Weekly Geeks – Blogging Goals

04Oct09

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This week’s Weekly Geeks talks of blog improvement.

Take a look at your blog as if you were someone who has never seen a blog before. Imagine they are looking for something specific. Could they find it? Could they find YOU again? Be able to contact you? Would they understand your jargon?

I’ve tried to make my blog as simple (following the KISS principle : Keep It Simple Stupid) as possible, keeping clutter and the funky-looking tempting widgets to the minimum.

I think the following makes my blog more intuitive, and therefore, easier to navigate:

  • A big RSS button
  • A search box
  • A big list of “categories” which include
    • authors’ names
    • memes I participate in
    • prizes and awards won by the books I’ve reviewed
    • genres
  • The “about” tab, which also has my contact information
  • The “reviews” tab, which indexes all the books I’ve reviewed by both, authors and titles
  • The “tbr” list – this is “jargon” which non-book bloggers probably won’t get, ’til they open up the page. That’s probably not ideal.

When I first started the blog, my “categories” was limited to authors, and I didn’t have an index of all the reviews, something I changed as I realised how useful and practical it was.

However, there’s loads of things I can do to make my blog better, specially for a first-timer:

  • Indicate it’s a book blog straight away. I guess “anothercookiecrumbles” isn’t the most bookish blog name. I don’t even know where it came from, or what prompted me to keep that as my blog name. It seemed like a good idea at the time… maybe a small little caption underneath the title, or something?
  • Keep a proper “contact” page. My email address is hidden away in the “about” page, which isn’t very intuitive.
  • Have a consistent rating system. I tried the whole “on 10” thing, and it didn’t quite work. Now, I attempt to use numbers (“on 5”), but that’s not very clear. I should have a proper star system, or something that actually makes sense to someone other than me. I like making things up as I go along, but, it probably doesn’t help in eschewing obfuscation!
  • Move to a self-hosted site. I’ve been planning on doing this for a while, but I just need to find the time to. I’ve looked into it, and people have had conflicting experiences.

    I’d appreciate any other advice any of you readers have, as well as what your first opinion was, when you stumbled on here. As I’ve created this site, it obviously makes sense to me, but, I fear that you might not feel the same. Your advice and opinion will be welcome, and I’ll attempt fitting it all in.

    Thanks very much, and enjoy the week!

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    31 Responses to “Weekly Geeks – Blogging Goals”

    1. I think all your suggestions are good ones. I really need to do something about my star system too. It isn’t clear that it is out of 5 and noone but me really knows what it means – one day I’ll get round to fixing it!

      Self hosting is a good idea , you have so much more flexibility with your blog – let me know if you need any help.

      • Thanks Jackie. I do know what your rating system means!! Like the stars – it’s very clear! However, I guess what the stars are based on isn’t really clearly defined. There’s a theory that book blogs should have a clear-cut rating system, but, I don’t know… I’m not convinced.

        I’m going to get ’round it in December, when things are quieter. Thanks for the offer – will probably take you up on it. :)

    2. I love the crisp clean look here! and it seems that your categories are very organized, too. Mine are likely too vague. I also think I will add a better explanation of my pie slice ratings on each post. This is a great WeeklyGeeks for analyzing, isn’t it? I hope you like Rebecca – it’s a fave of mine (and do watch the flick if you haven’t already)

      • Thank you, Care. And thanks for commenting on my blog for the first time.

        Pie slice ratings are totally cool. I do like this week’s Geeks. It’s been ages since I’ve participated, but I thought this one was totally worth it.

        I’m really enjoying Rebecca so far… hope it continues in this vein. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but someone else told me to see it today! I’ll add it to my dvd pile.

    3. Ratings systems are hard. I had one and then tossed it out.

      I like the clean look too. Good luck with self-hosting.

    4. I think you’ve done well by following the KISS principle. I am always turned off by really busy blogs but yours isn’t like that at all.

      I’ve gone back and forth about the whole ratings system too. Right now I don’t use one but I have in the past and I can’t figure out which way I prefer.

      • It depends on the “busy” methinks. Some blogs can pull it off, but some are just so confusing, that it’s a second of information overload, and that’s enough to keep me running. I love whitespace.

        lol – Rating systems is a whole debate on its own, I think. I can’t figure it out either, if that helps… solidarity and all that :)

    5. I don’t use a rating system on my book blog because I think I would never be able to work out how to consistently score books. I think I woudl spend longer working out the rating that reading the book!

      I see you’re reading Rebecca – a good book. I think it is one of those books that the person who is the narrator is significant as to how accurate an account you get.

      • I’m really enjoying it at the moment. Think I’ve just about started to get into the story… hope it continues in this vein.

        Consistently scoring books is a good point – I’m slightly flaky like that. Might rate a book I enjoyed 3.5, which isn’t flattering, but… I did enjoy the book! Just didn’t think it deserved a higher rating… lol… the readers on here must hate me!

    6. I also TRY to keep my blog simple, although I am forever tempted by widgets, lists and whatnot. I have been cleaning up, though, and am now contemplating whether to remove everything which isn’t book related (ie photo-widgets, link lists to other interests etc) or to keep it, just to add a bit personality. Because in my opinion a blog should also reflect the blogger’s personality, unless of course we are talking pro-bloggers. Then it should just be pro :) I don’t really mind a bit of clutter here and there, but I agree that it can also be too much of a good thing.

