How Do Cheaters Redesign And Still Win?

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cheaters1

It takes a lot of work to redesign a blog. More time than you might have at the minute.

But your blog is starting to feel stale and the little things that always annoyed you about it are finally getting to you, so what can you do?

Fix just one thing.

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Should a Sidebar Go On the Left or Right?

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Image by Apesara
Whether you use a 3 column layout or a 2 column layout, you have to choose which side you want your content on, and which side you want your sidebar on. Left or right? Which is best?

As always, the answer is; it depends on your blog.

Why Have It On the Right?

  • Western readers read left to right. When scanning a page, we will scan left to right (And top to bottom). Put your sidebar on the right, and the first thing a reader will scan over will be your content.
  • Many people still use 800×600 resolution. When designing your theme, it’s tempting to work with a 1024px wide layout. The extra space is great for the majority of your users.

    However, a good few are still on 800×600 monitors, and will have an annoying horizontal scrollbar to work with. If your content is on the left, they will not have to scroll to read it. The scrollbar will only be needed to see the sidebar.

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How To Install DomTABs on WordPress

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domtabs Have you ever seen blogs where the popular posts, top commentators, and blogroll are all tabbed into one small area? Those blogs are using DOMtabs.

DOMtabs is a free script and by using the guide below, its quick to install. I’ve also created a simple stylesheet that you can use to easily restyle your DOMtabs.

You can see DOMtabs in action in the sidebar here on Pro Blog Design. It is a very user-friendly way of saving space on the page, and cutting your clutter.

Lastly, this guide is written with WordPress in mind, but the script can be used anywhere. If you’re on another platform, try applying the steps to your own platform, or read the help on the script’s site, and comment here for help if you need it.

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Sidebar Redesign: My Thought Process

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In the past few days, I redesigned my sidebar. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But looking back, that one change has had quite an impact on the overall look.

In blogs in particular, the sidebar is a big part of your design. But also in blogs, they tend to be quite poorly done. The reason is that very few of us design our sidebars with content in mind.

I’m guilty as well. When I first designed the sidebar for this blog, I was thinking about leaderboard ads and various widgets. Since then, I’ve dropped the ads, changed the widgets and added a sideblog.

Odds are, your sidebar content has changed in the course of your blogging as well. It is important to reassess your entire blog every now and again, but the sidebar is one area that you should pay particular attention to because of its changing nature.

In this post, I want to go through how I reassessed mine, and worked to improve it. You can then apply the same process to your own blog.

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5 Mistakes I’ve Found in A Lot of Blogs

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Wrong Way. A few weeks ago I ran an offer where I would give 5 free tips on anyone’s blog’s design. The offer went down very well, and I’d like to share some of what I have learnt so far.

Every design is unique of course, however, there are some small flaws that I found to be common across quite a number of blogs.

The 5 Pointers

  1. Take care with your logo. A fast-loading blog is important, but not everything is worth forsaking for its sake. In particular, a lot of bloggers have compressed their banner images to a point where pixelation around the letters is noticeable. Your logo is too important for this.

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How To Set Up a Sideblog

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Since writing about the benefits of a sideblog, the idea has taken off. Sideblogs are a great way of quickly updating your readers. However, you’re still left with the problem of how to set one up.

There are various methods, including the use of Twitter or Tumblelog and then importing an RSS feed. However, those methods don’t give enough control for me, so the method I’m using is done entirely in WordPress.

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Why You Should Use A Sideblog

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The sideblog at Abduzeedo. A sideblog is a mini-blog that sits in your sidebar. The entries are only ever short snippets, and you can post them on anything you like.

They could be personal updates, like Sil does with Twitter, link recommendations like on Abduzeedo, or even blog updates.

They are very common on personal blogs but not so common on others. I’m considering adding one to Pro Blog Design though, and I can think of a few good reasons for a blog to have a sideblog.

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