5 Steps to a Successful Blog Post
Browsing around online, I have come across many blogs and taken note of their unique writing styles and formats. Many of these blogs had horrible readability for a number of reasons other than design. This post sums up some of the easy steps I try to follow to ensure improved readability on my blog. These steps assume that your content is good. Granted if you follow all of these steps but have pointless content, you can't expect much.
A Solid Introduction Paragraph
Whenever I have an idea for a post, the absolute first thing I concentrate on is the introduction paragraph. If I can't get a good intro paragraph out the door, the post won't get published. A successful introduction captures your readers' attention and encourages them to continue reading. A great introduction also gives your readers something good to quote if they decide to link to your article, or even submit it to a social bookmarking site.
Speaking of paragraphs, breaking up your content into more digestible chunks can help with readability. However, you only want to be breaking things up into paragraphs where applicable: ie, not in the middle of explaining the specifications of your new computer.
Whenever and wherever possible, I try to add a visual element within my posts to elaborate on the discussion at hand. It helps take out some of the guess work to comprehend what I'm saying. A screenshot of what something should look like, an image demonstrating a certain Photoshop technique, or an image of that new gadget add greatly to the value of your post. However, everything should be within reason -- too many images can mangle your flow of content and be detrimental.
Now that you're in the meat of the actual post, creating some structure to what you are going to be talking about is vital. By structure I mean methods of organizing your content into easily distinguishable sections. Things like headings to introduce new elements and bulleted lists can make a huge improvement in the readability of your posts. In addition, highlighting key pieces of your article through the use of bold type or emphasizing words through italics let your readers know where to focus and is handy for those skimming.
Using Line-Height and Font Sizes to Boost Readability
My absolute number one pet peeve of most blogs these days is the use of hard-to-read line-height attributes and font sizes. Some spacing between lines is a must. The CSS attribute line-height controls this aspect and can easily be added to stylesheet. It also helps if the font is larger than 10 pixels (point). If I get annoyed just trying to read your posts, chances are I won't be coming back and will stay behind the safety of my RSS aggregator.
Links & Block Quotes
The last things to think about before publishing your post deal with adding links and using block quotes where relevant. Both can add context to each post and don't require much effort on your part.