Tag Archives: content

3 Little CSS Changes to Make Your Content Pop

It’s temptingly easy to get swept up in the visual/graphic part of a webdesign, and end up styling the content as what feels like an afterthought. But, as demonstrated in the following article, content styling is incredibly important–and the slightest changes can make a huge difference in whether your audience actually reads your content or not!

These 3 changes literally take less than a minute to implement, but they can radically improve your content design. Read on to find out!

Make Your Font A Little Bigger

CSS Rule: “font-size: 14px; font-family: “Arial”, sans-serif;”

CSS Rule: “font-size: 16px; font-family: “Arial”, sans-serif;”

The first and easiest change to make is to just enlarge your font, just a bit. This isn’t just for nearsighted people like me, either–bigger font simply looks easier to read for everyone. Even the change from 14px to 16px, as depicted above, can be enough to make words more distinct at a glance. Visually, it looks more appealing already–and visually appealing content means readable content, which means your site has an audience. Awesome!

Space Your Lines Out a Bit

CSS Rule: “font-size: 16px; font-family: “Arial”, sans-serif;”

CSS Rule: “font-size: 16px; font-family: “Arial”, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;”

Bigger font, however, looks even better when spaced apart a little bit more. Ever wondered why your teachers always asked for double-spaced papers? As a former teacher, I found out that my eyes boggle less when the text isn’t all scrunched together like it just went through a trash compactor (especially when grading dozens of student papers late at night). Your site visitors likely think the same–respect their eyes and give each line of text a good amount of space with the line-height property.

Use Subtle Color in Your Headings and Subheadings

CSS Rule (heading only): “font-size: 22px; font-family: “Arial”, sans-serif; color: #336699;”

Using font colors in a webpage doesn’t have to involve crazy-bright hues. Even just a little color in your headings and subheadings, slightly different from your body font color (like the deep blue alongside the black in the above image), can help visually separate your content out. For all types of readers, whether they gobble down words or savor each mental morsel, the heading and subheading color is another cue that the topic has changed and they need to pay attention. This helps your readers take in your content more easily and understand it quicker.


Styling your content, even with just the few simple changes outlined in this article, can be the difference your site needs to become widely read. After all, content is why sites exist–let’s make it as appealing as possible!

I Hate Slideshow Articles!


As an Internet user, I inwardly groan upon discovering that an article I really wanted to read is actually a slideshow. In fact, it’s one of my top pet peeves of Web content formatting!

I’m not alone in this opinion: there are articles about why slideshows should be banned entirely, as well as workarounds for those of us who hate slideshows and other multi-page articles. (There are a few people who defend slideshows as a practice, but even they admit that the format can be overused.)

Since I’m both a Web content consumer AND a Web content writer, I studied this problem from both angles. Why do slideshows bother me so much, as a user, and why might Web content formatters choose this format when so many users hate it? The 4 following reasons explain why:

Why We Should Stop Using Slideshow Article Format

#1: It’s basically a strategy for getting page ads to load more often per user.

Above all, this is what irritates me about slideshow articles: they are invariably riddled with ads (including that dadgum “Ad Slide” that always pops up right in the middle of my reading and disrupts my whole thought flow). It actually feels like the content formatters are highlighting the ads INSTEAD of their content.

News flash: users hate ads! As a user, I don’t care if those ads are “paying for your site”–I don’t want to be bothered with them, ESPECIALLY not when I’m trying to read your admittedly interesting content. Making me click through a 10 or 12-page article just so you can get a few more cents feels like a huge tease. (And as a content writer, I know that the LAST thing we ever want to do is make our users feel like we think of them as money-generators and nothing else.)

#2: Because each slide is so short, the articles end up feeling skimpy on content.

You’d think that if an article is 10 pages, it would actually have some decent content, right? But unfortunately, in the slideshow format, article content is often compressed and badly written to fit alongside or under pictures. Each slide usually contains maybe 5 sentences, which may be enough to satisfy some users, but leaves this English major feeling pretty cold. Explanations are often glossed over in favor of using a picture that usually doesn’t really explain anything, and so the whole article feels rather useless.

