Ask me to name three things that cause me most stress and anxiety in day to day life, and I’ll reply noise, mess and rushing.
Having young children, there are often occasions where all three collide head on and challenge my patience to – and well beyond – its breaking point.
So when I retreat to the pleasure of online reading, I like to escape those terrible triplets (noise, mess and rushing, not members of my family) and relax into pages that feel like quiet, immersive, retreats.
To avoid rushing, I try to only read when I have enough time for a particular article.
If it’s one of Seth’s daily posts that usually means about three minutes reading, followed by three hours quiet unravelling and digesting in a corner of my mind.
For longer blog posts this might mean setting aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted time. I wait until I have the time, rather than dipping in and out whilst trying to do three other things at the same time.
When you’re talking about online reading, the other two – noise and mess – are much the same thing.
Both of them turn me off hugely on websites and blogs.
I’m far more drawn to writers who blog quietly, and create the kind of retreat I mentioned before.
Blogs that feel like a treehouse in the woods, or a shack on a remote mountain, rather than a frantically busy store in the heart of New York or Tokyo.
Blogging quietly has very little to do with the author’s written “voice” in fact, but far more about how they visually present their words.
To blog quietly, I humbly suggest you need the following elements –
A legible, large enough typeface that is easy to read and doesn’t distract from the actual words.
An overall neutral colour scheme that doesn’t cause the reader to squint or strain or reach for their sunglasses.
Simple, logical navigation, like just being able to click on the title of a post on the main page to then go to the page for the full post, and clicking on the top header/title of the blog to go back to the main/home page.
As simple a design as possible. Take a look at 95% of novels published in the last century, and take note of the page layout. There’s a reason they’re designed like this, and why that design is so simple and free of distractions in the margins.
The main text in one column down the centre. Not so narrow it makes the space either side distracting by its vastness, and not so wide that reading each line takes a minute and a half and makes the overall reading experience seem intimidating and too much effort.
A static page, as in nothing flashing, spinning, popping up, under, over or out.
All your own words (and pictures), presented exactly how you’ve chosen to show them, not someone else’s words, pictures, logos, and advertisements dumped jarringly in the middle of your otherwise thoughtfully crafted little corner of the internet.
Perhaps you can think of some other ways we can blog quietly? Can you recommend some blogs you read yourself that do this effectively?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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