      My e-mail is not available (I think!!) since it is my real name, and even though I have a picture of myself, plus making no secret that my name is Louise, I still am able to maintain some sort of anonymity (is it called that?)

      I have also heard both the pros and the cons of selfhosting.

      Whatever you decide, I think your blog has a great, clean look and that it is easy to navigate.

      • I like your blog – specially the colours. Widgets are one of those things, right? It’s so easy to go overboard, that it’s probably easier to stay away.

        I agree with you – a blog should reflect the blogger’s personality – something my blog does, I think, for I’m freakishly OCDish, and I really like the categorisations and whitespace on mine. Buuut – to someone who doesn’t know me, I think it might look really banal and unimaginative.

        I ended up creating a new email address for the blog-o-sphere. I’m petrified of my primary email address getting spammed or hacked. It’s happened to a couple of friends, and it just leads to such a mess, and so much unnecessary hassle.

        Thanks for your kind comments, and I’ll probably go the self-hosting route soon. I promised to do it if I reached 50 reviews this year… I didn’t think I’d stick with blogging. Now, I feel like I’m addicted.

    7. I think your blog looks great. I think you’re right about the name not being immediately indicative of a book blog but certainly there can be no mistake about that once someone is on the site- and you’re one of my favorite book blogs!

    8. 15 Pam

      I love love LOVE your blog! It’s good to look at (simple and clean) and easy to read (no looong boring reviews) KISS indeed! Well done Cookie…

    9. I really like the look of your blog. It’s nice and clean. And I love your author list; it’s very easy to get a quick idea of what you tend to review.

      My only suggestion is to offer a full feed instead of a partial one. I just added you to my reader and was sad to see that the feed was partial. I want to read your posts because you read lots of authors I’m interested in, but I know rarely take the time to click over and read the rest when I’m not seeing a full feed. (And I’ve heard others say the same.)

      • Thanks a lot, Teresa.

        Do you know if there’s any setting I can use to do this? I’ve tried with my image + the RSS Links widget, and both seem to default to the same thing. I did a quick google search but came up with zilch :(

        Hopefully, this is one of those things that will go away if and when I move to a self-hosted site.

    10. Thats a great list,I hope you get time to do everything you want to. I should do this Weekly Geeks. I want to categorize my books too but it gets very confusing sometimes :)

      • Thanks Violet, I hope so too.

        You should :) I found it to be very interesting as a meme. Led to a fair bit of introspection, and fleeting thoughts like: what on earth was i thinking? :)

        When it gets confusing, add multiple tags/categories – that’s what I do!

    11. I love the layout of your blog! And it’s easy to get around, my only suggestion is the same as Teresa’s — partial feeds in reader makes reading blogs a little bit more difficult, so I say go with full feeds!

      I know some people who refuse to subscribe to partial feeds and while I am not that opposed to them, it is a bit more of a pain.

      • Thanks Rebecca :)

        Again, same question : Do you know if there’s any setting I can use to do this? Nothing on google, and it seems to be my theme’s default :(

        Personally, I prefer full feeds as well, and ’til Teresa pointed it out, I never realised mine was only partial. Uh-oh.

        • go to wordpress dashboard –> settings =–> reading. part way down it says “For each article in a feed, show
          Full text
          Summary”

          And choose Full text.

    12. @rebeccareid : Thanks so much! I’ve done that, but still see only a partial feed when I click on the subscribe button. Might need a new post?

    13. I do not have a rating system myself (I don’t think I’d manage!) and I didn’t use to find it necessary. But lately I’ve been finding it more useful… It helps me to decide if I should read on in the post… There are so many blogs around and so many reviews of books that I have never heard of, that I need all sorts of distinguishing factors. Time is scarce! So, if you can decide on a system that works for you I think it would be a useful addition. But I find your weblog great as it is :)

      • Thank you!

        Yeah, I’m working on it – although, I’m not quite sure I’ll ever figure it out. Some people have stars, some have % based rankings, but… it would be interesting to come up with something more creative. Oh well, let’s see…

    14. Whoa! That is a comprehensive list of improvements! I hope you retain your blog name though; it is unique and intriguing. An explanatory tag-line beneath would, I think, work very well.

      Categories is a tricky thing to balance; I try not to have too many, but still want it to be comprehensive.

      I have also considered introducing a rating system. Or a ratting system. Yeah, was going to award each book a number of rats… But like Random I also fear a lack of consistency: I attempt the rating thing at Library Thing, and am not so good at it. But I like to see it on other sites, and look forward to seeing your ratings.

      Self-hosting? I would love to do that but lack the technical expertise. Sounds like a great idea. Good luck with that!

      • Yeah, I’m going to retain the name. I like it… despite the fact that it’s slightly loopy, it’s you know… very me!!

        Oooh, a ratting system! I think you should go for it. You can even go for different colored rats, so, you know… those mean looking terrible black rats for vile books, and the Ratatouille rats for the good ones:) No? It’s just an idea…

        I’ll probably be giving it a shot in December. If it’s easy enough, I’ll be happy to give you a hand… :)

    15. I like clear cut looks in a blog. Any blog. No clutters, no nonesense. It ought to load faster and read well.

      I like your blog.

      Weekly Geeks: Blogging Tips


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