This is Awkward

socs badge 2016-17I felt bad for not being able to support Joey in her debut at the helm of SoCS. Actually, I don’t know if it’s her debut. Maybe Joey has guest-hosted before. I mean, hosts often use the same guest-hosts. That’s how Jay Leno got the job on the Tonight Show. For all I know, that’s how Johnny Carson got it. Maybe that’s how things are done with large-scale enterprises like Stream of Consciousness Saturday, you have to audition for the job.

In any case, Joey gave us “Awkward” as a prompt, but I couldn’t respond. I was traveling. I knew that I was going to spend most of Friday in a plane, or in an airport, and I didn’t want to rely on the web of hit-or-miss technologies that would allow me to think, write and post from the road.

So.

I wrote an “if we were having a beer” post, last weekend and scheduled it for Saturday. I only drink on Saturday, ‘cuz that’s the only day Cheryl can work behind the bar.

And.

I don’t like to post twice on the same day.

I mention that, because that’s kinda-sorta related to the subject of this post. A subject which – I – find – awkward.

Then I got this great idea.

Since I had just recently returned from a short trip to the west coast, I realized that Linda and, to a lesser degree, Joey, are in a different time zone from me. So, if I write this on Saturday and schedule it to post after midnight… schedule because I was up after midnight last night, and once a week is enough…heck, New Year’s Eve is enough…well, you see where I’m going.

It’s still Saturday in LindaJoeyLand.

So, what’s this awkward thing I mentioned in the title?

Well, it’s a request to some of my fellow bloggers. Not all of you. Not most of you. A few of you and, now here’s the part that gets awkward. Please don’t take offense. I don’t mean for this to be in the form of a complaint. Think of this as a field report, something you weren’t aware of, you know, a public service message, if you will.

OK, here goes. Virtually sweating a little, just so you know.

Some of your blogs are hard to read.

Not badly written, or sad, or technical, or provocative, just hard to read. Literally, hard to read. It might be the colors. It might be the graphic background. It might be, and often is the theme you selected, particularly if you haven’t changed themes in a long time. Some of the problems include:

Non-responsive – I’m using the technical term (sorry) because that’s what you have to look for. Your theme should say that it’s “responsive.” That means (I know you’ve been wondering) that your blog will look good in a browser whether I open that browser on my laptop, my desktop, my iPad or my phone. Some of your blogs don’t look very good on my phone. Typically, if I try to make the text bigger, the background and sidebar images, ads, lists, and other widgets, don’t move.

image.pngLow Contrast – Mobile readers often read your blog under less-than-optimal lighting conditions. If I’m reading your blog while sitting outside with Maddie, the higher the contrast, the better. Also, (along with 8% of all men) I am colorblind. If there isn’t a lot of contrast between your font and the background, I’m struggling to read, even in good light.

Floating-stuff – This one is particularly awkward, because many several some of you actually pay for these things. The ads, email-connect offers and newsletter subscription pop-ups make it difficult to read your blog. They are designed to wiggle their way under my mouse/finger. If I click, touch, or in some cases, hover over them, they open a new window. That’s if I’m on my laptop. On my phone, they take me to a new page. I have to be honest, when that happens, I close the browser and skip that post.

OK, I got that off my chest. Phew, it’s out there.

Now, here’s the good news. I won’t stop following you over these things (some people will). I probably won’t read your blog if I’m using my phone, though. And some days, the only time I have when I can read your blog is when I’m using my phone, so…

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
This entry was posted in Advice, Blogging, SoCS and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to This is Awkward

