Think your blog could use some improvement but not sure where to start? A fresh pair of eyes is your best asset.
Blogging is an ongoing adventure; we keep tweaking our sites and what we publish as we develop a community and learn more about what we like in a blog design (and more about how to use our blogging platform of choice).
Blogs should shift and grow as you do, but you also want to make sure you’re still giving off a good first impression as things change — and it’s not always easy to critique yourself. If you feel like your blog has gotten cluttered but aren’t sure how to tidy it up, having another blogger “audit” your site can be an eye-opener.
Don’t worry: this is a fun, helpful audit: you won’t end up in jail for tax evasion, and no mountains of paperwork are required. An audit, at its core, is a comprehensive, unbiased examination. When you audit someone’s blog, you give it a once-over to evaluate it from top to bottom, content to design. Is the font easy to read? Are there too many widgets? Do the titles catch your eye?
Some more questions to help guide your audits:
Is the header image crisp? Does it compete with the blog title?
Does the title tell you what the blog is about?
Do the colors in the featured images pair well with the blog’s background color?
Is the menu clear? Easy to navigate?
Do the images add to the posts? Is there enough white space?
Do any pages make sense? Are there too many? Not enough?
If the blogger has profiles on sites like Facebook or Twitter, are the visuals there consistent with their blog?
Overall, does the site feel busy? Boring? Just right?
Kjell’s post on finding design clarity is also a great resource.
When someone audits your blog, they’re seeing your blog with fresher eyes — they don’t look at it day in and day out the way you do. Their outside impressions are invaluable for pinpointing places where things are muddled; just as we more easily skim over typos in our own writing, our eyes also skim over confusing menu items or redundant widgets. Things that blend into your visual background will stand out for someone else, giving you great guideposts for making improvements.
(Pairing up to do some peer auditing isn’t just a nifty idea I had — it’s a nifty idea you had. In Blogging U.’s Blogging 201: Branding and Growth class, we encourage bloggers to try auditing themselves. In the last course, the participating bloggers decided to take their audits a step further by partnering with one another to do peer audits, and it was hugely successful; everyone got great feedback they could start using right away, and made a close blogging buddy. And of course, y’all are always providing great feedback to one another in the Community Pool; this is just a more in-depth version of that.)
If you want to tidy your blog up but aren’t sure where to start, give peer auditing a whirl. Ask a frequent commenter on your blog to partner up, or put a call out on Facebook or Twitter for an auditing buddy. If you’re willing to take a leap and work with someone you don’t already know, use the comments here to pair up, or look for a kindred spirit in the Community Pool. Introduce yourselves, chat about what kinds of things you’re unsure about, and get ready for feedback!