Friday, November 7, 2014

My Top Ten Blog Design Pet-Peeves (and GIVEAWAY!)

Before we get to the meat of this post, I want to give you the official notice (I've been tweeting about it for a bit now!)

I'm going to host a giveaway when A Splash of Ink reaches 100 Google Friend Connect followers!

Ahem, yes well, first I have to figure out how to run one of those things...ah well, DETAILS! But seriously, if you guys know of any good posts talking about how to run giveaways that would be much appreciated.

Now, onto you're regularly scheduled *looks over at the archive for the past two months and laughs* posting:

Today I wanted to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart: blog design. I'm in no way a super professional blog designer, but I have learned quite a bit since I started blogging and I wanted to pass it on, especially to you newbies out there. I wanted to create a list of my (emphasis on "my" people!) biggest blog design pet peeves and how to avoid them. I write this post, because I wish someone would have written it (and then spammed my email with it) when I first started blogging. 

This is a list in no particular order:

1. Music that plays as soon as I go onto the webpage
I like seeing what music people are interested in, but I don't want to be assaulted with it as soon as I click on your blog. If something starts blaring from my speakers unexpectedly, my first instinct is to close everything, no matter how awesome your blog is (and it is awesome). 

Instead try: Having an optional music player on your blog. I have one in my sidebar with the song of week(ish). It's just an embedded video from Youtube. Speaking of which, does anyone actually listen to those songs?

2. Hidden "follow" buttons
This might just be laziness on my part, but I hate it when I can't find a follow me button on someone's blog. I really want to follow blogs, but when there's no button, it creates an extra step for me. I have to go into bloglovin' and manually search and add a blog. When I was still using GFC as my main reader, I remember it being tough to manually add a blog to my feed. 

Instead try: Putting a button on your blog somewhere, both GFC and Bloglovin' is great for readers of all types. If you don't want a super obvious, in-your-face button, try putting it at the bottom of the main blog page or on a new page altogether. 

3. When I can't read your text
There's two general reasons for this a) colour and b) font choice. Both of them equally annoying. I JUST WANT TO READ YOUR CONTENT THAT I'M SURE IS GREAT, BUT I CAN'T READ IT *sob*

Instead try: simplicity. Stick too dark colours for the text like black or navy, and make sure the background isn't distracting or too dark. Use a font that is similar to the default, save the fun curly fonts for headers. Oh! And make sure it's big enough to read.

4. Who are you and where can I find you (in a not-creepy kind of way)?
If you want to interact with other bloggers (which is the fun of blogging for me!), then it's important that people get a sense of who you are. There's been way too many times where I'm like "This person is awesome, and funny, and bookish, and awesome!", so I look around for a profile or a twitter handle, but there's nothing! Then I'm sad when I can't find one, because I want to get to know you and sometimes tweet at you.

Instead try: making a page of your blog dedicated to you! I'm a private person, so I get it if you don't want to share you're life story. Try some general descriptors like "I'm a student" or "I play the trombone" or "I'm really a superhero in disguise" (ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea!). You don't have to share things like you age, gender, or where you live for people to get a sense of who you are.

5. No cohesion
A hundred different colours and a thousand different fonts. It looks very busy and you can tell that they wanted to include all of their ideas.

Instead try: a colour scheme and one or two well place patterns. Props for being inclusive, but in blog design less is (usually) more. Pick a theme and go with it. On SOI, I currently have a peacock/watercolour theme, that I try to carry through with all my design elements. I talked more about this here.

6. Obnoxious sidebars
Some people have ditched sidebars all together (I'm looking at you Notebooksisters-soon-to-be-Paper-Fury) and that's cool, but I still love to have a sidebar. What I do not love is annoying sidebars (and yes, I'm definitely guilty of this one on and off). Usually obnoxious sidebars have a) way too many widgets b) flashy widgets (that give me a seizure to look at) c) sidebars that take too much room or d) widgets that don't fit properly.

Instead try: picking one or two of the more gimmicky widgets (e.g. dog calenders, fish feeders, daily horoscope etc.) so it doesn't take over your blog. If something in your sidebar is really important, but seems to be taking over (such as blog buttons), make a whole new page dedicated to it. Try making your sidebar around 1/3rd the size of your body (and always avoid the double sidebar). 
An example of what NOT to do. 

