Does a site design really affect readership?

April 6th, 2004
Golden Rules

I would have thought not. My belief was that if you site has been providing good content for a while and has regular readers, a slightly less usable presentation style or an ugly theme might let you get away with it for a while. I also believed that users are forgiving and will be willing to look overlook cosmetic design weaknesses when visiting a blog with powerful content. I was forced to think again.
I was dead wrong!!
Let me explain myself. I had switched the CSS of this site because of problems I had had with the CSS that I was using (which is back to where it was, mind you). The old CSS did not scale well and was not very pretty under Internet Explorer. Surprisingly, the number of hits fell considerably with that change. Not only did the number of uniques fall, the number of people willing to browse the site to find other entries and posts fell as well. I now have had the time to fix the CSS a little and it is back to where I like it. In accordance with my discoveries I have compiled a list of items I believe are important when choosing a design for your blog or site.
Mind you, I am not a standards Nazi but have slowly come to see the light. I believe in casual adherance to the standards and not a neo-fascist approach. I do not condone extremism in any shape or form (in web design at least).

That being said, the first golden rule of good web design is
Make sure you view your page from every browser possible, even Mac browsers.
People forget that not everyone falls into the Windows user category. There are hundreds of thousands of Mac users out there and if you want your blog to be read, we will come to read it. A slightly malformed page is much better than a completely disfunctional blog that is impossible to read in a Mac. There are lots of wonderful resources out there which lets one setup different CSSs for different browsers. Spend that extra 20 minutes and get the site Mac compatible. No blog is complete or can be without being available to Mac users. Same goes for Linux. Here is a Javascript solution and here is an HTML solution. Here is way to test in different browsers and here is a way to install many versions of browsers on your machine. Here are some of the CSS bugs categorized by browsers and Operating Systems.
I am sure there are many other useful resources out there. If you use any, please leave a comment for others. This is the first in a series of Golden Rules that I will try to put together on this blog, so stay tuned. Suggestions and comments welcomed.




  1. MaThIbUs (3 comments.) says:

    Yes you were damn wrong :razz:

    I like this design much better than the previous one. Keep it up!

  2. Matt (64 comments.) says:

    You should get the updated Charleen theme, it’s much cleaner.

  3. gulliver (1 comments.) says:

    The current layout hideously breaks and renders the content unreadable (I’m only able to access it with CSS turned off) in IE on Mac.

    Had I found a way to contact you privately I’d have done so – I figure you’ll catch this in the moderation queue.



  4. Mark (58 comments.) says:

    The problem was with the recent comments function and the CSS. I removed it for the time being to help fix things. Thanks for the heads up!

  5. Ozonew4mWebmaster (1 comments.) says:

    Hi.. cool blog.. I was wondering if you would consider allowing me to add your blog feed to my news section on my webmaster website . I realise that not all of your posts are strictly webmaster related but ive written a script to only show posts containing certain keywords so theres no need to worry. Anyway, like i said.. cool blog.. some interesting stuff.. thanks

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