This is the second installment of my review series, aimed to help you spot performance and design drawbacks of your blog.
TechCrunch.com is a distinguished blog by Michael Arrington dedicated to profiling internet products and companies. With 389,000 subscribers, there’s not much Tech Crunch can do wrong and anyone would get intimidated by the possible backlash of criticizing Tech Crunch, but that’s not why you’re reading this review so let’s rip TechCrunch.com a new one shall we?
- Move the content to the middle, would you? – Tech Crunch sports the three-column layout with one main column and two right sidebars, a layout that puts advertisers first.This layout is a win-win because you get to put advertisers first (more money per ad), separate ads from content, and let your readers know the right side of your blog is basically
crapdecorations. (Those decorations earn Tech Crunch more than $60,000 per month.)This layout is a lose-lose because it’s awkward for readers’ eyes to digest the content. When you look at the computer, your eyes naturally focus on the center. With this layout, you have to start from the far left and stop at the center of the page. (Both Tech Crunch and WPDesigner are guilty of this.) If you want a three-column design and want what’s best for the readers, put the main column in the middle.
It’s also a lose-lose for advertisers because their ads don’t get enough clicks. This layout puts advertisers first, but doesn’t deliver the amount of clicks that it should. What the? It’s because of size and placement.
Placement – If you take a look at the ads, they’re nowhere near the content. The closer you place ads near content the more clicks the ads will get. Size – The main banners are the 125px by 125px button banners. Yea, those. Nobody clicks those, unless a certain banner gets very creative.
If the ads don’t get enough clicks then why do people advertise there? The answer is branding.
- Ow! My eyes! My freakin’ eyes! – Tech Crunch’s main colors are white and green. Reading that blog makes me wish I was colorblind (no offence, I’m just jealous). That’s bad enough, but why does the font size have to be 11px too? With a 570px (5.7 inches) main column, your font size should be at least 12px.570px main column and 11px font size, that’s an average of 16 to 18 words per line. Your eyes will quickly get tired of having to move far across the screen. 12 to 14 words per line is good.
I actually like Tech Crunch’s comments template. It’s well-spaced (plenty of room in between comments), very clear, easy to follow, and easy to recognize who is posting each comment. However, I would make the gray background color (for every other comment) a little bit brighter. You already know green on white is hard to read so don’t get me started with green on gray.
Another thing I want to point out is the fact that Tech Crunch puts track backs before comments, which actually means you don’t even have to post the first comment or even post a great comment to attract Tech Crunch readers to your site. You just have to be the first to track back.
Personally, I wouldn’t want people to manipulate my blog like that.
Size and Speed
Tech Crunch takes more than 100 seconds to load for 56k users. Generally, that’s bad because you have less than eight seconds to keep a user in front of a loading screen. However, whether this is bad for Tech Crunch depends on the number of Tech Crunch’s 56k users. Most of the problems contributing to the slow loading time are the advertisements. You can’t really blame Tech Crunch because that problem is in the hands of Federated Media, which manages Tech Crunch’s ads. However, you CAN blame Tech Crunch for the number of ads.
I don’t think this is a big problem for Tech Crunch because most of its readers get content through RSS. Remember the 389,000 subscribers?
Spacing and Alignment
Except for content in the main column, nothing about Tech Crunch is organized. Here’s a thought. How about spending some of that $60,000, generated by the right sidebars, to fix the right sidebars?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Like Problogger, Tech Crunch has multiple H1 title tags on the front page. Although it makes sense to break your content down, block by block, with multiple sets of H1, H2, and H3 title tags, if you’re starting to get into on-page SEO, use only one H1 title tag per page.
That’s it for this installment of my review series. Again, this review series is meant to spot blog design performance problems so you can learn from them to improve your own blog. My reviews are not complete reflections of what I think of the reviewed blogs, just the design aspect. And at the end of the day, you should focus on creating great content (not designs) because the blogs that I’ve reviewed have made it without a pretty face.
Also, I have no problem with you reviewing WPDesigner. If you do review WPDesigner, let me know.