Author Name. Nuisance or Necessity?

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Names
Photo by TonivS
Every free template includes the author’s name near the content of each post. You would have to look hard to find one that didn’t. But why should you keep the name there?

Single and Multiple Authors

The purpose of giving the name so close to a post is to give credit to the person who wrote that post. This is important in multiple-author blogs where the author changes from post to post. Regular readers will be interested to know who is writing which posts, and the writers deserve credit for their work.

However, in a single-author blog, the author does not change from post to post. Regular readers do not need to be told your name over and over again as they know it already and can assume that the writer hasn’t changed.

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Make Sense of Your Blog With Proximity

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Each page on a blog holds a number of different sections. Each section has a distinct purpose, for example; the title gives a name, and the blogroll gives a list of links. For all of these goals to be fully achieved, each section must be clearly marked out, and then distinguished from its surrounding sections.

Often the most effective way of doing this, is simply through understanding the concept of proximity (closeness). In normal terms:

If a number of objects are physically close together, the brain will classify them as a single group.

To take an example, look at the following image of 4 copies of the Pro Blog Design logo:

Proximity

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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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Perfecting Your Printed Posts

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We have talked before about the basics of making your blog printer friendly. Whilst that will ensure that your content is legible on paper, what if you want to do more? What about sorting out the rest of the troublesome parts of your design?

With some simple adjustments to your print.css, you can make your blog truly printer-friendly.

The Header Area

In a single blog post, we might have 3 different headings; the blog title, the slogan, and the post title, and even some information about the post, such as a date. On screen, we can use CSS to style these however we want, but in print, we have 4 large, separate lines of text. It takes up too much space, and is especially noticeable on shorter blog posts. Look at the following example of how a page on Pro Blog Design printed originally.

Print Headlines

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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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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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