The internet was in full force yesterday honoring the life of Steve Jobs. From his best quotes and his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, to the way he changed technology forever. It was inspiring to see the different ways people chose to highlight his life, his legacy and keep the memory of him alive.
Boing Boing gave their front page a new look yesterday, which I thought was fantastic. It had the nostalgic classic Mac look we all know so well. Now WordPress has taken note and created a free Retro Mac theme.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg commented on the design saying, “Yesterday one of the tributes I noticed was the website Boing Boing switched their theme to one reminiscent of the original Macintosh interface, one of the several times Jobs would make a ding in the universe through his work. It seemed fitting, and we wanted to make it available to all of you, so our theme team worked through the night and here it is”.
Here’s a description of the Retro Mac theme:
A whimsical homage to the days in black and white, celebrating the magic of Mac OS. Dress up your blog with retro, chunky-grade pixellated graphics to evoke some serious computer nostalgia. In all its remembrance and respect, Retro MacOS also supports recent functionality. Read on to learn more.
Google announced new layouts for their free blogging tool Blogger called Dynamic Views. These look amazing! The new themes are powered by AJAX, HTML5 and CSS3.
Dynamic views reportedly load 40% faster, as well as provide their blog readers with more enjoyment and discovery of their content. Some of the new features include infinite scrolling, keyboard shortcuts for quickly flipping through posts, lightbox-style posts for easy viewing and more.
Here’s a video look into the new themes.
Here’s a list of the descriptions and examples of the different theme choices via the Blogger Buzz blog:
Classic (Gmail): A modern twist on a traditional template, with infinite scrolling and images that load as you go
Flipcard (M loves M) – Your photos are tiled across the page and flip to reveal the post title
As I am writing up a blog post, I do focus on keywords and a few other basic SEO principles, but am offering what the people who arrive at my blog were searching for? Am I catering to their search mindset?
The study revealed three types of search mindsets: “Answer Me”, “Educate Me” and “Inspire Me.” Here are each of the mindsets explained and the categories they apply to. Find out which mindset your blog topic falls under.
— Answer Me (46% of all searches) — People in an Answer Me search want exactly what they ask for, and no more, delivered in a way that allows them to get to it as directly as possible. The top categories in Answer Me search are Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty & Style.
— Educate Me (26% of all searches) — People in an Educate Me search want 360 degrees of understanding, and multiple perspectives on critical topics. They will search until their goal is achieved — which may stretch over long periods of time and through related topics. The top categories in Educate Me search are Health and Finance.
— Inspire Me (28% of all searches) — The fun, “browsy” type of search, where people are looking for surprises, have open minds and want to be led. The top categories in Inspire Me search are Travel and Home & Garden.
The basics of this study show marketers how to really connect with the people who use their products. It also helps us bloggers know the types of searchers that are arriving on our site.
For example, if you write about topics in the Health and Finance realm, you really need to lay it all out there, as well as provide them with a way to get more information. For those of you who write about Entertainment or Style topics, you need to provide quick and easy ways to help them find exactly what they were looking for.
What is your blog topic and what are some ways you can improve the overall design of your blog, as well as your individual blog posts to cater to your type of searcher?
Session: How To Make Your Blog Stand Out So People Eat It Up Speaker: Nathalie Lussier
Two blogs per second. That’s how many new blogs are created on an average day per second. No human being can read that many blogs, so the trick here is to figure out how you can make your blog stand out from the rest.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. You’ll get more hands-on advice for making your blog stand out by attending my talk at BlogWorld & New Media Expo LA in November.
First impressions matter. That’s why the look and feel of your blog is just as important as the content. I don’t want you to become obsessed with the design of your site, because the content really does matter most. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you need to spend some time polishing up the look and feel of your site and making sure that it is unique.
I wouldn’t recommend spending tons of time and money coming up with a logo, because chances are that you will want it to change over time. What I would recommend is coming up with unique colors and a distinctive style that represents you, and using your photo somewhere on your site so that people associate to you with your blog.
Just like you want people to associate your site’s design with you, you want your personality to come through in your content and the rest of your blog.
The great thing about a blog versus a publication like a newspaper, is that you can actually infuse it with your personality. And people will return to your blog even if you stray from your usual topic, because they have connected with you on a personal level.
Do not underestimate the power of letting your personality shine through, whether that be in videos, photos, or your writing.
