Blog Critique: Life as Wife

We’re back with another Blog Critique from Momcomm and The SITS Girls!

Fran, Gigi and I are dissecting a blog from top to bottom in three areas: design, navigation/functionality and content. The reason? To help the featured blogger meet her blog goals and become even MORE awesome.

The goal of a blog critique is to help all of us learn and grow. One suggestion for a particular blog may very well apply to multiple members of our community and get us all thinking about how we can improve what we do.

Sam from Life as Wife follows her untraditional journey and documents her job as writer, wife and mom. She wants her blog to be entertainment for young moms, a place of support where they go to get away, laugh and share their own experiences.

According to her blog stats, Sam knows people are reading. She said that she’d like her blog to be a dialogue where readers comment and share.

Design {Mel}

Header & Menu

  • I have to say that your blog header is adorable! Having a visual triangle of the navigation, bottle and treasure chest helps to keep balance. Having the treasure box cross through the header, menu and sidebar is a great way to add visual interest. My only suggestion would be to move the lower blue wave up a bit so the tip of the crests overlap into the top wave a bit. Again, that’s super duper minor and it looks fantastic as is!
  • I like how your tagline ties into the theme of your blog. Nicely done!
  • It’s great that your menu ties into your blog theme (again). And your little icons are eye-catching without being too overwhelming. If you ever need to add another menu item, you’ll probably have to bump down the size to make it fit, so make sure it doesn’t get too crowded.

Sidebars

  • Way to have your social media buttons at the top. Easy to find and cover all the basics.
  • There’s a bit of dead space at the bottom of each section so try to tighten the spacing to ensure you aren’t wasting a lot of space.
  • While I like that you have custom section headings for your sidebar, they are a little hard to read. A simple fix would be to lighten up that middle stripe so it doesn’t compete with the text.
  • Speaking of text, I love the clever-yet-still-descriptive titles you gave to each section in your sidebar. Small touches like that really strengthen a site’s branding and you’ve accomplished it well.
  • I’d love to see your About Me blurb moved up the sidebar so it’s above the fold. I also think a larger picture (or one with a closer shot of your face would work better…unless you’re trying to be more anonymous). One suggestion regarding the content: make it first person. Blogs are so personal and I think it’d be more fitting in first person.
  • The Archives drop-down is butting up against the left-hand side of your sidebar, so try to scoot it over a bit to the right.

Main Column

  • Your main column is nice and wide, leaving plenty of room for your content.
  • The size of your blog post titles could be bumped up quite a bit. The hook is a cute touch to draw the reader’s eye, but the size of the post title is too small in comparison.
  • Again, I think there are some spacing issues as there’s a lot of dead space above your first post and underneath each dotted line under the post titles.
  • The part of each post between the LinkWithin thumbnails and your signature doesn’t match up with the branding throughout the rest of your site. The font isn’t a great match and I think it would look better left justified instead of centered.
  • The transition between posts is where the post title size becomes even more apparent. Your name in the signature is actually bigger than your blog post title. I think increasing the size of your blog post titles will better mark the transitions between posts.

Navigation {Fran}

  • I’d love to see a Popular Posts section in your sidebar. Blogger has a widget you can install which makes setting it up easy. First time visitors to your blog will appreciate an easy way to see the best content you have to offer!
  • One thing that’s you should consider adding are social media sharing buttons at the end of your posts. {Right now there’s just a Facebook Like graphic.}  The easier you make it for people to tweet, stumble, share, etc. your content, the more likely they are to do so.
  • If we’re really giving out advice on navigation, my biggest piece of advice is to own your domain name!  Just like we always say at Bloggy Boot Camp, it is definitely worth the $10 per year to make your blog name your own.  For as much time and energy you are investing to optimize and improve what you’re doing, be sure you’ve got your basics covered.  {We even wrote a great post on learning how to customize your domain name.}
  • With the phenomenal growth of sites like Pinterest, you’ll want to make sure that users are able to navigate to your site and that you’re taking advantage of the plethora of traffic that is now exploding everywhere.  To jump in the game, pay extra attention to the photos you’re uploading to your website.  Don’t use a thumbnail, when you can use a full size image.  The face of blogging is changing to something where your visual content is just as important as your written content.
  • Along the lines of what Melissa mentioned, I would also recommend increasing the size of the URLs at the end of your post.  As a reader trying to quickly navigate to your comment function, I had a hard time finding it.

