Bookish Discussion: Do You Judge a Blog by their Cover?

Posted January 11, 2016 by Zeee in Discussions23 Comments


Let’s talk about anything bookish!


Do you judge a blog by their cover or theme?

As readers, it is safe to say that we judge books by their cover.  I mean, I am personally more likely to pick up a book that has a gorgeous cover rather than a cover that doesn’t catch my interest.  Well, book bloggers, this week, I wanted to talk about blog designs or themes, because I realized that they actually influence my preferences in following or even subscribing to a blog.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not being snooty or whatever but I have noticed that I tend to follow blogs that have certain characteristics.

These are the following characteristics that I noticed in blogs I follow:

  1. Clean/minimalistic themes

I’ve been blogging since 2006 and since then, I’ve probably changed my blog theme a bazillion times.  Through the years, I have culled my blog theme and made it, even more, cleaner, with fewer widgets and add-ons.  Naturally, it is safe to say that I tend to read blogs with minimalistic themes.

I also noticed that I love light backgrounds, regardless of the design.  Out of the blogs that I follow, there are a couple of blogs that have a darker palette than the others, but mostly, the backgrounds are either plain white or very light design.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t visit blogs with darker themes.  It just means that I tend to follow blogs that are lighter.

  1. Less clutter on the sidebar.

This is related to #1.  A blog with a lot of stuff going on in the sidebar distracts the heck out of me.  Honestly, I get enough of those on Facebook and GoodReads.  Again, it all boils down to minimalism.

How about blogs that have their blogroll on the sidebar?  If you have about 10 or less on your sidebar, that wouldn’t be an issue for me.  Now if there are more?  Yikes!  Again, I easily get distracted.

Here’s a tip:  How about showcasing all the blogs you follow on a dedicated page?  Or better yet, have a scrolling widget on your sidebar showcasing your blogroll?  Keeping it to a minimum is key (well, my preference).

  1. Less Pop-ups

One of the major turn-offs I have is the subscribe now pop-up.  It’s been gaining popularity the last year or so because it helps increase your subscriber count.  Well, let me tell you that it’s a major turn-off for me.  I usually browse/read during my break time and usually on my phone or iPad and those pop-ups are NOT mobile friendly at all.  I can’t count how many times I’ve had to close those pesky pop-ups (without subscribing) every time I visit.

Here’s a tip: How about having the subscribe here pop-up appear when someone scrolls down your blog?  I have mine set so it pops up when a reader has scrolled down to about 85% of my blog.

  1. About page

Have an about page.  One of the things I look at before subscribing is reading the about page.  This is to see if the blogger and I have the same preferences/type of books.  Plus, I personally want to get to know the blogger on a personal level, or as personal as one can get.  I also blog mainly about books in the Young Adult and Adult Historical Romance genre, so it goes without saying that I would follow blogs that more or less have the same genre preferences as I do.

I also love to see a short About Me snippet on the sidebar, complete with a photo.  Obviously, there are some bloggers who prefer not to show their photo at all.  That’s fine, and I respect that.  However, I love seeing what a blogger looks like without looking at their about me page.

Here’s a tip: Write an amazing About Me page.  Ashley @ Nose Graze has a few tips on how to write an awesome about me page.  I just redid my own About Me page, too.

  1. No auto play/music

This is sort of related to #3.  I hate blogs that have music playing in the background.  I hate blogs that have videos in their posts that auto-play the moment I visit their blog.  This drives me freakin’ insane!

As I’ve mentioned above, I usually visit blogs at work during breaks, so having music play in the background is an annoyance.  Yes, I do not mute my phone at work.  I already modified my alert tones to beep once so I don’t annoy my co-workers.  So yes, the music playing is not helping me at all.

I’m actually happy that majority of the blogs don’t do this anymore, but I can remember a time when this was the in thing.  I was actually guilty of this at one point.

Here’s a tip: How about not having your videos auto-play?  If a reader wants to listen to the video, they can always click play.

  1. Mobile friendly blogs

I love mobile friendly blogs.  Again, this is related to #3.  If your blog is not mobile friendly, set it up to make it so.  This is especially true to blogs that have a lot of things on their sidebar.  With the mobile view, it actually hides the sidebar and your blog will just be showing your front page or the blog post when viewed on mobile.  There is also a link at the bottom of the page to view the full site, so readers who want to see your full blog will be able to do so.

  1. Subscribe via email option

I really hate it when a blog doesn’t offer this option.  I personally love to get updates on my favorite blogs via email because it’s easier for me.  I may follow someone on bloglovin or via RSS but I hardly open bloglovin or my RSS reader (I’ll probably open my RSS reader once a month).  That being said, email is just my personal preference.  There is one blog that I love and have subscribed via email but it seems to be not working.  As a result, I hardly visit that blog at all.

Here’s a tip: There are some who hate email subscriptions and love RSS.  Offer both options on your blog so your readers can choose an option that they prefer.

Do you have any blog preferences?  Do you think I’m a snooty blogger?  Share your thoughts below!

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23 responses to “Bookish Discussion: Do You Judge a Blog by their Cover?

