10 Details Not To Neglect On Your Blog

We’ve all heard that “content is king,” and by all means I completely agree with this. People visit websites to read interesting articles, watch cool videos and to simply find resources that wrap around their interests and hobbies. It’s pretty much the heart of your site and without it, what good would a navigation bar, advertisements, or even something as small as a copyright date be?

As important as content is, there are many other facets of your site that help to build a structure around that content. Little things that can sometimes be overlooked by website owners and designers alike. Things that shouldn’t be overlooked.

You may not think so, but people do notice when you go out of your way to make an interesting about us page, provide a decent search method or make it easy to stay in touch. Have a look at these 10 Details Not To Neglect On Your Blog and take the time to address any of the items that could help to polish up your overall design.

Your Favicon

If you don’t know what a favicon is, it’s that tiny little graphic that you see next to the address bar that represents the current website that you’re on. It also makes an appearance in any open tabs in your browser and in your list of bookmarks/favorites. Unfortunately, I keep running into sites that don’t have one.

Since we humans seem to recognize images much faster than words, it’s kind of a no-brainer to add this to your website. It just makes it easier for your visitors to navigate and not having it in place means that you get the default paper icon with the folded edge. Nobody wants that.

There are a couple of options for adding a favicon to your website. We speak a lot of WordPress around here, so we’ll first look at some plugins that will help you get it up and going quite easily and we’ll also look at a more standard approach to add this little image.

For WordPress Users:

When I can, I try and add different elements to my sites without the use of plugins, mostly for learning purposes. Some people hate them, most people love them, but let’s face it plugins are fast and effective. Here are two plugins that will help you get your favicon up and running in no time.

Shockingly Simple Favicon is currently one of the popular plugins available. It allows you to add, and quickly change the favicon of your blog without having to edit the theme files.

Admin Favicon is a very simple plugin that creates a link to a shortcut icon. I’m pretty sure this is the one that I once used, and if so, the backend of it was user-friendly and I had no issues with the plugin.

A More Standard Approach:

It can be as simple as adding a favicon.ico file into the root folder of your website with no additional code, however there is a smarter way to go about doing this. Check out this tutorial explaining How to add a Favicon to your Blog/Website.

About Us

Believe it or not, visitors like to know just who is behind the wheel of their favorite websites. The “about me” page is often one of the most overlooked pages for website owners. Take the time to write out this page for your site so that you can help to create an identity for your visitors.

Speak from the heart and let your readers know how passionate you are about your specific industry. There are several different approaches you can take when creating your about me page:

  • Make it completely unique and stand out in the crowd
  • Use large pictures of yourself to leave a lasting impression
  • Keep it neat and tidy
  • Be direct and use large typography
  • Keep it minimal and less distracting

There are no strict rules for writing this page, and really it’s an opportunity for you to show others, well, the real you. If you need a little help check out this very informative article on Best Practices For Effective Design Of “About me” Pages.

Contact Us

Another aspect of your site that should not just be thrown together is your contact us page. Back in the early days, most site owners would just simply add the “mailto:” link which would open up the users default email program. We have advanced past that and now contact forms are the way to go.

Again, WordPress users can look to a plugin to easily drop in a contact form that easily attaches to your email account. Here is a look at 10 WordPress Plugins For Adding A Contact Form.

When putting the actual page together, you can get a little creative if you want. Have a look at how Smashing Magazine laid out the form on their contact us page.

Search Box (WP or Google)

Okay, this is kind of another no-brainer, but let’s look at two options for adding a search box for your WordPress site.

First, there is the standard WordPress search, the one that comes pre-installed, which in my opinion isn’t all that great. It does a pretty poor job of returning relevant posts for some obvious keywords. So you may ask, why are you still using it? Check back next week and you will see that I have switched to a more powerful approach.

Secondly, there is the Google search box option, which is the more powerful approach. As we all know Google is the king of search and we can take advantage of their amazing service by adding a Google search box to specifically search our site and our site only. Another advantage to this is the ability to tie in our Adsense account to the search return page and make a little money on the side.

RSS and Social Buttons

You see them on pretty much every site now, and it’s something that you should be actively participating in.

RSS is a format for delivering regularly updated web content. It allows your readers to easily stay informed about your new articles. Look into Google FeedBurner for an easy way to participate in RSS.

Social buttons, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. gives your readers a way to stay in contact with you on a more personable level. If you aren’t currently active in an online social community, it’s not too late. At the minimum, set yourself up a Twitter account and start sending out your content and the content of others that may appeal to your readers. Use a URL shortening service such as bit.ly to keep your links nice and trim.

Make an effort to let these buttons stand out. By building up a large subscription base through RSS or having tons of followers/friends on Twitter or Facebook, you can help to grow your site tremendously.

You’ll typically find these buttons in the upper right-hand corner of a website and they are likely to appear again in the footer. This will be different depending on the design of your site of course. Here’s a look at Social Media Integration: Examples And Tips to give you an idea of some placement options for these buttons.

Advertise (set-up)

How much thought have you put into dealing with advertisers on your site? Do you simply have advertisers contact you through email? If so, this can be very time-consuming and eventually become a hassle. You have to accept payment through  paypal or some other third-party system, send emails asking if the advertisers want to participate for another month term and all of the other problems that could arise.

It’s best to setup the whole system through a middle man such as BuySellAds.com. I’ve used them on several other sites in the past and recently, after finally deciding to offer advertising, added their service here on Bluefaqs.

To put it simply, after being approved, they will give you a simple piece of code that you install on your site where you want advertisements to be located. You decide the pricing for each ad slot and they do the rest, that’s pretty much it. The whole system is fully automated.

