My blog has changed a fair bit since when I set it up whilst I was at university – I ended up changing the theme every other week at first, when I rarely blogged and just did it to pass time and avoid revision. I managed to find a theme that worked well and have stuck with it ever since really. I have never experimented with widgets, categories, menus, tags, or anything that can be put down the right-hand side on WordPress.
Recently, I got some really helpful advice from a web-based journalism lecturer and blogging expert, Sue Greenwood (read her tips here). She made me aware of things that had been on my blog since the very beginning in 2011 that I hadn’t really changed or thought anything of, things that made it harder to navigate round the site. I began quickly scribbling down everything she was saying whilst I was on the phone to take note and try and work on it. It made me realise, I haven’t made the effort with the design of my blog in a long time, because I’ve focused more on content. I thought it was more important to have a constant, or regular flow of content onto my blog so when people came back and had a look, there were new posts on there. What I didn’t really work on was the design of it, making it easy to navigate around, making it look neat and appealing, and having widgets that were beneficial!
“Blogging keeps you writing, keeps you producing and gives you something (hopefully impressive!) to show a potential employer.”
Sue took me through the navigation of my blog, from the top and the page you see when you first go on my URL, and pointed out some tips that I have been, and will be trying to change over the next couple of weeks or so:
- My header, ‘Jump for journalism’ is missing a space between ‘forjournalism’ simply because without one, it goes onto three lines and looks messy and too big. I need to work out making my own header as an image!
- The widgets I had on the side had never been changed, I’ve added ‘top posts’ rather than ‘recent posts’ because, as Sue stated, the recent posts are already on my homepage anyway so it is a widget wasted!
- I’ve added in an image, just to play around really and see how it works but I’ve thought about including a gallery slideshow or my Instagram feed (although that will likely consist of food and animals) so I’m experimenting…
- My primary menu on the top – this has been changed from pages to categories, and I’ve never really got the hang of it. I had two whole lines of categories though and it looked overwhelming and not easy to navigate through the topics. I now have one single line and have managed to work out how to do sub-categories
- CONTENT… my interviews always look the same, the same layout, the same fonts and headings. I want to change this so the posts aren’t predictive.
These are just a few of the things I want to change. I’m not an expert on WordPress and have only done things on my blog by Googling, going on WordPress’ forums or having a play around on the dashboard myself, trial and error!
Having the conversation made me realise I was in a conscious habit to always do everything the same, rather than trying different things and seeing what works. My biggest issue was that all the old posts I have written, some still relevant like tips on work experience, or CVs, or places to look for jobs and I felt they were lost and never read anymore. Because of this I felt like I had to consistently write new content, and this resulted in me sometimes repeating posts. As Sue told me, the navigation of your blog will help people find old content, and you don’t necessarily have to keep writing new things.
I’ll be taking on her tips and making some changes soon!