Too often as we put our blogs together we think about what we like personally but don’t really give a lot of thought to how others may view the same pages. In the end, the goal is to have others to be able to read our blogs and enjoy them, but are we making small mistakes that could be making it difficult for others to enjoy our blogs? Here are a few thoughts from some of our bloggers on things that often make it difficult for them to access blogs and websites.
1. Choosing poor fonts – You’ll find that most all printed materials use the same fonts, and event most major websites. At the very least those fonts come from the same family – Sans-Serif. Sans-Serif fonts don’t have extraneous projecting features, they are just simple and easy on the eyes. Ariel is the most common and easiest to read of the Sans-Serif fonts. Whatever font you choose to use, pick one and stick with it. Don’t use multiple fonts within the same page. Also, while occasional header text is important, avoid using many different font sizes in a single post, and use upper and lower cases letters appropriately.
2. Choosing poor color combinations – Instead of using a background color behind your text, use the background color as the page background and set the text box color to white and choose a dark (black is best) text color. Colored text or colored background can make it difficult to read a page. Black letters on a white or light colored background are easiest to read. However, white text on a black background can be easier on the eyes when reading at night or for those who suffer from migraines.
3. Aligning text improperly – Unless you are writing a poem, your paragraph should not be centered. When your entire blog post is centered on the page it’s really difficult for the eyes to follow. As you scroll through a page it becomes harder and harder to keep your place.
4. Failing to space between paragraphs – Your blog post should never be one single block of text. Keep paragraphs short and make sure there is white space between them. The general rule of thumb when creating online content is to keep paragraphs no more than three to four sentences. White space between paragraphs makes it easier to scan a page and avoid losing your place.
5. Layering text on top of images – When you layer text on top of an image, the text will often blend into the image making it difficult to read. If you want your blog to have an image background that’s fine, just make sure that your text boxes are a solid color. Choose a single solid background color.
Lack of distracting patterns is a big one for me, since I have visual snow… a rare neurological condition that affects vision. Patterns cause my vision to warp more than usual. I won’t stay on a site that is too … visually distracting.” – Nikki Albert, Brainless Blogger
Living with dizziness and vertigo, motion can be a problem especially sites where the background images move as you scroll down – Rhiann, My Brain Lesion & Me
6. Allowing your posts to display across the whole screen – As I am typing this in a Word document I notice that the document is set up to only display across about 60% of my screen. That is helpful because if it was full width I’d have a difficult time keeping up with where I’m at. It’s even worse if I’m trying to read something and it runs the full width of my screen. Widescreen computers and higher screen resolutions are now the norm. Most websites display in multiple columns with the main textbox displaying in about 50% – 60% of the screen.
7. Failing to make your blog RSS friendly – Many people do not read your blog directly on your blog site, they prefer instead to use RSS readers (like Bloglovin or Feedly) to keep up with all the blogs they enjoy. Make sure that you have an RSS option set up on your blog.
8. Failing to underline links – You added a link to your blog because you want people to click it, but if they can’t see the link they don’t know it’s there. Most people don’t move their mouse along the text as they read it, but when your links aren’t underlined that’s literally the only way they can know it’s there. While you may think that just having the links be a different color is enough, it’s not enough for most people to register that it’s a link. Since the beginning of the internet links have been underlined, it’s what people have been trained to expect.
9. Failing to properly describe images– Not all of your readers are actually reading your post with their eyes. Many are having your post read to them by a text reader. When you don’t provide proper descriptions and alt text for your images blind readers and others who use text readers will miss out on the image completely.
10. Failing to include a text transcript of audio and video – If you run a podcast or offer video or audio on your website or blog you NEED to offer a transcript of your audio. Not only are there millions of people who are hard of hearing that you may be leaving out completely, there are millions others who can hear but who have trouble processing audio. A text transcript of your audio and video files allows all users to access your content equally.
11. Autoplaying music – This is just a bad idea for so many reasons. Even for those without disabilities it’s the fastest way to get caught reading a website when you are in a meeting. But, for those of us with disabilities that result in noise sensitivity or over stimulation, auto-playing music is just painful.
Music on a blog is the worst, both for migraines and just in general.” – Brittany – A Southern Celiac
12. Overloading Popups – Popups seem like an accepted piece of the web now. They exist on just about every single website and you can disable them via browser options. So, we assume that those who are bothered will disable them. Unfortunately, they don’t always know that they can. And, even if they know that they can setting may not allow them to block all popups. So, hitting your readers with multiple popups on their way into and out of your website may just cause them not to return.
Honestly, any automatic things are really hard to deal with – pop-ups, music, videos, gifs without warning. My migraine brain really gets turned off by that kind of stuff. – Kirsten of NotStandingStillsdisease.com
There are plugins to provide options to your readers. If you are serious about making sure your blog is readable for all who enter you may want to consider one. If you are on WordPress, take a look at the SOGO Accessibility plugin (thanks JBOT for this tip) – of course your readers still have to know that the option exists on your website and how to enable it.
You’ve gone through the trouble of sharing your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and advice in hopes that it will help others, but have you really made sure that those others can read and enjoy your blog? If you are making these mistakes it may drastically reduce the number of readers to your blog. The good news is that a few simple changes can fix these big mistakes and your readers will thank you for it.