  1. I usually wouldn’t care about the sidebars so long as there isn’t anything moving or glittery in them. And I also tend to follow blogs with a minimalist and light backgrounds. Also, being a near-sighted person, I tend to like reading blogs with a clean and medium to big fonts. If it isn’t, I’ll see if I can read them through my WordPress Reader or my e-mail as those have pre-formatted fonts.
    Speaking of blog layouts, you have a nice one! Love it! ?

    • Thanks, Kate! It took me a while to get here because GLITTER! I used to have those blinking glittery stuff on my sidebar when I started blogging (at a different blog) in 2004. And I totally forgot about the fonts! I usually prefer the sans or serif fonts and I think most blogs have that covered, but I’ve also seen quite a few use cursive fonts that are really hard to read and they are also very small! I won’t apologize for my blog post titles, though. I love the cursive font here, and I’m using it no matter what!

  2. I think it’s perfectly fine to have preferences when visiting blogs. I mean, never be mean to someone who doesn’t follow your preferences, but it’s okay to have them. Because in the end it’s just all opinions. Having a minimalist layout isn’t LAW. But anyways, I do love a minimalist layout xD and I basically just agree with you on everything. Great post!
    SJ Bouquet recently posted…Hip Tips and Alternate Uses for Books You HateMy Profile

  3. Yeah, I definitely judge a blog by their design. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t follow blogs with truly appalling design if the content is good! I prefer “clean” designs, too, I find them easier to navigate and to read.
    I dislike auto-play stuff, too. I mean, it usually scares me. I work in silence a lot so clicking something that plays music always surprises me. And I really dislike blogs with black backgrounds and white letters, they’re a nightmare to read. I stare at the screen all day anyway (I work as a translator so it’s a must) so I like easy to read pages.

    • I actually follow those blogs, but I usually just read them via email and just visit their blogs once in a while. I agree about the clean/minimalistic design being easy to navigate. 🙂

  4. I don’t mind clutter necessarily. But it depends. Can I find everything I’m looking for? Yes? Great. I can tune out most of the sidebar if I’m not interested in it. Are there lots of animated things all moving at once? I’ll most likely not visit much if at all, because that sort of thing sets off my vertigo.

    I also have no preference between light and dark themes. Strangely enough, dark backgrounds with light text are easier on my eyes. I can actually read longer with that set up than light backgrounds and dark text. But if the text isn’t itty bitty, then it really doesn’t bother me either way.

    Your comments about the auto play music and videos are giving me scary flashbacks to when MySpace was all the rage. That was normal for those pages! That and the backgrounds that looked like falling snow/a glitter storm. I haven’t actually run into that on any blogs, but I also use NoScript so that could easily be why I haven’t seen it.

    I love e-mail subscriptions. All my favorite blogs I subscribe to that way. It helps me remember to visit them often, and then I don’t miss any of their posts!
    Silvara recently posted…Do You Purge Your Books?My Profile

    • Hahaha I remember Myspace and I admit to being guilty! Falling glitter? Glitter text? Black backgroud? Check, check, and check! I was in high school back then though, so I will claim teenage-itis for that one!

  5. Interesting topic! As for light/dark, I don’t care at all about the overall background, but the actual posts need to be dark letters on a light background–I seriously can’t manage the ones that are navy blue with pink font, or some such thing. My blog is a free, and thus generic, one. I have gradually taken more and more things off my sidebar, as I realize how distracting I find it when others’ side bars are super busy.

    I am a blogging newbie without much free time, so there are lots of design things I’ve just kind of ignored for now. I do have summers free. Last summer was spent simply setting up the blog and getting in the habit of writing, and finding my way around the community. I hope this summer to have time to learn more about the actual–man, I don’t even know the right word. Setup? Is it coding? I’m definitely pinning this post to refer back to when I sit down to really get a handle on my blog design.

    • I see you use blogger for your blog. Honestly, for free blogs, I find blogger to be user-friendly and you have more freedom in changing themes. And if you know HTML, this would make things easier when you want to personalize your blog. I used to be on blogger years ago and learned HTML while using that platform. Googling how to’s for blogger is also very helpful 🙂

  6. I’m not super picky about light or dark or whether or not the design has that clean look (my blog doesn’t have that type of design, so …), BUT I do get really frustrated with pop-ups lots of clutter and music. ESPECIALLY music! This reminds me that I need to do an About Page, though. I don’t have one – just a short little About Me box.
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright – Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  7. I agree with you about pretty much all of these points, but I love your last point especially. There are several blogs I really do adore, but the only subscribe option is for bloglovin’. First, I don’t understand why there’s only one option in the first place, but it frustrates me that it’s bloglovin’ in particular because it requires the viewer to set up an account and actually remember to monitor it (and I, personally, just really don’t like bloglovin’). As far as I can tell, it’s really easy to set up an email subscription, so I don’t understand why bloggers don’t do this and it really frustrates me.

