Awesome Lookin’ New Blogs!

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2012 logo. Typography over image of dragon, monitor, and mouse

THE HAGUE, 1 June — It’s already 1 June here in The Hague, but still 31 May in North America where many Newbie Blogger Initiative peeps are located. As everyone is wrapping up this wonderful month of new blogs and great advice, I wanted to troll thru the list of new blogs and pick a few to talk about.

After wading thru the hundred-and-I-don’t-know-how-many blogs I finally decided to talk about some of the blogs I thought looked great. In a way that’s unfair since I’d expect a blog to start with some words, maybe add a few pix, and get around to overall design, interface, and usability a little down the road. Well, it may be an “unfairly” high bar, but a lot of peeps sailed past it anyway. I limited this post to 16 that I liked just so it doesn’t go on forever, but there are many more that were worthy.

My Posts for NBI
NBI Newbie Blogger Check-in Page
The Oh-So-Valuable MORE Tag!

I apologize, and definitely LMK if you find any errors or omissions here. It was a lot to poke thru, and there could be name typos, bad URLs, etc. Also, I should have looked at all the new blogs off of one of the cool lists that many peeps made. But I actually tried to click thru all 16 pages of posts in the NBI Newbie Blogger Checkin Forum, so, silly me, I may have not read a post carefully and have some veteran blogger here on the “cool newbie” page – sorry if that happened! 😛
haha, that and I nearly crashed opening so many blogs!
NoteToSelf: You don’t have to have all the blogs open in tabs at the same time! 😛

Thanks to all the oldbies, newbies, organizers and everyone who helped make this such a nice month. And… here’s 16 blogs I thought looked pretty cool:

1. The Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien!

The Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien

The minute I hit The Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien, I’m already on board and having fun with the ride. If the title left anything unclear, the visuals do the rest. I see a fun, inspired Danania in a meadow somewhere, her angular body language seems to say “up, up and away!” I love the way the drapery background of the blog mirrors her red cape. I know this is going to be a fun blog even before I’ve read a single word!


 

2. Bloodthorne

Bloodthorne, a blog about gaming and geeks

Even though it’s popular with the gamers, I’m not generally fond of blogs with white type on black backgrounds. I think it’s harder to read and I like the clean, modern, “Apple” or “Google+” if you will, feel, of black type on a white background.

Bloodthorne however is a real exception, this gorgeous blog really makes the black background work. The image slider atop the home page gives us a range of visuals that can hook us in many different ways depending on individual interest.


 

3. Casual Aggro

Casual Aggro MMO Blog Home Page

Like so many of the blogs I love, Casual Aggro has an inspiring masthead. I like that it’s long and thin, since I’m going to see it a lot of times, I don’t want it to take up the whole home page, but I do like the immersive reminder of where I am.


 

4. /con mmob

home page of blog /con mmob

/con mmob looks great everyday, but I was probably extra-excited by today’s home page featuring a clean, sparkling fashion arrangement from Console to Closet. It was just such an unexpected image on an MMO blog. It inspired me and made me want to read more.


 

5. The Diverted Muse

Home page of MMO Blog The Diverted Muse

The Diverted Muse might be the simplest home page that nonetheless blew me away. It’s really clean and spare. The woodgrain background and the face in profile in the center circle have a steampunk sort of breeziness to them, and the simple, but elegant and concisely phrased typography gets me quickly ready for our adventure together.


 

6. Elfkina Vežička

home page of Elfkina Vežička, a Slovakian MMO blog

Elfkina Vežička is a lovely Slovak MMO blog. The graphic treatment, the image selection, all prepare me for a voyage of whimsy and wonder.


 

7. Gaming Abroad

screen shot of home page of MMO Blog Gaming Abroad

Virtual Worlds already make us think of travel, but Gaming Abroad does a nice job of uniting its title with a vintage map background on the home page and a nice photo layout in the post.


 

8. Giddeon’s Hammer

image of blog home page for MMO blog Giddeon's Hammer

A lot of great blogs choose the “full post” on the home page style, but I’ve got to strongly offer my not-so-humble opinion that “post excerpts” are far better. With full posts, even short ones, and especially long ones, I just feel lost forever in scrolling. With “Post Excerpts” (some themes have a setting to do this automatically, or you can simply use the MORE tag) your home page becomes much more cosmopolitan and magazine like. Think of your home page as magazine cover or table of contents filled with great choices of content for readers. Look at Huffington Post or any other top blog, they all have variations on this format.

Giddeon’s Hammer uses an elegant, beautiful home page with excerpts and “Read More” links to give me the maximum number of article choices, and therefore to give itself the maximum number of chances to connect to readers.


