New Window for a New Link?

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Freedom
Freedom Tunnel by Pro-Zak.
When we link out to another site, it can be hard not to consider the readers you may have just sent away. In an attempt to lessen the likelihood of losing the reader, many people force links to open in a new window, but is this really the best solution?

The Reasons For

  • Your page stays open. This is undoubtedly the main reason for it. The link is loaded in a new window. When the user has finished with it, and closes the window, they’ll find your page still sitting there.
  • Some links are intended to be used as references. For instance, if I were writing an article about nuclear power, I might reference my source like this: nuclear energy is a heavily debated topic (Eco Warrior)… The link will open in a new window/tab, allowing the user to check my reference, and then continue reading the article.

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Advertising vs. Readership. It’s One or the Other.

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The Money CommunityAdvertising and readership are the two things that most bloggers are trying to promote. The thing that isn’t always realised is that you can’t promote both advertising and readership. It is either advertising or readership.

Your blog’s layout contains a number of hotspots. Content in these hotspots, such as that above the fold, is looked at (And then acted upon) more often than content in other locations. It is important to realise that each hotspot can only contain one type of content; either adverts or readership promotion.

Promoting Readership

By choosing to build readership, you are actively choosing to put your adverts into locations where they will perform worse, for the benefit of your readers. In this way, you can more easily encourage readers to subscribe, or simply browse in non-commercial peace. In this way you are hoping to build up a good audience, discussion and contacts.

This approach is best recommended for blogs still in their infancy. You will only continue writing the blog if you feel people are actually reading, and benefiting from it. With small audience, your profits are going to be meagre no matter how well you place them, so why damage your blog’s growth potential?

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Drop(down) the Monthly Archives.

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Monthly ArchivesArguably, the most important feature in your blog’s design is its usability. Can the reader get what they want? A large part of that is giving them the space to manoeuvre unhindered by clutter and superfluous gadgets.

In order to keep your blog clutter-free, you must be ruthless with your sidebar content. There are thousands of Wordpress plugins available, and it is very tempting to install them all. The wise blogger knows to add only the options which will be beneficial to the user, which begs the question;

How are the monthly archive links useful?

In most cases, they aren’t. The monthly archives are a remnant from when blogs were literally online diaries. When the posts are a biography of someone’s life, then it can indeed be very interesting to look back to what they were like in the past. The monthly archives were also a lot less hassle than properly categorising posts.

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Design Review: Problogger.net

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Problogger One of the best ways to learn is by learning from others. Design reviews look at the ups and downs of a blog’s design, leaving you to take away best-practices for your own blog.

Problogger is the site for professional bloggers. For years now, Darren has been consistently giving out the best and most up-to-date advice on making money blogging. Over that time, he has accumulated nearly 30,000 subscribers, so naturally, when he released a complete redesign of his blog yesterday, done by Ben Bleikamp, there was a lot of buzz. What better candidate could there be for our first design review??

What has been done well?

In short, alot, but some of the very best aspects are:

  • It’s bold. It is a huge change from the previous layout, and from reading the comments, it has taken at least a few readers by surprise. There are thousands of blogs on the same topic as Darren’s, and Darren stays ahead of them by constantly being at the head of the game with his content. This design is no different. It throws caution to the wind with the homepage, and steps away from the standard blog layout.

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Personalise Messages and Stand Out

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Personality
Photo by Aki Jinn

There are millions of blogs out there. You need to stand out from all the rest; be different to be remembered. However, standing out doesn’t just mean using a custom theme, it means customising every part of your blog, including the default messages.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 9:17 pm and is filed under General Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

We’ve all seen that message on blogs before, and what opinion does it give you of said blog usually?

It doesn’t. That’s the problem. The owner hasn’t bothered to put some personality into the blog, and as such, you have nothing to remember it by.

This is the most extreme example of course. The quoted paragraph is usually changed (removed?) by blog owners, simply because it is so over-worded and unfriendly to readers. What other lines in your blog can be given a personality of their own?

Encouraging Comment Messages

When your post has 0 comments, you want to do everything you can to encourage that to change. Wordpress offers an easy method of doing this through comments.php. Simply enter the message you would like to display where you see the line:

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How To Make Your Blog Printer Friendly

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Printer Blogging doesn’t end at the monitor.

Many readers print out interesting posts, but not if your website prints with text off the page, adverts and other useless content. Adding a print stylesheet to your blog is an easy method of ensuring that your content remains useful on paper.

Do you blog about phone reviews? It’s perfectly plausible that your readers will print out a few of their favourites and take them down to the shop with them. Life advice? A reader could print out your words, to read later on at their leisure. Almost every niche has a reason to be printed.

Setting Up the Stylesheet

  1. Create a new file in your text editor (e.g. Notepad), and save it as print.css
  2. Upload this file to your theme’s directory. (The same place where your main stylesheet is)

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5 Ways To Jazz Up Your 404 Page

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Sorry I lost Your Files!Inevitably, someone will wind up on an error page on your website. It has to happen. It just wouldn’t be the internet if everything worked out perfectly. So, how are you going to prepare for these visitors?

This article isn’t a guide to how to create custom 404 errors pages. It’s very easy to do, just Google for it and you’ll find a million results like this one.

1 – Be Funny

Your reader has just been landed in a dead end. They’re annoyed and aggravated at the loss of their time, not to mention the fact that they now have to resume their search for whatever information they were after in the first place. What better way is there to cheer them up than to make a joke?

My favourite example of this is at Lizzdmc Productions, where the 404 page offers a psychiatric analysis before advising you on what to do next. This is also the approach I have tried to take with Pro Blog Design, where you’ll find I modified a popular parody of The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe.

2 – Be Helpful

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