What makes you come back?


If you’re anything like me, then one of you’re favorite things to do is to explore new blogs and constantly add more URLs to your Google Reader.

The month of November and NaBloPoMo always encourage me to browse new blogs, although, who am I kidding? I am not just checking out new blogs in November. This is like an ongoing problem for me. I’ve noticed, once again though, how sometimes certain things about a blog design completely turn me off from reading any further. Here are some of my blog pet peeves.

One thing that can really turn me off on a blog are busy backgrounds, screaming colors, anything that blinks, and background music. Those are four big “no-no’s” on my list. Unless the title of your most recent post really catches my attention (and come on, if we’re honest, how many post titles are really that captivating to distract from a crappy layout?), I’ll most like not even bother to read any further. I love blogs that have a scheme of harmonizing colors that are carefully used to embellish the blog content.  It makes a visit that much more enjoyable.

I really have a hard time dealing with very tiny or very big font sizes. Usually everything between 8-12px is acceptable. Everything smaller or bigger than that is exhausting, IMHO.

It’s also very annoying if the blog post has poor formatting, e.g. no paragraphs (one big block of text without any line/paragraph breaks), embeds that are bleeding over into the sidebar (re-size!) , or varying fonts and font sizes (that is usually an issue when text is imported from Notepad or Word).

Common sense would tell you that  proper grammar and spelling should be a given in a blog post, but it’s not always the case. I am sure everybody’s guilty of the occasional typo, but it should be part of everyone’s blogging routine to run spell check before you hit the “publish” button.

Related to that is my issue with very wide content columns , even worse when it’s not a fixed width, but spans across your browser window. I find it really exhausting to read text that goes across my whole computer screen. Try to keep the width to a manageable width like 500-600px or so. (Everything narrower than 500px looks “squished”.)

I am also not a fan of very large header images. While I agree that a header can really give your blog personality and is a sort of “blog branding”, it is really annoying, if the whole screen is covered up by the header and I can’t even see the title of your most recent post. Make your content more easily accessible by keeping your header image to 1/3 of a regular screen size (15”).

I usually like to know who I am dealing with, so a picture and a short description about you in the sidebar scores major plus points in my book. It gives me an idea of who you are and what your blog is all about.

If I  have a hard time finding your about page and contact information, it’s very unlikely that I will spend hours and hours trying to learn more about you. Make sure you have a clearly structured menu bar (yes, yes, I need one…) and easy ways to contact you via email or other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

What makes you come back to a blog
(besides the content, obviously)?

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Disclaimer: Please don’t take any of the above pet peeves personally, even if you have done one or more. This is merely a list of things that I personally find – or don’t find – appealing when I visit a blog. It does not mean that I don’t like you personally or that I hate your blog. Nobody is perfect, and neither am I ;) I am constantly trying to improve my own blog design.

  1. I come back because over time, I sort of develop relationships with people and I care.

  2. I agree with a lot of the above mentioned!
    And I agree with Maribeth – you really do develop relationships – friends! Awesome!

  3. I totally agree with Maribeth. While I might like the layout of a blog and will stay to explore, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll come back. Usually I add them to my reader to give them a chance but if I just can’t develop a relationship with that blog, it will get dropped quickly.
    .-= Stefanie blogged this: My little meal planning box =-.

  4. This is good stuff, I think I agree with pretty much all of it.

    Entries that go on and on forever, with no pictures at all will make me run away pretty quickly! Not sure if that counts as a content issue or a style issue though!

  5. I couldn’t agree more! I can’t stand a poorly structured post or an awkwardly designed site. It just doesn’t hold my attention, not even for a second!

    My next objective is to create an About Me section and some social media links! I just never know what to write about myself :)
    .-= lauryn blogged this: Generation Kill =-.

  6. Yes! To all of it, yes. I am so not a fan of websites that have playlists that start automatically. Its my #1 pet peeve.

    And yes, I keep going back (and coming back) because the relationships and connections I develop with people are important to me.

  7. I have a lot of the same pet peeves, although your post reminds me that I need to make an updated “About Me”, heh. :)

    I also have a pet peeve when people don’t connect back with me. I’ll usually keep coming back for a while because I know people get busy, but I won’t keep commenting and trying to connect if I’m getting nothing from them.
    .-= Stephany blogged this: Half-Marathon Training Plan =-.

  8. My first visit: it’s all about the site layout and design. Your points sum up my viewpoints nicely.

    After a blog is added to my reader though, I agree with what everyone else seems to be saying: I need to feel a connection with the writing and the blogger.
    .-= Manderz blogged this: What’s Up in Manderzland =-.

  9. I’m a big fan of blogs that have pictures in most of the posts. Since, quite often, I read my blogs through reader, the site design won’t bother me too much. But if your site is too busy, my initial visit might result in me not following.

  10. I can only agree with what has been mentioned above.
    I do not care very much about the design or if there’s a sidebar “overload” or if there’s lots of color as long as the posts are nice to read.
    I also like to have pictures in a post, not neccessarily, but it’s nice to see a picture from time to time while reading…
    Normally when I first get to a blog I’ll save it in my favorites bar. If the blog really caught my attention I’ll revisit it and once in a while I’ll browse through the favorites and add the blogs that I read regularly to my google reader and delete the rest.
    .-= Deia blogged this: 365-18 =-.

  11. Haha I totally just took a look at my own blog. I think I might need to change a few things :) But I totally agree. There is nothing worse than a sloppy looking blog that resembles a tweens Myspace page. ( Blinking and background music Eeek ). What keeps me coming back is the writing, and relationships formed.

    Pet peeves of mine…horrible and obvious spelling mistakes.

    I would like to say however that your blog is amazingly clean and easy to read :)
    .-= Amber blogged this: Summer Camp =-.

  12. i agree with all the things you said. music = NO GO! don’t any of these people think about us, who are reading and surfing blogs at the office (sometimes, when there’s not much to do, really rarely but it does happen ;)) and colorful, blinky gives me a headache = i don’t think i’d even continue reading.

    what makes me come back here is … you :)
    .-= kim blogged this: things i love thursday =-.

  13. I have to agree with everything you wrote. I won’t read really busy blogs with lots of widgets and music, etc. One other thing that annoys we are captchas but I understand they are a necessary evil for some platforms to ward off spam. Also don’t like survey or newsletter pop-ups that try to get you to subscribe while reading. If I can get past design, it really is all about content for me and what people write about. I don’t like people who complain a lot or are always “woe is me” bad things happen to everyone and writing about it can be therapeutic but not if it is all the time!
    .-= Andi blogged this: Survey Says 3 =-.

  14. I agree with all the points you mentioned. I can handle backgrounds only if the rest of the blog is very basic, otherwise they put me off too. And the most important one is the music, I instantly close the window if I hear music on a blog, regardless of what blog it is.

    If there is not a post on the first page that interests me, I assume that there won’t be one. it’s not so hard to maintain a standard of quality when blogging. I think it’s important to keep at least a couple of good posts always on the main page.

    I also like it when I see things neatly organised into categories, it makes me want to browse around more :)
    .-= andrea blogged this: Call for February sponsors =-.

  15. Well, I mostly read blog posts on google reader, so I only go into the actual blogs when I’m going to comment. There are blogs I follow just because of the photography and don’t often bother reading the content, but others I just like what they have to say and read and read on. I guess after I discovered google reader my approach to blogs completely changed, so I don’t have a lot of pet peeves about the layout or format of blogs.
    .-= Polin blogged this: First Dates =-.

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