Being a largely text-based content creator, I don’t want to waste my users’ time with insipid articles like the ones I end up clicking through all too often. If I’m taking the time to write an article, I want my users to feel like they’ve really learned something at the end of it. And I’d rather not have the format of the article steal emphasis away from my content.

#3: Slideshows don’t work well on mobile devices.

I’ve noticed this while trying to read slideshow articles on my tablet and smartphone–slideshows (especially the pictures!) are usually so huge that the mobile screen has to be scrolled around the page to read everything. And what if the screen can’t be zoomed out or in? Sorry, this content just isn’t visible, and you wasted your time clicking on this article. (Trust me, it’s happened more often than not!) There are some websites I actually just don’t visit on mobile (though I’d like to), because all their articles are slideshows and I can never read the content anyway. (Not to mention that tapping your touchscreen to advance to the next slide is very frustrating when you have big fingers and are trying to target small buttons/text!)

I realize that there are quite a few hurdles to jump when it comes to making slideshows mobile-friendly. In fact, the whole slideshow format seems ill-equipped to handle mobile users in general, from what I’ve been able to see. With that in mind, why aren’t we moving away from slideshow format to something that actually works on all devices?

#4: It makes reading the article take a lot longer.

Admittedly, this is probably my impatience/A.D.D. talking, but I am a fast reader and prefer to scan articles rather than sit and read each line word by word. Having to stop reading to click on to the next slide is an unnecessary block in my information digestion process. Not to mention that the pictures take longer to load than the text, and sometimes the slideshow article software decides to hang in the middle of the article. All of these factors make reading slideshow articles much more of a drag than they ought to be.

Those of us who write and format content for the Web have to be careful of frustrating our users like this. After all, a frustrated user is a non-returning user. Do we REALLY want people turned off from our awesome content because of the way we formatted it?

I’m Not a Typical Blogger (and That’s OK)

As a blogger, sometimes I feel pressure to be more like the other members of my website genre. I look around on other blogs and think, “Man, I ought to be doing that–I bet I’d be more popular.” Have you ever thought that?

For instance, I see other bloggers post zillions of pics of their offline lives, and I feel guilty that I don’t take enough pictures. Or I see them post blurbs about their real lives, almost like a diary entry of sorts, and I end up feeling dumb because my real life is literally not interesting enough to write about all the time. (Trust me, I’ve tried many times to keep a journal, both offline and online, and I even bored MYSELF to death.)

Not only that, but all I’m doing is writing advice articles (most of the time) or trying to get across a philosophical point based off my own experiences. I don’t do any real “crafty” stuff that most bloggers are doing these days; I don’t make goodies for my visitors, and I don’t do giveaways…

Why Trying to “Fit In” with Other Bloggers is Wrongheaded Thinking

It’s pretty clear I’m not like other bloggers. And that is actually OK, even though I still worry about it sometimes.

After all, crafting and photos aren’t my passion, so why should I force myself into doing posts about them, even if it would make my blog more “popular” (which, considering the glut of blogs on such topics, wouldn’t likely work)? It would be as pointless as me in middle school wearing heavy makeup because all the other girls were doing it–I did it because I wanted to fit in, but I hated it and it felt fake.

Instead, why shouldn’t I focus my energy on writing posts that I thoroughly enjoy? My passion for my subject matter will come through and make my writing more compelling, and since I’m writing on topics that are fairly different from the blogger status quo, my site could even be a refreshing change for users. Just because I’m not getting a lot of comments doesn’t mean my blog is unsuccessful; just because I’m not doing what everyone else is doing doesn’t mean I’m not worthy. And the same goes for you and your blog/website.

