Congrats to Deborah of MannaHattaMamma for winning a blog bash in a random drawing at yeah write, one of my writing projects. Full disclosure: I am a regular reader of Deborah’s blog and one of her biggest fans. If I could, I’d fly to Abu Dhabi, her current home, and sit in her lap for a week, letting her stroke my hair and make me coffee.
Until then, allow me to throw MannaHattaMamma a little party here at Blogging Bash.
MannaHattaMamma uses a standard WordPress template, which is good because standard WP templates allow for all kinds of modifications and upgrades depending on the blogger’s style and purpose for blogging. Deborah told me she wants her blog to reflect her love for each of her cities: New York and Abu Dhabi. Her narratives are wonderful tales of how she’s adapted to living in the Middle East and how her Manhattan roots influence her perceptions of her new surroundings. It’s time for her blog design to help tell those stories.
Warm colors such as blues, greens, deep purples and deep oranges will welcome your blog visitors with a sense of calm. Blog designs should stay away from red which in American psychology, anyway, warns of danger. The pink shade Deborah is using, though not dangerous feeling, is neither calm nor inviting. ColorSchemer is a good tool for picking and choosing shades of blue, green, purple and orange, and it will show you complementary colors as well.
The font size is too small for me to read Deborah’s blog comfortably. Depending on the font, 12 to 14 px will bring Deborah’s text from novel-reading size to web site-reading size. There is a difference, and nearly everything we’ve been taught while writing and typing school research papers does not apply when writing for the Interwebs. WordPress users like Deborah, and those who have access to their blog’s header.php files, can use Google Web Fonts to layout their blog’s typography like a professional designer. Use no more than three different fonts on the entire blog, and make sure they complement each other. Do not use display fonts for body text (your paragraphs and captions). Using too many fonts will slow down the load times of your blog and will give your blog an amateurish look and feel.
Deborah should choose a design that showcases her many photos of Abu Dhabi and Manhattan. This particular template simply throws the photos into the post without any enhancements. Since Deborah is not familiar with HTML or CSS coding, she should look for a theme that takes care of that for her automagically. It’s also a good idea to avoid sidebar overcrowding. Only the most necessary graphics should take up space in the sidebar or the blogger will risk taking away attention from her posts. Personal bloggers: if your ads are effective in the sidebar (most are not) keep them. Steer clear of the badge exchanges that are prevalent on some blogs. They crowd your sidebar and have no tangible benefit. There are other ways to show support of your personal blogging circle, starting with being active in social networks.
MannaHattaMamma should balance these large blocks of text with white space. This is easily accomplished by using short codes or even plugins that allow for an eye-catching numbered or bulleted list.
Using <h1> <h2> and <h3> tags is another way of creating white space. Those header tags give the eye a small break, and they announce to the reader that something mildly important is just ahead. Avoid using display fonts in this area. Body fonts will work very well.
Capturing and keeping readers
Deborah’s content has her halfway there. Her writing is crisp, clean and engaging. She has a reply feature in her comments that allows her to respond to her comments and for commenters to reply to each other. Her comments are published immediately instead of being moderated. Moderating comments puts a full stop to the discussion on most blogs. Not very many people are going to keep checking in with your blog to find out if you’ve decided to approve their comment. Open comments keep the discussion going. Following the tips in her Blogging Bash should get Deborah the rest of the way to where she wants to be with her blog.
One last thing:
I’d suggest a domain name change for MannaHattaMamma. Currently, it’s begging to be misspelled or mistyped and those things are impediments to readers finding her blog when all they can remember is Manhattan mama or something like it. If deborahquinn.com is available, Deborah, grab it. I’d bet good money deborahquinn.me is available. Then you can use your literary explanation of MannaHattaMamma as a small tagline in your header. People will remember the writer Deborah Quinn much more quickly than the Mad Hatter, which is what I kept typing into my spacebar when I first found you, lo, so many months ago.
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