5 Blog Design Mistakes that will Drive Your Readers Away

I’ve been visiting a lot of blogs and websites lately in search for inspiration on how to display content for this blog in such a way that is pleasing to the eyes and easy to navigate around. And it is during these blog-hopping that I’ve finally decided to write a post on some of the blog features that I find annoying.

1. Auto-Play Music

On a quiet afternoon a few days ago, I nearly spilled my coffee on the keyboard when the music completely caught me off guard the moment I landed on a blog. Having background music was probably fashionable back in mid-nineties when the web was still coming together; today, it’s considered out-dated and amateur, unless, perhaps, your blog is about music and bands, etc. But hey, even iTunes do not play music on their website!

Embedding music on your blog and then putting it on auto-play will most likely have your readers frantically search for the stop button or, what I do most of the time, click the ‘X’ button on the top and leave the blog. If you absolutely must have music on your blog, give the readers an option to play it themselves should they want to listen to the music.

2. Excessive Flash

People are impatient. Most often than not, they are more likely to quickly scan your post than stick around to read the entire thing. They want information or entertainment. What they don’t want is a bunch of unnecessary animation swooshing around pointlessly. Besides, it takes up precious bandwidth. I often find myself clicking on a blog or website with a very ‘flashy’ intro, but immediately end up clicking the ‘skip intro’ button. And chances are I’ll never visit the same site again.

Oatmeal highlights this in his blog:

“…it turns out that at least 25% of site visitors will immediately leave a site as soon as they see a  message for a Flash splash screen (even if there’s a ‘skip intro’ link).”

The same principle applies to all those annoying pop-up ads.

3. White Text on a Black Background

This is a bit controversial. But unless it’s a photo blog (because pictures stand out against a dark background), most readers do find it more pleasing to read text on a lighter background. I found this poll on Darren’s blog:


4. Obnoxious Fonts

Unless the blog author is a ten year old writing about how he or she spent a summer vacation, please refrain from using Comic Sans. Each font has its own personality and, depending on the theme of your blog, it can make or break the message you are trying to deliver. Find out what the 23 really bad font choices are, or read this very funny post about bad, bad fonts.

And then find out whether yours is among the top ten web safe blogging fonts or not.

5. Confusing Layout

I am referring to blogs that have this huge logo or banner that takes up almost half of the blog space and make me scroll all the way down to finally see some post content. Some blogs have more than three sidebars and so much content in them that it gets confusing for a reader to find his or her way around amidst all the clutter. Some blogs do not have an ‘About’ page, which almost every first-time reader looks for. Others have hidden their RSS button or other subscription/sharing options somewhere so deep it becomes impossible for a reader to find them.

What specific design or feature discourages you from visiting a blog again? Please share your thoughts so that I can work on improving this blog too.


    1. Hello, Grace! Welcome to my new home 😀

      Most of us, I suppose, read blogs at work and the auto-play music can be most embarrassing if you forget to mute your speakers or plugin the earphones.

  1. very true, especially about the music part. There are some nice blogs that play some stupid music on loading, and oh my I was watching another video in the background (OK cricket) and I was wondering why are they playing sufi music during a t20 game!

    And flashy intros – what is this, the 1990s?

    1. lol @ sufi music during a t20 game! 😀

      Flashy intros are very, very annoying and frankly, I don’t think anyone browsing the net has time or patience to be subjected to them.

      1. oh this is probably off-topic..

        but you mentioned sufi music.. could you recommend anything to listen? I recently discovered this guy called Bahramji.. And I like his music so much!

  2. Hmm…interesting! Having all said and done, I reckon it all points towards and emphasises simplicity leaving it upon the content to speak for itself. At the same time, there needs to be an ‘agreement’ and ‘harmony’ between the display/design of the blog and what it stands for and positions itself as.

    Going thru that thought provoking analysis, guess what!? would really like my blog to be critically analyzed 🙂

  3. Delirium, it’s either simplicity or do it with good taste (although ‘good taste’ is highly subjective and hence tricky). Yep, harmony between all elements within a blog is key. I just checked your blog; looks like things are in agreement there 🙂

  4. How come you suddenly wrote on a topic that we — wannabe pro-bloggers always care about? 😕

    The information on this post is true, however. A neat and clean blog always wins readers.