The Takeaway: Your Blog Should Reflect YOU, Not Blog Trends

If you like to craft and you run a blog, definitely feel free to post crafting articles. If you love to take pictures, showcase them on your blog with no regrets. If you like to write about music and post songs/videos, do that to your heart’s content. And if you write about anything and everything because it interests you, go right ahead–the Internet is big enough for us all. We bloggers don’t HAVE to do anything to be popular…except post!

Should You Make a Single-Page Site?

As a relatively “old-school” designer (having learned way back in 2003), the idea of a website having only a single page seems really weird. And yet, according to some folks in the webdesign world, it’s one of the hot new trends for 2014. It baffles me. I mean, a website’s supposed to be about content, right? And content needs to be divided up into pages, doesn’t it?

The answer: Not necessarily! There are actually several instances where a single-page site can serve you well. See the following examples:

Sites Which Work Well with a Single-Page Format

Portfolio Page

If, like most webdesigners, you choose to host your own portfolio page on your website, a single-page site should do well for you, since all you need for a portfolio page is your contact info, examples of your work, etc. And with a little careful page design, you can have a single-page portfolio where the user doesn’t even have to scroll much–thus, interested users don’t even have to click to see all they need.

App or Service Page

If you’ve made an app or are providing an Internet service, most times you won’t need a heavily-involved website. A small write-up (with screencaps) of what your app/service does, support/contact information, and links to download any necessary software, and you’re pretty much done. (Just make sure your single-page site is mobile-friendly if it’s for an app!)

Personal Site

Unless you just want a full-on site about yourself, your personal site can be more like a quick window into your life–your latest tweets, last listened tracks, and a small bio, for instance, or whatever you’d like for visitors to know about you. A single-page personal site can be tidy and still informative.

Small, Extremely Focused Fansite/Fanlisting

If you’ve made or want to make a small fansite or a fanlisting, the single-page format can work REALLY well. Think about it this way–it’s less pages to code and less for your users to click through. (This works best if your fansite/fanlisting has 10 or less pages of content.)

Sites Which Should NOT Be Made into Single-Page Format

Large, Intensive Fansites

If you have a HUGE fansite or topic site, a single-page format is definitely not the best idea. With a large site, you want to make sure your content is well-organized, which often means breaking it up into separate pages. That way, users can go right to what they want with a single click, rather than making them scroll for days.

Sites with a Lot of Topics

If your site has a slew of topics (like this blog, for instance), a multi-page website is better, both for content organization (as explained above) and linkage purposes. For instance, if someone is only interested in my Saturday with the Spark posts, he or she can simply bookmark my “Spark” tag page, rather than having to scroll through a ton of other posts to find the one or two desired-topic posts and read them.


Single-page sites can simplify your webdesign workload greatly. If you’ve already got a small site, give this kind of site organization/layout a try!

Glasses Off: 4 Awesome Webdesign Sites

Here in the HTMLab, I’m fairly skilled at what I do (namely, HTML and CSS), but many of my articles would not be complete without some heavy-duty online research and self-teaching. Listed below are four sites whose tutorials make it easy for even this self-taught, non-technical webdesigner to understand:

Awesome articles abound here about the subtler points of design (which I definitely need help with!)

This site covers everything from helpful webdesign tools to overarching Web trends…really informative!

Webdesign Tuts
Need a tutorial on how to make a webdesign visually work? Webdesign Tuts (part of the TutsPlus network) likely has the help you need, for both front-end and back-end design.

Webdesigner Depot
This site literally runs the gamut of everything a webdesigner is concerned about (even marketing and branding)! You could spend hours browsing and learning.

Grammar Matters Online (Really)

Though it may not seem like grammar still matters online, considering how some websites are written, it most certainly does.

I say this not just as a former English teacher, but as someone who communicates with words. We who create content for the Internet are creating websites to communicate our ideas; if our grammar is incomprehensible, our ideas will not be understood. (For instance: how would some ill-constructed English content translate into another language if a user needed it translated? It probably wouldn’t translate well at all.)

Thus, we webdesigners and developers must be concerned, at least partially, about our grammar, especially if we are running an informational website. Above all, we want our users to understand our content!

