Unintentionally Blank

Phil Nash on the Internet, Web Standards and Accessibility

Tweaks For Readers, For Search, For Social Media

Mar 29, 2007

by Phil Nash

You may have noticed that I've spent a bit of time over the last couple of days tweaking my design a bit. Some of this tweaking was to make the design a bit more readable, some of it was to help out the search engines in deciding what each page on this site was about and finally I made a change to make it easier to submit my articles to any social bookmarking or social media sites. Some changes you will have noticed, others might slip by you and some you will only have got if you regularly view the source of the different pages on this site.

Changes You'll Notice

First up I've adjusted some of the spacing on the front page, particularly down the bottom of the page. It all looked a bit too spaced out before and now things are held in a little more organised way. I have also increased the text size. 10 pixels looks nice, but I'd rather people could read the text I've written without straining themselves. This was a silly point that I overlooked when redesigning and should have been thought about more carefully. I have also increased the size of the lower headings on the front page, changed my footer and created an entirely new about page, including a picture too! The old about page didn't really fit the direction I was going with the blog, so I thought a change of content and a change of style were needed.

Ad Free Front Page

If you check the front page you will find no more adverts. I'm trying out Char's tip for three reasons. Firstly, to try and serve more relevant ads on each post page as Char has found out that the ads seem to be more targeted since making the change. Secondly, to decrease the time it takes to load the front page to give a swift response to anyone who comes to the front page and lastly to make a good impression; some people don't like adverts on a blog, they are a necessary evil at times just to try and balance the cost of blogging out, but I don't want to put people off instantly either. I will let you know if this makes a difference in the long run.

Give The Search Bots Something

For a start I've added a bit extra to my page title. On the front page I have the name of the blog and a tagline (with a few keywords that I'd like to associate with the site). On any post pages I have the title of the post followed by the blog name. The title is one of the most important elements on a page for search engines, so putting a bit more effort and a bit more information into each one gives you a step up in the search engines.

Also, in order to really make all the crawler bots feel at home, I have re-aligned a couple of my heading elements. A post on Wordpress SEO tips at Weblog Tools Collection got me thinking about my <h1>s and my <h2>s. Now, the top heading (<h1>) on my front page is the name of the blog as that is the most iimportant name to get across on the front page, the main post title is an <h2> and subsequent post titles are <h3>s. On a post page, the <h1> is the post title, in this case the most important title on the page. The name of the blog is then demoted to <h2>; still important, but not as much as the real content of the page. This took a few tweaks to my theme, so let me know if you want to know how.

Social Optimisation

I used to have a del.icio.us and a Digg link at the bottom of each post. Now I have replaced that with more social links that take up less space! I like to see when something gains in popularity because it's a good idea and that is exactly what is happening with Alex King's Share This plugin (and the Share icon project). I have decided to implement it here to add options to anyone who really appreciates my posts and to clean up the information at the bottom of the posts. I had to hack at it a bit to get it to fit in with the rest of the site, so have a click and at least tell me the colours look nice!

I Love Tweaking

So that's most of what's changed around here in the last couple of days. Do you find the urge to tweak your blog unresistable too? Do you like the changes I have made? Do you have any suggestions that I could try next time I come to tweak? You know what to do.

Unintentionally Blank is Phil Nash's thoughts on web development from 2006-2008. Any code or opinions may be out of date.