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Pimping the Details, Part 1: Post Content

[ Pimping the Details ] In today’s highly competitive blogosphere, every edge counts. There are many aspects of a site or blog that can be easily acquired. Fancy themes may be purchased, nifty plugins are freely downloaded, and even snazzy content is immediately available. Indeed, setting up a decent-looking blog is so easy that virtually anyone can do it. Even so, just spend a little time at most sites and check out a few of the details. How is the writing — grammar, syntax, and punctuation? What about links and images — are they equipped with intelligent titles and alt attributes? As you read through a few posts, do you get a sense that the author has taken the time to fine-tune the content?

Unfortunately, many bloggers fail to take the time to focus on the details. Bloggers that do take the time to embellish their content with details provide quality and value to their readers.

Fortunately, managing the details is a snap once you find your groove. To begin this series of articles on “Pimping the Details,” let’s focus on one of the more prominent areas of concern: the content of your posts. How many of the following details have found their way into your blogging routine?

<acronym> & <abbrv> elements
These elements are useful to people who may not be familiar with the acronyms and abbreviations that you are using. By default, most browsers will display the text included in one of these elements with a dotted underline. This tells the user that a definition is available upon mouseover. Using CSS, you can customize these elements to make them pop.
alt attributes for images
Believe it or not, there are still many people who omit this important attribute for their image elements. alt attributes play an critical role in communicating the idea behind the image for users who are not able to see it. Further, alt information is useful for SEO purposes, enabling Google to classify your image and content in terms of associated keywords found in the alt tag.
title attributes for links
Everyone knows that quality links demand well-written title attributes. Yet, for some reason, there are many sites that fail to incorporate this vital information into their links. SEO purposes aside, providing descriptive title information saves users time by helping them decide if they should follow the link. I cannot overemphasize the importance of including title tags. Any site not consistently using them is announcing to the world that they don’t know or don’t care.
Inline <code> elements
Taking the time to set off <code> in your paragraph text helps reader comprehension by clarifying meaning and facilitating information scanning. Employing <code> elements when referring to code snippets demonstrates authority and shows readers that you are paying attention and care enough to do it right.
<em> and <strong> elements
Without visual clues such as facial expression and body language, it often is challenging to communicate clearly. Fortunately, it is possible to convey additional meaning in your writing by using two common markup elements, <em> and <strong>. It always surprises me to find an absence of such markup in posts. There are so many useful ways to employ these elements that it is almost a disservice to readers to omit them.

If you are already embellishing your post content with all of these items, then congratulations — I tip my hat to you. Or, perhaps you employ alt attributes and title tags but have been missing out on the acronyms and abbreviations. If people are visiting your site for any length of time, they are noticing these details. Some more than others, some more than you.

Taken together, the myriad components of your site comprise a virtual representation of yourself. Without adequate attention to detail, simple becomes stupid and complex becomes ugly.

By focusing on the subtleties of your craft, you embellish your content with a lushness that other sites simply cannot match. And the best part? It can’t be faked. If you are taking the time to attend to the details, you are building a site with an inherent value that ordinary sites fail to provide.

Next up..

Our next article in the “Pimping the Details,” series will focus on one of the most ubiquitous elements of modern blog design: the sidebar! — See you there!

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Security Specialist. WordPress Buff.
One response
  1. Nice memo; it’s useful once in a while to recall the importance of value added content.

    Though, I’m not as hard as you are with links title attributes. I think that if a link is explicit itlself, the attribute is not that important.

    Also, I would add to the list :

    Flash integration: are the object elements well embedded? Is there alternative description when Flash isn’t available?
    Microformats: is the author using hcard/vcard markup in his HTML “about” page?

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