Writing {Gigi}

I really like that you tell your readers exactly what to expect by having a Features link on your blog. You set out very clearly what you do and do not write about. I was a bit surprised, though, that you only had two features, one of which is Wordless Wednesday (which is so widely used now). As you develop your blogging voice, perhaps you can come up with something else (besides the adorable Daddy Dishes, which is a fab idea!) that is uniquely you!

I think your strengths are when you write about finding amazing moments in the routine of the every day. Posts like If You Blink are lovely.

Life as Wife
This writing style seems to suit you and even the look of your blog. An excellent blogger who writes a lot in this genre is Nichole from In These Small Moments. You should look to her blog (if you don’t already read it) for inspiration on how to grow and build your writing in this way.

I get the sense that you want to tackle more controversial topics or take a stand on certain things, such as in A Good Mother, but I also pick up on a strong hesitation to press any hot buttons. This post confused me a little. Your stance was that too many blog posts take a black and white view of motherhood, and that you’re in the gray zone. You then went on to share all of your specific positions on breastfeeding and other polarizing parenting topics. That’s hardly a gray zone! I think this post would be much more impactful and effective if you owned the beliefs you have and discussed them from your point of view. Instead, it felt like you were tiptoeing around controversy but not wanting to really jump in. Only you can decide whether writing about hot-button topics is worth the risk of getting the feedback you may or may not want! :)

I’d love to see you play around with humor a bit. I see a little sparkle in your eye and a bit in your writing, but I think you could explore it more. That doesn’t mean you have to write a rip-roaring belly-laugh posts, but as you find humorous parts in your day, see if you can grow those into their own blog posts.

Finally, you should investigate a better search tool for your blog as you grow. I tried to find a post of yours I had read yesterday (the blink one!) and it generated no results for me, even though I knew the post had the word “blink” in it multiple times. I had to scroll back through all of your posts to find it. As you start to develop “buckets” of topics you write about, consider adding category links to your blog.

Now it’s your turn. What do YOU think about Life as Wife? Do you agree or disagree with our recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.

And be sure to head over to visit Life as Wife and leave her some comment love.

Want to Read More Blog Critiques?

Accept no substitutes! Blog critiques from Momcomm & The SITS Girls are the best you’ll find on the web. You can find all of our past blog critiques here.

Blog Critique: Coastal Chick
Blog Critique: Lindsay Blogs

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Comments

  1. This blog is adorable! I’ll be tuned in to more posts :)

    Madison,
    http://www.belovelty.com

  2. Great suggestions. There are many things I want to work on and tips from the SITS Girls always help. ;)

  3. Nice critique, as always, ladies. It’s nice to read some Blogger/Blogspot specific tips, too.

  4. I have to say I love your Blog Critiques so much… I learn something new every single time!!! Just a little tweak every time must eventually add up to a profound effect!!!

  5. What a great critique! A lot of food for through for my own site.

  6. I love your critiques and learn so much from them!

  7. This was incredibly informative. As a user of Blogger, I find it hard sometimes to add the right buttons. In fact, I love the multi-button social links. Blogger doesn’t offer the widget, so how can someone get that and link it properly to all the sites? I actually had to go in and use mine as images, and I’m sure the critique would be the same: too much space between them; but I’m just not sure what to use. Although I’m not technologically impaired, there are some issues that I just can’t grasp.

    • Tristine,
      After their critique last night I did some research. I think I’m going to use “Share This” (ShareThis.com) it lets you pick what icons you want people to be able to share (including Google + and Stumble) and gives you the code to insert into your HTML!!

