Who Says your Design has to be Boring?
Beware of the Blog Snobs
The other day I was attacked by a malicious commenter (a self-professed know-it-all aptly calling himself “rumplestiltskin”) who didn’t like my post yesterday. Obviously it struck a chord with him (the truth sometimes hurts) so he used it as an opportunity to flame me and my blog.
He said that my blog design was cluttered but gave no specifics. He also said that my content wasn’t that good and that comments left on my posts were fabricated.
Unbelievable! What planet do these people come from anyway? Comments like this convince me that Spooky Mulder got it right all along.
Obviously the intention was to be insulting and defamatory. But what really irked me is the gutless coward didn’t even have the cahunas to leave a link so I could return the favor and offer my own review of his or her blog. Feh!
For those of us who have been on the web for any length of time we’ve come to expect things like this. Obviously I’m rattling some cages out there, but let me be clear that my intention is not to be malicious.
Ironically, hardly a day goes by when I don’t get an email from someone complimenting me on my blog as well as the design, and asking me if they can get a copy of my template. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
Let me illustrate what I think about blog design. Let’s for example say that you walked into my home today as my guest. Your first reaction might be to say that it looks cluttered. (Ok, I confess that I’m a pack rat and have a lot of stuff, and my home isn’t all that big either). But your friend who came along with you might also say that it looks cozy and feels warm and homey.
On the other hand perhaps you might have a huge house and I visit you with a friend, and that person might describe it as being very palatial and spacious. Whereas I might say that it feels cold, formal and uninviting. In my opinion I will take cozy, warm and homey over cold, formal and uninviting any day of the week. But that’s just my opinion.So what’s my point? It’s all relative folks.Just because somebody calls themselves an expert in blog design doesn’t make it so. I can’t count how many times I have visited sites of so-called web design experts and quickly decided that I wouldn’t want them designing my garage let alone my home on the web. (While on the other hand some were quite amazing and cluttered looking But who nominated these snobs as the be-end-all experts in blog design anyway? I know I didn’t.
Do you see where I’m going with this? There will always be blog snobs out there who will tell you what is wrong with your blog and to get professional help (they probably have a designer friend who will pay them a referral fee).
P.s.: I have a theory about these blog snobs who fit into two basic categories:
1. Those who try to present themselves as experts. I consider most of them to be self-serving opportunistic entrepreneurs more than anything else who seem to have carved out quite a niche for themselves.
2. And the fools who bought into it.
Now granted, there are of course always exceptions (aren’t there always). Universally accepted maxims where there is no question the site is in bad taste. I’m sure that you’ve all seen them.
RE: The Bloke’s Absolute No-Nos of Blog Design:
1. Sites with flash doorway pages that take forever to finish before letting you enter;
2. Animated graphics and blinking characters all over the place that make it look more like a Christmas tree rather than a website;
3. Graphics adorning every square pixel of the site with colours that don’t even come close to matching;
4. Sites that take forever to load or navigate;
5. Font sizes that are way to small to be legible without needing a microscope to read, or font colors that don’t have enough background contrast;
6. Incoherent and spastic navigation;
7. An overall lack of cohesion in the design.
Blogs like this are without question in need of help. But as for most everything else it just comes down to personal preference.
The point is folks there are little or no absolutes, so opinions by the blog snobs are generally a waste of time and offer little value.
Remember what your Mama always said. What is one person’s junk is another’s treasure. To each their own, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It applies to web design as well.
There is however one caveat to keep in mind. Design for the market that you are seeking to attract. So if you are a business blog, then make your blog a little more formal looking (but it doesn’t have to be boring either). If it is just for fun then by all means have fun with it and make it reflect your personality.
So is it bad taste to make your site more interesting with a splash of colour and some graphics to boot? Of course not! So long as you don’t go overboard with it and it doesn’t seriously impact the performance or loading time of your blog.
Likewise, is it bad to use scripts and widgets in general? Of course not. Again, so long as it is used in moderation and doesn’t slow down your blog.
Of course there can be other issues to consider such as screen resolution size, but for the purpose of this post I am speaking primarily about design aesthetics.
On a personal note, the inspiration for my blog was the original Lockergnome design. I always liked Chris Pirillo’s site as it was kind of fun and cartoony looking and made learning technology fun.
I’ve spent years in courtrooms and a three-piece suit. I’ve played the corporate game long enough and I don’t need to prove myself any more. So I wanted something less formal and funky, and frankly I’m really bored with blase templates that are mostly white and look blah, blah, blah.
Template design is as finicky as the fashion industry. Have you ever watched the TV show Project Runway? If you have then you will know that everyone has a different opinion about clothing design, colors, fabric etc. It’s no different in web design. Trends come and go and the hot designers of today are tomorrow’s has beens. So don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
So will that be square edges or round, or perhaps we prefer no borders at all. Do we want several colours or just one? Should they be pastel or bright? Or will that be cheese and Canadian bacon with your Big Mac? (But I digress).
Answer: Who cares!
It’s what YOU like that really matters. You can’t please everyone so why not please yourself. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of people out there who will like your blog just the way it is (and that goes for dating as well ;-).
So my advice is if your site doesn’t fit into any of the absolute “no” categories then ignore the blog snobs and just have fun with your blog. Because it you aren’t having any fun with it then why bother?
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