The Indecision of Being a Blogger

morning perchSometimes being a blogger is no fun.

I don’t mean that from a, “Oh, woe is me, I have to blog” point of view. Nor do I mean it from a, “Why hasn’t my blog been turned into a book yet?” viewpoint.

Besides, how much of a letdown would a book that’s made up of recycled blog posts be?

No, it’s more from the perspective of getting the best user experience, without overloading that same experience with too much clutter (and when I say user experience, I mean it from you, the reader’s, point of view).

For example, anyone that’s read my blog for a while will know that I’m constantly experimenting with design, features and layout to make your time here worthwhile.

I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to stop by here, read what I’m thinking, and then share your own thoughts in the comments.

So one of the areas I’ve experimented the most in is the comments section. I’ve tried third-party comment systems (then switched back); video and audio comments; and commenter social profiles with Twitter and latest blog post options amongst other experiments.

And still I stay undecided at times. Just the other day, I tweeted that I almost switched back to the Disqus comment platform following their new updates, but that I’d miss CommentLuv too much (Disqus isn’t compatible and I think CommentLuv is one of the best blogger tools out there).

Another option I can never make my mind up about is social sharing. This is where, if you like the post enough, you can share it with your own networks (Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, etc).

I’ve messed around with a few options here too. Sexy Bookmarks, Add This and BackType are three that I’ve used previously.

Currently I use Digg Digg, which provides the floating share option to the left of this post. I also use Share This at the bottom of each post, to offer a wider amount of networks than Digg Digg. And then there’s the Apture Bar at the top of the page, which I’ve just switched back on and only comes into view as you start scrolling down the page. (Note: since posting this I’ve had to switch the bar off as it looked like it was causing formatting issues on my design).

Yet is this too much? Just right? Not enough?

There are a ton of other little things like this that I constantly question when I look at my blog. While I write what I’d like to read, obviously a big part of any blog’s “success” is its community, from readers to commenters to subscribers. So making your experience a good one is just as key as me writing a (hopefully) good post.

Perhaps it’s just part and parcel of being a blogger? Always questioning not just your content but the content area. And perhaps that’s why bloggers are such an oft-misunderstood crowd – if we don’t know ourselves, how can anyone else?

How about you? If you blog, do you go through the same indecision and similar questions? And if so, what are some of the things you’re constantly asking yourself?

Creative Commons License photo credit: bgblogging

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  1. says

    Danny, I enjoy seeing the updates. I also enjoy how you take feedback into account and share your thoughts on what works for you. The Digg Digg is not compatible with netbooks and gets cut off many times that I read, but I don’t come for the bells and whistles, but for the content.

    I think Headway has also made it easier for you to constantly improve the layout. It is addicting and fun.

    However at the end of the day, remember that we’re our own worst critics. Keep up the content mate.

    • says

      Hi there Jeff,

      That’s a shame about the Digg Digg cut-off, thanks for the heads-up – although good “validation”, if you like, re. having extra sharing options.

      And yes, we’re definitely our own worst critics – but that’s what often makes it fun :)

  2. says

    Hey Danny,

    I just dropped Disqus today, mostly because it slowed my WordPress down and I found a situation where it wouldn’t work in a friendly way with the Featured Post Leaf.

    But I agree, sometimes we are somewhat A.D.D. like, we hear of something, or see something and then walk through the dilemma of should I or shouldn’t use it.

    For me, I just want my Blog to run smoothly, be easy for others to navigate, and of course I want them to engage on some level. Whatever the tool is, isn’t as important to me as long as it’s easy for my visitors.

    Blessings my friend,


    • says

      Funnily enough, I was speaking with John Haydon yesterday and he was saying the exact same thing about Disqus. I think they use Javascript with their comments system, and that adds to the load time. I know I’ve gone to a site that uses Disqus, the little load bar toots away in the bottom, and I end up leaving because of it.

      Doesn’t matter if the blog is great – if you make it difficult in any way for your readers to participate, you’re simply losing out.

  3. says

    Hi Danny, I love your floating bar (Digg Digg) and if it doesn’t cause issues with anything else, I might do that. It makes me smile as it floating along with me as I read but of course the real value is that at the point someone is ready to RT or share, it is right there. No scrolling. I do use Sexy Bookmarks though and like it, so does it conflict?

