If you are a member of a social networking service, it’s natural that you want to put the HTML code in your sidebar that shows off the faces or avatars of your buddies. After all, that’s what these social networking sites are all about. Your face on their blog and their face on your blog.
Is it? What good it is? How does it help your blog?
As part of this going series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, let’s look at the visual social clutter that clogs our blogs.
If your blog is a social blog, and the pictures of the folks participating on your blog might be helpful. People like seeing their faces or avatars on other blogs. Besides, it should be good link juice, right?
Are they really participating? When I see huge rectangular quilts of faces and avatars in a blog’s sidebar, I really wonder if all those people are active on this blog, or just one of the thrill seekers who wanted to see their face in the quilt block but haven’t been back in over a year. How would you know? Is there a penalty for not visiting regularly? Or sending blog traffic? Do they lose their face off the block if they don’t participate actively?
Without a checks and balances verification, who are these people? And are they sending traffic to your blog enough to qualify for their face to be on your blog’s wall? Personally, I think someone should come up with a social score card WordPress Plugin. If you sent 10 trackback links or pings to a blog or leave 20 comments on the blog, that blogger’s avatar would appear in the avatar/face quilt. Make ’em earn the right to show their faces. ;-)
Ask yourself again why are you blogging? To show off the pictures of other bloggers and invite your readers to click through to these faces leaving your blog? Or is it important that your faces see their faces, giving them a reason to come back for more? If visitors see all those faces in a collage, do they think that you’ve a highly social site and they need to hang around and check it out?
If you are blogging to share information with others and the social is only a small part of it, do you need all those faces and links cluttering up your sidebar? Think long and hard if this visual clutter is really important to your blog and its success. If it is, keep it. If it isn’t, may be it’s time to go.
Consider Bandwidth and Downloading Speeds
I can usually spot when a blog has a MyBlogLog or similar social quilt of pictures in their sidebar. The rest of the page loads and it keeps spinning while awaiting all the image downloads from the main server – a server linked to from around the world. In some cases, it can take a minute or two for those social pics to load. I’m often gone by then, having found the information I need and left.
I’d love to see more bloggers become a virtual version of the tree hugger. Save some bandwidth so the rest of us can have a faster ride on the Internet.