You may be guilty of driving your readers crazy without even realizing it.
And unless you've got thousands of "spare readers" just waiting to fill in the spots by the ones you're driving away, (I sure don't! I want every reader who lands here to stick around.) you might want to run down this quick checklist to be sure you're not accidentally making them so crazy they go elsewhere.
1. Design Like a Visual Assault
Taste is an individual thing. But some design rules exist for very good reasons.
Just because you love a black background and neon green text does not make that the right color choice. It's your website... but please, design it with your reader in mind. Simple is good. Less is more.
Be careful with things that blink, move, or otherwise distract.
Include lots of white space in your layout.
Don't use 1,000 different fonts and colors.
Shoot for a peaceful, easy to read page unless you are very, very sure of what you're doing and how your target readers will react to it.
Wasn't that lovely to read? Yeah... eyes don't like it when content is all squished together!
Watch how popular blogs, news sites, magazines, and other content-heavy websites format their content. They use:
- short paragraphs
- bulleted lists
- numbered lists
- bold and italics
Please model their style. It will make your content easier to read, understand, and take action on.
3. Crop Circles = Interesting; Browsing in Circles = Not Interesting
Imagine landing in a brand new city you've never been to, and walking around town in circles trying to find simple things like water, coffee, or a bathroom because there are no signs anywhere and no one's offered you a map.
For many of your readers, it may be a first visit to the land of your blog. Make it easy for them to find what they're looking for. Use categories to logically organize your posts. Include clear links to get in touch, return to your home page, etc.
4. Let's Play Comment Roulette
When people want to engage with you and share their thoughts, this is not the time to make them play comment roulette where, if they try enough times, eventually they might successfully get a comment onto your blog.
Don't force them to create an account, login, figure out a captcha, etc. You'll lose a lot of commenters if you insist on keeping those features. Just deal with the spam, okay? Try something like GASP (it's built into CommentLuv Premium).
If you absolutely must require login then consider a system such as Disqus or IntenseDebate that allows one login for thousands of sites, or a plugin like Social that allows users to login with their accounts at Facebook or Twitter.
Also, be sure that your comment box is easy to find!
5. No, You May Not Share
This is one of my biggest pet peeves with websites and blogs, personally. I love to share content I find that's helpful or interesting. But I want easy to click buttons that let me do it.
Please, choose one and install it. If you don't have many shares happening yet you can turn off the number counters in most plugins. Don't let that stop you from making it easy for your readers to share.