  1. So glad to see that I am the first to comment. I agree that some of your posts that include woodwork details bounce off my head because that’s not really my thing, but I still enjoy the pictures and captions. I love interior decorating and I’m really good at visualizing, but that’s where I stop. I don’t deal into cutting, chopping, drilling and other processes. I loved those book-ends and all the things you make from wood. In fact, let me confess these days when I and Sarah are strolling through Vasai grassland and when we see a piece of log, we think of you. If Dan was here what would he do with this? Okay, coming back to the “hard to read” part. I never ever experienced any issues with your blog site. No ads, no graphic issues, no nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Sharukh. I was thinking about you on my flight from California to Atlanta (1st part of trip home). To obnoxious people in the row next to me we’re talking about how they both plan to be travel writers. They were going on and on about how it can’t be that hard. All I could think was: “neither of you could ever be as good as Sharukh.” The details they were talking about sharing were all too superficial. Where to stay, where to eat, clubs to visit. I can get all that in 10 different apps for my phone. I like your details, and history and photos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, that is very kind of you. To be honest, I’m not a travel writer. I don’t hop places like other travel writers, but I know I am still good. My colleague she loves to travel places and she drew inspiration from my travel blog and started hers. She is trying hard to beat mine in terms of popularity and visitors. Many of my friends draw inspiration from me. They try and imitate the life I and Sarah live, the things I do, but fall short of it. You know why? Because they’re trying to become me. I draw inspiration from nature, friends like you, but I don’t copy. I carve out my own path. I evaluate and take risks and decisions, sometimes hard ones. Drawing inspiration and imitating are two different things. The funny thing is that people think of me as a travel writer and imitate me, but the fact down below is I’m not a travel writer, but a storyteller.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m of an age where I ‘read’ blogs on my laptop so I don’t know if I’m causing people grief on other devices. If I am I’m not sure I’d know all the steps to correct it. I have challenges with black backgrounds, very small print, and posts that are centered with two or three words on each line. I also can’t keep up with bloggers who post every day or multiple times a day so I visit once or twice a week and check a few posts out. Too much thinking on a Sunday, Dan. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Sorry about the thinking, Judy. I don’t usually post on Sunday. I wanted to show some support for Joey, and I’ve been trying to find a way to mention this. Your blog is easy to read. It’s also well-enough written that I’d read it anyway :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Powell says:

    You’ve got me worried, Dan. I haven’t changed my WordPress theme since I started my blog a few years ago and have never pulled it up on a tablet or smart phone to see how it looks. I’m a little old school when it comes to a phone–I have a Tracfone cell phone that ostensibly is a smart phone, but I rarely turn it on except when I want to use it to call someone. I try to be a bit minimalist in my postings with only a few photos and a limited amount of prose. Who knows? I’ve never thought about joining a group that prompts you to write on a given theme, but “awkward” is definitely one that would be easy for me to do, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. quiall says:

    Um Dan is mine up to snuff? I worry about these things and would rather be told by a friend than not.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LOL… I guess that did make you feel awkward, Dan. :) However, your points are most valid.
    As a technical editor, and a person with low vision, I’m very conscious of what you described as the “contrast.” I don’t know how gray text became so fashionable, but it seems to be a default for most themes. (The fed agency that employs me even paid huge money for a designer to come in and “brand” all their stuff… and he used gray text online… *Sigh*…)
    I’m so used to zooming my screen to 150% (for my tired eyes) that I often don’t think about the font size (unless I still can’t see it at 150%) that I may be at fault on that point. And I don’t have time to worry about how it appears on phones and tablets. (It looks good enough on my phone, that was the extent of my testing.) However, I do at least think about the colors and contrast.
    By the way, the color test (2) you added is a great illustration for your point. Have a sublime Sunday. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Teagan. Gray text is hard to read, especially on some backgrounds. I’m usually OK with it, unless it’s a very light gray. I’ve read your posts on my phone (you can tell by the increased number of typos in my comments) and it’s never been a problem. Sometimes, I wait to comment until I can get to a larger monitor, and a full(er) sized keyboard, but that’s my issue.

      The motion of the ads and pop-ups and offers to connect to my this and my that are annoying to some, and visually confusing to others. My wife has vision issues with motion, so when screens put stuff in motion around what she’s trying to read, it bothers her a lot. The ironic thing is – why would I want to connect further with you, if I find your blog annoying to read? Don’t people ever ask themselves that question?

      Thanks for the hugs – they come across very clearly :)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. loisajay says:

    I think I am pretty much like Mike Powell. I have not changed my theme since I started (3 years in December), so have no idea what it looks like other than on my computer. That is the only way I read any posts. Let me know how mine is? This was a great post, Dan. Not awkward at all. **hands Dan virtual tissue to wipe brow**

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Val says:

    I’m relieved you’ve written this post, Dan. I think it’s something more bloggers should address, after all, unless their blog is private, it means they want other people to be able to read it, and that with that should come (in my opinion) a responsibility to their readers.

    My own problems with people’s blogs are particularly white font on black or worse, a colour on black (like red or dark blue.) I’ve even seen a blog with pale grey font on a not much darker grey background, and also I find very disturbing any visually-jarring combination like yellow font on purple! I understand teenagers doing these things, but older people? It boggles my mind! Another problem I have is sidebars or posts with incessantly auto-playing gifs. Apart from being distracting, I get migraines from them. I don’t have the problem with pop ups or pop unders as I use add-ons in Firefox that take care of them and if I can’t solve the problem that way, then I’m out of there.

