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