Recognizing Bad Grammar: A Quick Little Quiz

They is gonna go, down their soon.

There are four grammatical problems with this sentence. Can you find them all? Not only is this a common spoken sentence, but this contains some of the most common Internet grammar slip-ups, too. (Answers at the bottom of this article!)

The Difference Good Grammar Makes

Read the following two samples. Which one seems more professional, more trustworthy, and worth following up?

Example #1

Hey what up Im an web master and I could do your web site. Cause I can program and style it too. I been trained 3 year. Me and my brother been working on web sites together 4 a long time we like it. If you want me 2 design your site just msg me and well work something out.

Example #2

If you’re looking for a webmaster, I would be glad to offer my services. I can do both development and design, and have 3 years’ experience working both with a design team and on my own. Please send me a message if you are interested.


While there is something to be said for #1’s easygoing style, #2 takes the cake in terms of professionalism, trustworthiness, and clarity. To understand #1, you need a basic working knowledge of textspeak/chatspeak; additionally, the sentences run on a bit long, yet they don’t really add anything to the “sales pitch,” so to speak. #2 makes its points clearly and quickly, and with more polish.

The only difference between #1 and #2? Grammar. Sentence construction, punctuation, even some basic elements of writing style–all fall under the broad heading of “grammar.” Simply put, grammar can make or break your website’s readability and enjoyability, not to mention its use as a reference.

If you had to choose between these two webdesigners for a project, which one would you trust more to do a better job? Most clients would go with the second designer, simply because the person sounds more capable and professional. We have to remember that our websites will be judged for their professionalism and trustworthiness in the same way.

How to Achieve Good Grammar

  • Read your content aloud. Just like with checking your spelling, reading what you have written out loud will help you catch most of your grammatical errors, because your sentence won’t “sound right.”
  • Consult Internet references–I have a selected list picked out below.
  • If you’re still unsure of your grammar, have someone who is good with grammar and writing read over your content before you post it to your website. Better safe than sorry!

Online Grammar References

The Elements of Style
Guide to Grammar and Writing

Final Notes: Answer Key

  1. “They is” is incorrect. It should be “They are,” unless you are purposefully writing in Southern dialect.
  2. “Gonna” is not technically a word–only in casual speech. “Going to” is the proper form.
  3. The comma between “go” and “down” is unnecessary.
  4. “Their” is a word that is spelled right but not used correctly. The right word to use in this sentence is “there,” which references a place, rather than “their,” which references possession of something.

Center Alignment: NOT for Body Text

Today, we’ll look at a common yet very flawed design strategy employed by beginning webdesigners–center-aligning EVERYTHING on the page. Why do I call it “very flawed?” Read on to find out!

What’s So Bad About Center-Aligning Text?

If you’re just coming into webdesign from working with text documents or word-processing programs, it can be very tempting to center-align everything on your page. After all, the center of the page is where everyone’s going to look first on a webpage, right?

Unfortunately, webpages render center alignment very differently than regular text documents, as I’ll demonstrate below.

Center Aligning in Word Processing Documents

It’s true that center aligning can make narrower blocks of text look tidy and professional in word processing programs. See the examples below:

Left Aligned Text in a Word Processing Document

Center Aligned Text in a Word Processing Document

Center alignment, in this circumstance, makes the text look neater and more presentable.

Center Aligning in Web Documents

Unfortunately, this does not translate to the Web at all, unless you have designed narrow columns for text to flow in (more like a newspaper format). Invariably, if you center-align text in a very wide divided layer (more than 800 pixels wide) this is what it ends up looking like:

(click picture to see it full-size in new window)

Center-aligned content, when stretched across large widths of layout space, has uneven line ends on both sides of the paragraph, so it looks sloppy and unprofessional on the page. Additionally, sentences are much harder to follow because the reader doesn’t know exactly where the next line will begin and has to spend a couple of extra seconds visually searching for the first word on the next line.