    The worst blog I came across, very recently, had well-written content that I thought I would find interesting, but within just a few minutes I had to browse away from it because the blogger felt the need to use block-quotes after every few lines and in a huge font, and the main text font was tiny. And in each of the quotes, there was a link to Tweet the quote. I got so lost trying to read the main text that I didn’t actually know what I was reading! There were also so many images in the side columns that it was too distracting.

    I’m not sure where it lives now because, as we know, WordPress.com frequently changes things, but when one trials or changes a theme here, there’s an option to view that theme in different devices, particularly on a phone, tablet and desktop. I try to make sure that any theme I use looks good in all of them, and I think (but you’ll have to tell me, as I don’t have a mobile/cell phone and can’t check) my current one is okay on all three. But my concern, as my blog is a personal one, is that I want people to be able to see the links to my info pages when they first arrive at the blog and, with the smaller devices, they are usually pushed down to the bottom of the page. So… I find myself very limited with these things. I explained on my ‘FUQ’ page, why I chose my current theme, but I doubt many people have read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Val. You raise some very good points and some “problems” we share. I’m ok with almost any color combination – some make me shake my head – but there has to be sufficient contrast or I just can’t read it.

      Like I’ve mentioned to others above, I read you all the time, so I’m sure I’ve seen your page on my phone. I don’t worry about people seeing links on my phone, because I can’t keep them on the page. Most important to me is that they can easily read the post I have for that day.

      I add video now and then, but I tuck it in at the bottom and I do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t auto-play.

      I actually stopped using block quotes. I will manually indent and change font. I noticed, when I did change a theme, that the new theme made my older block quotes look terrible. It was either pick a new theme or go back and edit 90-100 posts. New theme won that battle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Val says:

        Ouch! I’ve actually done that – and more – in the past, of editing all or nearly all of my past posts (in a previous blog) when I used to use Flickr to host pics for my blog and they did something that broke all the links. That’s when I started using the media library here instead. As for block quotes, I’ve only rarely used them as I prefer to have things formatted the way I like rather than the way a theme dictates. So, a lot of things we have in common with our blog-needs!

        Like

  8. Excellent post, Dan. I have to agree with your points. I try to keep everything in one place (so to speak). I find the newsletter pop-ups to be most annoying. On my MAC I have trouble getting rid of them. There are several posts I can no longer read. I will take a look at mine to see if improvements are necessary. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Almost Iowa says:

    I love you, man!

    I forgot all about responsiveness. After reading this, I upgraded my theme and love how it reads on my phone. Fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lauramacky says:

    I’m with you on the hard to read blogs. Some of them are too big with their font size and cover the page “too much”. I can’t even look at photos that cover the page. There IS such a thing as too large. Whew, glad I got that off my chest too haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Joanne Sisco says:

    Whew. I had to go and check mine to see what it looked like on my phone. You see, I NEVER use my phone to look at blogs. Actually, come to think of it, I rarely use my phone for anything .. except for occasionally a camera. I’m a bit of a dinosaur like that.

    The one thing I am very guilty of is the fact I’m terribly lazy and haven’t changed the look of my blog in the 3 years I’ve been using it. Whenever the thought crosses my mind, I go and do something else until the urge passes. I’d rather spend my time reading blogs than browsing through a confusing assortment of blog themes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Joanne. I’m pretty sure I’ve read your blog posts on my phone. I also think the name of the theme is “Twenty Ten” and I notice that there are other “Twenties” out there. I like this theme, and I do check it and work with it on my phone. I’ve been planning an upgrade since this time last year.

      Like

  12. Like Joanne I opened my blog on my iphone to see how it looks. I was pretty sure I set my blog up to look good on cell phones, tablets, and desktops, but it’s been awhile since I actually looked at my blog on the cell phone. The text and images fit nicely.

    The background is white, and the text black on the cell phone which is opposite of the Theme’s Default which is interesting. It’s been years since I changed themes. The thought of having to set up everything again, and finding one I like is daunting.

    I’m one of those with a black background and white text. I like the way images look on black backgrounds, and I’m more about the images than my text. :)
    My title is a turquoise blue which I hoped when I picked it it would be easy to read, and not too loud.

