With today’s tools, it can be fairly easy to launch your own blog. Many of these tools – whether it’s Blogger, WordPress, or another platform offer several options for new bloggers to create and customize colors, fonts, and various other aspects of their blogs. Here, we’d like to address a few of the common blog mistakes that we’ve been noticing on other blogs as we’ve been browsing around. Some of these are semi-technical, while others might be considered “preferences.” While some sites might be able to get away with one or two of these, we’re confident that in general, these are rules that should be followed.
1. The colors you chose make your site hard to read
I think a lot of times, people underestimate color choice. While some colors might look good as an outfit or on your walls, that doesn’t mean that those colors should be used on your blog. The biggest problem we’ve come across is people choosing font colors and background colors that make the site almost impossible to read. Here are a couple of examples:
While these colors might be able to work in small doses or for accents, having your entire content with these types of color schemes makes it harder for the reader to view over time. Personally, I think the best color choice for reading is a light background with a dark font.
2. Your blog is set to fit the entire width of the browser window
With the advances in technology, prices of wider screen monitors are decreasing. While there was a time that monitors were 15″, most monitors shipped with new computers are above 19″ wide with a typical screen resolution of 1280×1024 or 1440 x 900 for a widescreen 19″ monitor. Why does this matter? If your blog is set to be the entire width of the browser window, when it is maximized that means the content of your site will go completely across the screen.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your content under 650px for maximum usability. For example, Yahoo news content is ~ 630px, Google search results is under 550px, and CNN articles are under 450px. If your blog goes across 1280, that’s about twice the width of what is recommended. Can you imagine if this post was twice as wide as it is now? Would it be as easy to read? Personally, I find it much harder to keep track of which line I’m on if my eye has to move from the absolute right of the screen at the end of one line to the absolute left of the screen to find the next line.
3. You fail to proof read or spell check your posts
I know that perfectly punctuated posts aren’t always achievable. Many bloggers write several posts a day, and for some time sensitive posts, they need to get them up quickly. This leaves ample opportunity for typos and misspelled words to sneak through. And while one or two errors is understandable, coming across a blog that has multiple spelling errors in each post suggests that they don’t know about WordPress’s built-in spell check.
After you write a post, go ahead and click the spell check button. WordPress will underline all of the words that seem “questionable” and will offer suggestions for any potential errors. Not only will this make your readers happy, but it will make you look professional. Just imagine what you would think if you read a magazine that you’d just purchased only to discover pages filled with typos. You might think that the magazine didn’t care enough or take the time to spell check. Don’t let your blog give people the wrong impression about you.
Before publishing a post, take a moment to preview it in the browser window so you can see what your readers will see. Read it through once or twice to make sure you’ve caught any spelling or grammatical errors. This will also help you catch any instances where you might have written “their” instead of “there” or “they’re” or places where your might have left out a word or two.
4. You steal images and don’t know it
I know how easy it is to download a picture or to link to it from your site. It’s as simple as right-clicking. However it’s important that you are aware that many images are covered by copyright law and using other people’s photos without permission is illegal. Not to mention, showing the link through another person’s URL instead of having a local copy on your server is considered poor web etiquette (aka bandwidth stealing. You are using their server resources to show their image on your blog. Tsk tsk.)
There are three ways to address this issue.
- Use your own photos! You have full rights and permissions to use photos that you take.
- Download free stock photos. We are big fans of the Dreamstime free photo archive – there are tons of options to choose from and are completely free to use for your site under their Royalty-Free license.
- Use photos with permission and include the appropriate credits. CreativeCommons.org is another resource that has a plethora of photos that you can use if you credit the contributors appropriately.
5. Your blog automatically starts playing music or videos
The tricky thing about music is that your taste may not be my taste and vice versa. I often find myself browsing sites late at night and then get a quick jolt when music starts playing. In general, it is frowned upon to have music or videos playing on your site. If you want to include videos or music on your blog, make sure that the default setting is to have the sound off. Give the reader the option to listen to your songs of choice if they want.
These are just a handful of common blog mistakes that we’ve noticed. What are some of the mistakes you’ve noticed?