Before we start off, I just want to remind you that there's only one week left before the competition closes, so if you want The Story Book by David Baboulene, you better head over there fast.
Today is the second installment of Blog Day, my crash course on blogging. Last week, we dealt with the two rules: BE YOURSELF and THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE.
Today, I'll be pointing out how this extends to something as seemingly trivial as the Scroll Bar.
Silly, you think? Not really. See your blog is pretty much your own personal web-page. A web-page to some aspect of your life, you might say. An aspect of your life that you very much want people to explore (Why else would you blog?). Not to mention that you really really want them to come back.
So... knowing that you want your audience to come back it becomes obvious that you want to make interaction with your blog as easy as possible. And... importantly, as FAST as possible.
Think about yourself now. When you head over to other blogs (I will discuss why this is imperative next week), how much time do you spend? An hour? Two hours? Will three hours push the borders of your capacity? No matter how long you have, you want to hit as many blogs as possible. Thus, speed is of the essence. You need to be able to open the web-page, click follow, read and comment in as little time as possible.
Back to your own blog. Let's say (because I tend to post longish blogs) that the cut-off point is ten minutes. Do you really want your reader to wait for five minutes before your blog actually loads? Do you really want your reader to spend another three minutes looking for a way to subscribe/follow?
DON'T tell me: "Go to Google Reader, click add subscriptions and copy/paste the address." Have you any idea what a pain in the arse that is when I have to do it TWENTY times in one day? By twenty-one, I stop following blogs without working subscription/follow widgets. In fact, I think I deserve a medal for following the ones I did. Point is: Do you want to be number twenty-one for a hundred or so people?
Other questions to consider:
Wouldn't you like for your reader to know what your blog (and you) are about? Once again, I have gotten people telling me that the reader should read previous blogs for an indication. Uhm... No. The reader has ten minutes and let's face it, no one cares that much about someone they don't know. You need a short introduction of some sort.
Wouldn't you like for your reader to know when you post? After all, you can't expect them to come back ever day to check, can you?
And finally, don't you think that it would be great for the reader to have easy access to older posts, should they have fifteen minutes instead of ten?
So now that we have this down, we can look at our approach to layout.
Firstly, I believe in KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. It can be incredibly annoying if you have a slow Internet connection and the blog loading times out rather than completes loading. It gets more so when I hit the same blog with a faster connection and discover that the reason why it didn't load was because there are a hundred thousand animations on the blog. So... if you want to add something, please think about why it is necessary. If it isn't saying something about the blog and doesn't suit the theme you're going for, leave it ALONE. Think about that ten minutes. I don't think all than many people spend their blog time feeding fish or stroking cats. But... if you feel that it MUST go on, revert to rule number one. BE YOURSELF. Just make sure that the animation isn't ruining the reader's experience.
That's my say on that, now I'm going to use my own scroll-bar and explain why everything is where it is. Overall, I should mention something. When I started blogging, I decided that my scroll-bar should be aimed at helping the reader in every way possible. Knowing this, I think most of what I'm going to say makes sense.
Above all, people are going to come to this blog to read about me and my experiences/opinions. So... I go to the top with my personal profile to introduce myself. Then people want to know what the blog is about. So the About This Blog section is next. Follow button is next, because who wants to have to look for it way at the bottom of the page? After that, I help readers out with my blogging schedule. After that, I plug the blog-fests that I joined, because I know some readers would love to join in too. Then I plug my open dates for GPF slots, so that people can pick a date and contact me. Note that I also have my e-mail address (used solely for blogging and writing). Next is Write-on-Con, because everyone should want to be there. It's going to be awesome. Then comes the posts most read in the past week, in the event that someone else finds those topics intriguing. Then the archive and labels, in case the above wasn't enough. Then the writing/book/agent blogs I follow. The most recent ten out of every single one I follow. You can see all of them too. Finally I have some websites that I visit for various writing related reasons.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
One more thing to mention, if you want multiple scroll-bars, I suggest you keep the important stuff on the right. That's where the eye falls first.
So... what are your pet-peeves and loves when it comes to scroll-bar lay-outs?