    I had to fiddle around with image sizes recently b/c something changed in W not too long ago, and if I couldn’t figure out how make my images show up a bit larger I was prepared to change themes and was looking at some, but I managed to figure it out.
    Let me know how you see it please! I may need to revisit the search for a new theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m with you, Dan. There is one blogger who has so many ads that the post itself gets squeezed into a very small column in the middle of the page. I love the way that particular blogger writes, but trying to read a post squeezed into a one-inch column is just too hard. I feel like I should mention it to him, but don’t want to overstep – I mean, maybe no one else is having problems. I also can’t stand those blogs that use a black background with white text – very hard to read.

    I assume since you periodically comment on my posts that my blog must be visually appealing, or at least readable. If it’s not, I trust you’ll let me know so I can tweak it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks CM – I have been able to read your blog just fine. I prefer white background and black text, but I can deal with back background and white text, as long as there isn’t much else on the page. The pop-ups, and fly-overs drive me crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. joey says:

    I’m really touched that you made a special Sunday post on my behalf :)
    Your points are valid. Most people who read me the most are reading me on their phones, so you can bet I checked that out before I selected my theme. Some people have never seen what my actual web page looks like and that’s fiiiine, cause I hope they come for content. I marvel at people who use their phones for everything. I do not. I hate it. Beyond maps and IMDb, everything else seems to read like trash on my phone. Restaurant menus, shop ads, argh. In this day and age every business should have a mobile-friendly web pages.
    I can’t deal with sensory assault, so I will leave a bad site in a click. Bad is busy, noisy, or hard to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. bikerchick57 says:

    So, Dan, I am going to assume that my blog page is okay on your phone because YOU are responsive to my posts. Right? What I do wonder about are the ads. I don’t pay to keep ads off my page (it’s the principal, like when people used to pay extra to car dealerships for a bumper or radio) and I often wonder if readers get met with “buy this now!” ads.

    You make very good points about readability. I have come across blog pages that are bright green and bright orange or have a difficult font to read. I don’t usually stick around. I also don’t like the automatic “listen to this music” blogs, but I have my laptop muted. I’ve come to understand how people have difficulty in reading some print, due to my parents’ issues with macular degeneration and my own bi-focaled eyesight. Sometimes it comes down to one’s personal taste. The owner of the blog may think it’s cool and awesome, but doesn’t realize how hard he/she is making it on others. My mom was always in favor of simplicity and I picked that up from her. Make it simply attractive and readable and they will come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Yeah, Mary, your blog is fine. I like simple. I have a wide variety of readers, so I try to keep it easy. I don’t recall being bothered by ads on your site, so I guess it’s not that bad.

      Like

  16. Dan, I’m also glad you brought this up. I’m guessing mine is OK because you’re there everyday (which I greatly appreciate). I’ve thought about changing themes but haven’t tried it yet. I’d like to find one more suited to photos. When I was writing with Friday Fictioneers, there was one blog I hated because even on my laptop I could barely read it. Although I mentioned it (in a very nice way), there was neither response nor change.

    BTW, I really liked the way you worked in the “Awkward” theme. :-)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Forgot to mention that I try to only post once a day and only once per challenge. When I very occasionally post twice, I generally apologize. :-) There are bloggers I follow who post three or four times a day, but I can’t do a personal response (i.e. a comment) on each. So many bloggers, so little time.

    My pet peeves are people who post multiple time on a challenge without indicating it’s a second or third response so that I can read one and skip the rest and those who a) don’t do a new post for a challenge, b) post multiple old posts for a challenge, or c) post a response that has nothing to do with the challenge. Phew! Thanks for letting me vent. :-)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jan says:

    Golly Moses – please tell me if there are floating things coming up on my blog because I pay extra not to have them and I’d love to yell at WP. I only take part in challenges if I have something to add to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. C.E.Robinson says:

    Dan, an honest post! I agreed with all your awkward concerns. There are too many posts hard to read for many reasons, and I hit the delete on them. Haven’t changed my blog theme since starting it. Checked it out on iPhone and it seems okay, and can be zoomed for easier reading if required. Your blog, Dan, is clean and easy to read! Wouldn’t miss it, even with all the technical topics. I learn a lot. Your topics are varied and interesting! No problem reading on an iPhone! Have a great week! 💛 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Christine. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with yours, either. I appreciate your following and your comments. I have found that lately, I have to read more and more on my phone, because there are so many to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Norm 2.0 says:

    I’m a stubborn old hold-out (old fart actually) who doesn’t do the smartphone thing so I have no way to know for sure. I have checked it on tablets and laptops though. So I hope you’ll let me know if anything is “awkward” with mine on smartphones.
    Good post Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

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