    I don’t like Disqus – it has good qualities in making you a part of the conversation, but it is another hoop to jump through for the commenter. I make it easy to comment and though I certainly don’t have your huge community, I do get conversation – as you know since you have visited recently and thank you!

    You also know I am a Headway fan and mine is a Headway blog and so I do make changes and test even though my site is fairly new. I love the ease of making changes.

    • says

      I don’t think there’s any conflict with Sexy Bookmarks and Digg Digg, Julie. Although I used SB previously, and when I switched Digg Digg on it ended up putting a little “Share” text at the start of the excerpts for the blog posts that weren’t full (on the home page). So not sure if that was a conflict or just a kink.

      I think what I like most about using the WordPress core comment system is that you can adapt to have what you like on there, either via plug-in or hard coding.

      With the redesign that I’ll be unveiling soon, I’m working with a great designer over in L.A. and we have some cool ideas on styling the comments area – so that could be fun! :)

      And as I always say, even just having one commenter means you have a community – size counts to a degree, but it’s the quality of the interaction that really counts. Something you have in spades. :)

  4. says

    I’m all for experimenting – if it’s linked to metrics testing.
    For example, are you doing any A/B testing on your site traffic related to design issues?

    I do think making decisions based on your analytics is a good way to go.

    As for design, I’m yet to really find a way of achieving what I want with my sidebar.

    As ever, Danny, a very thoughtful and useful discussion!


    • says

      Oh, always use metrics to justify, Jon. :)

      So far I haven’t seen a major difference either way, so I’m guessing the changes I’m making gradually are ones that are less “irritable”, as opposed to wholesale changes across the board.

      How that’ll pan out with my redesign is another matter, mind you… 😉

  5. says

    As you know, I have switched back and forth between WordPress Comments, Disqus and now Intense Debate. For me, it’s all about trying to provide the best platform from which my readers can share their stories and interact with me and each other.

    That is true of the blog design and sharing options as well. I’m never satisfied with how looks, flows and works, so I’m fiddling all the time.

    I’m wondering though if that provides a measure of stress on my readers? Do they get tired of constant changes?

    Any thoughts from your experience?

    • says

      I guess if it’s major changes over a short period of time, then it could become grating. There’s nothing worse than going to your favourite store and finding they moved the deli counter to the completely opposite side. 😉

      Little changes here and there, though, I think are more manageable. You could also write a post pre-experimentation asking for opinion, and using that feedback to build from. It’s really helped me out in the past, especially from a design angle.

  6. says

    Hi Danny

    Love this post, I’m going through a self-reflective process at the moment. Not sure about CommentLUV vs Disqus…I’m going with Disqus for now – but would love to hear why you use CommentLUV?

    Also iThnk this is definitely something all bloggers do – so I’m limiting myself to thinking about it for only one day a week. Or else I never end up actually blogging – haha joyous indecision!

    • says

      Hey there Sam,

      One of my key “mantras”, if you like, is to really build and look after your blog community. Disqus is great for helping build discussion, but it lacks in a lot of other areas.

      * No real mobile support
      * Questionable spam filtering
      * Extra load time on comments (especially lately)
      * If you leave and go back to WordPress, you lose the threaded option (they all go back to single post comments).

      The reason I like CommentLuv so much is that it opens me and my readers up to some great new blogs/bloggers that we’d never really have known about otherwise.

      While you can certainly click through on just a name to see who and what they’re about, an enticing blog title takes that to the power of 10. :)

      Anyhoo… that’s just my preference. Disqus is a good system, there’s no question about that. I just like the control your own system gives you more 😉

  7. says

    I’m with Schaefer. I just cone here and know what to do.

    Seriously, it’s not that scientific for me even though it should be. As long as someone can leave a comment and they can find my posts I am happy. I think I keep it stripped down for the express reason that I don’t have the time to devote to the complexities that can come with always keeping up with the changes in tech.

    KISS rule for me.

  8. says

    I’m with Schaefer. I just cone here and know what to do.

    Seriously, it’s not that scientific for me even though it should be. As long as someone can leave a comment and they can find my posts I am happy. I think I keep it stripped down for the express reason that I don’t have the time to devote to the complexities that can come with always keeping up with the changes in tech.

    KISS rule for me.