 

9. GnomeGates.com

home page for MMO blog GnomeGates.com

C’mon, you CANNOT look at this home page and not smile! Even though GnomeGates.com has a playful home page, they still have lots of post excerpts cleanly organized for maximum ease in getting to lots of content.


 

10. Hipstalotro

home page of Middle Earth blog Hipstalotro

What a sweet idea, as the tag line on the Hipstalotro blog says “Me and my smartphone wandering through Middle-Earth’s coolest places” Take one part innovative photo-based design, one part clean, elegant style, mix and serve!


 

11. Image Heavy

screen shot of Image Heavy, an MMO Gaming Blog

Eva / Clumsygrrrl is doing such a nice job with this “Image Heavy” blog! Once again we see a gorgeous masthead on top, a clean, crisp layout, and then a parade of beautiful images.


 

12. Landroval Style

screen shot of home page of MMO Blog Landroval Style

OMG Landroval Style just looks so good! The background, the typography, the post layout, the sidebar, it’s all crisp, inspired, and sparkling.
You know already know my rabid preference for EXCERPTS over Full Posts, so my one like-anybody-asked-me suggestion for LRS is to go to Excerpts. It would look extra nice on this blog since each post has the cool “Date Tab” as you see with “May 31” so if the blog goes to excerpts and perhaps long skinny “Featured Images,” then that home page will sizzle with post tabs and options for blog reading.


 

13. Malefic Incantations

screen shot of home page of MMO Blog Malefic Incanatations

In my brief experience I have found it’s never a good idea to overlook a time-traveling, purple-clad Tyrian necromancer wielding a scepter. Beyond that, Malefic Incantations is a sweet blog with a crisp design, mood setting masthead, quick and functional menu bar, great images and nice sidebar.


 

14. The Poison Mushroom

screen shot of MMO Blog The Poison Mushroom

The Poison Mushroom has a really interesting look! It’s clean and crisp, but also breezy and fun. It feels playful yet toxic at the same time. It’s an impressive use of purple! And yes, it uses my beloved post excerpts to good advantage.


 

15. Ravalation

screen shot of home page of "Ravalation" MMO photo blog

Not only does Ravalation look great, but the current “3 Awesome NBI blogs” post features 2 of the same great blogs I just featured above! Yay! Ravalation has a beautiful masthead image that sets the tone, a great menu bar that runs thru that image and lets me select a particular virtual world if I like, and then scrolls down thru a series of nicely laid out and illustrated posts. All that and a great content-filled sidebar including a “Wordle of the week!” 🙂


 

16. Waldl’s Wanderings

screen shot of home page of MMO blog "Wald's Wanderings"

Wald’s Wanderings doesn’t feature a lot of images, it’s mostly writing, but it’s a really gorgeous blog that’s picked such a delicious theme. The masthead image certainly inspires, and the parchment on top of wood very much puts me in a virtual world as I read the blog. The simple touches of this theme are so strong that reading the blog is like a gaming experience – how can you beat that!


 

Well, there’s 16 that I really loved. There were many more. Got a favorite? Go on! Throw a link in the comments below! 🙂

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Blogs

Author:Vanessa Anne Blaylock

As a Virtual Public Artist my work invites virtual communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

19 Comments on “Awesome Lookin’ New Blogs!”

  1. Friday, 01 June 2012 at 20:48 UTC #

    …excerpts. Well, golly, THAT’s smart. Thanks so much for the shout-out and the suggestions!

    *zips to WordPress*

    • Friday, 01 June 2012 at 21:03 UTC #

      Awesome! Really nice work you’re doin on the blog! 🙂

      If you need any help on the blog… More Tags, Featured Images, or anything else… just shout, I’ll be happy to help.

      Happy Bloggin! 🙂

  2. clumsygrrrl
    Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 00:23 UTC #

    Ahh thankyou so much for the mention! I really appreciate the kind words! *hugs* 😀

    • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 01:30 UTC #

      Yay clumsygrrrl! All your photography, and especially that 31 May set, is quite fantastic!

      And you just started? Wow! Fantastic, such a wonderful lookin blog! 🙂

      Do LMK if you ever need any blog help or advice, and keep up the great work!

      — Van

  3. Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 01:28 UTC #

    I must say, running down this list they all look so pro.
    I’ve heard several people say they dislike the white text on black background. I like both, but the reason I chose the white on black for my own blog, is because I find it more calming for the eyes, less screen light. I agree that black on white looks a lot more clean.