This might seem nitpicky, but it has a tremendous impact on our readers’ experience of our sites. If our sites are too hard to read and follow, they’ll leave and find another site with the same information but better formatting. We don’t want that!

What Are Some Text-Formatting Alternatives?

If you really like the look of center-aligning text, you might consider putting your text in much narrower divided layers (only about 300-400 pixels wide), and having several columns of text. Be warned, however, that this can make your page super-long if you’ve got a lot of text, and these days, we don’t want our users having to scroll a lot to find the information they want.

Alternatively, you can choose to make your content div about 500-600 pixels wide, and only center-align your titles or headings. This is the look I go with most often on my personal sites or fansites, and I find it gives the tidy look I want without having to center-align EVERYTHING.

Also, you can try center-aligning your navigation in a horizontal “bar” above your content, especially if you’ve got only a few links in your navigation. This can draw user attention better than letting it be left-aligned and lost in the visual shuffle.


Center-aligning can be a very tempting text-formatting strategy, but it’s best used sparingly–otherwise, our pages will be very difficult to read and enjoy. Using center alignment carefully is one of the ways you can make your site look more professional!

What to Do When You Run Out of Blog Content

No matter how long you’ve been running your blog, sometimes it happens: you end up at a loss for what to write about. I call it the “Blog Doldrums,” where any good topic you come up with is one you’ve already done, and any other topic seems not worth writing about. The Blog Doldrums kill off many good blogs before they really get started, and can cause a great blogger to suddenly go silent.

So, how do we as content creators combat this? First, by not letting these doldrums get hold of us for too long, and second, by getting a little creative with our blog topic ideas.

Approach #1: Search for Similar Books and Websites, and Present Them to Your Audience as Resources

Whatever you’ve made a blog about, likely there’s been a book (or several) written about it, and likely there are other websites which cover similar ground. Check out books at your local library (or through an e-library), and do fairly involved searches for websites (i.e., not just the first page of Google results).

Once you find books and websites that are on your particular topic, browse through them, making notes of which ones are most useful and relevant to your blog’s audience. Compile a short list of the best of the best, and write a short description of each book or website, along with relevant links (website link, place to buy the book, official book website, etc.) and any appropriate pictures (screenshots and book covers).

Example: For my Monday web design and development posts, I could do a post about some great webdesign guidebooks as well as helpful development websites, linking to each and showing my readers resources they’ve potentially never heard of.

The resulting blog post will be basically an online report about what other people are doing in your content area. Visitors will still be enriched by this post, and you can start to build a little community with other website owners and bloggers who are interested in your same topic, too!

Approach #2: Just Write Your Perspective on an Issue

Rather than trying to do a really in-depth post with TONS of information and LOTS of “expert advice,” how about just doing a blog post about your own perspective? Write about what this topic means to you, or how you interact with it on a daily basis, or even what you think about particular trends going on in your chosen topic right now.

Why bother doing this? Because you, as a blogger, have a very interesting point of view that others would like to read about, so why NOT share your opinions? This gets you writing from the most primal level–your own mindset. You can explore your own thoughts and reasoning as you choose, and can then tie it all together in an understandable way.

Example: For my Saturday creativity posts, I could write about what music has meant to me over the course of my life. Or, for my Thursday gaming posts, I could write about the current HeroClix team trends appearing in local gaming stores versus team trends at conventions.

This blog post will be virtually guaranteed to be original, new content–it came out of your head, after all! Plus, visitors will likely be intrigued by your words, and may be inspired to think differently about your topic because of your post.

Approach #3: Research Your Topic and Bring Something Obscure to Light

No matter what your topic, there are likely several unexplored corners within it, several small things most people gloss over, assuming everyone knows about it. Take time to research your chosen topic in depth, and research anything that surprises you about your topic or anything you personally have never known much about before.

Once you’ve done that, take time in a blog post to expand on one or more of these hidden gems, really digging into it and exploring it. (Don’t forget to do a lot of linking in this post to show where you found this information, and where people can go to find out more!)

