Glitchy widgets, dead links or pages with faulty (or different) looks when compared to the rest of the blog NEED to NOT exist. I like uniformity and symmetry, after all. The things I DO have up on my blog, need to be up to par, easily accessible and clearly formatted. That’s just how I roll. Perfect simplicity. That’s not too much to ask, right?

I was always told to play to your strengths and focus on getting your high scoring skills bumped to perfection instead of trying to build up something you’re below average in to something barely decent, because that costs way less energy and frustration.
‘Maak van je 4-en geen 6-en, maar van je 8-en een 10.’ -> ‘Don’t turn your 4’s into 6’ses but get your 8’s up to 10’s’
Which – for me – means that focusing on graphics and lay-out (which I have 0 affinity with) is not a main focal point. Ever. I pick something simple and roll with it. It doesn’t have to be fancy to work – I let my words speak for themselves, instead of their surroundings.

Especially considering the actual pay-off for working on my lay-out. Hardly any.
Because, looking at my own browsing behavior, people rarely actually open blogs themselves these days. Most of the reading I (and many of my readers here) do is done through the WordPress reader that only displays the post and the bare minimum of content. Quick and easy, just the way I like it.

The only times I do click into an actual blog is when people opt for the hateful ‘read the whole post on link xxx’-teaser intro to posts I wanna read (instead of displaying the full thing in the reader) or have the comment function in the reader switched off. And in rare occasions I’ll click to the website when posts hint at containing content that the WordPress reader can’t deal with (like polls, gifs, or the photo galleries and formatted posts etc.). Plus, every now and then I linkhop from other bloggers award or listy posts, putting new blogs in the spotlight. Always a good way to discover new and awesome folks.

But in a solid 95% of the cases – I will not visit an actual blog, but just peruse the writings through the reader. Aka – it’s not worth it to spend a lot of time on a lay-out barely anyone will see. At least, that’s how I think about it. Although this DOES create a huge blind spot for me, that I’ve been bothered with ever since that dead link was pointed out to me: you don’t REALLY know if that’s correct.

What if people open your blog and hate it. As in, think it’s horrendous and never visit it again? You won’t hear anything from those people ever. You wouldn’t ever KNOW. Same goes for small mistakes. I often see things like dead links or fucked up Gravatar profiles (which lead to the wrong blog, thus costing a person views, if they’re so inclined) and not mention them because I don’t wanna trouble a blogger or am too lazy to do so. But I do notice these things.

Same goes for layouts I don’t appreciate. All of the hysterics, 15 different fonts in 1 post, 5 different colors and an array of pictures I can’t handle? Not my thing, back to the reader I go. Lack of spacing? Hard enters? Paragraphs and headers? RUAUAHAHAN AWAY AND NEVER RETURN! But what if these people spend their blogging life thinking everything is going smoothly?

Now that I have been the not-so-proud owner for a dead link on my Homepage, suddenly all of the insecurities strike. What if there’s other things that don’t work, be it technically or aesthetically? What if I’m shooting my chances for blogging-fame in the foot every time someone opens my website? What if what if what if?

I should totally rethink my lay-out. Or spend a day checking every page completely. Or do a poll. But then that wouldn’t work in the reader (plus I really really think polls are bogus). I’m just kidding – it’s still just a hobby for me. But even though curiosity may have killed the cat, I do find myself on that same page. How great would it be to just be able to see into the heads of your readers and fish out their verdicts (outside of all the awesomely weird and pervy hilarious thoughts)?
I think I better work on my psychic skills instead of the lay-out.

Because in a world where looks DO matter – how much of your time can you spend being vain?


PS. Wanna read more about the ins and outs and hows and whys of personal blogging round here? Click on, brave warrior, click on!
* Personal blogging – Risky Business
* Personal blogging – Dirty little secret
* Personal blogging – To be recognisable or to be unique?
* Personal blogging – Out for the count

* Personal blogging – Listless
* Personal blogging – The science of stars
* Personal blogging – The personal touch
* Personal blogging – The Voice

* Personal blogging – Patterns
* Personal blogging – Art of repetition
* Personal blogging – Choices
* Personal blogging – Looks matter

26 thoughts on “Personal Blogging – Looks Matter

  1. Your blogs are amazingly awesome because you are amazingly awesome, funny when you need to be, strong and intelligent woman is how you come across, when i see that you have written another post it compels me to read it, your life is so intriguing, keep up the brilliant work my lovely blog friend

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haha this made me laugh ..it’s happened to me when I’ve been reading a post someone has commented on and I realise something is there that shouldn’t be. If I get a new follower I like to look at their whole blog and not just randomly follow back
    There’s some weird and wacky people out there and also i like to find out the person’s name to make my comment more personal. Anyway I’m sure you’ll work out the glitch in no time

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yes – the mistake was quickly located and taken care off (no torture involved) 🤪🤣
      The new follower check is actually a great idea, a bit of virtual stalking does have its charm for the regular visitors 🤔🤭

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have spent so much time and effort to make sure my blog homepage is working and looking the best it can. Alot of my traffic comes from the reader but also from search engines, Facebook and twitter etc where you don’t see the reader version. So it’s very important to me that the front end of my blog looks good.

