These 4 mistakes in basic blog layout are all too common and all too easy to fix:
Blogs with a fluid layout almost always result in the post column growing wider to fill the screen. In a time when we are all trying to consume more information than ever before, this is a mistake. There is a reason why newspapers don’t spread their columns way across the page. This study at Wichita State University found that a medium line length of between 65-75 characters per line, or about 15 words, was the optimal length for online reading. Readers need to be able to scan articles easily, and they will take in much more of what you write if the line length makes it easy for them to read quickly.
What’s the right resolution for your site? That question is always answered by looking at your stats. Any decent stats program will show the resolution visitors are using. A good rule of thumb is to try and not tick off more than about 5-7% of your readers with a resolution that is too large for their screen. It can be difficult to squeeze everything so it will fit those old 800×600 resolutions, but depending on the niche one is in, there may be no choice. Particularly if there are ads in the right sidebar, it only makes sense to make sure that the maximum number of users can see them.
Important Stuff in the Footer
I really like blog themes that have an extended footer, such as Brian Gardner’s Vertigo theme, but don’t put things down there that are too important or keyword rich. Rather, include things such as badge farms, Flickr sets, monthly archives in that space. Don’t count on many readers scrolling down far enough to see it either. The more keywords something contains, the higher up in the page it needs to be, for obvious SEO reasons.
Not Enough White Space
Read any good design book and one of the key elements of good design is use of white space.
White space is often referred to as negative space. It is that portion of a page left unmarked: the space between graphics, margins, gutters, space between columns, space between lines of type or figures and objects drawn or depicted. (Source: Wikipedia)
While it is very tempting to cram as much information into as small a space as possible, the result is a cramped site that is difficult to read and navigate. An overwhelming or cluttered site makes readers uncomfortable, and reading from the web is rather hard on the eyes as it is. Check out Mark Boulton’s article on A List Apart for a very good summary of how to use white space and the aesthetic difference created just by allowing a design some room to breathe.
This post is written by Randa Clay
Originally posted on August 9, 2007 @ 8:11 am