Tools For Choosing a Color Combination

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Color choosing tools. Guest post by Steven Snell.

As new visitors arrive at your blog, color is one of the most important design aspects for creating a positive first impression. Last week Michael wrote about the importance of making your blog template unique. Effective color modifications can be a quick, easy way to help your blog stand out from the crowd, especially is you are using a very common theme.

Fortunately, there are a number of free tools available online that can help with finding the right color combination. We’ll take a look at a few of them and hopefully you”ll find something that you would like to use for your own color decisions.

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Do Images in Posts Encourage Reading?

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Post Images I begin almost every post here at Pro Blog Design with an image. The images are usually interesting, and do take a while to pick out. Do they encourage people to read more posts?

The answer is that for a certain type of blog, they do. For another type, they don’t.

When Post Images Are Worth Adding

  • In plain templates. Many blogs are designed to be minimalist and plain, allowing the content to be focused upon. A well selected image in the post can work wonders for adding personality to the design, without losing the clean simplicity.

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Does Valid Code Help Your Blog?

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Valid CodeThe W3C is the internet’s daddy. They created HTML, CSS, and dozens of other specifications that govern the use of the technologies that makes the internet thrive today. Valid code is code which meets their guidelines, and can be tested in a validator, such as the HTML and CSS ones.

Does valid code actually help your blog though?

The Mythical Benefits of Valid Code

  • Valid code helps my search engine rankings. Good code helps your search engine rankings, i.e. code that the search engines can read. If you have used tables for presentation, causing your content to be split up in the coding, then Google will have trouble. However, if you just forget the trailing slash on your <img> tags, then they won’t be too harsh on you.

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Redesign for the Right Reasons at the Right Time

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Time to RedesignRedesigning has become a hot topic in the blogosphere, largely because of the redesigns of two of the most popular blogs, ProBlogger and John Chow.com. One blogger went as far as to dub 2007, Year of the Redesigns. Why should time be a factor in a redesign?

Redesigning for the Wrong Reasons

There are many reasons for a blog redesign. However, not all of these are good reasons, and what’s more is that they are no different than they have always been. What makes now so special? Hype.

One of the most frequently mentioned benefits is the hype and attention that a redesign obtains. The amount of attention that John Chow has received cannot be denied, but lest we forget, you are not John Chow. The same level of attention will not be repeated on you. If anything, you will receive less attention than ever as your blog will be lost between the dozens of others changing themes.

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Make Your Template Unique

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Unique Template
Image by Thiru Murugan
There are some obvious dangers to using a template, like malicious coding and such, but there is another, not so obvious danger. What if your template causes your blog to vanish into the blogosphere? What if it makes you boring?

The very best looking template in the world is the very worst template you can use, because everyone else is already using it. If your blog does not stand out from the dozens of others in your niche, how will your readers remember you? And if they do not remember you, why will they come back?

The key to successfully using a template is to make it your own. The great thing about a template is that the bulk of the work is already done, but the finishing touches are still up to you. You need to make enough adjustments to make your version clearly distinguishable from the original.

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Are Sponsored Themes Blog Suicide?

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Sponsored
Photo by -LeeB-
If my theme is sponsored, will I get banned from Google?

In short, no. However, it is entirely possible that other aspects of the theme will get you banned, and even more worryingly for some is that non-sponsored themes can get you banned just as easily.

The fact that a theme is sponsored is rarely important, and should not be allowed to put you off sponsored themes altogether. The possible dangers of downloaded themes are not a myth however. They are very real, and malicious theme owners can do any number of things which could Google will begrudge you.

A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

Most bloggers will know that when judging how to rank a site, search engines, like Google, look at links in particular. Many bloggers also know that they don’t judge your site only on the links coming in to it, but on the links going out from it. This is what has caused the commotion about sponsored themes.

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Full Posts vs. Partial Posts, on the Homepage

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Posts in Pieces
Mirando Así Arriba by Corazón Girl
One of the most immediately noticeable aspects of a blog is whether or not it publishes complete posts on its homepage, or partial posts. Are you going to have to load another page to read the first article in its entirety? Or is it already laid out in front of you?

Many blogs publish partials, and many publish excerpts. Which method is best?

In Favour of Full Posts

Some of the advantages of displaying the complete posts are:

  • There are no interruptions. If someone has read the first few paragraphs of your post, then they are involved with it. Giving a partial post breaks the reader’s flow. This can be particularly damaging if the post is dealing with a rather complex idea, where breaking the train of thought may end up with the reader being lost.
  • Short posts look good in full. If a post is 5 paragraphs long, and you usually show an excerpt that is 3 paragraphs long, is it really worth loading the second page for the sake of 2 paragraphs?

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