    I think everything to do with blogging, whether its content, layout, links etc are all part of the user experience. Of course the main focus is the content but I think all of them are as important together! 🤪

    Olivia | https://olivialucieblake.com

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I really like your voice. It’s super engaging. And yes, I totally get you on needing everything on your site to be in tip-top shape. Sometimes it detracts me from doing what matters most, and that’s to write, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Agreed. Back in 2005, I spent time tweaking everything — mostly because you could via CSS and HTML. These days, I want simplicity — especially knowing that 99% of my traffic is via Reader anyway and they wouldn’t notice any hard work I put into the page. Clean, functional, not broke and not busy. Most of the new themes out there are too busy (and are often broke).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have found in 15 years of blogging and 14 years of WP that most people who also blog on WP read in reader.

    I like the minimalist, less is more approach to website design. I use simple themes, tweak very little.

    I must say I do go on the website if a new blog(er) interests me because the first thing I want to see is the about page which you can’t access in reader. So it is a good idea to have a pleasant and easily functional website for that reason.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I would have been the same way about the dead link! I am extremely picky about my layout and recently did a total overhaul after having the same theme for 5 years. That has led to tons of other little issues and tweaks that I’m still obsessing over.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is A More
    “Ingenious”

    Way

    Of Doing “It”

    Write A Blog

    Post Everywhere

    You Go Clue

    The Majority

    Of Folks Are

    Not Reading

    Anyone

    Else’s

    Work on
    Word Press

    They Are Only
    Falling For the
    Sucker Punch

    Of Quick

    Dopamine

    Hits At The

    Casino

    With one
    Armed Bandits

    Lit Up
    Screens
    Of Likes
    Follows

    And

    Sharing

    Nothing

    At All

    It’s The Social
    Media Beast

    i Pay
    It No

    Attention

    All The Pleasure
    Comes From Every
    Word of Song Every
    Step of Dance

    Yet

    It’s True
    Depending
    On Avenue of
    Where my Words

    Land

    Some
    Places
    Get A Thousand

    Views in
    One Day

    As Just
    A Side
    Effect

    Of Truly

    Enjoying
    The Dance
    And Song You

    Do

    So

    Dance
    And Sing like

    No One is
    Really Looking
    For the Fact is

    Most

    People

    Who Like
    Are Not
    Reading

    Anything

    Yet Trading
    Button Pushes
    With One Armed

    Bandits At

    The

    Casino…

    Other than
    That it’s

    Like

    Cheating

    In School

    You Either
    Work For

    The Meal
    Or You
    Never

    Truly
    Savor What You Do..😁

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I usually go through the reader but then actually open each post in new tabs, so I can go through them one at a time when I get a chance, if I’m doing other things at the same time. And I haven’t played much with the layout either… I did the same thing, took a free one and tweaked it a little. I’m more about the actual content than the layout.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I set up my WordPress site a few years ago and it has not changed. Between writing posts, reading other people posts, keeping up with Social Media sites, it’s a
    wonder I get any sleep lol I like my site and don’t feel the need to change it. I am a creature of habit I guess….

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think that wanting your blog to look nice isn’t about being vain, and on the internet in general, aesthetics are rather important. Although at the same time I’d personally say that it is up to personal preferences when it comes to deciding how much time to dedicate to altering the appearance of the blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m a little between simple and unique. I have been thinking about changing my layout since I’m coming up on a year of blogging, but we shall see. It’s good that someone took the time to let you know about the dead link. It would be nice if we could get in people’s heads, or everyone take the time to let you know what issues they come across. LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Looks matter —indeed!
    I have changed my theme SO many times knowing 90% of my views come from WordPress reader. Sometimes one just can’t help themselves from being fancy.

    Ah the blogging-fame😂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. As someone recently building my blog I really appreciate this take on it. Do you have any tips to someone starting on how to make posts that attractive on reader? I personally do usually read stuff on my reader but I’m not entirely sure on more perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My inner traffic light is flashing erratic red and amber now 😆🙃 I’ve been messing around yet again because of deep insecurity and lack of self belief. I feel a complete nobody in a wordpress world of the incredible! I’m currently redoing every image (didn’t read use of copyright rules 😶) and editing every excerpt. Such is anxiety!
    Sharon x

    Liked by 1 person

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