    1. Hello, Sajib!

      Um, was it wrong for me to write this post? Your ‘smiley’ doesn’t look too happy 😀

      Keeping a blog neat and clean is always pleasing (although not ‘too’ clean, which means there’s nothing to read :D). The idea of writing this post was inspired by some of the blogs I’d visited in these past few days – blogs that contained one or more of the above-mentioned mistakes. Writing a post about this will also (hopefully) ensure that I do not make the same mistakes.

      1. It is absolutely okay for you to write about this. 😀 But my Google Reader has most of those ‘make great blog’ type of subscriptions and I never expected such a post from your blog. So, I was really confused with my browser. 😉

        But I always agree with the points you’ve mentioned in the post. To make a popular blog, anyone should take advice from this post.

        By the way, you’re having some busy days? I miss your comments on my blog these days.

        1. This wasn’t a planned post; it just occurred to me to list down things that make or break a blog (part of a learning process for me too). This is my virtual home, so need to put in extra effort to make everything nice and clean (and presentable).

          I’m not so busy now, but the past few weeks had been crazy hectic at work. And I prefer to read my favorite blogs in a relaxed state. Will visit your blog today, inshaAllah.

  5. Hi Nadia! Very interesting post. I agree with the flash thingy. I usually get very out off by a blog if it takes ages to load! And also, some uses fonts so small I find myself squinting.
    Anyway, love the new design Nadia, clean and nice. Looks very professional 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Tien! Given my lack of knowledge in web designing, it took me 5 headache-filled days to get this very simple place together. I even broke the site down twice during the process and had to ask support to bring it back up.

  6. Agree with you on all the points! It literally hurts my eyes to read light text on a black background, so I will almost always leave the blog. And the music thing is so true as well — I frantically search for the mute button on my laptop lol.

    Btw I’m not sure when you changed your layout, but it looks great! Simple is always best, I find.

    1. Thank you, Misha! I changed the blog layout just this week. I’m glad you liked it.

      Yes, white text on black background is too painful! Unless I really like the blog, I am most likely to simply leave.

  7. Well i didn’t know anything about this at all 🙂 That’s because I don’t know much about blogging and only care to make it simple and sweet! Thank you for sharing them and I’ll keep them in mind next time I want to change something in my blog 🙂

  8. Hello Nadia!

    1. I agree it’s a tad annoying but luckily my computer at work is always set to mute so i didn’t notice anyway.

    2. I always click the skip intro

    3. I also prefer light background

    4. I don’t really mind about the fonts, but size matters. too small diff to read. Too big hafta scroll down so much.

    5. I esply hate the ones where the entire blog’s posts are crammed in a little box and you hafta scroll within the box. I also don’t like where they set the blog to load only one or two posts per page and then you hafta keep clicking Next or Back to read old or new stories.

    6. I actually would like to see pictures of the author and often get disappointed when they choose to “hide” themselves.

    7. Having a glossary or index of who’s who or abbreviation would be great too. I mean some people write about a certain H or N or whatever… It’s ok if its to remain anonymous but if its just abbeviation, then newcomers would be totally lost. And then you don’t know if this H is the author’s boyfriend or husband or brother? For me, in any post I would write Tufeil’s full name first and then followed but a short T. In my ABOUT there’s explanation that T is my son. I’ve been trying to work on a glossary/index myself but… haven’t got around to it yet.

    Well that’s my take on this.

    Love & Hugs,

    1. Thank you for the wonderful and detailed comment, Jus! I truly appreciate the input.

      I totally forgot about “…blog’s posts are crammed in a little box and you hafta scroll within the box”. This is a big NO in blog designing! In fact, it is a crime to subject your readers to this.

      About the blog author posting his or her picture, not everyone is comfortable (although I do admit that it’s nice if we see a picture). I fall into this category; I don’t know when I’ll be comfortable in putting up a picture that shows the complete me (as opposed to a very weird angle that I have on my ‘about’ page right now) 😀

  9. I agree about these too! Big headers bug me also…it takes over the entire blog! Anyhow…your blog is looking very professional.

