Each week, I dissect a blog from top to bottom in three areas: design, navigation/functionality and content. The reason? To help the featured blogger meet her blog goals and become even MORE awesome. The goal of a blog critique is to help all of us learn and grow. One suggestion for a particular blog may very well get us all thinking about how we can improve what we do. This is the next to last critique before we move on to page critiques so enjoy!
Blog: 2 Sleeping Babies
Heather writes about trying to make it through the busyness and insanity of life with kids until those precious moments when everyone’s asleep. In her blog, you’ll find ideas and encouragement from someone who is still in the trenches and may not always have an answer but is willing to share how she muddles through the rough spots. You’ll hear a lot about breastfeeding, cloth diapers, VBAC, and toddler activities, with a splash of DIY projects and recipes thrown in.
As for her goals, she wants her blog to be both a jumping off point as well as a central hub for a business that she’s currently writing a plan for. Although it will take some time to get her business running like she envisions, she’d like her blog to be a meeting place of moms from all economic backgrounds and all parenting styles to find support and advice. Her biggest struggle is wondering whether to post mainly personal stories or concentrate on more researched, informational type posts, or on products/services. She asks, “Is there a magic balance or is it just trial and error?”
Design & Navigation
Header & Menu
- You have some adorable pictures of your kids sleeping. Total cuteness! While all the pictures are cute, I think that you’re crowding your blog name a bit. It seems to be squeezed in there but it should be more prominent. My suggestion is to drop a few of your pictures so you have more room for your blog name.
- For those remaining pictures, you may want to partly base your selection on which pictures have similar coloring so your header has a more uniform look. For example, the three pictures on the top right of your header have a red tone in them so they compliment each other.
- In the answers you gave me about your blog critique, I like what you said about your blog: “trying to make it through the busyness and insanity of life with kids until those precious moments when everyone’s asleep.” As a blogger who writes about multiple topics, I think having a tagline can help new readers who come to your blog get a sense of what your blog is about. Reworking that statement into some sort of tagline might be a nice touch.
- This is a slight nuance but I noticed your header doesn’t line up to the other parts of your blog like the menu bar and columns. It seems to be slightly smaller. Try to widen it just a bit so you have clean lines running down the sides of your blog.
- For your menu, I feel like you have a lot of room to work with. While you don’t need to fill it just to fill it, you’ve written TONS about cloth diapers and I think you should create a landing page with links to your diapering posts. Also, I’d move your About Us type page to the left beside Home and move Contact to the end. The about page is typically one of the most clicked pages after blog posts so having it on the left makes navigation just a touch easier since that’s where people expect it to be.
- As a blogger who writes about your life, I’d love to see a blurb about you and a picture on your sidebar. This immediately connects readers to a face behind the name.
- It’s great that you have your social media buttons in a spot that’s easy to find. Yay! They do appear a little lonely up there though so perhaps write a call to action like “find me here” or something similar above the buttons.
- Kudos to having a search box that’s easy to find too.
- Now that you’re on WordPress, I’d spend some time organizing your categories and tags. In Blogger, all you have are labels so I know it’s going to take some time to do this. But there are great benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that the SEO value. The more posts in a category, the more search engines view you as an expert in that topic. As an example, I see this as being important for your cloth diapering posts. Make Cloth Diaper a category and then use other terms as tags (ex. flats) and so on for other categories.
- In the main column of your blog, I noticed that the corners weren’t rounded like your sidebars. While it’s not a critical thing by any means, it might look nice if all those boxes below the menu were all rounded.
- From the home page, I’m not seeing a place to actually click to leave a comment nor share a post. It’s only when I actually click through to the post am I able to share or comment. It is pretty important to have both of these on your home page, especially since you show full posts. Someone may read the post, be ready to comment and then have to search around for the comment button so make it as easy as possible on them.
- I feel like there may be a graphic missing to the left of your blog title. If there isn’t, I’d move the title over to the left.
- I think the top of your posts might look better with your byline and date at the top. This helps reinforce “putting a blog with a name” and also gives that space a less empty look.
- You do a good job of not having super long paragraphs, which helps with readability!
- I also think that having thumbnails to other posts like you have is helpful in sending readers to other places on your blog.
- I really like your post Everybody Dance Now. You started off with three simple sentences, each on their own line, piquing readers’ interest. People can relate to wanting to try something they were good at in their past… and you actually did it! Nice post.
- Kudos to you for including at least one image in your posts. For some of your longer posts, you may want to consider adding another image or using subheadings to break up the text a bit. As I mentioned before, you do a nice job with keeping paragraphs short so this would just be an additional thing for those longer posts.
- I notice that at the end of many of your posts that you include a call to action that says “If you want to hear more about my 2 (not always) sleeping babies and the rest of the family you can follow us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter!” While I certainly commend you to trying to drive action, I’d try to drive only one action per post. Studies have shown if you give people too many options, they’re more likely not to take action at all. Plus, having the same message again and again can sometimes become “wallpaper”- like when you drive to the store and don’t even remember getting there. You’re on autopilot because you’re so used to driving there. Seeing a message that doesn’t change can be like that too. So consider mixing it up and see if that helps readers drive action!
- In your goals you mention wanting your blog to be a place to find support and advice. In order to do this, I think it’s important to start including more “advice” type posts as part of your content. I think the best informational type posts have a personal story to them, even if the overall purpose of the post is to inform, so you can try weaving that into your more informative posts. Brainstorm some ideas for posts about the things you already know that you feel your “target audience” would find helpful. Then slowly start building it into your content. As far as product/services, I think it’s important again to tie them into your goals. If you want a community of support and advice, then products or services you talk about should center around that.
- As for what sort of balance of personal posts versus information, I don’t think there’s a magical formula as it depends on your audience. I wouldn’t suddenly switch to the majority of posts being informational since most of your posts now are personal stories. But I’d start working them in and see how they go. It will be some trial and error as you figure out not only what readers like but what YOU like too!
So, guys, did you learn anything? Was it helpful? Let me know in the comments below. If you have an extra moment, head over to 2 Sleeping Babies and give Heather some comment love.