B is for Bad Blog Design

At time of writing there are 927 blogs signed up to the A-Z Blog Challenge, and I have visited, so far, (again, at time of writing – there’s almost 2000 now!), in preparation for this challenge, over half so far. Read at least one post of about half of those blogs, commented on about a fifth of them. Some of them, I wasn’t interested in the topic or theme of the blog, which is fine. I am not going to be interested in every single blog on that list, that’s just common sense really. I won’t go into the type of blogs I don’t like reading, but, you know, I read what I read and that’s my own personal preference. It’s like reading overall. I like reading detective fiction with women detectives, and sci-fi, I do not enjoy historical fiction, or male gay romance fiction (I really like women), or romance at all really. That’s just me and that’s not really what the point of this post is about.

What I guess both annoyed and disturbed me the most were the amount of blogs that were completely unreadable. Not because of the topic, or writing style, but because of the design of the blog. So many blogs simply hurt my eyes and it made me kinda sad because there really is no need for it. If you’re using wordpress or blogger, they both come with well put together layouts and colour schemes that are easy on the eyes. That are readable. Somehow people have either decided to completely ignore all these nicely and professionally put together designs and while I have nothing against changing layouts to suit your blog, or your own personality and picks colours you like – I do it myself – people need to be aware that there is a find line sometimes between making something personal and making something ugly.

Blogs are things to be read. And if someone cannot read your blog then there’s something very,very wrong with it.

Tiny font for the posts, crazy or ‘interesting’ fonts for the header or hell, the navigation! Clashing colours, green on black, using a lighter shade for the font and the darker shade for the background. Busy, busy, busy pages, with so many images and links and so on that it’s impossible to know where to start, if there is anywhere to start at all. Header images or background images that clash, are out of place (the wrong size, badly repeating, out of focus or pixelated), or that are so busy they distract from the words, the main section of the blog. Images that are just ugly or badly designed in themselves aren’t the worst offence, because, you keep scrolling and I forgive that.  Not everyone has Photoshop, or the ability to use Photoshop or a similar program, but of course, a header image that is too busy in itself is hard on the eyes and a little off putting. Headers that move. Or things (images, adverts, whatever) that are moving, or moving too quickly to even see is distracting). Simplicity is key, in my opinion. Clear definition and readable text. These are the most important things, for me, in web design, as well as blog design.

Of course, some of these things are easily fixable by me. I tent to increase the font myself (CTRL + in case you were wondering) because some days my eyes and brain just don’t cooperate or work quite right. Not always, not often, but sometimes I need a bigger font. Not a problem. Colour isn’t always something I can fix. I can highlight text and often do to help me concentrate, which changes the colours and any clashing issues with background.

My main issue I guess, besides the fact that nice, readable, well designed themes are readably available for blogs, is that either you are not reading your own blog over, or checking that it is readable, or that maybe they don’t care, or maybe they really just don’t see it.

My own blog may not be perfect, I have change the colours and the header to the Forever Theme and added a few things to the sidebar, but hopefully the navigation is clear enough (what little there is), the text is readable and it’s easy enough to comment and follow links without the extra stuff I have put on the sidebar being too distracting. Or distracting at all. I want people to read these words. Understand them. Be able to read them even if they ultimately chose not too.

If you put bad web design in google then a lot of example come up, a lot of extreme examples. Most websites that break the rules don’t make all the mistakes, just one or two, but it’s enough.

There are plenty of sites out there to learn about good basic web design, while I was search bad blog design I came across this article that also lists a couple of things I didn’t even mention that do really bug me – like pop ups and forcing people to click off a little bar or box in the middle (or bottom) of the screen that asks you to share the site on social media before you’ve even looked at the blog. Very annoying. It’s a good and short little post that’s pretty important.

You don’t have to be an expert in web design, or even in whatever platform you’re using for your blog, but you do have to have a little common sense.

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18 Comments

  1. I know what you mean. I have enough problems focusing. Some of my pet peeves with blog design are that — my problems. I can’t stand side by side posts because my focus jumps around. I’m hoping mine is readable. When I started my new blog, I thought I had a great design with an interesting header image. It looked good on my desktop, anyway. Then I looked at it on my husband’s iPad. Hideous. Obviously we all have different taste and that’s why I go for simple, straightforward design.

    1. It really is the best. Material intended to be read, really needs to be readable. WordPress has a feature now to let you see what a template looks on different types of screen, which is helpful. Though never 100% I’m sure.

  2. HA! I was just discussing this with a bloggy buddy last night. Yesterday we came across several blogs that were so confusing that we just gave up. I mean, if I don’t even know where your post IS, I’m not going to waste too much time trying to figure it out.

    I love the clean look of your blog. I’m a retired graphic designer so I appreciate the gentle colours and the judicious use of white space. Having said that, my own blog is a bit of a carnival. I apologize if it’s one of the ones that set your teeth on edge!

  3. Design has been something I’ve struggled with from day one on the blog. I wanted it to be engaging and neat but not too busy, readable but not dull…Well, you know the drill.

    Some good general advice here. 🙂

  4. B can also be for “Burnout”; the feeling of looking at hundreds of blogs on the A-to-Z challenge and realizing that maybe 1 out of 30 is worth looking at and everyone else participating secretly feels the same way.

    1. So many blogs does present a problem, I don’t try and look at as many as I can, I go back to the people who’ve commented and I follow the #atozchallenge tag on twitter and visit those, cause at least I know they’re active and doing the challenge.
      I do get burnt-out on the bad design and just the amount of over-busy blogs though.

      1. I’m sure there are some good ones off on Blogger or whatever, but if it doesn’t come through the “A-to-Z Challenge” tag on wordpress reader, I don’t see it and don’t have time to look.

        If anything, A-to-Z is good for creating extra content for regulars, if not actually generating new traffic.

  5. I am so glad you wrote this. The minute I click on a black background or “dizzy” design, I leave. My 6-decade old eyes can’t take it. I thought it was just my age, but perhaps even younger readers have trouble with many irritating backgrounds. Good job!

  6. The gentle colours for your layout works well. I’ve seen some blogs that really do need an overhaul.

    Personally, I tend to keep it as simple as possible, which includes only the most essential apps on the sidebars or at the bottom.

  7. It just flabbergasts me how many obvious mistakes people make on their blogs. From poorly placed or wrong-sized images to unreadable fonts to typos galore. I understand that different people have different tastes and all, but some things should be obvious. Oh well, many may say bad things about my blog.

    Happy A to Z-ing. See ya ’round the web. All Things Kevyn.

  8. It makes me sad when blogs have an illegible design too. Design that I don’t personally agree with is something else- who am I to tell someone what their creative outlet should look like? But If I am actually interested in the content and just can’t legitimately read it, it’s disappointing. And on a totally selfish note, it is badly designed blogs that make me embarrassed to tell people I have a blog. I just know that behind the sort of horrified face they get, is a vision of some dismal website with florescent block letters on a black background.

  9. I agree with this, totally. I click away within 2 seconds of landing on a blog with bad page and color combinations. I think light color background plus black font should be the rule.
    By the way I think we have the same social media buttons on our sidebar. Cute coincidence. 🙂

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