The design should serve the text. Text should never be made to conform to a design for any purpose other than legibility, on a personal blog.
I almost entirely agree with Matt and on the matters that I don’t agree with him, my disagreements are more matters of personal taste than anything else. (Even in those instances Matt likely knows more than I do.)
I’ve talked a bit about well-designed sites for readers, but I think the above quote is really the essence of blogging: it’s about the content. Whenever I see a bunch of clutter on a website design I jump to one of (or both of) these conclusions:
- This “guy” is desperate for attention.
- This “guy” is desperate for money.
Probably not the conclusion you want me drawing when I, or anyone else, comes to your site.
I’ve made some tweaks to this site over the past 6 months to try and boost membership in subtle ways. The most annoying of those moves is to put nagging text in the footer of the free RSS feed. Other instances are the subtle way that I word the date strings (“Originally posted for members on…”), and at the bottom of posts as a reminder that you can subscribe.
For the most part I am uncomfortable with those elements being present and would love to remove them (in an ideal world), but they serve an important purpose that I can’t find a better way around: selling memberships. (Funny enough, when I remove those aspects I usually get a lot of emails from current members complaining that I am not doing enough to promote my site.)1
At the end of the day there will always be things about your site that you do because you kind of have to. I don’t think many people that have ads on their sites (single authors at least) love the fact that they have ads, but for many it has almost become a necessity as there is no better way to get paid for writing.
All this to say: make the site something you are proud of, and only use articles like Matt’s as a guide, not as gospel.
Also, be sure to check out the swell ad on RocketINK.net this month. ↩