Example: For my Wednesday Bible posts, I could take a Bible verse that is either not often talked about or very often misunderstood, and really delve into it, comparing and contrasting the meaning most folks take from it and the Biblical scholars’ interpretation(s).

When you publish this post, you will be bringing something very new and interesting to your audience’s attention, and your post will likely spur readers to learn even more. You might even draw attention from other bloggers and website owners who write about your same topic!


When you find yourself in the Blog Doldrums, don’t despair–there are plenty of ways to get yourself out of them AND produce a useful, worthwhile blog post at the same time!

Creating and Maintaining a Fan Site

For web designers and developers who are fascinated with particular topics, fan sites are the reason they make websites. I am one such designer, who learned how to design and code websites so that I could make a place to talk about one of my favorite TV shows (and nine years later, here I am! :D).

But what does it take to make a GOOD fansite? Anybody can collect together a few pictures and a few pages of content copied from other sites, but how do you make a fansite that others enjoy, too?

#1: Content, Content, Content

If you want to run a fansite, be it about seahorses or the Harry Potter series, you need to make sure you have a good bit of accurate content about the subject.

For instance, if you’re running a fansite about seahorses, you’d want to have information about where they live, what varieties there are, how they live and breed, what they eat, etc. You’d also want high-quality pictures of seahorses in their natural environments, and maybe some charts and diagrams of various life cycle information. Remember, other seahorse fans would be coming to visit, so you want to provide them with as wide a swath of info as possible.

If you’re making a site about the Harry Potter book series, on the other hand, you’d likely want to have synopses of all 7 books, info about all 8 movies, and lists and descriptions of all the characters. Screencaptures from the various movies, scans of the book covers, and even some samples of music from the series would also be big draws for fans coming to see your site.

As I know from the various fansites I’ve run throughout the years, gathering content can be a challenge, but it’s worth it if you make your site a true repository of information. Then fans know to come to you when they want news, which is admittedly an ego boost as well as a raison d’etre.

#2: Make Sure It Stays Updated

But having a lot of accurate content is not the only challenge to making a fansite; you also have to make sure it stays current. What good is a Harry Potter fansite that stops updating with The Prisoner of Azkaban? Not very, to most current fans. When you make a site, make certain your information is not only accurate, but that it stays accurate with the passage of time.

To stay updated, you need to stay immersed in the culture surrounding the subject. Stay on forums and check official subject-matter sites often; as soon as you find out new information, reference it on your own page so others can know what’s going on.

On my City of Heroes fansite, for instance, I have to make sure my help articles stay updated with all the new game features and developments. And if I can’t keep it updated myself, I’ve got to make sure I link to official sites who are keeping things updated, so my readers can find the info they want quickly and easily. Remember, as a fansite owner, you’re not only making a place for you, but for others, too–you have a responsibility to your users to make information easy to obtain and understand!

#3: Have Original Content Not Found Anywhere Else

Too often, I’ve seen fansites that could be photocopies of each other on the Internet–the same exact page structure, the same exact content. With subject-matter fansites, it’s easy to fall into the “cookie-cutter trap” when you’re trying to make sure you have a lot of information and it’s all accurate. You want to make sure your site is “complete” with lots of info, but if your info could be found just as easily on another page, who’s going to bother visiting yours?

To combat this, I often include personally-written essays on the subject matter, like my Creative Gaming Advice column on my gaming site. Either that, or I’ll include graphics I’ve made representing the subject matter, or even devise a few humorous lyric parodies a la Weird Al to round out my content. No matter what kind of fansite I’m running, I NEED ways to make my content original, ways to share my unique perspective on various issues. I have to find my “niche,” in other words.

Whenever you’re making a fansite, you’ve GOT to include something that no one else on the Internet is going to have–that special something that will define your “niche” for you. If you don’t, your site is going to fade into the background of sameness…and no webmaster wants that.

