Cleaning House

 

Photo Credit: This Year's Love via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: This Year’s Love via Compfight cc

The picture above pretty much sums up how I feel my blog starts to look when I change the “theme” or attempt to manipulate the look of it in any way. I have to throw everything all around, and only then will I eventually be able to sort it, categorize it, and put it into shiny new storage bins that would make make sense not only to me, but to everyone else who views the page as well.

Some websites are so beautiful, and so easy to navigate. Others are chaotic due to the massive amount of information/widgets/graphics/links that the site owner has tried to make stand out. Personally, I like simple and clean websites the best. As Brandon Jones writes in Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design, “Good visual hierarchy isn’t about wild and crazy graphics or the newest photoshop filters, it’s about organizing information in a way that’s usable, accessible, and logical to the everyday site visitor.” I also agree with him strongly when he says that “as a society we’ve been being barraged with a vertiable tsunami of visual information over the last couple decades; as a result, people nowadays are hyper-sensitive to visual hierarchy. This is especially the case on the web where studies have proven that regular web surfers have learned to “scan” content innately; automatically seeking information that is relevant to their interests and discarding/disregarding information that doesn’t.”

I try to keep those ideas in mind when I look at my own blog for this course. I have been (am still!) tempted to add some more widgets, and to reformat in other ways as well. However, do my readers really need or want the clutter of a ClustrMap? I would love to see if someone from far away clicks on my blog, but so far I’m not willing to have that widget on the side of my blog. I like a clean minimalist design type blog more than I like the idea of seeing who has gone to my site.

This is how my blog looked when I started this post.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 10.55.42 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 10.56.01 AM

 

Not great, but at least not a messy teenage bedroom level of disgusting either. Although to be fair, I am pretty sure that I never find my own messes as disturbing as others probably do.

As far as content is concerned, Lazy Eyes says that this blog post is not appealing to readers because I am using too long of paragraphs. Instead I should be using bullet points or very short paragraphs if I want to have a reader actually finish reading the post. Honestly, that depresses me! Just because we are reading things online, are we no longer able to maintain attention long enough to scroll?! Yikes. I would also be interested to see how our attention to online materials is lengthening or shortening with the increased number of years we have been reading a great deal of material online. Lazy Eyes was written in 2008. As far as information concerning our interaction with online material goes, a six year old article is pretty dated. Maybe as we have done more and more reading online we have developed better stamina and can now actually manage to finish longer blocks of text. Maybe we have become even more easily distracted though. Maybe eventually sentences will be too much for many readers to get through. I sure hope not, but I’m a bit worried! Today I read Extra Virgin Suicide in the New York Times. I loved the visual effect. Engaging, simple, clear. But to be honest, if that is the direction that more things head in the NY Times in the future, I’ll become one very sad person. I like in-depth articles, and blocks of texts don’t scare me away.

I may have to change my habits though, and start to write in shorter chunks. Mental note made.

As far as the rest of my blog layout goes, it has now become a work that is very much in progress. I wrote almost all of this blog post a week ago. I have tried a number of times to change my blog format, but I haven’t found anything yet that I like more. In theory, I like the “Berlin” theme because it is more visually interesting and has less white space than my current theme, but it still avoids feeling overly produced and therefore appeals to my more minimalist taste in website design. Unfortunately, I can’t get it to work for me. When I change to it, this is what I see:

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 7.55.38 PM

You know how when you want to organized a closet the first step is to take everything out and pile it on the bed? Suddenly cleaning/organizing can make things look far worse than it did before, right?! I am considering this the clothing on the bed stage, and I am going to have to keep messing with settings to get this to work. I promise that things will get better, even though it may not seem so right now.

While my final project for Course 2 was nice, I would like my followers to be able to see more than ONLY that one post repeated endlessly down the page (don’t worry: it is also displayed as a banner at the top, just in case you can’t find it anywhere else)! This week I spoke with Ross, who was also having trouble getting a new theme to work. His problems came from the fact that “featured images” are needed for each blog post. When I looked at his site on Friday it was displaying fine, but now it seems to have reverted back to black squares. And this is after I know he spent a lot of time getting it to look good!! Where he gets black squares as problems, I seem to be getting repeating blog entries showing.

Since it seems that “featured images” are needed, I am going to go to compfight.com and relocated and download all the images I used in Course 2 (“featured images” seem to only be able to be uploaded, and all the links that I have in my post right now to compfight images don’t work as links for featured images). I am going to also have to update all my blog posts from Course 1 to include “featured images” if I am going to switch to a more image-intensive theme as well. I just hope that it really is the “featured images” that is causing the issues. I guess we will find out! I would like to include a perfect “after” picture here of my updated blog, but this will take me some time to do.

For now, I am changing my theme back to the old one until I sort out the bugs in the new one.

4 thoughts on “Cleaning House

  1. Ross Connelly

    Nice posting! I really liked your bedroom tidying analogy. I really connected with it.

    I’m afraid that I am one of those guilty parties who often tends to scan websites and not read long texts. I AM capable of reading long texts, such as yours, but only when I’m in the right mental space. When I’m logged on for work or for online classes, I take the time. When I’m cruising around for fun, I really blast through websites and don’t take my time. Perhaps these visual tips are most useful for ‘hooking’ readers and you need to ‘earn’ the write to spout off in long blocks of text? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.

    As for my theme. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that inserting featured images for all my NEW posts is the way I have to go. Going back and adding images to my old posts is creating too many problems. I hope you and your new theme can find a way to get along. I know it isn’t easy.

    Reply
    1. Pam Thomson

      Hi Hannah,

      I wrote a great reply and posted it but it seems to be lost. So…I will keep this short and to the point. I agreed with everything you wrote. Your post was long but easy to read due to the white space but also how your words kept the reader engaged. I have played with my theme but am comfortable with the simplicity of the header picture which does not allow me to add anything but color to the background or it looks cluttered.
      Good luck in your theme.

      Reply
  2. Pam Thomson

    Hannah,
    What a refreshing perspective from your post cleaning-house. I truly agree with everything you said through out the entire post. I certainly did not mind reading the long post because it was visually clean and easy to look at, maybe because of the simplicity of white. Usually reading a long text on white can be daunting but your words keep the reader engaged.
    I have been trying to change up my theme but I am comfortable with the header picture I chose when we first started. I did add a color background because all the other background choices just added clutter, even from my favorite pictures. So for now its a simple header and color. Good luck in your house cleaning project.

    Reply

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