Zooborns
Leslie Sarna: The Dainty Vegetarian

Weekend Project: Give your blog a good scrubbing

Spring has sprung! Many people take time at the beginning of spring to give their homes a good, deep cleaning. Why not do the same for your blog? It is your home on the internet, after all.

There are several benefits to taking the time to clean up your blog, including:

  • Faster load times.
  • Better cross browser compatibility.
  • A nicer reading experience for your visitors.

And those are just a few. Striving for a clean, clutter free blog does definitely pay off. Let's get started!

Banner
Most blogs, especially on TypePad, have an image banner. One issue that we see a lot is that banner images tend to be large, not just in pixel size but in file size. One way to help your page load more quickly is to make sure your banner image is the smallest file size it can be. A very quick way to do this is to save the image as a PNG file, which is suitable for both photographs and illustrations. A site like PunyPNG allows you to compress a JPG or other file into PNG format using an easy online tool.

Sidebars
The first step when tackling your sidebars is to go through each item and ask yourself what value it's adding to your blog. Do you really need that "beer of the day" widget circa 2001 or can it be removed? You can also check outgoing links to make sure they're still active and relevant, awards and other banners to make sure those sites still exist, and so on.

Another vital task is making sure that the most important sidebar content is easy to find. Is your search bar at the top, where visitors are expecting to see it? Or is it stuck at the bottom of a sidebar, below a dozen banners? Look at your blog objectively, like a new visitor would, and see if you can easily identify important navigation elements like archive links, your About page, and subscription options.

Lastly, even if you're not an an HTML guru, making sure the code in your sidebars is correct is very important. An open or missing tag can cause the display of the entire page to be off. Going through each sidebar element that includes custom code, look for things like:

  • Open or missing tags (ex: does each link have a closing tag?)
  • Extra or unnecessary tags (ex: can a huge block of code be condensed and still achieve the same thing?)

A great tool for cleaning up code is fixmyhtml.com. Just copy the code from the module in TypePad and paste it into the form there. It will spit out the updated, correct code that you can use to replace the old code.

Posts
Just like with banner images, images in posts can be condensed in file size so the overall load time of the page is improved. Other options include using small thumbnails that link to the full size image and using the split extended entry feature to put an image-heavy post behind a link to its individual archive page. You can also simply show fewer posts on the main page of the blog so that first page loads quickly. There are built-in navigation links at the bottom of each page so readers can easily click to the next series of posts.

Need a hand?
If you've been blogging for a while, chances are your blog has gotten a little messy, like a highly trafficked living room. If you're looking for a hand in sorting things out, the TypePad One team offers a Tune-Up service geared toward helping you make the most of your beloved blog.

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