Clutter refers to the various widgets, buttons, ads, animations and goodness knows what else that can be found on many blogs. Sometimes it’s in the sidebar, sometimes the footer. Sometimes it even gets in the way of the content.
If you look at a blank spot on your blog and it makes you think, “That needs something in it”, think again. Filling every available spot on your blog is a bad idea. But why is this?
1. Clutter is Distracting
Animated graphics take your attention away from the post you’re trying to read. Bright colours that don’t fit with the rest of a blog’s colour scheme will stand out for all the wrong reasons. Do you want readers to look at your posts, or your sidebar?
2. Clutter Slows Everything Down
The speed of your blog can vary greatly depending on your computer, your browser, your Internet connection, where in the world your blog is hosted, and whether it’s raining or the neighbours are vacuuming (ok, not really). But it’s worth doing everything you can to stop the blog from loading slowly.
If you add loads of widgets and other paraphernalia to your blog, it’ll slow it down. The more you add, the slower it goes. I’ve seen blogs that take well over a minute to load fully. Bear in mind that just 5 seconds is a pretty long wait. If readers have to wait 10 seconds, many will give up.
Want some background on that statement?
The same applies to blogs. A blog can be a website on its own, or it can be part of a larger website. But that’s another story.
3. Clutter Can Break Your Blog
A cluttered blog is bad enough. But if a widget or an ad on your blog causes my browser to hang or even crash, it’s not something I’ll forget in a hurry.
Whenever you add something new to your blog, test it thoroughly before you commit to using it long-term.
4. …And It’s Not Easy to Find the Cause
I’ve seen blogs with popup ads where the author couldn’t find the cause. Or ads that play automatically and you’re scrambling to find the “off” switch.
On a cluttered blog, if something goes wrong, it can take a long time to identify what’s causing the issue.
5. Clutter Looks Unprofessional
If your sidebar is a mess of unrelated widgets in various shapes and sizes, with no spacing between them and no alignment, it ends up looking like a tower of multicoloured Jenga blocks that’s about to topple over. It also looks very unprofessional.
With a little care and imagination, you can still have a small collection of widgets or ads in your sidebar – just make sure you choose ad sizes and designs that complement each other. It is possible to have stuff in your sidebar and not have it look like you just dumped it there without a second thought.
6. Clutter Often Adds No Value
Is it really important for readers to know that your blog is worth $30,000? Do they need to see a scrolling list of other blogs? Or how about a recent visitors widget?
Before you add a widget to your blog, ask if it adds values for your readers. If not, why display it on your blog?
Do you have any clutter on your blog? Which widgets or gadgets work well for you? Are there any you could remove?