Formatting Your Blogs Posts and Pages
Make Your Blog Easier To Read
If you don’t want visitors to your blog to get bored or frustrated with your posts, then format your posts and/or pages to make them easier to follow and keep their eyes entertained. You don’t need to load the page with fancy animated graphics or outrageous fonts. Some subtle changes may be all that is needed.
Three basic things that can cause a reader to become frustrated with your content are load times, what I call “unending text”, and contrast. I’ll discuss each of these in turn.
You want to consider how long it takes your pages to load. If you are a lucky one that has a high speed broadband internet connection, then you may not have even considered this. However there are those that don’t, and you need to keep these people in mind. There are a lot more of them then you might think.
If someone with a slower dial up, DSL, or mobile connection visits your site and it takes longer than a few seconds for the page to load, chances are they are going to just move on.
One of the biggest causes of long load times is the use of unnecessarily large picture or image files. In the early days of the internet it was not uncommon to sit and wait patiently watch an image load line by line. However that is not the case any more.
A common form of blogging today is the “photo blog”, and this can take shape in many ways. There are fashion blogs, art blogs, photo blogs, design blogs, etc. These generally include a small amount of text. However these are not the only blogs that suffer slow load times from large or an excessive amount of image files.
Here are some things to watch out for. When including images in your blog posts the proportions of the image don’t need to be huge. The size of the image in pixels correlates to the amount of data that has to be sent/received. Even if you tell your blog to display that 1280 x 720 image as a 250 x 100 thumbnail, you haven’t changed the size of the file that has to be loaded.
Here are some ways to improve the load time of your pages.
- Resize your images to the size they will actually appear within the post if you are adding them as “eye candy” for a textual post
- For photo blogs where each post or page consists primarily of images create smaller versions of the images to include in the post and have them link to the original larger version of the image
- Lower the number of posts to display on the main blog page so that instead of your 10 latest blog posts with 5 images all trying to be displayed you have your latest 3-5 posts (this can still take a while to load if you are using huge image files.
If you want your visitors to stick around and read your content, make it easy for them to read it. Divide your content up a little bit so the reader can keep track of where they are. Splitting content up into smaller paragraphs gives your readers eyes a way to gauge where it is within the content, instead of skipping lines or having to stop reading to find their place again.
Don’t go crazy, but the use of headers and font decoration can help as well.
Use headers to title your content. Let the reader know what the next segment of your post is about. Then as you fill in the content with the “meat” of the post, use different font sizes, colors, bold, italics, and underline when it is appropriate.
Use your formatting wisely, don’t do it just to do it, let it make sense to your visitors. As an example, don’t try to wow your visitors by changing the color of every other word.
There have been uncountable times I have visited a blog that may have had fantastic content, but I just couldn’t stand to try and read it because of the contrast between the background and the font color. Here are a couple of examples
When colors clash it can be hard or even “painful” to try and read the content
Just some random text I’m displaying to show how the contrast between colors can make some things harder to read then others. This is only a couple of sentences but I think you can grasp how trying to read an entire blog post themed in such a way would be difficult to read
When text is obscured or overwhelmed by the background
I have seen this example more frequently than the last. This occurs when a dark background is used with a dark font, or a light background is used with a light font
Just some random text I’m displaying to show how the contrast between shades and weight of font and background do not work well together. This is only a couple of sentences but I think you can grasp how trying to read an entire blog post formatted in such a way would be difficult
I have occassionally seen where a very dark background is used with a light colored very thin weighted font is used and the background overwhelms the text.
So keep these things in mind when you are selecting your themes and formatting your blog posts. I think you will find that your visitors will stay longer and read more if they don’t have to work at it.