And, unfortunately, the title says it all. So, what do you do, when you want to design a poetry blog?
Plaster it with images that are unrelated to make it look more approachable? Or take a barebones approach, letting the poetry do the talking?
My Failures as a Designer, Admitted
I tried the minimalistic path originally. I didn’t want too much “cruft”. I had the idea that people should imerge themselves in the content, and not let anything distract them.
It just didn’t work.
The bounce rate was through the roof, and the average time a user spent on the site just shrank and shrank.
I began to wonder. How could the site become more visually appealing. Easier to navigate. And more user friendly.
Surely, images must be incorporated. But how?
What Exactly Constitutes a Poem
I had the principle, from the beginning, that even though I am also a pictorial artist, I refused to illustrate my poetry. I was afraid that it would give too much away, and leave the reader too little room for reflection and personal thought.
But when I started thinking of a new design, something a Chinese friend of mine once said to me came vividly to mind. He looked at a drawing I had made, and called it a “beautiful poem”. To him, there was no line drawn between pictorial art and writing. Calligraphy sits at the intersection, being both. There was no need to make a distinction.
And if that is so, there’s nothing to worry about.
Maybe it wasn’t so scary after all. Marking a poem about rain with an image of raindrops might actually work. It might make it more visually appealing, and therefore more likely to be read, rather than subtract from the experience.
Stating the Obvious?
The problem with self-publishing is that you have nobody to check up on your misconceptions about your work, and your – more or less realistic – ideas about how it should be presented.
You only have yourself to hold yourself accountable.
So, you’re bound to screw up sometimes.
The minimalistic layout clearly didn’t sit well with the readers, so it has to go. And so has a couple of my ideas about a “clean reading experience”.
The simple fact remains that an image says more than a thousand words, and scanning a list of images is a lot easier for a potential reader, than a wall of text. I might have come to the realization before, if less blinded to the flaws of my own creation (the website, mind you, not the poetry).