August 20, 2014
Welcome to our series on common blogging mistakes, and how to avoid them. In this series, we've featured posts designed to help you avoid mistakes that are common to both new and veteran bloggers, full of tips and tricks guaranteed to help you become an even more passionate, engaged blogger with a growing audience. If you missed a few, don't worry. You can catch up here!
This week, we're wrapping up our special series on avoiding common blogging mistakes with a conversation about design and structure. As a Typepad blogger, you have your choice of fantastic, professionally designed Themes right at your fingertips (Blogs > Design), and the option to create and customize your own themes with our Theme Builder and Advanced Templates options.
If you're a "ready to go right out of the box" person, you're in luck. Just visit the Design area of your blog, and click the Choose a theme button. We've even started offering gorgeous, high-impact Responsive themes that display beautifully on all devices, from tiny mobile phones all the way up to giant widescreen monitors. Check those out under Responsive!
Design loving (and adventurous) types with a more advanced skill-set can take advantage of our Theme Builder, Advanced Templates, and Custom CSS features. The Theme Builder (Pro Plus and above) and Advanced Templates (Pro Unlimited and above) can be located in Design > Choose a new theme, under the Customizable heading at the left. Custom CSS (Pro Unlimited and above) can be found at Design > Custom CSS. Go for it!
Wait, wait. Before you go for it, let's talk about a few of the mistakes many bloggers make in the course of designing a new blog or renovating a well loved one. These common blunders can be easily avoided, helping to ensure that you are presenting a well-designed, beautifully organized blog to the world. We'll tell you what they are and how to avoid them.
1. Poor color choices. Are you using color irresponsibly? Clashing colors, light text on a light background, and an over-abundance of different colors should all be avoided. Instead, stick to a few complementary colors that reflect your theme and personality, and make sure your text is easy to read and links are easily distinguishable to your readers. Need a little help? ColourLovers is a great resource for color palettes.
2. Cluttered, under-utilized sidebars. Take a look at your sidebars. Are they crammed with ads, widgets, and lists of links taking up every inch of space? Are things stacked willy-nilly with no rhyme or reason? If so, simplify, and get those widgets organized. Take an honest look at what you have displayed on your sidebars, and remove anything that isn't essential to the form or function of your blog. A cluttered sidebar can be distracting and confusing for your readers, instead of directing them to look at the specific items there. Need a little guidance on how to organize your sidebars? We have just the thing, right here.
3. Too much text on the front page. Posting frequently is a fantastic way to build your SEO and keep your readers interested, but displaying too many posts, or several long posts on the front page of your blog can lead to longer load times and infinite scrolling for your readers. Displaying fewer posts on your front page, and using the Split Extended Entry feature to display an excerpt while keeping the rest of your longer post under a "Continue reading" link are two easy ways to keep your blog tidy. You can even generate excerpts automatically! Here are a few more tips to help with load time, and make sure your content is quality.
4. Lack of visual impact. You may write the most interesting blog in the world, but without a little eye candy, reader interest is bound to wane after awhile. Including images, embedding relevant video, and adding interesting graphical elements to your posts make it easy to be eye-catching. Check out these tips on maintaining high quality images, embedding video, using the signature module, and adding a text overlay to your images for some visual appeal. Want to take your navigation and visual impact to the next level? Add the Post Carousel to your blog - you won't be sorry.
5. Missing vital elements. A great looking design, and well written and structured posts are what discerning readers look for in a favorite blog, but are you leaving out other vital elements that will help them utilize your blog effectively? Including a search option, Navigation Bar, and About Page are not to be missed, and adding things like subscription options, a welcome message, and social sharing options are highly encouraged too.
How are you using design and structure to make an impact with your blog? Tell us about it and leave a link to your blog in the comments!
PS: We hope you've enjoyed our special series on avoiding common blogging mistakes! We're getting our next special topic ready now, so watch this space for more great tips and tricks to help you become a better blogger!