Investing in Sophisticated Blog Layouts
22 February 2009 2 Comments
The post today from Sue Waters about ‘Are You Getting The Most Out Of Pages On Your Blog?’ contains good advice about blog page layout and continual auditing to keep the more static parts current. However it made me reflect about blog reading behaviour and my own experience in particular.
As I write I am subscribed to 97 blogs and have ‘read’ 1,270 posts in the last 30 days. So Google Reader informs me. I couldn’t subscribe to so many blogs without the help of such a feed aggregator which shows me only the content of each post contained in the RSS feed. It is the blog post content after all that interests me. There is simply no time to visit the actual blog pages, except perhaps to leave a comment, which in my case is about 1 post in 50 or so.
Professional bloggers and individuals who take pride in their blog pages spend a great deal of time adding supplementary material in the form of dynamic links to blog assets and many other types of widgets and external resources relevant to the blog. None of this no doubt excellent information is visible by default to a feed aggregator. This includes the adverts that many bloggers rely upon to sustain their blogs.
Sadly the supplementary blog material can deter a reader visiting the actual blog site. Switch on Firebug in your Firefox browser and note the download volumes. Visit one of my favourite blogs, Mashable, today and it results in 270 requests and over 2 MB of download for the main page. Sue matches this 2 MB download in only 63 requests. Another favourite, ReadWriteWeb, appears to take much longer to load but results in only 635 KB from 149 requests. Being aware of this blog bloat I have consciously simplified my own blog so it comes in at 240 KB in 39 requests.
Sue and I agree in opposing partial post contents in blog feeds. However with feed aggregators omitting ads it is easy to see why partial feeds are used to tempt readers to visit the actual blogs and be exposed to the those ads. Personally I prefer to have full feeds with small ads inserted in the content which will surface in feed aggregators.
My own advice on supplementary information in blog layouts is thus:
- reduce media and widget content to a minimum
- be aware of those widgets, apparently small in page real estate, that generate large numbers of additional download requests
- concentrate on blog post content and incorporate links, perhaps repeatedly, to other static blog content
- don’t invest significant time in blog page contents that readers using feed aggregators will never see
In my view the era of leisurely flitting from one blog to another, viewing blogrolls and other widgets, is over. Adjust your blog page design and layout to the era of feed aggregators and micro-blogging.