#4: Link to Official Sites and Affiliate with Other Fansites

A fansite is, in my opinion, simply never complete without a link list to official sites and other fansites. It’s also not complete without some affiliations between fansites, just to help drive traffic. Even though your sites may be about the same thing, it doesn’t mean that you’re in competition with other people–form an alliance, and you may likely have an Internet buddy for life. On all of my fansites, past and present, I have always enjoyed providing the most comprehensive link list I can put together, for my own reference as well as the greater knowledge of others.

Providing links to official sites helps your users greatly while they search for information, and similarly giving links to other great fansites you know of can make everyone in your network happy. You’re all working toward the same purpose–disseminating info to other fans–and you all have a deep interest in the same topic. Why not join forces and help each other get Internet traffic? Who knows, you might just end up being a big enough network that the official site recognizes you all!


Fansites are fun ways to exercise one’s web creativity, and when done well, they can establish thriving online communities and great conversation. Try building your own fansite, about whatever you love–you might just find yourself at the head of a new wave of interest in the topic!

Writing Your “About Me” Page

It always feels a little narcissistic, putting together an “About Me” page. A whole page just about yourself? What do you put in for interest’s sake, and what do you leave out so as not to make it too long? What can you put in safely, and what would get you possibly into identity-theft trouble?

As a webmaster and designer since 2003, I’ve been doing “About Me” pages for my various websites for a number of years, but I’m certainly not the absolute authority on them. I have, however, had a lot of experience with writing, and that has stood me in good stead when creating personal descriptive pages. The following tips are all bits of advice that have helped me over the years.

A Few Do’s

  • Do include some basics.

    Your Internet nickname (possibly first name), your age, gender (if you wish), and the country, state or province you live in is always appropriate for an About Me page. Including your career field and a few hobbies is also interesting for users, since it gives them a small window into what kind of person you are. And a random, small list of a few things you like will further illuminate your personality without being too in-your-face personal.

  • Do format it beautifully.

    Whether you’ve got a long About Me page like I have (heck, mine’s almost an autobiography, LOL) or a short one, format it and section it off with headings, subheadings, and otherwise styled text. Nothing is more overwhelming than seeing a wall of same-styled text running down your screen. Break your content into paragraphs by subject (career, likes/dislikes, web design experience, etc.), or break it down by the time in your life that it happened (middle school, high school, college/first working years, etc.).

  • Do choose your images carefully.

    If you’re going to include images (more about that later), choose them carefully. Select colorful, sharp photos or images that directly supplement the text of your page, so that the images contrast well and provide visual interest for your readers. And don’t let the images overwhelm the text–the About Me page is all about the written content, unless you’ve done a complete pictorial About Me page (which is entirely possible!).

A Couple of Don’t’s

  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss/religious leader/parents to see.

    Since the Internet is open to anybody, it can feel as though you’re free to air all kinds of dirty laundry to whomever may come by. But a few grounding guidelines can save you from unintended disasters. For instance, if you’re going to reference any family members, friends, or co-workers in your About Me page, best to keep their names out of it; if you’re going to talk about any personal hobbies that might raise a few eyebrows at your job, worship center, or home, you might think about making a password-protected page for that, or just not writing about it at all unless your site is directly associated with it.

  • Don’t post absolutely everything about your identity.

    For instance, never post your last name on an unprotected webpage, and it may be safer even not to use your real first name. Posting your exact location (city, street name, etc.) is also a safety no-no, due to Internet creeps. Lastly, posting your birth date (full date, I mean) is downright dangerous, sadly enough–keep that off your personal page. And I don’t think I need to say much about bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, etc.

  • Don’t post a picture of yourself that’s too detailed.

    As I was talking about images earlier, I mentioned that you should choose images carefully. Not only should they look great alongside your text, but they shouldn’t be complete facial portraits. Perhaps an artsy-style Photoshop avatar of your picture, or even a cartoon version of your face, but for safety reasons, leave the real profile picture to Facebook. I hate that we have to be this careful, but enough crimes have happened to prove that one cannot be too cautious when posting things about oneself on the Internet.