    And makes me sad, because I want to see that content, but I’m not going to remember to check in with a blog I don’t get notice of.
    Blaise recently posted…Beautiful People: Writerly Resolutions and GoalsMy Profile

  8. Oh boy, I cannot stand music or pop-ups! I also read blogs with my mobile phone and it’s such a hassle to get rid of those, so I just immediately leave :/
    I also agree with a minimalist design and less clutter. I’ve been playing around with my blog’s theme for as long as I could remember, and now I’m satisfied with the colors…but the header could use a lot of work *sighs* I think it takes a lot of experimenting before you actually become satisfied with how your blog looks, or how you make it “you”, and for your readers they always want it to reflect a little bit of your personality. If the blog is cluttered and all over the place, then it kinda reflects back on you.

    Or at least that’s how I look at it? 🙂
    Joan @ Fiddler Blue recently posted…To try or not to try that 1 star book?My Profile

  9. I like blogs that have a theme. The ones that look like the blogger took some time to make it there own. When I see a stock blog I usually don’t read any further. I don’t have an option to subscribe by email but that’s because I have Amazon links in my posts and Amazon doesn’t not allow affiliate links within emails if they find out about it they will terminate the account.
    Bunnita @ Worth Reading It? recently posted…Movie Monday: PollyMy Profile

  10. We have quite a few of the same preferences 😀 I don’t care as much about light or dark, but the other stuff, YEP. I mean- I can even live with LOUD, as long as it isn’t cluttered and loud, if that makes sense? But the pop-ups? Those need to be stopped. NOPE, nope nope. I have vowed NEVER to respond to one hahah. And the music, please no. Make it stop. Luckily, like you said, it IS less frequent, but I want it to be NEVER. I think out of all the things, that would be the only one that would actually make me not follow someone- crap making noise and popping up all over the place!

    I also like to subscribe by email. And I like an about me page, especially if there isn’t really information anywhere else- I like to know who I am talking to 😉 Great post!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Series Lies I Told MyselfMy Profile

  11. Honestly I don’t care that much about the look although I do love a classy and clean look to it. But I don’t mind about the color, most people have lighter background themes to their blogs, but I like the darker ones too because you don’t see them as often. …its more about the content for me and if I can relate to what they blog about especially when it comes to book blogs. I don’t care for the automated music either. I have a music widget, but its not automative. I hate the pop ups too!! They can be quite frustrating at times.

    • Maybe I should have said that majority of the blogs that I follow have all of these? The blogs that I follow have content that I love to read, which was why I followed them in the first place, but I also notice that majority of them fall under the specifications I gave 🙂

      The pop-ups drive me nuts! LOL

  12. It’s more about readability of the the page and content quality for me. If I can’t read your site due to a bad font choice or background color consider me gone.

    I love the flexibility of Ashley’s TweakMe v2 theme when it comes to widgets. I’ve been able to put content specific widgets on pages to help drive visitors to related content.

    Oh, and I’m the opposite of you. I’m not a fan of the lighter backgrounds. 🙂
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…A Few of My Favorite AuthorsMy Profile

    • Ohhh I guess everyone has a different type. You’re actually one of the darker themed blogs that I subscribe to, but you your theme is more minimalistic which doesn’t distract me. Also, content wise, I love your posts.

      I do want to add that I actually forgot to include the content preference, but I just thought that it was a given. and I think I stated that in the About Me page. 🙂

  13. I don’t judge a blog by anything like that. I choose to follow them based on the books they read, how they do their reviews, etc. I figure everyone makes their blogs the way they want them, just like everyone has their own likes and dislikes, so who am I to judge that? I agree with the comment above about music, I don’t really like that, or any kind of pop up ads, etc. And there have been times I can’t find any way to follow a blog other than email, and I only follow blogs I really want to that way. This is an interesting discussion post! I’m going to guess you probably wouldn’t like my blog because I have bright orange as my background, as I always love lots of color! To me, just a white background or very plain often seems like someone who doesn’t really do much with that part of the blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that’s how it seems to me. But I follow all different sorts of blogs.
    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted…Promo Post and Giveaway: The Key of Alanar by Rory B. MackayMy Profile

    • I used to have darker themed backgrounds before, but for some reason, I gradually shifted to a lighter color scheme. But, I’m also not saying that I don’t subscribe to darker themed blogs because I do. I think what I meant from this post was that I noticed that I followed the same “type” of blog themes/characteristics but that’s not the be all, end all. I think that I did not mention content because I thought that was a given. 🙂 Does this make me mean?

  14. Alyn

    I don’t have much of a preference when it comes to blogs. I follow them because of the books. The themes/layouts/fonts etc are just extras. That doesn’t mean there are things I don’t dislike. I have to agree with the whole pop-out asking me to subscribe. If I REALLY wanted to subscribe, I’d look for it on the sidebar. Which leads me to my next peeve, not finding the subscribe to email or bloglovin on the sidebar or anywhere it usually is on most blogs. That’s when I shrug my shoulders because that’s their loss, not mine. I think I’ve only ever encountered one blog that played music and I didn’t like that either. Everything took a bit longer to load on that blog because of the music.

    • I agree about the music part. I know it was a big thing back in 2008-ish and I even had it on my black then. And yes, I do follow blogs based on the content and reviews but I also noticed that majority of the blogs I subscribe to have the same “type” again, this doesn’t mean that I don’t follow the darker themed blogs.