Content and Copy
Today’s blogging platforms offer a plethora of widgets, buttons, menus and other bells and whistles that seek to offer your users a richer, more engaging experience. But, and I hate to say this, it seems to me that we have reached a kind of critical mass where the addition of any more elements is just overkill. With so much going on in the margins, who is going to pay attention to the block of text that is the heart of your blog?
Although there are a number of things which you should consider axing in order to streamline your blog and simplify user experience (see a great post by Adam Connell at Blogging Wizard for a great rundown), there is one offender in particular that you need to get rid of right now. What is it? Read on my blogging friend, read on.
If you haven’t guessed which element you need to immediately remove from your blog by now I’ll tell you: it is the ubiquitous share box. Ubiquitous and available in a a dazzlingly variety of styles the social share box is filled with stylish icons representing a selection of the trendiest social networks. The most common social widgets are the big boys such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter but you will also find Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, et cetera et ad nauseam. You may be compelled to say “Mike, what’s wrong with the social share widgets? I mean if everybody’s using them aren’t they a standard that good blog design requires?” Well, if everybody else decided to jump off a bride would you do it too? (Thanks for that one , Dad)
Not only do the bevvy of social widgets distract readers from your blog but they also take them away from it. After spending so much time getting people to your site the last thing you want to do is give them an excuse to click away again. Sure, you should definitely include a form for people to subscribe to your email list but that is because it’s yours and isn’t going to take them away where they’ll immediately lose themselves in hours of looking at Caturday photos and toddler dance recital videos.
So, what’s the takeaway: don’t give your readers an excuse to jump ship before they have even read your content. ALso, when you put the focus back on the text of your blog rather than on the periphery people may actually read it and it has a chance of becoming something of value. I really do recommend you take a moment to read through the Blogging Wizard article I linked to above for even more ideas about how to accomplish this but, whatever you do, ax the social widgets ASAP.