Writing Style

When you’re writing an About Me page, you need to consider the type of site you’re writing the page for.

Is This Site for Business/Work?

Doing a business- or work-related site means that your About Me page’s tone should be professional, cool, and collected, and your grammar, sentence structure, and spelling is exemplary. This is the place to state your career skills, job aspirations, and personal vision for yourself. This is not the place to describe any fetishes, quirks, or personal problems unless they directly relate to your work and/or career.

Is This Site for Community/Social Organizations?

A community-oriented or more social-oriented About Me page warrants a little more familiar tone than the all-business About Me page. Your tone can be more conversational and friendly. This is the place to show why you love this particular community or social group, why you’re a part of it, and what parts of your life mesh with it. This is not the place to brag about how much you do for the group, how much you hate certain people in the group, etc.

Is This Site for Personal/Leisure Use?

More personal and leisure-time sites allow you to be the most familiar in tone on your About Me page, since you’re likely letting them into your life with each page of content on the site. This is the place to tell a little more about your personality, your everyday life, and your life passions. This is not the place to list tons of accomplishments, awards, or other shameless plugs–it comes off as bragging.

Working with Content

Keep in mind that your readers are not necessarily your most trusted confidants or therapists. While you may feel comfortable, especially in a blog setting like mine, getting a large load of emotional baggage off your chest, try to keep your About Me page as positive in tone as possible.

If physical pain or a specific medical condition is part of your life (the way it is in my life), for instance, you may just want to write something like “I deal with [name of illness here], and I talk about it on this site because it has affected my life.” Writing about it in this non-confrontational way allows the user to know some of your struggles without feeling as though they’re walking away carrying the burden of your life with them.

Emotional and spiritual battles fall under the same heading. Whatever you’re carrying in your life, you can write a bit about it, but don’t get too deeply into it in your About Me page–let it be known, but maintain a more positive stance.

And of course, if you’re writing for a business site or a social organization site, you might want to keep out any personal struggles altogether unless your business or organization deals directly with the kinds of problems you’re facing. For instance, the leader of a local cancer organization could write about being a cancer survivor on that social organization’s page, but he or she might want to leave that off their LinkedIn profile.

Tailor Your Page to Your Particular Site’s Purpose

Each of my About Me pages on the Internet is slightly different, based on what the site is about and who I’m trying to reach.

On my novel blog, my About Me is a little blurb with my name, age, state of residence, and how long I’ve been writing the novel, plus a link to my domain. On this blog, my About Me page references all the things I do in my everyday life and how it feeds into my blog articles; it also links users to my much more in-depth About Me page on my domain, which is wayyyy detailed about me without giving too much about my identity away.

When you create a site, remember that the people who find your site are typically just interested in that subject matter, and as such, they want to hear why you’re qualified to write about it. Keeping your About Me page steered towards that topic while still making it about you is a tightrope walk, but it can be done.

Let Creativity Reign

If you have a more media-driven idea for your About Me page (like I suggested before, a page full of meaningful images, a poem that you feel describes you completely, or even a video or music clip that you love and has personal meaning for you), try it out! Even if it doesn’t end up working for you, at least you gave it a shot. A memorable About Me page is much better than one that plays it very safe. Just make sure that your target audience will not be offended and will be able to access your content.

Don’t Limit These Ideas to Self-Created Pages

Wherever you go on the Internet, you can keep these ideas to reference for all your social media pages. Profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Last.fm, and tons of other sites can all be sculpted using these same tips. It’s not about lying to your visitors, but making sure that your profiles are honest without being too gritty.


In a way, when you write an About Me page, you’re performing a delicate dance for your visitors. The most attractive dance is one in which just enough but not too much is revealed, because it leaves viewers wanting to know more. Likewise, when you write about yourself, you want the visitors to know a little about you, but not so much that they never come back after one visit, because they feel they “got the whole picture” already. Walk that tightrope!