I took a “Web Authoring” class at a community college, and now I’m an expert!

Okay, not really. I don’t think it’s that simple… Plus, I also took a Graphics Applications class, and there was some overlap there. {{Wink, wink}}

The reason I am writing this, though, is that I have been reading more blogs lately, and subscribing to more blogs, and I have tried to read a few that seem as though they may have good content, but I can’t get past the first couple of lines. I am not going to single anyone out, because I am mean, but I’m not that mean. Besides, other people have done it better, by creating sites like this one…

There are also sites that tell you how to create wonderful, user-friendly websites, like this site.

Now, I am not coding my own blog. I could, and sometimes I do change things in the html, looking stuff up at this wonderful organization website for guidance as needed. That’s because I am thick in the skull, and I don’t always remember how I did something in class last semester. But even if all you ever do is type stuff into WordPress or Blogger or Blogspot, there are a few things you can do to increase the odds that people will read your work instead of clicking away in frustration.

  1. Break it up. Have some “white space”. If you have a paragraph that takes up more than a third of the computer screen, people will become exhausted before they even read the first sentence.
  2. Include visuals. People like pictures. Even when they are not on topic.
  3. Things are more difficult to read on a computer screen than on paper, so people lose patience more easily.
  4. Don’t make your text box too wide. Nobody wants to feel like they are at a tennis match. 
  5. Except for headings and “special” things that you want to pop out, align your writing to the left. As a reader, it is much easier to read something if you don’t feel like you are “guessing” at where the next line will begin. You want to engage your reader’s mind with the content of your words, not puzzle over where the next line begins.
  6. Remember that on a longer blog entry or page, not everything will appear on the screen at once, so you want to engage the reader with what appears on the top “fold” of the screen, so that they will want to scroll down and keep reading.
  7. Make sure your colors don’t make the words difficult to read. Contrast the letters against the background. Also, keep your fonts simple, use the fancy stuff for accents to create a mood, but make the bulk of your words easy to read.

Of course, content is important. Read through what you wrote before you publish. I guarantee you will still have typos and mistakes even if you do this, but at least read through once to pick up on anything glaring. If you read it out loud, often you pick up on things that don’t quite say what you thought you were saying. You can also copy and paste the text into document creating software such as Microsoft Word, and run a spell-check. I don’t have to do this, because I am a perfect grammar Nazi… Just kidding. While I pride myself on having above-average spelling and grammar skills, I will sometimes go back a day or two later and find myself asking, “Was I drunk when I wrote this?!” I ask this even though I don’t touch alcohol, like somehow I can get drunk from breathing…

Once you have your content and presentation down, make sure you make your blog easier for people to find by entering descriptive tags. WordPress has a tag area right next to the box where you are typing… I’m guessing other blogging sites do as well.

Finally, try to make your content more accessible. For example, include descriptions with your photos for those who may be visually impaired. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will allow you to include more people in your audience.

Web page for a book concept
This is an example of a web page where the “white space” is not white.

In case you do not already know, “White space” refers to the blank space between the stuff on your screen. It is not always white. When you don’t include enough white space, you overwhelm your viewer. This can lead to all sorts of bad things, including an uncontrollable urge to throw a brick through your computer screen.

This is an example from my Graphics Applications class project. In hindsight, I’d use different colors, but it got the job done.

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