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the most bang for your blog!

w/ a case of the mundays about to hit 100K views {a small victory!}, i decided that it was time for a bit of a blog maintenance. hopefully you already noticed! i've been reading up on how to get the most "bang for your blog". and thought i'd share a few fantastic tips:

y'all ready for this? (um yes - that was sung. think early 90s  2 unlimited!)

1 // we simplified our overall design!

katrina @ pugly pixel says this best "don't make your content compete w/ your design for attention". where does your eye go when looking at your blog? the most important feature should be your posts! your posts are after all the reason you began blogging in the first place.

- a clean background + header. you want your reader to be able to actually READ your blog. a light background w/ dark text reads easiest. and bonus - a simple background allows images to pop! take a cue from photography sites - most have white or lite grey backgrounds as to not take away or clash with the images themselves. also make sure that your header isn't too tall (1/4 - 1/3 the height of your page). you want your reader to be able to see your newest content w/o having to scroll for it.

- separate your posts from your sidebar(s). my previous layout had 3 columns w/ my posts in the middle column. a 3 column layout is fine IF the focus remains on the content. for the new layout, i've limited my blog to 2 columns - the left being my main content and the right sidebar being "bonus content".

before ...

- unclutter your sidebars. before i had my nav bar big & bold in the far left column. unfortunately big & bold and completely taking away from my posts. for the new layout, i've limited my sidebar content. bye bye: fb & twitter widgets & ginormous links to my archived posts. hello - horizontal navbar & static pages.

nothing will get me to leave a blog page faster than poor design! spoken like a true design snob. but come on people ... i do marketing for a living! 

2 // speaking of content ... we began focusing on images!

i've expanded the width of my posts 200 add'l pixels - which mean bigger/better images!

while i completely intend to attend ashley ann from under the sycamore's snapshop w/ christmas money next year, in the meantime i am a baby photographer. in the past year, i picked up a tripod (the joby gorillapod to be exact), began using post-processing to adjust exposure, crop, etc (i LOOOOOOVE radlab - a fantastic investment), and have learned the importance of natural or indirect light. {take a look back at early 2010 ... i think the progress is quite evident.} for now - i love this little cheat sheet via photographer miguel yatco:

a couple other thoughts on images:

make sure your images load quickly! according to problogger.com, the average blog reader spends 96 seconds on a blog. don't waste those precious seconds waiting for images to upload. if they aren't loading - they're probably too big. consider getting a basic image photo editing software and saving your images for screen (72dpi vs 300dpi).

- i'm a pixel snob. it's true ... pixels are the tiny little squares of colors that images are made of. there's nothing more unattractive to me that images that are stretched beyond their original size and therefore pixelate. can't find a bigger version? consider using a little pugly pixel blog bling to make it work at it's original size.

3 // we've added share buttons!

yup - now you have the option to email, tweet, fb or blogshare what you love on a case of the mundays in addition to comment (*hint*hint*). the trick is to not make your readers do all the work (they probably won't ... remember 96 seconds, people!). blogger makes this so easy - simply go to the layout page and click edit in the blog post section. then √ add share buttons. (speaking of so easy - have you set up your mobile page? way to go, blogger.)

4 // we've stepped it up when it comes to sourcing. 

i had my car broken into a few winters ago and felt completely taken advantage of. not only did the perpetrator get away w/ my things - but they also left fingerprints all over my family pictures. not cool. okay back on subject. i would have totally let that bad guy borrow my ipod and gps. i love sharing! i love pinterest (as evident through my PINspired posts) and love sharing my fantastic finds w/ you all. and as i do ... i definitely want to give credit where credit is due!

- let's all work together! find the original source before pinning. so helpful in the long run!
- have you met my friend tinyeye.com? 9x out of 10 this little site helps me get to the bottom of a source mystery. 

5 // we've kept the blogroll! 

apparently according to a quick google search, there's a BIG debate - blogroll or no blogroll. truth is the reason i began blogging was well ... bc i LOVE blogs. in fact, some would say that i love blogs so much that i have compromised the whole clean design thing (see 1// ). all in all - i feel like i learn a lot from the blogosphere - so i'll keep on reading my ultra favorites and as long as you come back to a case of the mundays, you should too!

okay - this is just the tip of the blog building iceberg! and i would loooove to answer your blog design questions as best i can - email me here. what's your best piece of blog building advice? or better - any suggestions to make our site more visually pleasing?!? do you agree or disagree w/ any of my observations? have i opened pandora's box? ;) 


Ellen @ Black & White & Loved All Over said...

cool post! I love all of your design changes. Thanks for the tinyeye link--had heard of that but never tried it and have, too, been trying to be better about sourcing!

Also, something I would add is that I think it helps to save your images by specific names--like "DIY measuring stick lamp shade" rather than "IMG00978." Helps people find you easier through image searches.

Congrats on your 100K views!! I just checked and am at 75K. :) I know it's not advisable to focus on blog traffic, but it can be hard not to. It's so fun to know people are reading ... even if those stinkers don't comment. Keep up the good work!!

M.M.E. said...

I just love the changes! Great advice for other blogs and website owners in general. Your color palette is just lovely!

blair @ a case of the mundays said...

thanks, @megan! and great advice @ellen!

Stencil Search said...

Google image search is also a great way to find the source of images. I use it more than tineye now.

blair @ a case of the mundays said...

amazing. just gave it a whirl w/ the unsourced image from my latest post. i definitely like it even better. (too bad it still couldn't find the source!) thanks! :)

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