This is my fourth BlogHer Conference. I look forward to the event because it helps inspire me. This year I selected sessions based on a personal goal - to improve my blog. There are two focus areas -- design and writing.
I'm staying with a dear friend, Amy Lenzo and fellow girl geek of the world cafe, who writes a blog called "Beauty Dialogues" and is an amazing photographer. She also happens to be a web designer who works with typepad! We sat down together and had a talk about ways to clean up the clutter and simplify the mess on this blog. With Amy's expert help, I was able to come up with a strategy for this.
I've been blogging here since 2003 and have over 3,000 posts. One of the biggest problems with clutter on my blog is that I have too many categories and was not very consistent in my organizational scheme. As a result no one can find anything, including me. I know that many people discover posts via google, not from the top of the blog - but I do get a lot of emails asking where posts are. Also, if someone is new to my blog and wanted to explore, I imagine the overwhelming number of categories might send them away quickly. My sidebar is also way to cluttered with images, links, and other stuff.
Amy helped me think through how to consolidate the side bar. Most importantly, how to deal with the categories using a feature on typepad called typepad notes which allows you to be free from some of the templates. I need to come up with a sketch of the new information design:
- Think about the sidebar in layers so there is less scrolling.
- Conceptually group links -- think about the order importance
- Use the typepad "notes" feature so you can consolidate and include links to graphic items using less real estate
- Create a smaller group (maybe 10) of meta categories each linking to a page with sub-categories and description of what can found in each
Amy showed me how to create typepad notes and pages and the order for approaching this:
- Come up with map of meta categories and sub-categories
- Review my existing categories - and decide which ones need to be deleted, changed, or combined
Amy Gahran gave a writing workshop at BlogHer that was very inspiring. I lent her my laptop so wasn't able to take notes at the time, but Amy Lenzo has a great summary on her blog. All of the advice about "getting to the point" is what I hope to put into practice in the coming months.
- Set context. Tell them right away why what you’re going to say matters.
- Then make your points.
- At the end, after you’ve built momentum by making your points, send them off in a useful direction (call to action, suggestions for next steps, ask questions they might consider, etc.) This can even apply to personal expression or fiction.
- Average reading speed online: 200-300 words/min. Call it 250. Use that to calculate target word count, and try to stick to it. Great exercise. Check your own reading speed.
- Amy’s triage editing tips for improving readability quickly.
What's your advice about improving your blog design or writing?