September 23, 2014

Outdoor Blogging Tips ~ Reader Friendly Blogs

This topic comes up a lot in the forum, so today I thought I would tackle it out here. Hopefully this doesn’t ruffle any feathers because as always, Outdoor Blogging Tips are just suggestions, something to consider and do with as you please. In other words, lets not confuse this with the classic hands on the hip, “I love you…but let’s talk…”

As bloggers, it’s natural to hope for visitors/readers to visit our websites, engage AND return again for more of our good stuff. Fact is, if we didn’t care about visitors we would write about our experiences in a notebook at home. So when we look at blogs from a visitor viewpoint, it’s important to consider the experience they will have when they visit.

Designing a blog is a bit like decorating your own bedroom. To each their own. Personal style, a reflection of individual tastes, and likes come into play. On the whole, it’s a rather subjective endeavor, website design. But when it comes down to it, your content is ultimately what people visit your blog for and you don’t want them to leave because they can’t visually connect with your page.

Things to consider when designing a blog:

  • Is the font size readable?
  • Is the font reader friendly?
  • Is your font hard to read because of the content background and font color choices?

Font Size: Small fonts are HARD to read. Even those with 20/20 vision will have difficulty reading a web font smaller than 14 for an extended period of time (like 1 minute) People with impaired eyesight will strain, squint and touch their noses to the screen to try to read small font. Or they will just leave.

Computer screens are harder to read versus paper because of their low resolution, so it’s a good idea to stick with the 14 point size. Anything less and you’ll have people reaching for their reading glasses or skipping your awesome content entirely.

Font Type: It’s not a good idea to get fancy with font. Stick with the basics, Sans Serif, Arial,Verdana, Georgia and so on. Fancy font can be used in your titles if you’d like to show some flair for style, but leave the actual content to a font you’d find in a book you buy or the newspaper. Plain and simple 14 pt = easy for the eye to follow.

Font and Content Backdrop, together: Ok, here it is…feathers. A presentation of your written content on black or dark background with a colored font is hard for a lot of people to read. Not all people, but a lot. Just writing the facts here folks. Don’t believe me? Please consult the higher power, Google it.  =)

Think of it like this; From the time we were little tykes until now, people are visually accustomed to reading things like books, newspapers etc., with white-ish background, dark font. Our eyes and mind are hard wired to read dark letters on light backgrounds which is why a light background and dark font is the optimal set up for a blog.

When bloggers opt for the dark background and colored font, the readers eyes/mind have to shift and adjust. Using this visual combination to present blog content, can cause a negative effect (dizziness, eye strain, unable to see the letters properly) on a lot of readers. I won’t deny that a snap shot look at a website designed this way has a sense of wow, that looks cool factor, but on a reader level, it can leave a lot of people out and we don’t want that in blogging.

If you feel strongly about keeping your dark/black background you can help readers out by adhering to the suggested font size and keeping the font color a ‘one-off’ white. Colored fonts: blue, pink, teal, green etc, against a dark background is the toughest combination of all to pull off. Personally, for my eyes, I can’t read it. Or make that, I can read it (usually) but my 30-ish old eyes don’t enjoy it.

**Exception to the black background rule. Photography and Video based blogs can be showcased nicely with a black background. A photo or video is content that stands on its own from a visual factor and a black background will showcase or frame the focal point rather than detract from the overall user experience.

About the above and Individuality: When I consult with clients about their websites, this is what I tell them as a general rule of thumb. Your content is the center of attention, so let it shine on it’s own. You want your content to appeal to the largest possible audience so a presentation that doesn’t exclude or put off visitors is essential. Picture—Simple, plain, predictable, comfortable in the content box zone. (Content box is the space in which your writing resides)

From there, have fun. Let your personality shine in your header. Play with colors. Fancy up your sidebars. Use colored, or graphics in the site background. Add all the touches that represent you and you’ll have a site that is individually your own and couch friendly.

Rebecca

 
 
About Rebecca

When Rebecca isn't running the Outdoor Blogger Network, she is off Fly Fishing her favorite rivers. Occasionally she writes about those adventures at The Outdooress.

Comments

  1. 1

    I just got done leaving a note for Owl on the forum regarding this issue and came back to see your post on this topic.

    http://www.outdoorbloggernetwork.com/forum/general-outdoor-blogging/unreadable/#p1928

    Some of the readability issues might have to do with age, I never needed glasses till I was 40. But my last sentences to Owl were this:

    One last thing, there are 65,000,000 baby boomers. We’re all getting old, we all have eye issues or will soon. We all like to read, well, most of us.

    Meet us half way, make it easier on us.

  2. 3

    Thank you for the info Rebecca, you are always looking out for us. Take a look at my blog and feel free to email me any other suggestions.