Creating unique content that sets you apart is a worthwhile investment of your time. You might be able to bang out blog post in 20 minutes, but consider the difference in terms of lasting value if you were to invest 20 hours instead. I’m not recommended that you spend 20 hours per blog post all the time, especially if you aren’t sure how you’re going to use the blog or don’t have a revenue stream yet. However, I would recommend that you investigate ways to create content that provides more value for your visitors.
That may mean creating videos in the kitchen demonstrating recipes for your food blog, or writing about things that are deeply personal and that connect with people.
Sometimes research can fall into one of two categories: the avoiding doing real work category, and the boring category. What I mean here is that sometimes we can use research as a way to avoid actually creating content, working on our blogs, and reaching out to other bloggers. Other times we really need to do that research, and it can seem a little boring to find more information about our market and what they want.
I highly recommend that you set aside some time to dive deep into your ideal reader’s mind, and figure out how you can best serve them through your blog and business.
Lastly, I highly recommend that you iterate. That means not setting anything in stone, but rather allowing it to evolve over time. One of the things I’ve learned over and over in my time in business, is that nothing stays the same. And that’s a good thing.
I recommend your site to be designed to change over time as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Allow your content evolve as you figure out what your audience likes and what they don’t like. Do the research to figure out what products/services and type of content your people really need, and allow yourself to adapt to it.
Don’t set your personality in stone either, because you will evolve as your blog and business evolves over time as well. Being willing to go with the flow here will definitely set you apart!
Learn more about Nathalie’s topic and why she’s excited to attend BlogWorld Expo L.A. in November:
Go to our YouTube channel to see what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld.
I hope you found these tips useful, and that you’ll join me for my talk at BlogWorldExpo LA because I’ll be going much deeper on what works and what doesn’t. In the meantime, please head over to my online marketing site to get more advice for getting techy with your business and standing out from the crowd. Follow me on Twitter @NathLussier!
I like reading a post that includes an image, especially if the image being used is personal (i.e., not just stock photography). Even with stock photography, though, an image gives the eye a little break. It’s a good design tool for most blog posts.
Notice I said “most” in my previous sentence. A lot of bloggers will tell you that you have to use images with every single blog post. I disagree. I think there are a few cases when images aren’t necessary, and today, I’d like to make an argument for those situations.
You need to get news out as quickly as possible.
If you read breaking news on any of the major news sites or aggregation sites, you’ll notice that posts change throughout the day as more information comes in. What starts as a one-paragraph post turns into a much longer piece by the end of the day. It’s not just about text, though. If you need to get a breaking news story out as quickly as possible, it makes sense to forget the picture, at least for the time being. Just post the news. You can make the post more eye-pleasing in the future.
You use other visuals to help break up the text.
For example, in this post I’m using bullet points. Numbered lists, videos, and other visuals can also help make the text more manageable. If you already have a ton of visual interest on your site (i.e., there’s a lot going on with ads, the sidebar, etc) you might not need a picture too, unless the post calls for one.
Simplicity fits your audience.
If your audience doesn’t mind reading text without tons of visual interest, maybe it makes sense to simply concentrate on the text of the post. Not sure? Poll your readers. If they don’t care about pictures, adding stock photography just for the sake of having an image might be a waste of your time.
It’s an important announcement where images make no difference.
For example, let’s say that you ran a contest on your blog and are announcing the winner. People will read that post to find out if they won regardless of whether or not you have a picture with the text. Of course, you still want the post to be eye-pleasing, but if there’s no picture necessary to make your announcement, it might make sense not to include one.
I want to caution against using these points to justify being lazy. Like many others out there, I’m sure, formatting is my least favorite part of using a blog post. Make sure it truly makes sense not to use images, though – don’t just tell yourself that you don’t have to put in that little bit of work because Allison said so. :-p
Most of the time it makes sense to use an image – and if your theme pulls them for thumbnails on the homepage, like here at the BlogWorld blog, always include one rather than having a blank box on the homepage or, worse, breaking your theme. I just wanted to illustrate how a common blogging “rule” isn’t 100% the best rule to follow every single time for every single blogger. When it comes to images, do what fits best for your blog and for your individual posts.
Do you use images in every single blog post? Why or why not?
Seriously, if you need stock photography to illustrate "annoyed," a cat picture is always the best option.