7. Pictures that
As with the sidebar, it's the worst when a picture doesn't fit inside the blog body, so it either overflows or gets cut off. Another no-no is pictures that have been stretched or compressed weird.\

Instead try: previewing your blog post before publishing, so you can make any size adjustments to your pictures. When you're making size adjustments, use the built in small/medium/large buttons, but if you're going to mess around with HTML, use an online conversion calculator. I've screw up so many pictures by not keeping the width and length the same ratio. 

8. Making my mouse do funny things
Me and my mouse arrow have a very good relationship. I choose the size of it in my own computer settings, and we're very close. I'm glad that you like stars or fireworks when you click on something, but I prefer to keep my usual mouse (it might get lonely without me).

9. Making it hard for me to read more
I love your posts, and I want to read more! Where's the archive? Where's the label cloud? Where's the "You Might Also Like"? Am I going to be forced to just keep click "View older posts"?

Instead try: adding the aforementioned things. 

10. The GIF says it all:


There you have it! My top ten blog design pet peeves. I wanted to end this post by saying that I'm not thinking of anybody's blog in particular and that I love all of your blogs, so much. It's just a shame when some design elements get in the way of someone really enjoying a blog's content. What's your biggest design pet peeve? Do you agree/disagree with any of mine? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Listening: Johnny Cash
Watching: Scorpion 


  1. Hey Sunny! Great post. I wish people had posts like these when I was first blogging, too! The first few I found that actually helped me out made me SO happy! So, question... How do you get the "you might also like" feature? I would be delighted to have that on my blog. Never even thought about it before. :)

    1. Thanks!

      It's been awhile since I did that, but this website should take you through it. I think it's a fairly easy method of just plugging in your information, than placing the widget below the body in your blog layout. Here's the link:

  2. Haha, I wrote a post like this a little while ago, and we are very much in agreement on some things! The music and poor text ESPECIALLY drive me nuts, and that Comic Sans GIF? Spot on, ma'am. Probably my only disagreement is finding easy ways to get people to follow the blog because it is SO HARD TO FIND A GOOD WAY TO PROMOTE FOLLOWING. Nothing looks good. NOTHING. And that is my struggle as a blogger. As a reader, I agree, but when I'm the one who doesn't know HTML? My words are less than kind and caring.

    But yes, I agree, I agree, I agree. Spread the news, people. These things are not okay.

    1. I'm glad you agree, and I'm glad that you appreciate that Comic Sans GIF, lol.

      As for the following problem, I think us bloggers worry about it more than the readers. I never want to be pushy and force people to follow (because that's a big turn off), but I find that sometimes I'm too sensitive. Readers, in my opinion, expect to see the GFC or Bloglovin' widgets.
      However, if we're talking about the design of these widgets, then yes, they can be pretty ugly sometimes :P

  3. Nice post! I know when I was redesigning my blog (it looked a lot different a couple months ago) it was really hard to find something that looked pretty, original but not TOO original, and legible and even now there are some rules I didn't follow...

    1. Thanks!

      This post is subjective, so it's okay to break the rules. Ultimately, if you feel satisfied with your blog, then I think that's the most important thing:)

  4. Clean sidebards and minimalistic design are enough for me to follow a blog. I hate it when someone over do their design, it's not okay because sometimes it takes too much time to load and that's enough reason for me to ditch a blog ><. and it makes me really sad to do that.

    1. Oh yes, the loading time is something that people (with super fast internet) often forget, but is very important. Great point!

      I too love the minimalist design, even if SOI isn't quite one of them, haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. LinkWithin is great, one of those few widgets that blends in with your layout without looking too widget-y (you know what I mean?). White text on black is the worst, I get if you're trying to set a mood but it makes you blind for like five minutes after :P haha and I usually fail peeve #4 everytime ;)

    1. Oooo! Yes, I totally know what you mean! I sometimes forget that LinkWithin is even a widget and not just part of my blog.


  6. *hides* I'M SORRY. I actually freaked when I first got rid of my sidebar...but now I'm quite attached to it. I like that there's nothing distracting from the actual post. (Ughhh I hate sidebars that flash with gifs or scrolling buttons or whatnot. It's sooo distracting when I'm trying to read a post.)
    I think my biggest blog-pet-peeve is when people use crazy fonts. I JUST CAN'T READ THEM. And it's embarrassing to be squinting at a blog for a really long time just trying to make out that curly font that's like light green on a super weird background. *cries* I always comment back and's a nightmare.
    Minimalism designs = I love.
    Which means I love your blog, btw. If I have not yet mentioned it. I THINK YOU ARE A DESIGN QUEEN. It's always so sleek and professional looking.

