Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jump Breaks & Other Housekeeping Issues

Like many authors thrust into the world of social media by the marketing and networking demands of the craft, I'm still learning the technology side of maintaining a blog. I decided to mention a few tricks I've discovered and invite others to share their tips, too.

Making our blogs user friendly is important, and Google's Blogger gives us several tools to do that. Since I've addressed Captcha and other comment restrictions before, I'll just link that page and move on. (For those who don't know, the only comments I restrict on this blog are anonymous ones.)

Besides making it easy for visitors to comment, we also need to make it easy for them to interact with our posts. By that, I mean we should take care to make embedded links both visible and easy to use.

Let's start with visibility...

If you go to design, then template customize,



...then click on advanced, and then links


...you'll come to a page that let's you choose/alter the text colors of links you add.

If the colors are fine as they are when you test them out in one of your posts, then leave them alone. But if they are blending in with surrounding un-linked text, or are in some other way difficult to see, consider changing the text color affecting the problem area (original color, mouse-over color, and or visited link.) You can play around with it and view the changes you make in the preview area below the box.

Hint: Make note of the series of numbers and letters in the boxes and which box each was in before changing them. That way, if you don't like the changes, you can put it back the way it was.

One thing you can try before resorting to this is simply bolding the text of the words you plan to link. Sometimes that's all that's needed to improve visibility.

Now let's move on to ease of use...
We want visitors to come and spend time on our blog, so it's important to not do things that drive them away. One way to make them leave is setting our links to open in the same tab or window. When they click those, our blog page goes bye-bye and they end up somewhere else.

If said link is toward the top of your post, you're sending visitors away from your blog before they reach the bottom to leave a comment. And if the post contains several links, the back button back-and-forth can cause such frustration that they completely abandon your post and move on.

Blogger has a simple feature to solve this problem. You just have to remember to use it. In fact, once you do, it will default to that choice. The only time you need to reactivate it is if you copy and paste text into the post that already has links embedded.

Here's what it looks like:


When you highlight the text and click Link to add your link, just check the little box in the lower left corner that says: Open this link in a new window.

I know this post is getting long.
I'm going to address one more tip, then wrap it up. :)

Do you know what a jump break is?

I didn't for a long time. One day I got brave and played around with it.
I'm glad I did.

The jump break feature allows us to control how much of our posts show up on our home page. Obviously, if the visitor comes to our blog by way of a link for a specific page or post, they will see the whole thing. If they come to our home page, however, they will see (no more than) the number of posts we have set as the maximum, all in one long scrolling list.


(I don't know about you, but most of my posts take up more than the height of a computer screen. *grin*)

By making use of jump breaks, we can reduce the vertical size of the posts on the home page, thus allowing the visitor to scroll through and see several post titles with minimal aggravation to their carpal tunnel. This gives them a feel for our blog at a glance, while still offering the option to click and go to the post of their choice.

Here's what it looks like in edit mode...

To add a jump break to a post, go into the post (edit) and place your cursor where you want the jump break to appear. Once that's done, click on the icon that resembles a torn page.


A gray bar will appear in the post. (Don't worry. It's only visible in edit mode.)


Hint: Anything below the break won't show on the home page, so pick a place that is a hook of sorts - a location that lets the reader get a taste of the post and tempts them to read on.

When you save the post, this is what it will look like on the home page. The visitor can get to the post by either clicking the title or the Read more > link at the bottom.


This is what the home page looks like when this feature has been applied to multiple posts...


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That's all I have for today. 
(That's enough! :P)

What blogging tips have you discovered?



15 comments:

  1. Ug - sometimes this technology side does feel a little over-whelming. Thanks for the tips. I'm definitely looking into all of them.

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  2. I haven't switched to jump breaks, but I do the other things you've mentioned. With the right html code, all links can open separate windows.

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  3. I learned a lot from this post! Had no idea jump breaks were even possible with blogger. I'm going to look into your tips, thanks for sharing with us.

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  4. Thanks for these tips.
    I learned about the jump break about 2 months ago. It IS a great feature for visitors who are new to a website, giving them an overall feel of the blog.
    Writer In Transit

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  5. Great tips...where were you a year ago :P I've never experimented with jump breaks, but will have to give them a try and see how they look.

    Also, great point on the link taking the person away from the blog...I had never thought of that.

    Thanks for the tips! :)

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  6. I'm jumping around just thinking about the jump breaks :)

    PS... I sooo thought I'd escaped the "Maxi Mark" moniker...gnashes teeth :)~

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  7. Good points, Melissa! Lately, I'm bombareded with anonymous comments, (spammers)so I'll see if I can fix the prob. Thanks for the help! :)

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  8. Oh Melisa, this is all too much for me! Technology scares me. I heard they're getting rid of Google Friend Connect and instead of finding a solution I'm just ignoring it. ;)

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  9. I don't have any good tips right now. I'm just glad you mentioned differentiating links. I don't think mine are visible enough. Thanks!

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  10. There are so many great things to use with Blogger, most of which I probably don't fully take advantage of. I just appreciate blogs that load quickly and are easy to comment on and easy to read. Otherwise, not too picky here.

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  11. Useful posts, Melissa. I haven't used the jump break feature in a while. I need to go look at that.

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  12. so thorough! i love it! i know where to refer new bloggers now

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  13. I did not know that about the jump breaks! I'm totally gonna do it! Thanks Melissa!

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I love to hear what you have to say.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. = )