  8. Great advice.

  9. Such good advice here as usual. Love Sam and Life as Wife!! I’d love to know how you got the treasure chest to overlap into the nav bar and content…?

    • Hey Eve!

      I wish I could tell you but all of my amazing design is credited to April Durnham of April Showers Design. Basically, I have no clue hahaha!

  10. I need some new creative social buttons, oh wait I need alot of things for my blog, ha!

  11. I think these critiques have so much value added for everyone. It’s fun to see how things can be tweaked and improved with some small changes.
    I finally completely revamped my whole site and moved it to WP after buying a theme. The critique helped me get some more clarity.

  12. Thanks so much SITS for taking the time and consideration to write posts like these, especially for new and novice bloggers like me! I enjoyed reading each and every one of the critiques and even applied a few of them to my own blog :)

  13. Sam’s blog is so darn cute! What valuable insights you all gave. I need to tackle mine as well. It’s on the to-do list. Sigh.

    • Thanks Lori! The ladies did an amazing job pointing out things that I couldn’t see. It is so nice to have fresh eyes critiquing. Best of luck with yours!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing this very practical and helpful blog design critique. My blog partner and I launched She She Shoppers, a fashion and lifestyle blog, on Blogger Spring 2011. We are constantly working on improving our look and feel. Love the use of “Life as Wife’s” page tabs and imagery. Very cute. Would love to get the same critique on http://www.shesheshoppers.com.(:

    • Hi Rowena-
      I love the name She She Shoppers– has a fun ring to it!

      Forgive me for pasting what I commented to another reader but I wanted to make sure I gave you all the deets about critiques!

      The queue opened up a long time ago and we’re still getting through them so it’s closed at the moment! We do 2 critiques a month here on SITS and I do them weekly on Momcomm (hitting up on my 50th one soon!) My queue on Momcomm opens every six months (June 2012) and you can sign up for my newsletter if you want a heads-up when it opens!

      Because of popular demand, I created a DIY Blog Critique workbook as well that’ll let you critique your own blog (you can still get a Momcomm critique even if you get the workbook). Here are the links if you’re interesting in reading up on it:
      About the Momcomm queue (& newsletter signup):
      http://www.momcomm.com/diy-blog-critique-ebook/blog-critique/

      About the workbook:
      http://www.momcomm.com/diy-blog-critique-ebook/

      Hope that helps!

  15. I love hearing about the tiny changes that can make a big difference.

  16. I really digested the part about her writing style because I see a lot of my own writing style in it. The great thing about that is that with a blog like hers, I REALLY get into reading it but I am facing many of the same issues identified in this critique.

    Life As Wife, keep on blogging and I hope this makes for an even better blog! :)

  17. OMG I would DIE for this kind of feedback!!! What an amazing opportunity (and an adorable blog to boot!) How do I get involved in this? This kind of critique is JUST what I need to set me on the right path!!

    • Hi Laurel!

      The queue opened up a long time ago and we’re still getting through them so it’s closed at the moment! We do 2 critiques a month here on SITS and I do them weekly on Momcomm (hitting up on my 50th one soon!) My queue on Momcomm opens every six months (June 2012) and you can sign up for my newsletter if you want a heads-up when it opens!

      Because of popular demand, I created a DIY Blog Critique workbook as well that’ll let you critique your own blog (you can still get a Momcomm critique even if you get the workbook). Here are the links if you’re interesting in reading up on it:
      About the Momcomm queue (& newsletter signup):
      http://www.momcomm.com/diy-blog-critique-ebook/blog-critique/

      About the workbook:
      http://www.momcomm.com/diy-blog-critique-ebook/

      Hope that helps!

  18. So interesting! Thanks for sharing! Gave me some great tips to tackle on my own blog! :)

  19. Some great feedback here as always, ladies!

  20. Thanks for having me ladies! I am very excited to digest everything and get to work.

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