    1. Crazy fonts are. the. worst.

      Let me just say, that I appreciate you commenting back. I think that's a huge undertaking (especially with the amount of comments you get) and really meaningful to your readers. I try to do it, but sometimes I just don't have the dedication.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my design! It means so much to me to hear someone compliment something I worked long and hard on.

  7. I gotta agree with you on a lot of this. I've only ever came across a couple of blogs that blasted music straight away but I didn't stick around long enough to even know the blog's name because I usually just hit that x while internally screaming *make it stop, make it stop!*
    I'm not too bothered if a blog doesn't have a follow button instead it just makes me think that this blog does not want followers so I may or may not come back.
    YES! My mouse is perfectly fine the way it is. It does not like to be tampered with.
    Comic Sans should be banned.... effective immediately.
    Marian ^_^

    1. Comic Sans should be banned! I'm with you on that one!

      And yes, I've only ever seen a few blogs with music, but they scarred me enough that they made this list, haha.

  8. Ugh... The music one is bad!!! XD

    I also nominated you for the Best Blogging Buddies Award!! :)

    1. Thanks for the nomination! I commented over on your blog:)

  9. This post is perfect! I agree with every single one of these. Now (because I'm too lazy to write in coherent prose):

    1. A giveaway! That's exciting! Also 100 followers! Very exciting!

    2. "obnoxious sidebars" I relate to this so much! That glitter text widget? It kills me. Oh, and the clock thing that tells you the exact time to the second? Waaayyy too much for me. Sad to say I was once a blogger like this - with fish and all - but I learnt from my mistakes.

    3. I very much agree with #s 2, 3, 5 and 9. Very, very much.

    4. Your own blog design - as I've been meaning to say for several months - is gorgeous. Did you draw the header yourself?

    5. I love #8. That was a beautiful passage about you and your mouse. It spoke to me.

    6. THAT GIF IS PERFECT!! I love it!!!

    7. Overall, great post!

    1. Haha, thanks for such a lovely, long comment:D I will respond in similar fashion because I to am too lazy to write in coherent prose.

      1. I know! EEE!!!
      2. I was a blogger like this too. No shame in being a beginner.
      3. I always like when someone agrees with me!
      4. Thank you so much! I did draw it myself! Personally, I love the peacock theme
      5. Thank you, it was heartfelt :P
      6. When I saw it, I knew it was the one!!!
      7. Once again, thank you! I aim to please:)

  10. I did a sort-of redesign of my blog awhile back but I want to do another one soon. What I'd like, probably, is, if you have a blog schedule please actually WRITE IT OUT somewhere. It's a pain to spend a a lot of time figuring out what you usually blog about. (Not you, but you know what I mean.) And then there are those moving pictures (yep, I don't even know what they're called) which, I think, distract more than anything. Don't know if that can be counted design.... Thanks for the post!

    1. No problem, glad you enjoyed!

      When it comes to redesigning, I usually end up fiddling for a month or so afterwards until I get everything juuuust right.

    2. Haha, right. I did the bulk of it already (or at least the main part) and have the litte things left to adjust (adapting it to look okay on a mobile device, play around with gadgets, etc). It's really fun. :)

      P. S. I hope to tale less than a month, lol.

  11. So, ahem, yeah. I just had to fix, like, 3 things with my blog after I read that post. I was thinking, "Wow, yeah, that really is annoying!" and then "Aw man, I hate that, too!". But then I had to stop and think about it for a minute, and I realized my blog was doing the same thing.

    So, all that to say, thank you for this post. ;)

    1. I'm so glad that this post helped! I hoped that it would inspire change in a non-pushy way, because usually people don't even realize that their blogs have these types of features!

      Btw, your blog looks lovely. I love the minimalism. I'm not sure what it was like before you made the changes, but I don't think you have to worry about any design problems now:)

    2. Aw, well thank you very much! I didn't have any follow buttons, and the sidebar was quite messy, so I quickly fixed it. Your design is gorgeous! I absolutely LOVE the colors!


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