    I’ve thought about changing the color scheme several times, but I’m pretty much stuck with white on black right now, as a LOT ofmy pictures have been designed around this. It frightens me a bit that people might not read my blog simply because of this detail : /

    • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 01:51 UTC #

      OMG Yes! Are these blogs gorgeous or what! And assuming I didn’t accidentally click an oldbie advice link in the newbie listings, they’re all just a month or so old! So awesome!

      2 years ago when iRez was on Blogger it was white type on black… it seemed fine then and you’re right it can make pix more dramatic… but when I moved over to WordPress I switched to black type on white – you might remember that 3 long column layout I had for maybe the 1st year, and then I switched to the current theme maybe a year ago.

      Oh yes, I know the “fear of change” thing… even if you try to be “interoperable” about it, stuff seems to get locked in. Actually in “real” HTML you can use relative links which mean you can port your whole site to a different domain and everything still works… but here at WP (and maybe all blogs, not certain) you get stuck with absolute links that are likely to break with future changes… and I’ve made feature images to exact pixel sizes for this theme… so who knows… for the time being, I love this theme and don’t plan to change in the next year (only making it worse if I ever do change! 😛

      Probably the biggest thing for you, me, or anyone to remember is… yes… we do have “long tail” effects, and your archive will get traffic on an ongoing basis (especially if you write illustrated catsuit posts! 😛

      BUT… the main destination will generally be your new content… so don’t enslave the new out of dedication to the old…

      That’s interesting about the “calming” of a black screen… I hadn’t thought of that… I guess I’m so used to a white screen like a white piece of paper. Virginia Heffernan (yes, her again – SO insightful!) says she thinks if you grew up with green type on black screens you think Cyberspace is Dark… and kids today are growing up thinking something different…

      The first computer I ever actually bought was like ’92 or ’93, a Mac IIci with an Apple “Portrait Display”… I’d used, just a little, those Heffernan black Windows or was it DOS screens… and the portrait display was tall instead of wide and black type on a white screen – ooh… I loved that thing! It was a black and white screen, but it “looked like paper” and I was very excited! haha.

      Anyway… if you feel like it… you might try a color flip or a new WP theme… your pix might look better than you think… or if you have borders, it might still be fine anyway… AND… you shouldn’t have any trouble (pretty sure these are not “famous last words”) just switching right back to the old theme if you don’t like the results.

      As best I understand it, your WP content / site is totally a big database… and when you call up a page, the content is just poured into whatever the active theme is… so there shouldn’t be any risk or fear of peeking at other themes and seeing what you think… if you feel like it…

      • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 02:35 UTC #

        I actually love my theme, wide custom randomizing header, custom background. Generally very malleable. I tried switching to a brown color scheme. The background is custom so, it’s still black for now, but the text itself is less bright white. Maybe that can reduce the number of people fleeing, haha.

        It’s a good point about cyberspace being black. The first computer we had in the family booted in DOS and yes, DOS is black with colored text on it.
        When I then visit some of the white clean blogs, I get a blog crisis, I find mine too messy, if only I could do the paper thing too, every word just looks better, mine looks like old DOS 😀

        Oh well, I might fiddle with a whiter background, but it includes redoing a lot of pictures (my framed left sidebar fx). Can I be bothered? I guess I can upload a new white background and see how the text itself looks.

        And yeah, if you don’t overdesign like me, switching theme would be a play in the WordPress THEMEpark… (bad pun, I know)

        • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 03:19 UTC #

          oh oh the (awesome btw) framed left sidebar! Is it only the 8 of them? Or do you have all kinds?

          And, of course, you have your Photoshop / Gimp originals and it’d take seconds to change… right? 😛

  4. Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 13:16 UTC #

    So happy you noticed (and mentioned!) my blog even though it’s not in english (I’ve figured there are thousands of blogs about games in English, but veeery few in my own language, so the choice was really easy). Thank you again 🙂

    • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 14:18 UTC #

      Your blog really looks wonderful Iluviel! Nice idea on language! (Google Translate was helpful also! 🙂 And just a really nice use of Tumblr – your blog probably looks more different than any Tumblr I”ve seen. The castle / cartoon graphics set a really nice tone / mood.

      Keep up the lovely work! 🙂

    • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 16:26 UTC #

      True what Vaneeesa said, I’m really impressed with the castle theme too. Overall stunning blog, hence what I said up above about pro looking blogs 😀

    • Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 13:15 UTC #

      I love colourful, graphical blogs, and this one is just amazing.