I’ll admit it: I don’t have a lot of tolerance for websites that I find annoying (or people I find annoying, but that’s a completely other topic, haha). I’m not talking about blog content. Sure, if a writing style isn’t for me, I’m probably not going to be back, but that’s completely subjective. The type of annoying that I’m talking about is pretty much universally recognized as annoying. It’s like when your little sister hold her finger an inch from your face and then sings, “I’m not touching you, I’m not touch you, I’m not touching you…” I don’t care if you’re a 53-year old father of three writing a tech blog or a 20-year old fashionista blogging about food; it’s hard to resist the urge to smack someone who’s being that annoying.
Unfortunately, many bloggers don’t realize they’re being annoying, simply because you have a different perspective on your own blog. I’ve been guilty of some of these annoying habits/design flaws/what-have-you in the past, and you might be guilty of them right now. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad blogger. Just be aware that you are driving readers away – so if you want that to change, take some time this weekend to de-annoyify* your blog.
Check your blog on other computers.
Most of us have only seen our blogs on our own computers and maybe one or two public/friends’ computers. Check it out on as many as you can. You might be surprised to see what the homepage looks like on your mom’s ten-year-old desktop or your sister’s brand new iPad. True story: recently, I was browsing and came across an article I really wanted to read. Half-way through the first paragraph, an ad about the person’s free report popped up, but it was sized so that I literally couldn’t click the “close window” button (it was one of those pop-ups that scrolls with you). Fail. Check your blog on different browsers too – IE tends to break things that look beautiful in Firefox or Chrome or even Safari.
Check your blog on mobile phones.
Along these same lines, check your blog with mobile phones – as many as you can. A lot of times, I run across a site that has a pop-up ad and like with my above issue, I can’t close it because I’m on a tiny three-inch screen and the ad size is larger. You gotta turn it off for mobile versions, friends. Otherwise, I can’t read your site, even if I’m not annoyed enough by the pop-up itself.
Bring up your site for a friend who’s never been there and time how long it takes for them to find your contact information.
Why aren’t you getting any emails from readers? Why isn’t anyone following you on Twitter? Why aren’t advertisers contacting you? Because you’ve made it too hard. “Contact” should be on your top navigation bar, in the footer, or VERY CLEARLY on the sidebar. If I have to hunt for the information buried in you About Me page or Profile page, I might not bother. The same goes for your social media accounts – please don’t make me hunt for a link to your Twitter or Facebook page if you want me to connect with you.
Make it possible for anyone to comment.
Hey Blogger users – I’m looking at you. Occasionally, I come across a Blogger site, where to leave a comment you have to sign in with your Google account or another account – there is no name-only option. This also applies to WordPress users who check the comment option that requires users to register before commenting. No everyone has a profile or wants to use it to comment, so you’re missing out on what your readers have to say, and that’s usually enough to make me stop reading because I know that I won’t be able to leave a comment. In short, your readers shouldn’t have sign up for any kind of profile to voice their opinion.
Visit your site using dial-up.
Yes, some people still have dial-up Internet. In fact, a lot of people in the world have dial-up Internet. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, as of May 2010, 5% of people in the United States were using dial-up. Compared to broadband users at 66%, that number might seem small, but that means there are over 15 million dial-up users out there. World-wide, that number only rises. I have no clue whether or not that data is accurate, but I think we can all admit that the number of dial-up users world-wide is still in the millions. Are you really willing to make your blog inaccessible to millions of people? If you want to use a design that takes a long time to load (i.e. uses lots of pictures, videos, flash, etc.), have a simpler version linked near the top of the site for those with slower connections.
Okay – your turn. What are some of the things you find most annoying about blogs (outside of subjective things like “the content is too long” or “I don’t like the background color”)?
*Yes, de-annoyify is a word. I say so. That’s totally how words are invented. LOL wasn’t a word until someone said so and now it’s in the dictionary. Along with the little heart symbol which is totally not a word no matter what anyone says. Seriously.
Blogger has launched a campaign that teases some impressive stats and reveals a complete revamp of their platform! The company, 11-years-old, is one of the world’s top 10 biggest websites. Acquired by Google in 2003, they now tout that they have more than 400 million active readers around the world, and over 500 million posts!
So what’s to come in the near future? Well, Google is giving a sneak peek into a redesign of the Blogger user interface, updated analytics, an updated mobile experience, and “smarter content discovery” – which features access to other content and media.
The interface looks to be a lot more functional and robust than the current tools. And while there’s no set date for the launch of this redesign, we can only hope it’s coming soon!