Looking Better around Here, Methinks

I am one of those bloggers who cannot stop at just one theme or template. Nooo. I have to keep trying new ones, tweaking old ones.

This blog was actually my first experiment in wordpress.com but I found it limiting and have since installed WordPress on my own host. I started out using the Duster theme but didn’t like how single entry pages had no sidebars. At the same time, Duster is nice because it is very, very uncluttered. I like lots of white space and good typography and there are a lot of themes that really squash too much in too little space–and go overboard with fonts.

So I installed Canvas and gave it all the same CSS style that I used in Duster, with a few new upgrades.

I’m curious, though, about how people read blogs.

*Do you like to see lots of sidebars?

*Do you scroll through blogrolls? They’ve been around since the beginning of blogs and I wonder… these days I find blogs through comments or boards and not through blogrolls.

*Google FriendConnect: what is it for? If I subscribe to a blog in my Google Reader, that seems like enough, so signing into FriendConnect seems like a superfluous thing. Am I wrong?

*The biggest thing I’m curious about is–do you like to see the entire post on blog pages, or just a teaser/excerpt? Or do you generally read blogs in your reader first (which bypasses the whole excerpt thing anyway)?

I have another blog on which I occasionally write about design things. I wonder if it’d be useful to put some code or blogging engine tips here, specifically for sewing/fashion blogs?


  1. Amy says:

    I definitely enjoy tweaking design elements until things settle into just the right place for me. As for your questions – I like helpful sidebars. Current Sew-Along badges have helped me find other bloggers and join in with the online sewing community very quickly. I also like when sidebars help me to find my way around a new blog I stumble upon. I looked almost immediately at your Classic Pieces section when I first found your blog. I don’t tend to scroll through blog rolls too often. I do like the ones that include the title of the most recent post. If I see an intriguing title, I’ll click. I think others do the same because I get a decent number of hits onto my blog from sites with blog rolls that include post titles. I haven’t figured out how to get that kind of blog roll onto my free WordPress blog though. I have no idea what Google Friend Connect does. And, I like to see the entire post in my reader. I tend to stop following blogs that only give me a few lines in my reader. As for on your actual blog, I think that’s more a matter of preference.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, that is really helpful! I am working on my sidebars to see how I like them. I like the idea of the blogrolls with recent post titles; I think those are a Blogger widget, although I’m going to search now and see if something like it is available in WordPress. I know that FriendConnect is not available in wordpress.com but can be added to a self-hosted wordpress–it’s a javascript thing and .com doesn’t allow that. Another reason why I moved over… 😉

      Good to know your thoughts the excerpts, too–very helpful. I like the way they look but come to think of it, I don’t usually read them. When I’m scrolling blogs I look at the sidebar for recent posts to see what else people have been writing about, and that’s how I get to other posts.

  2. Amy says:

    Alrighty, I did a little bit of research…

    Blogger has widgets for its own blogs, including a “Blog List” widget with recent post titles, not just the blog title. One can create a Blog List by pulling in all of their Google Reader subscriptions automatically. Pretty neat.

    WordPress doesn’t have anything like that, but it can be hacked in both .com and .org wordpress blogs: You have to use an “RSS Widget” from your widgets panel for every single link. At that point each link is usually spaced pretty far apart as if they were separate widgets so you have to finesse the look with CSS. Some wordpress.org plugins are around that do something like the Blogger’s widget but they are all out of date–and be-woe the out of date plugin that causes your site to crash!

    • Amy says:

      Ahhh, I see. I found the RSS Widget, but I’m not sure I could hack into the CSS since I have a free blog. You’ve got yourself a nice blog roll now. I’ll keep working on figuring out how to build one that works for me. I do enjoy them…

  3. oonaballoona says:

    entire post entire post! extra clicks are the debbil. i don’t go through my reader because i like to visit each person through my blogroll…

    which answers the question, yep, i like a sidebar blogroll. and i love that your sidebar is one column & uncluttered. i just removed a bunch of pics from mine and i was like i could breathe.

    i don’t get the whole google friend connect thing, but i’ve got a widget in my sidebar for peeps who do…

    your new layout is loverly!

