Your Blog, Your Way: Post 7

Tips on blogging by Seth Apter

This series has introduced you to the ten Cs of blogging, a framework to bring you one step closer to the blog you have always wanted. In earlier posts, Consistency, Continuity, Community, Content, and Comments have been reviewed. Each of these concepts focused on practical aspects of blogging that can be applied to any type of blog, art or otherwise. Today we turn our attention to an aspect that is particularly integral to art blogs: Composition.

In general, composition refers to the arrangement of the visual elements within a piece of art. A viewer is drawn in by an effective composition, which also serves to direct the viewer’s eyes to the different components of the artwork. In terms of blogs, composition relates to the visual design of your site. As the portal to your artwork and to what there is to learn about you as the artist, it makes intuitive sense that the design of your blog ought to reflect your creative aesthetic and be visually inviting and compelling. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the look of your blog says it all.

In my survey, 97% of respondents said that they notice the physical composition of the art blogs that they visit and 38% described that aspect as very important to them. Interestingly, nearly 20% said that the design of the blog determines whether they actually visit or not. Given these numbers, now is the time to take a critical look at your blog’s composition. With all the talk of branding these days, you want the choices you make in designing your blog to represent you as an artist, differentiate you from others, and invite the viewer in.

There are many options for site composition within every blogging platform. You do not have to know much about code to be able to quickly and easily create a design that meets your individual needs. As a start, consider the following elements: banner image, background and text color, font design and size, column number, image size, and sidebar content.  There are literally an endless number of combinations that you can create but the most important combination is one that reflects and appeals to you.

Two aspects of composition bear highlighting. The first is the sidebar of the blog—valuable real estate that all too often goes unnoticed. In the survey, 70% of respondents look through the sidebar less than half the times they visit and 16% never look at all. Find ways to make the sidebar a must-visit part of your blog by making it visually appealing, providing good content, and adding an interactive element.

The second aspect worth addressing is not visual at all but rather auditory: the use of background music. 57% of those surveyed say they dislike hearing music playing and typically press the mute button and an additional 23% dislike it and simply leave the blog. Again, make the choice that you are comfortable with but keep these statistics in mind as you chose.

Homework: Find a blog buddy, another blogger whose creative style resonates with yours, whom you’ve gotten to know, and whom you feel you can trust. Each of you should then place a critical (but constructive and loving) eye on the other’s blog site and (gently) trade feedback. Notice that the font might be too small for many eyes? Mention that. Not enough visual space between items on the sidebar? Share that. If you decide to do this, be open to the suggestions made but in the end, go with own gut. It is after all, Your Blog, Your Way.

Next month: Censoring

 

Seth Apter is a regular contributor to CreateMixedMedia.com, the voice behind, The Altered Page and the author of the forthcoming book, The Pulse of Mixed Media. (North Light Books, Spring 2012)

You can listen to a podcast with Seth right here.


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5 Responses to Your Blog, Your Way: Post 7

  1. Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

    Thanks for adding the stats about the music because, for many of us, auto-play music is a deal-breaker. I have a music player on my blog, but viewers have to locate it and start it to hear music.

  2. cofrog says:

    I have a love/hate with music on blogs. On one hand through art doll blogs I have found some wonderful music that I would have never thought of listening to other wise. But on the other if I am blog hopping and have several opening at once it can be really annoying to all of a sudden have all these songs trying to play at once. I wish if a blogger is going to put an auto-play player on their blog that they would keep it at the top so I can mute it easily.

    My other would be blogs that have lots of the animated graphics that are cute but have very little to do with their blog content. There is work from artists I love seeing but rarely visit their blogs because of all the things that must load for me to easily view the page. If my connection is running slow or my computer is just being a pill it takes too long and I just close the page.

  3. Seth says:

    The issue of music (or the lack thereof) has always generated strong feelings in people cofrog. Rice, I think your way of giving people the option by turning on your player is a great solution.

  4. When I first learned web design way back when (anybody remember FrontPage?) I was taught to use the KISS concept…and that holds true for blogs as well! Since everyone is commenting on music…nothing drives me away from a blog quicker than a music player that’s set to play automatically! I always have my own music playing in the background…so rather than search for the blog’s player…I just click off it! If you have to have a music player, do like Rice…and have your readers turn it on!!

  5. Seth says:

    The KISS concept is always a good one to keep in mind. And based on the comments this post generated, that extends to music too.

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