    Hehe @ comic sans. Have you heard of comic sans criminal website? 😀

  10. auto music is definitely a turn off!

    hey you have a cool blog so I think people should listen to these advices 🙂 im so gonna share this post!

  11. hello, nadia! how have you been? 🙂
    your page looks different – it looks wider, huh!?

    thanks for this article, like it! it’s quite useful for bloggers especially non-techie ones like me, haha.

    i hope you and your family are okey. it’s rather hot in the phils these days, btw… 😀

    1. Hello, dpsa! Thank you so much; I’m glad you found the post useful. Yes, my blog is wider. I needed it this way because I post photographs a lot, and the usual blog size is usually too narrow (specially with two sidebars). Is it way too (unpleasantly) wide though?

      My family’s doing good (thanks to the Almighty). It’s getter warm here too during the day, but still cool in the evenings, but that is going to change in soon and then we’ll have an unbearably hot day and an equally hot evening.

      PS: Your comments are going into the spam for some reason :S

  12. I totally agree with you on all these points, Nadia! [Yes! I’m still working on my font size, don’t hurt mee! :P]
    The music is a big turn off. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly had a heart attack at the sudden total unexpected blast of it.

    PS: Loving your new layout! so freshy weshy 😀

  13. Assalaam Alaikum Nadia,

    Excellent advice! I definitely agree that auto-music is a big turn off. I almost always click out of the blog or put the volume on mute (that is, if I like the blog too much to leave). And I find that white/light text on a black background is so straining on the eyes. Also, someone made a comment about wide margins, and I would just like to say that I personally prefer wider margins. If the page’s margins are too narrow then at times it can cause the text to appear cramped.

    By the way, I love your new blog layout! Really nice, MashaAllah. 🙂

    1. Walaikum Assalam Sara! Thank you so much for your feedback 🙂

      I’m not even sure why someone would be so enthusiastic about embedding music on their website and putting it on auto-play? OK, so maybe it’s their favorite music or something, but readers visit blogs to ‘read’. Besides, if someone wanted to listen to music, they’re probably going to visit some music-related website.

  14. Nothing on ur blog ever discouraged me from visiting ur blog, but when I dun visit it’s bcuz I’m busy with life 😛

    This post of urs has inspired me to think of cleaning up my neglected and messy blog! I need to do some changes, it’s been a long time heheh.

    1. Aww, you’re too sweet, Nisa! Thank you 🙂

      Your blog may be neglected, but I don’t think it’s messy. But yeah, you need to update more often. I always look forward to your posts!

  15. Great post! I hate music too, so distracting and annoying while reading…

    I think it’s important to have a personalized header – like of a photo you maybe took. I obviously don’t have this on my blog, but I’m in the process of trying to fix the blog up and hopefully can get one up soon (it’s taking me quite a long time to make little changes lol). Your blog always looks great btw!

    1. ‘liya, thank you!

      I used to put up personalized header on my wordpress.com blog, all of them pictures that I took. I tried the same with this blog, but I still don’t find that one picture that will look good here. I miss your blog; I hope you fix it up soon.

  16. OMG… I’m SO GUILTY of your very first point on my blog! 🙁 Then again I’m not so good with the technical stuff of it.. so I just placed the music there.. hehe…*blushes*
    lol looks like I’ve got lotsa to learn!!! 😛

  17. yea the auto play music is kinda annoying esp if your sneaking onto someone’s blog and dont want anyone else in the room to know that your not doing what your supposed to do (i.e. hw) lol…and it just so happens that your laptop speakers are ON!! great list

  18. Salam sis!

    Feels as though I haven’t been here in ages! I concur with all of the above! Especially the flash intros! And this is coming from someone who used to design flash intros for a living! LoL~

    1. Walaikum assalam, Hajar! Yes, the last time you visited was in 26 B.C.

      You used to design flash intros? You don’t have one on your blog though 😉

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