I’ve been thinking about doing website reviews on this blog for a while now, and now the time has come! This week I’ll be reviewing BloggingGal.com, a great ‘blog about blogging’ run by my friend Tish.
Let me start off by saying that I really enjoy reading Tish’s blog. Her writing style is very personable and as a reader I feel like I’m being personally addressed. This personal touch is something that a lot of the higher-profile blogs are lacking. After just reviewing Alexa it’s great to see that her blog is steadily growing, and recently she appears to have received a surge in traffic.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that my skill in reviewing has never lain in sugar-coating or sucking up to the other webmaster. This would be pointless for both of us and would only give Tish a brief ego boost, but nothing of substance… So Tish, I hope that you find the following review helpful, and rest assured that I love what you do, and just want to (hopefully) help you out with this review. I’m going to focus primarily on her blog’s design, as the content is something that I recommend everyone explore themselves.
Push the Brand. Tish seems to have tapped into a very valuable niche here in as much as being a female blogger. Blogging in general, but particularly in the ‘monetizing’ and ‘blogging tips’ niches are heavily dominated by men. She has done very well to brand herself as the ‘Blogging Gal’, a highly memorable and unique online persona. My main tip for her blog would be to push this brand as far as she can. She has already started to do this through her domain, design (in parts), and writing tone. Male and female bloggers alike will doubtless find a female blogging voice comforting when compared to the intense voices of John Chow and gang who practically order you to ‘Make Money Now!!’.
I can’t help but feel that Tish has not exploited this brand recognition enough so far. Areas of superb graphical detail (the flowers in her header) are almost ruined by blander areas, devoid of life or color. Compare the header and footer of her website for a second:
Whenever I visit her website I wish that they were the other way around. The header does have some good points, but is very lifeless in some respects. If you scroll down to her footer however, everything that I would attribute to a ‘Blogging Gal’ is right there in front of you. The problem is that many users won’t make it this far… The rounded corners in the footer are gentle and elegant, whereas the hard corners of the header are slightly unprofessional and clumsy.
My main tips for branding her blog are:
Maintain posting consistency. Browsing Tish’s archives I see that she has no problem in writing quality content frequently. However, on a few days she will post 2 articles, and then have 2-3 days of nothing. All blog readers prefer consistency, and so she should strive to evenly space out her posting. If she posted every 2 days she would be able to give herself more thinking time for new posts and keep up a healthy consistency.
Make your posts applicable. I will be completely honest and say that I don’t read every one of Tish’s posts. Some are simply fantastic, and this is why I recommend her blog so highly. However, posts such as ‘Turn Those Crappy Old Cell Phones into Cold Hard Cash!’ seem somewhat spammy and I tend to skim over them. Where Tish’s true skill in blogging lies is applying her tips to herself. My favourite post of hers to date was ‘8 Characteristics of a Well Designed About Page’. I found this post really helpful and it was great to see how Tish had improved her own about page using the advice she gives. This gets back to blogging basics - her readers will feel a lot happier if she’s trying to genuinely help them out with great advice rather than promote affiliate programs to them.
Make your navigation clearer. For me one of the characteristics of great design is contrast, and this is especially important in your site’s navigation. Looking at Tish’s navigation the combination of light/medium grays just isn’t working:
If she increased the contrast she would increase readability and improve her user’s experience.
Other tips include:
I really hope that this review was helpful for Tish and anybody reading it. Like I said at the beginning, I do love Tish’s blog and recommend that you check it out. I’m sorry for focusing somewhat on the negative but if she got rid of these small complaints she would have a damn near perfect blog! I sincerely hope that some of my tips will help her out in the future.