Kay lives here

working with the web

Top Ten Blog Mistakes – Maybe?

I’m surprised that Jakob Nielsen’s Top Ten Design Mistakes for Web Logs hasn’t stirred much comment in blog circles I frequent. Maybe I frequent the wrong circles!

Most of the mistakes are pretty obvious and not very contentious. Most of them apply more to business blogs than personal sites. I do disagree with a couple though…

1. No Author Biographies

I’ll pay that. I don’t like to go to a blog and have no idea about the author. I came across this a couple of times in the posting frenzy after Web Essentials 05. These people went to the same conference as I did, so we obviously share many of the same ideas and passions – but who are they, and where are they from? Did I possibly meet some of them? Enquiring minds want to know!

So am I guilty of sin number one? Almost. My About me page is pitifully short but at least it has my real name on it. And if you follow one of the “multiple persona disorder” links to my other sites you’ll find some more general info. As with everything else I will eventually get around to fleshing out that page. But with words, ok – I don’t intend to rectify Design Mistake Number Two…

2. No Author Photo

You don’t need to see me. There’s enough bloody photos of me plastered all over the internet – can you tell I prefer being behind the camera? But with other people’s blogs as well – it doesn’t concern me if I don’t know what they look like. I’ll base my opinions on their words instead.

Mr Nielsen, on the other hand…

No, I don’t want to pay out on Jakob. That’s quite fashionable. One of our programmers, Dominic, has actually seen him speak and said it was really inspiring. I believe Dom – it’s just that Jakob’s not always right, and he comes across as a bit of a dweeb.

3. Nondescript Posting Titles

While I agree that many blog post titles could be more descriptive, I don’t necessarily think they should read like newspaper headlines. If your post title is intriguing, I’ll click on it. Of course, the Search Engine Optimist in me likes keywords in titles – I can’t help it. That can backfire, however – over on my ColdFusion blog, when it was more of a personal site and I was rabbiting on about whatever I felt like at the time, I made a post about the Rock It music festival – and it ended up ranking in Google above the official site. That was nice – except that I was flooded with comments from the sub-15 year old rock kid set. I tolerated it for a while until the LOL LOL Billy Joe is a HOTTTTEEEEE LOL comments and corresponding abuse ticked me off and I deleted most of them (looking up the title for this post, I see some of them are back). That was largely the impetus for me to split my ramblings up into topic centric sites – this one for web standards, my original domain name for ColdFusion-related topics, and a “coming real soon now” site for my musical rants and raves.

4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go

Fair call. I try to describe links, but I don’t generally use the link titles, mostly because I lazy (and also I didn’t go to the Web Essentials session on the title attribute, but it didn’t seem too complimentary). I would like to implement those funky JavaScript pop up ‘nice titles’ when I get time – I think they’re very stylish. That would probably encourage me to use the title attribute more religiously. For a while anyway.

5. Classic Hits Are Buried

Again, guilty as charged. This blog hasn’t been around long enough to have any “classic hits”. But we’ll see over time. WordPress makes things like that so easy – any feature I think of, someone has already implemented as a plugin.

6. The Calendar Is The Only Navigation

Yeah, that would suck. Can’t think the last time I saw that, though. I wrote a blog post about blog calendars a long time ago because I was concerned that I didn’t have one at all – but the comments I got seemed to indicate that no one used them anyway. Meh.

7. Irregular Publishing Frequency

This I don’t agree with. In these aggregated days, I’d rather read your well-considered, thought out posts on whatever schedule you’d prefer – I’ll see your posts anyway and my feed reader won’t mind that you don’t post every single day/week/whatever. I’m very erratic – I’ll post every day for ages and then nothing for a month. I don’t want to publish drivel – I’ll only post when I have something to say.

8. Mixing Topics

This is important. I don’t mind the occasional personal post on a technical blog – I like to feel like I know my favourite bloggers just a little bit. But it can go too far – I made this mistake myself on my first incarnation of Kay Lives Here, leading to the birth of this blog. The problem is that I’m too interested in too many diverse topics.

9. Forgetting You Write For Your Future Boss

Big one. I’m fairly careful – but we had a job application a couple of years ago from a person who listed their own personal weblog as a portfolio piece. Blogs back then were still somewhat of a novelty, so we all had a look. This person’s site had a neat side bar which listed their personality traits – including overly emotional, difficult to get along with, and sulky. Needless to say this person didn’t get the job.

10. Having a domain name owned by a Weblog Service

Have to agree with this one. I’m proud of my smoljak.com domain name – so proud in fact that I snaffled smoljak.org and smoljak.net as well. Zombiecoder was a brainwave from (Halloween baby) Dave – an idea for a cool network of sites from our like-minded friends. So far I’m the only one to have anything actually live on their sub-domain! I have several other cool domain names as well – with Godaddy being so cheap sometimes we have ideas, find the domain name is available, and can’t help ourselves. Most of them never end up going anywhere.

However, I do have a brand-spanking new WordPress.com blog. I just couldn’t resist, WordPress is such a cool piece of code. Unlike other hosted services though, I can’t help thinking that WordPress.com will keep some of it’s cool factor, so I don’t mind.