Christian Montoya posts on the top ten ways to “uglify” your blog. It’s basically a collection of the top things not to do if you want your blog not only to be aesthetically-pleasing, but also accessible and usable. I think the keyword here is usability. I believe in designing blogs and websites with usability in mind.
While I do agree with fellow problogger Dave that not everything in the list is helpful, let me highlight some points I find worth following–actually design points worth avoiding, that is.
* Long blogrolls. I used to have a moderately long blogroll at the old J Spot (jangelo.i.ph), which kept on growing as I got to know more people in the blogosphere and got to read more interesting sites. Actually, my blogroll is automatically generated from my bloglines subscriptions, so this means each and every blog I publicly bookmark keeps getting added to the point that the blogroll got too long that it ate up a space longer than the front page of blog posts. I eventually relegated my blogroll to a static page, so it’s unobtrusive, while still serving the purpose of telling readers what other sites I read, and adding to that SEO factor (passing on the linklove).
* Social bookmarking buttons. I think these just clutter the design of a blog. If readers were already users of any of these social bookmarking sites, they would know better and are likely to have their own easy-subscribe or easy-tag buttons for bookmarking sites of interest. Besides, not everyone is into all of these social bookmarkers. I, myself, only use del.icio.us actively. The others I only get to stumble upon (hey, that’s another social bookmarking site!) every now and then.
* Feedreader buttons. Same as the bookmarking buttons, there’s no sense in putting in all of the available feedreaders out there when your readers are likely to be using only one or even none at all. I’ve included only the more popular feed readers, and these buttons are only present on my “about this site” page.
* 80 x 15 buttons. More ways to clutter your site even more. If you must include links to affiliate sites, I think they’re best relegated to your “about this site” or “about me” page, and not plastered on every page at your sidebar. I do have some of these buttons, but only to a limited extent–and I plan to move them sometime.
* Tag clouds. These are all right, if kept to a minimum. But if you’re like me, you’ll be bound to be attaching all sorts of tags onto your posts, and the tag list could get unweildy at some point. Just like an ever-growing blogroll. Now my tag cloud is on a separate page.
* Ads. Well, this is subjective, but I’ve opted against ads on the J Spot, at least for the foreseeable future. I’m earning enough from my other problogging and freelancing activities that I prefer not to be pressured in writing at this blog. Also, I don’t want to divert the attention of my readers to other things, especially as clicking ads will lead readers outside of my site.
Of course, there are other design no-no’s, such as those atrocious auto-playing music, crappy color schemes and even crappier fonts. But we’ve had enough of things to avoid for now.
What do you think? Are there any other blog elements that irk you? What about ugly dogs?