So I was asked recently to check out a blog post by someone who is a professional motivational speaker.
Their writing was excellent and the topics of the posts were really good as well. At least I think they were. I'm pretty sure it... was... um... sort of... well...
To be honest, unfortunately I didn't stick around long enough to finish reading anything because for some reason the longer I stayed on the website, I started to find myself getting more and more tired, bored, as well as aware of just this general feeling of dread and melancholy.
Their blog was depressing me.
Do you know of any websites like this? You get there with high expectations based on their external articles or social networking presence, only to get to their website and suddenly start to feel like you're losing blood?
Was this person a vampire?? No.
So why was I feeling that way, and more importantly, being a friend and still feeling this way, what do you think the readers and potential customers might feel?
I think I got distracted after leaving the site and didn't return for a couple days. The only reason I did remember to return was because this person followed up and asked what I though because I hadn't left a comment yet.
Immediately the feeling of dread returned and I almost winced as I clicked back on their link. Oh man... (deep breath...)
An then as the page loaded, it hit me. This was a blog focusing on motivational subject matter and I was physically feeling scared and ill.
Epic fail right?
Now when you think motivation, what are some visual images that come to your mind?
For me if I were just to quickly do a stream of consciousness in no particular order, I came up with: action, progress, sunshine, light, rays of light, light breaking though clouds, something new, fresh, clean, excitement, angels singing, trumpets, lalalaaaah!!! happiness, blue sky, progress, joy, green grass, buddha glowing head floating, smiling faces, hands raised to the sky, enlightenment, clean, white, blue, green, yellow....
Wait a minute... did I just say, clean? light? white, blue, green...?
Then like a light going off in a dark tunnel, it occurred to me just what was so freaking scary about this website.
The topic of the website was "motivation" and their design was almost completely grey.
All grey with a grey header, blurry dark navy blue logo, and some funky 80's nail salon fashion color scheme (not in a cool retro way) with a dark grey background and dark text over that dark background.
To top it all off, their blurry bio photo looked like it was taken with a cheap cell phone camera, in front of a dark navy blue Sears portrait studio style background, cropped at a funky shape and obviously too large to fit in the slim sidebar.
No wonder their motivational blog was so un motivating!
They were literally setting themselves up to look like a creepy vampire in a design that was literally swimming in a muddy grey, blurry, cloudy day!
An inspiration maybe for the Schleprocks on the Flinstones, but not me...
Do you know someone with a blog like this? Maybe even, dare I say, your own blog?
Here are a few suggestions to consider if you suspect you might be suffering from Blog of Doom-itis
- What is the overall visual impression you are trying to express with your business and does your blog represent it?
- What are the basic color associations with the topic of your business and does your blog color scheme match up?
- Try getting an informal opinion from someone you feel will give you an honest, unbiased answer.
- (Tip: I always grab a teenager because they are always so pop culture style focussed, not to mention brutally honest, so they will more likely be able to give you an honest answer.)
- Try adding a polling widget on your site and ask people what they think and ask for feedback.
- Try posting on your favorite social network of choice and ask for opinions.
- Try picking up a couple magazines based on your business niche and take note of the general styling and colors. Does it clash? Magazines usually spend lots of money on design and market research, so they usually are a good benchmark for what the visual pulse is for that particular industry.
- Try going to sites like http://www.templatemonster.com and searching for designs that match your business theme.
- You can also go to http://cssline.com/ and enter in a color scheme and find great design ideas based around those colors you feel fit your business theme.
So, does your theme match up? If not maybe you need to change some things.
Sometimes, its really nothing major, just a tweak and spit shine in the right place and your gloomy website is suddenly modern and snappy.
If your blog theme allows it, a couple quick stylesheet color tweaks and sometimes thats all you need.
If that's beyond your skill level, you can either purchase any number of very solid blog templates for under $100 or even hire a very decent designer for a basic redesign for under $500
So to summarize, the general visual impression of your business website is just as important as having a clean designer suit and a slick haircut. It says a LOT about you, so if you really want to come off to your readers as a professional, your website should visually reflect that as well.
If your blog is your business, you owe it to yourself to insure that it makes the right impression and doesn't scare people off, like a dark cloud of doom.