Open Thread Thursday on Friday?

My internet took a vacation yesterday. I guess everyone needs a vacation every once and awhile even my internet. So because of my internet’s decision to take the day off, I didn’t get a chance to post my take on the Open Thread Thursday at GeneaBloggers yesterday. I was really interested in what people said about this since I’m neck deep into a website redesign! I took notes and tested a few things with the itty bitty internet connection that I had. So here’s my take on what’s necessary!

Judy Webster’s List:

  • About me: I love having one of these because I think it helps readers to relate to you a little bit more! I think of it as a little introduction just like at the beginning of the school year. You don’t need to tell me the name of your first pet, but I’d like to know a little bit!
  • Subscribe Option: This is definitely a must. With so many different blogs out there, I think it’d be too hard to really keep up without some kind of Subscribe option. My favorite way to subscribe is through Google Reader. I can check it at the end or beginning of my day and it tells me what is new. Then on the blogs that I want to read the comments on or if the article is only excerpted, I can always just click on the title and open it up in my browser.
  • Follow Option: I do have the Google Friend Connect, I don’t use it much myself, but I know it helps people who are using Blogger to do the same thing that Google Reader does. I think it’s a nice option to have for others to use. I didn’t really know what it was at first but when my readers started using it, I knew it was a good move!
  • Labels: I love categories and I love tags. I use categories to differentiate the topic of the post. Mostly they are used for the GeneaBloggers topics or my own overall category. I use Tags to highlight the Family I’m writing about. I find these especially essential so that readers can find exactly what they are looking for. I notice a lot of people reading just a category or a family tag through my webstats so these were also good decisions!
  • Blog Archive: Yes but these are really a personal preference. I’m thinking about only doing a pull down menu on the new site. I think at least some kind of Monthly Archive at the least is essential. Really if you’re using good categories and tags, then you could probably get by without an archive, though I think it can only be helpful.
  • Links to Other Blogs: I love links! My list isn’t quite as current, but I also want to make a separate page on the new website so I can give a description and reason why I chose the links. I think links are a personal decision though as they can clutter a website. So I say do them but try and keep them compact or in a separate page!
  • Links to Websites about related topics: I think since you could be bringing new people to the genealogy field, maybe some of your most helpful getting started links can be a good way of keeping them interested.

GeneaBloggers Questions:

What do you consider essential in terms of widgets, sidebar items, etc. for a genealogy blog?

A search function is essential but I think besides the basics of (Pages,Categories,Tags,Archives) it’s all optional. I like to see twitter feeds, but I find I no longer like the clunky plug and play twitter app. So in the new site I’m not going to use that.

I know people have problems with captcha codes. If you are using a blog hosted by a blogging company I don’t see the problem with not having them.  I’m on my own server however and when I turned off captcha for just two hours, I was flooded with spam bot commenters and registrations. So I just can’t do that to my webhosting company’s servers. This may open them up to security risks that I’m not smart enough to think of. I do have Akismet also installed and I was still getting spam, so that’s my personal choice.

Have you taken steps to minimize or streamline your blog in consideration of dial-up and even mobile users?

I haven’t but I want to! I’m going to research this a bit more and see what my options are but I definitely want to have a mobile and printer friendly setup!

Where should the “bling” be placed – sidebar, header, footer, other location?

I like navigation to be up top in the middle. It just seems to be the place I prefer. I like to keep all the other stuff to the side. Though I can see why all that scrolling could become cumbersome. If you sidebar goes farther then your main blog page then maybe it’s too much in the sidebar. I never even thought about putting bling in the footer! I’m definitely going to test that out with the new design.

What about other blog template items such as font size, background color, etc.?

I love seeing all the different designs in blogs. I think it’s a great way to show off your personality. Through experience I know a lot about template donts. You definitely want text size to be at least 10 or 12 pixels. Unless you are putting fine print on the bottom of something. Then I like to go down to 9 pixels. Dark backrounds can be good, but they have to be done right. It’s very hard to read on dark backgrounds for a lot of reasons. I really like the idea of using whatever background image or color you want, but using divs/tables/boxes to keep your content visible and easy to read.

I feel bad for this wall of text, so here’s another preview of the new website. I had to go to three columns to prevent a massive sidebar. (This is why I loved this topic!) The next part is coding the blog and planning the sidebar. 🙂 Feel free to give me advice or to comment on my opinions above!

click for full size preview
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