What Time Is It Where You Are?

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Clock Many of us include the time in our comments.

The comments should serve as a conversational area, and it makes sense that you would be interested in when the last reply was written, or how long it has been since you left your reply.

However, time is relative to where you are in the world. While it is nearly 10pm here in the UK, it is past 3 in the morning in India. On the internet, hearing the time is meaningless if you don’t also know the time-zone it is in.

And that begs the question; why do we bother to include the time in the comments at all?

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30 Ways to Improve Readability

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Increase Readability When I asked what the most important aspect of design was, many of you replied that it was readability; how easy it is to read your content.

People come to your blog to read articles, and the easier they are to read, the better. A design that obscures the content will only turn visitors away.

So what can we do to increase readability, and keep those readers reading?

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Let Readers Read In Peace

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Continuity of a path. The first step to increasing readership with design is to draw attention to the article. The second, equally important step, is to keep attention on the article.

Continuity is the idea that when the eye is following a line, it will continue to follow that line until something else draws its attention away, or breaks the line.

We can apply this principle to a blog post as well. When a user begins reading, we want them to continue following the article down. There should be nothing to steal their attention from the column of text.

Ensuring that their focus on the article is not interrupted allows them to more fully, and easily, immerse themselves in the words. In return, you may gain a new subscriber or comment.

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Why Post Images Should be on the Left

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lefty.jpgDepending on your blog’s topic, post images can encourage reading. But where do we place those images? On the left or the right?

A common response to this is to place the content on the left, because Westerners read from left to right. That is true, and it does play a role in the decision, but not always in the way you would expect.

The Left Logic

Images work because they draw attention. The visual interest draw the user’s eye towards the picture, and hence the post. However, once the eye has been drawn, where does it go from there?

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Achieve User Goals Through Usable Design

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Yesterday, we talked about achieving your own goals through your blog’s design. Of course, you won’t achieve anything if you’re putting your visitors off. The key is to balance your goals with your reader’s goals.

What do they want from your blog?

There is more to it than simply reading the current page. A reader may want to do a whole host of things on your site. Most blogs are very similar though, so what a reader wants to do on one blog is usually the same thing they’d want to do on any other blog.

I would consider the following to be a bare bones version of the usual priority list for a blog reader. The bolded words are the actions, and beneath them are some of the questions that a reader might ask at that point. Your job is to make those questions as easy to answer as possible.

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When Ajax Can Help Your Blog

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Magical ajax. Ajax is a great technology. It allows you to update various aspects of your page, without ever having to refresh.

The Trouble With Ajax

The trouble with Ajax is that it is overused and abused. Many people try to do too much with it. If you’re building a web-app, fantastic, use it all you like! If you’re just building a blog though, remember your restraint.

Good use of Ajax comes in small doses, and only when it helps you achieve your goals. Can it save you the hassle of reloading the same page? Will it let you accomplish simple tasks quickly? If so, then you’re using Ajax well.

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What Length Should A Post Excerpt Be?

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Cut an excerpt length. It is one thing to choose excerpts over full posts on the homepage. You can even choose how you want to generate these excerpts easily enough. Yet with that done, you still have another decision to make every time you write a post; what length should a post excerpt be?

Getting the Job Done

In short, a post excerpt should be as long as it needs to be to get the job done. The job of an excerpt is to give your readers a teaser, a sample of what is to come. It is important to realize that your excerpt is not your article. If you wanted the reader to hear all that you have to say on the home page, you would be using full posts, not excerpts.

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