  3. 5

    Rebecca,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s nothing that will make me leave a site faster than a dark background with light colored font. My eyes cross and then when I go to regular website, I can’t make heads or tails of it for a good 10 minutes because my eyes are all buggy. Thank you for putting that out there. It’s something we all eventually have to deal with.

    Tim

    • 6

      For me I just feel, what’s the word….sad…when I visit a blog where I know the person has wonderful content going on there and I just want to read it, soak it up and enjoy it but the colors and set up make it a struggle. I hope this entry just gives people another way to assess their blogs effectiveness.

      Thanks Tim!

  4. 7

    -Fixed mine. Had to manually edit every post after a template change. Now my head hurts……

    • 8

      Your color scheme is very friendly and inviting to a reader! Great job. I am surprised that blogspot makes you go change every post individually after a template change. There’s another difference between wordpress and blogspot. With WordPress if you change 1 thing, it implements website wide.

      Sorry for the headache!

  5. 10

    hey, i’m no spring chicken!

  6. 13

    Great post Rebecca! I have to admit I have stopped visiting some blogs that I enjoyed simply because they were too difficult for me to read – I have visual issues from the MS – and some of you examples are particularly hard for me to read..

    Now I’m off to go do a quick check on my own.. I have a feeling I may need to some corrections. LOL

    This should be required reading for every blogger – outdoor or not!

  7. 14

    hmmm… I see my font is too small in my posts… off to follow the Reverend Fowl’s lead and get to editing every post.. thank heavens there aren’t to many yet, or I’d be suffering form the same headache! ;)

    • 15

      Gretchen,
      I think your blog looks great, no need to change anything. And you are a perfect example of why a photography site using a dark background is a great setup. Your photography is amazing!

  8. 17

    Thank You for additional help with my Post’s font size.

    * Blogger/BlogSpot font sizes are few: “Small, Normal, Large” with “Normal” being too small and “Large” being too big. I had to select “Large” font for readability.

  9. 18

    Thanks for the great tips. I just changed my neon green tiny writing to a nice light sage fly line color and larger font. It was an instant soothing change for my own eyes. I decided to leave background dark due to the fact I love posting photos and it makes them really stand out. Hope the changes help others reading experience more comfortable. Thanks again!!

    Trout

  10. 23

    I struggle with my own blog’s background because I like to showcase good photography with my posts and hope to add more content of that nature and feel the darker background makes the images pop a little more and of course I at least followed the one rule and use a very light gray font to make it easier to read. I’m not one to shy away from constructive criticism. What is any and all’s honest opinion on the readability of my site?

    • 24

      I just visited and think the dark background with the current font choice (size and color) easy to read. So you are good! I also like that you use large images to compliment your posts. It feels outdoorsey there, clean and easy to navigate…to me anyway!

  11. 25

    Great post! This was the push I needed to change my template. I loved the look of light blue text on dark background, but it really wasn’t working.

    • 26

      Eben,
      I just visited and your current set up is extremely reader/visitor friendly. I really appreciated the overall–top to bottom, side to side, color set up.

      Like sitting in a couch with a cup of coffee to read a good book. Well done =)

  12. 27

    Well, I have to be honest…after reading Ken G.’s article about unreadable blogs…I got a little gloomy. I love the black background for pictures. And I do like happy colors because it says who I am…I have softened the white lettering. But, if it really offends people, of course I will make adjustments. Rebecca, if you have time to take a look. I posted my last one of the week tonight. Sunday Tippets can be adjusted to a different format if needed, to try out on everyone and see if it is more blogger friendly!! I’m just the one who is writing…not the one who reads it…haha! (I would like to find a way to set off pictures on a white background…???) Thanks.

  13. 29

    Thanks for the comments rebecca! Because of this I made the font larger before i posted a comment. Thanks for your help!!!

  14. 30

    Thanks for an interesting article with very good suggestions. Something else to consider is that some color combinations may be hard to see for those of us with some level of color-blindness – there are blogs where I literally can’t tell the difference between the text and the background. If you ignore this aspect you can lose a lot of potential readers right there! You can view your blog through a filter that will show you what it looks like to a colorblind person at http://colorfilter.wickline.org/ – it’s not the fastest site (especially if asked to convert pictures) but it can be very revealing. Deuteranomaly (a form of red-green colorblindness) affects more than 1 in 20 men.

    For my blog I’d like to stay with the dark background (I’m using a set of dark blues) as it’s a photography blog and the text typically contains brief explanations. But I did just increase the font size based on your recommendations. If you have any suggestions I’m open to them.

  15. 31

    Thanks for the great post Rebecca. I was considering changing the font on my site but after reading this, I may just keep it, as you say, “plain and simple”. :)

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