by Allison Maruska
I read a lot of blog posts over the course of a week. A lot. And most of them don’t come from my WordPress Reader, where the blogs I’ve subscribed to are listed. I find most of them on Twitter blog share days, where bloggers can share their interesting content with specified hashtags, expanding potential readership.
We all know getting the potential reader to click the post is job one – we do this with an interesting title, pictures, and the text blurb. Job two is keeping them there. So for the love of all things holy, if you are a blogger, please don’t do things unrelated to your content that make me close your window. I want to read your interesting insights, and I’m sure I’m not alone. If I enjoy the content and there’s nothing there that hurts my brain, I’ll likely subscribe to your blog.
After all this blog reading, I’ve boiled down my gripes into an easy-to-digest list of five reasons I quit reading a post. Maybe I’m a lazy blog reader – hey, that’s likely, in fact – but so are most other people. If you give them a reason to bail, they’ll bail.
Reason 1: Wonky color schemes
This gets first mention because it made me close a blog post window five minutes before I decided to write this post. In this case, it was white text on a black background, which might not seem so bad, but my eyes hate it. I could feel them straining two paragraphs in.
And while I suspected I’d enjoy the content being delivered in the post, I just couldn’t do it. Reading something interesting isn’t worth a literal headache. Other color schemes I’ve seen involve orange backgrounds, yellow text (I know), and other variations of visual pain.
Best to stick with black text on a white background. The most impactful things in your post should be your words, not the colors.
Reason 2: Not mobile friendly
Like the majority of blog readers, I do most of my blog reading on my phone. If a post isn’t mobile friendly, meaning it has a special “version” for mobile devices, the text appears in about 0.6 pt. So if I want to read the content, I have to zoom and slide the screen around, which I’m unlikely to stick with for long. Creating more work for the potential reader is almost a guaranteed way to lose the reader.
WordPress has many templates that are already mobile friendly. If yours isn’t, or if you’re using a different platform, Google how to adjust that setting. No griping about how easy kids these days have it allowed.
Reason 3: Huge blocks of text
As I searched for an image to go with this point, I found this post from The Onion. I pretty much don’t need to say anything else about the point now.
“It demands so much of my time and concentration . . . This large block of text, it expects me to figure everything out on my own, and I hate it.”
Like you’ve told your paranoid Uncle Buster on Facebook a million times (no, that woman didn’t really die from applying too much hand lotion), The Onion is satire, but it sometimes makes a good point at the same time. As it does in this case. Posts with breaks are easier to digest.
Reason 4: Ads all over
There’s nothing wrong with allowing an ad company to post on your site to bring in a little cash. Hey, I like money, too!
Sometimes I come across a post where the content is severely boxed in by ads, especially on my phone. And I can’t always close the ads, or worse, I end up clicking on them when I try to close them. That guarantees I won’t read the post. I’m not gonna try to jump through that hoop more than once.
Reason 5: A popup box I have to close before reading
I’ll be honest: I’m talking about newsletter signup boxes with this one. Especially if I came to a new blog via a blog share day, if I have to break through barriers to even start reading, I won’t stick around.
There’s nothing wrong with having a newsletter signup box, but make the popup happen much farther into the post (I’ve heard 75% is a good target). Do that, and readers like me are way more likely to A. Finish the post, and B. Sign up for your newsletter.
Guest post contributed by Allison Maruska. Allison likes to post in line with her humor blog roots, but she also includes posts about teaching and writing specifically.