A friend of mine used to play a recording of a dentist’s drill on the outgoing message of her answering machine. My friend laughed as she told me how many people would hang up without leaving a message because they couldn’t stand the sound.
Didn’t that defeat the purpose of having an answering machine?
I find that a lot of blogs are similarly self-defeating. Like my friend’s answering machine, many blogs have special effects that I find so annoying that I don’t stick around. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 there were more than 156 million public blogs. If I happen to find my way to yours, why would you risk running me off?
But, different strokes for different folks. Maybe some people find the dentist’s drill soothing or at least amusing, so the things that bug me, may not annoy you or you might actually like these elements on a blog. So with the preface that this is my personal opinion, in David Letterman ascending order of least offensive to most offensive, here are the things that make me leave a blog:
5. Navigation that involves a scavenger hunt. I don’t like having to search for a way to comment or having to hunt for past posts. I dislike when I click on something of interest and have difficulty getting back to the home page or the original post.
4. Captcha codes that are unreadable and/or captcha codes that require three or four clicks to post a comment. Why have captcha at all? So what if a spam comment slips through? You have the power to delete it. Not having captcha makes it so much easier for us real people to comment.
3. A black background and white type. Does it look cool? Yes. But it makes my middle-aged eyes have to work to read it. I admit I have seen some white-on-black blogs that are lovely and perfectly readable. I think perhaps the font size and style has something to do with that. But if I can’t see your text, I’m going to leave. If I have to squint and hunch forward to read it, you’d better have the best damn content on the web.
2. Putting text over a photo or a graphic so that the words disappear into the image. Also tied for second place: RED, BLUE or GRAY type on a black background. Totally unreadable. To use a Suze Orman catch phrase, “Are you kidding me?!”
1. Music. This is a dentist’s drill. Or as I think of it – opening up a fire hose on a hound dog. It doesn’t matter if I like the song, before I can name that tune, I’m outta there.
Here’s what makes me stay and will keep me coming back:
Good content. Dark type on a light background. Clean and uncluttered graphics. Well-organized and easy to navigate with a “home” button. One or two click commenting with no captcha.