Make the effort to set this up and you can save yourself a lot of time.

Pagination

No, it’s not a nation made up of pages. It’s the act of getting rid of the “← older posts” and “newer posts →” that you commonly see on WordPress blogs. While these options work just fine, having a numered list of pages is much more effective.

Let’s say that I was on your site just flipping around through your posts. If I wanted to go back to the beginning of time, I would have to hit the “older posts” link numerous times to get anywhere. With pagination I could simply hit the last page and start from the beginning. It’s a more productive way to navigate and, in my opinion, offers a more professional look as well.

Since I feel like I’m pretty much talking to WordPress users now, I’ve found the plugin WP-PageNavi to be the best option for adding pagination to your site. It’s simple to use and offers several options to tune it in to the look of your blog.

Privacy Policy

Do you have Google Adsense on your site? If you don’t, you’re likely to end up adding it at some point. A lot of the big boys and small ones alike use it to bring in a little extra revenue. Nothing wrong with this, we have to get paid somehow.

If you participate in Adsense, Google requires you to have an updated privacy policy on your site ready for your visitors to read. You probably already knew that, but do you know how to write one? Luckily there are some fill in the blank privacy policies available to help you take care of this often overlooked necessity.

I did a quick search and came back with this Privacy Policy Generator for Google Adsense Publishers. It looks as though they keep it updated with the TOS and it should do the trick. It can also be used to generate privacy policies for a number of other advertising options. Let me know if you know of a better alternative.

Back to Top

If you ever feature a lengthy list or a fairly long article ,kind of how this one is turning out, in any of your posts, take the time to add a back to top link in your footer. This is more of a pet peeve than a vital part of a website, however these little links come in quite handy and your visitors might love you for it.

Setting this up is quite easy. Here is a look at 90 Creative Back To Top Links and Best Practices that should point you in the right direction.

Copyright Date

Let’s end this list by addressing something that belongs at the bottom of your page, the copyright date. If you don’t have yours setup to change automatically when the new year rings in, don’t forget to change it manually. You don’t want to be sporting a © 2008 when we’re sitting in 2010. I see this all the time and your visitors will notice.

Written by Shawn Ramsey

When I’m not brewing my own beer or hiking through the local National Forest, I’m busy building a more beautiful web.

@shawnramz → / bitdrips.com →


14 Comments

  1. James M. January 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    You have convinced me to write an about me page today. Thanks for the pagination plugin too. Great tips!

  2. Design Informer January 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Great post Shawn. I would however change the title to the 10 things not to neglect on your blog, as static sites might not necessarily need a search box or an RSS feed, as well pagination.

    Great points for any blog though.

    • Shawn Ramsey January 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

      Thanks for pointing that out. I don’t know how I let that one get past me.

  3. Dave January 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Don’t forget spelling! For me nothing ruins great site design faster than a big, obvious spelling mistake (or worse, many spelling mistakes).

    • Shawn Ramsey January 13, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

      Dave,

      Agreed! I hate it when I run into spelling errors within articles. I’ve seen some sites whose tag-line has a misspelled word. Now that’s one way to lose instant credibility IMO.

  4. Enk. January 30, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Nice Tips there, really enjoyed reading. But hey, is Privacy Policy Page a must for Adsense users? I never had one !

  5. Kory McDow January 31, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    Hi Shawn-

    Thanks for the great article. I didn’t know that you needed a privacy policy because of Google Adsense.

    Also, alot of people have mentioned BuySellAds. It looks like a good way to post advertising slots (I haven’t signed up with them yet). I just also want to mention that there are plugins that also make it easier if you’re using WordPress.

  6. John Zimmer March 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    A very good post, Shawn. Thoughtful and succinct. I started a blog on WordPress.com about 10 months ago and have tried to incorporate many of the details about which you have written.

    Although WordPress.com is more restrictive than WordPress.org in terms of plug-ins, JavaScript, etc., they are always adding new functionality. So there is still an awful lot that users can do to make their sites better for their readers.

    Thanks again. I’ll forward this link via Twitter.

    Cheers!

    John
    http://mannerofspeaking.org/

    • Shawn Ramsey March 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      That is the beauty of WordPress, they update often and they update well. I’m really excited to see some of the functionality that they plan to bundle into WP 3.0.

      I appreciate the compliment, comment and for supporting the article via Twitter.

      Thanks John!

  7. Tony March 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    Great list of reminders, Shawn. I’m assuming a privacy policy is the same as a disclosure page? For affiliate links and stuff right? Shrug.

  8. gummisig June 24, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    Great post, I especially like the about page stuff, that´s a good looking chap there :)

    One important thing is to have a website… duhh, but so many people I know think they have to get it perfect with the first try. I say get it out early, test early and often. No body get´s it right with the first try, all great artists and people that generally excel at something work very hard. But I´m getting of topic.

    I have to go over this with my site, your list is very good.

    Thanks again.

    • Shawn Ramsey June 24, 2010 at 11:20 am #

      Hey there! I’m not sure where I found that “about page” in the screenshot. Just some random site probably… Just kidding, thanks for checking in. You’re about page is great, hence the reason I used it. I appreciate you commenting on the article.

  9. gummisig June 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    thanks Shawn, I´m honored by being in your article. It´s very rewarding seeing that other people like what your doing.

    So thanks again for having the site ;)

  10. Matthew carleton June 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks for this. I never thought about the pagination point, I am one of those guys who have the prev next post buttons. Not for long though. Cheers!

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