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How Not to Design a Blog
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, July 26, 2007

I don't know how many of you read Michelle Malkin's blog, but she's popped up a new design. It is a nearly perfect example of how not to design a blog.

First, it only shows the most recent entry on the main page. On the first sidebar, there's a header called "Blog", but it doesn't actually link to a blog-like page or anything. It's just a header for the first lines of the last few blog entries, each of which you have to navigate to individually. If you don't want to click five times to see five individual entries, well, that's tough.

So, you think, "Ah, there's an 'Archives' link. Let's look at that!" Unfortunately the link takes you to a list of monthly archives. Clicking on a month shows you, again, the initial lines of the blog posts, each of which you have to select individually.

It's a pretty design, but functionally maddening. When it comes to web design, pretty just isn't enough. The primary function of a web page is to present information in a usable, convenient fashion. The more you fracture the information, the harder you make it for users to find it, and consequently, fewer users will.

Now, there is a good argument that, if you post lots of lengthy entries, it makes the blog page too long. That's a valid argument, but ultimately a wrong-headed one, if it's a justification for completely fragmenting the information into separate pages. The obvious solution is to cut the number of blog entries from a full week to a smaller set number of entries so that the blog page is shortened to a more appropriate length.

Once prettification and design overshadow the ease of your site's use for visitors, you've dropped the ball.
 
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Good call. I can’t stand her new page setup.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
Sadly, it looks like Captain Ed of "Captain’s Quarters" is also going to use Michelle’s designers to redo his blog.

There wasn’t anything wrong with MMs original design. The new one sucks. And why bother to change? Hell, Instapundit’s never changed his design, so far as I know.
 
Written By: Christopher
URL: http://
Agreed. If given the option, I’d rather scroll down than click several different links, then have to either click back a bunch of times to get back to where I came from or start over at the beginning. I find I miss a lot of interesting info because they’re buried somewhere in the chaos of the page. For someone who updates as often as Michelle does on certain entries, her new format isn’t as useful. A "magazine" style format in which lengthier articles are relatively static for a period of time works pretty well this way, but not a blog.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
RSS has insulated me from changes in design to the blogs I read. There are 130 sites in my reader, and there are at least 80 that I’ve only seen the one time I added the feed to bloglines.

Oddly, most of the ones I do actually visit are the ones that have their feeds maddeningly configured to show only teasers of the posts (Belmont Club, Althouse, New English Review, Libertarian Samizdata, I’m looking at you). So, the sites that aggravate me from a usability standpoint are the ones that get the most ad views from me. I comment occasionally here, Power Line, and Reason Hit & Run, so I pay them all actual visits as well.

Instapundit changed one time, but only slightly. The radio-tower-and-lightning logo and wordmark were added in 2002 or 2003.
 
Written By: Paul Dubuc
URL: http://
I saw the new design and have stopped going to her site altogether.
 
Written By: retired military
URL: http://
I agree wholeheartedly. In the annals of blog re-design, this has got to be the worst-ever make-over. Her blog used to be my first stop, now I’m back to Instapundit (and, of course, QandO).
 
Written By: rammage
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
I’m like Paul. I read primarily RSS feeds, not the blogs themselves. However, MM only puts a small tidbit in the RSS and forces you to click to read the rest.

Which I generally don’t.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
I agree 100%. It’s a travesty. You can only see the last post!

The idea the blog page can be too long seems nonsensical, unless you’re using an Atari 2600 to browse the web. The blog page is almost never too long. It’s much more likely to be too short.

I want to be able to scroll down and read previous posts.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
>It’s a pretty design, but functionally maddening.

Rather like Michelle herself, then.
 
Written By: Matt Wardman
URL: http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/

 
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