  4. SewOm says:

    I like blogrolls in the sidebars, especially ones with recent posts – times & titles. I read new posts by going to a few key blogs to see who has recently updated (Thank you, Tany and Robin!). And yes, I definitely prefer whole posts instead of click thru! Unless you truly truly grab me, I’m more likely to click away than click thru.

    I like how streamlined your design is, and categories in the sidebar are a beautiful beautiful thing. How do you feel about word clouds? The numbers on your category list are helpful, but word clouds convey the same info even more quickly. If you like them, the hard part would be finding one that fits into your clean, streamlined design.

  5. Taryn East says:

    Hmmm, I think your comments have convinced *me* to change my blog to put full posts in the rss feed. I had the idea that people hated the full-size posts as it was more to download each time the rss feed gets fetched, but I guess most people are on fast connections these days.

    I also like a blogroll in the sidebar when I’m reading new blogs. Maybe not so much on sites that are about my hobbies, but when I’m reading a new blog on my own profession, I like to see if they follow the same blogs that I do… helps you tell if you’re likely to trust their opinions – a bit like getting movie advice from people that watch the same movies as you. And if you don’t know any of the bogs… it gives you an opportunity to branch out into new spaces.

    • Amy says:

      Yes, I did the excerpt thing on another blog for a long time, but noticed that I don’t click through as much with those blogs in my feed that just publish excerpts. I’ve only been commenting on blogs for the last year, believe it or not (I just never communicated that way) so have been having fun discovering new ones all over people’s lists.

  6. Nice! I really like your layout and think it’s awesome that you care enough about it to ask questions like these =D
    Do you like to see lots of sidebars? No. I abhor clutter. Especially sidebar adverts. More so with blinking adverts. I read 100% of everything in Google Reader. I used to go to the extent of unsubscribing from posts that didn’t show the full post in Reader but I’ve grown up a bit now in that I have the Super Reader add-on which force unfurls everything. The way I see it: Google Reader actually gives blogs more hits than I would by clicking on their link somewhere once a day so unless they want to force their advertising on me there’s nothing gained for them by forcing me to click through to their blog (which I do anyway if there’s something I feel the urge to comment on).

    Do you scroll through blogrolls? No. I used to but now I find it very ye olde and most people don’t update them (they just add more links over time) so lots of the links are to dead/ un-updated (for months-years) blogs, which I find inefficient and irritating. I too find new blogs through comments, feeds and discussion boards.

    Google FriendConnect: It’s a way for Google to get more info on you and a way for people to show off subscribers like they do Facebook friends. It really clutters up the page and for pages with hundreds/ thousands of subscribers, fulfils no definable purpose other than to allow readers to click through on the first 10 or so subscribers.

    The biggest thing I’m curious about is–do you like to see the entire post on blog pages, or just a teaser/excerpt? Entire post-in reader (see above).

    I have another blog on which I occasionally write about design things. I wonder if it’d be useful to put some code or blogging engine tips here, specifically for sewing/fashion blogs – that would be cool but you would have to optimize it the free blogs as the majority seem to be free and therefore have less optimisation capability. I do my coding on Freeway/ Rapidweaver anyway so it’s not such a big deal. Easier to link to pre-existing tutorials perhaps?

    • Amy says:

      Thanks so much for the detailed thoughts! I do appreciate it, and often wonder how people read blogs. I was late to using Google Reader and now that I’ve been using it for a year, and am attempting to read on an ipad with a reader app, I totally get what I want to see. I don’t like excerpts, either. I click through to comment, but that’s about it. I do appreciate styled blogs as I am a former and still-occasional graphic designer, so I like clicking through to see the post and photos in context of its surroundings. Google FriendConnect is still the weirdest thing to me… even for what it measures–which is still a fraction of how many feed subscribers blogs have. I think eventually it’ll be replaced by or integrated into Google+ as its basically a Facebook sort of idea.

      My primary skill in blogging is actually in coding, and I realize how easy it is to overwhelm people. Most people don’t code, they use widgets and uploaders. I think it’s helpful for bloggers to learn very basic html code, and not rely on visual editors, which all interpret differently. (Blogger’s visual editor is the worst at adding extra & unnecessary code that at times causes extra spaces and line breaks and whatnot.) I enjoy teaching and encouraging others how to do those basic things but have decided for now to leave those topics off this blog.

      Thanks again for the input!

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