  5. Sikula
    Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 21:56 UTC #

    Love the blog but … PUHLEEZE… refrain from using ‘Slovakian’ and use ‘Slovak’ instead, @Vaneessa. As one, really touché.

  6. Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 13:12 UTC #

    This is a great overview of NBI blogs. Somehow, seeing their covers all together likes this makes them look all awesome. It’s like scrolling through magazines-within-magazines (sorry id I’m not making much sense now)!

    I was also pretty shocked to see my blog entered among these gorgeous looking blogs. There’s so much I want to change still! I’m feeling humbled to see myself posted. Thank you!

    • Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 15:42 UTC #

      hahaha, no worries Ravanel, you’re making plenty of sense!

      Yes I agree about the magazine (of magazines) I did it that way, of course, since I was talking about Design / Aesthetics / UIUX, but I too find it kind of exciting. It’s actually true that I opened so many tabs looking thru them all that my browser got kind of slow, and it’s nice to see them all fast and easy like this.

      Oh, ha, in the spirit of NBI, here’s one more piece of advice! I think it doesn’t apply to anyone I’ve seen, but I’ll throw it out FYI anyway:

      I’ve already talked about my love of the more tag for aesthetic / technical / functional reasons:
      http://irez.me/2012/04/21/the-more-tag/

      Another thing about this approach is that you’ll never see a YouTube video on my home page. They way slow down loading. So I’d prefer to have a home page of words & still images that loads as fast as it can… and then if you choose to view something specific, you’ll probably have a few more seconds of patience as your specific choice loads.

      Oh, and I don’t have any real numbers on this, but it *feels* to me like this is mostly only true on pages with MANY videos. I think ONE video doesn’t really slow the page down too much, but several kinda do.

      Anyway, back to the point Ravanel, YES! your blog looks really great. I love the big buttons if I’m only interested in a specific world and the big masthead image is fantastic.

      Oh, one tiny point you might look at. This probably doesn’t come up too often, but I have a larger monitor and I run full screen, so at least 1 person sees this… your whole home page seems to be centered… except that masthead image is aligned LEFT… so on a smaller window everything lines up… but if you do have a big window (hahaha, IDK if you know, but before phones and iPads peeps used to use these things called laptops and even before that, like, your grandparents had “desktops” and some of them had big monitors (actually, of course, gamers are more likely than most peeps to have desktops and big monitors)

      … right.. on a big monitor, the top / masthead image is off to the left and the whole rest of the home page is offset from it, in the center.

      Drop by and shout if there’s ever anything I can help with or give my humble-or-otherwise opinion on. Congratulations on launching such a beautiful blog!

      keep up the lovely work! 🙂

      • Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 19:05 UTC #

        Oh damn, I really should do something about that, that must look horrible! The only downside is that I really suck at coding. It was already so much work to get it working as it does. I hope there is some sort of code that makes the content end up to the left by default, I think that would sort out most of the problems. You’ll of course have a turquoisish area to the right without anything on very large desktops, but I think that would be survivable. I’ll ask my geek friends if they can find anything. Thanks for mentioning this!

        On the advice topic you linked:
        I chose for the full article option myself, because I’m actually quite the opposite of you, hehe. I feel a bit of panic when seeing so many small article parts on a front page and don’t feel the urge to continue clicking at all. I do see the advantage of having a good overview of recent articles, though, and it’s always good to know how-to just in case. I’m thinking of a sort of “hybrid version” for my own blog: the full posts, but a place with my latest five posts in the sidebar (plus their first sentences etc) somewhere on top. That way the structure might be clearer. What do you think? I know you don’t like full article blog that much, but I guess we’re all different. 🙂

        I luckily don’t usually post any movies, but I did notice my blog became pretty long to load for myself, perhaps because it has so many images. Do you have this as well? I’m sort of wondering if this causes problems or if it’s only me (my pc is getting old).

        Thanks for the extensive response!

        • Friday, 08 June 2012 at 03:22 UTC #

          Thanks Ravanel!

          Yes, I have become an ever bigger “Excerpt” believer. But the main thing for me is that you’ve made a choice. The fact that your choice is the opposite of the one I might make, *sniffle* really doesn’t matter at all! 🙂

          Seriously, it actually doesn’t. I’m just sad at how many choices are left to default. Be it the home page of your blog, or the license on your Flickr pix, etc. Your blog, your pix, it SHOULD be your way. I just hate seeing, for example Flickr pix locked up under Copyright All Rights Reserved only because the user doesn’t know what the choices are or how to use them. If they “really” choose C-ARR, I’m fine with that. So of course I’m fine with your choice on your blog! 🙂

          And, yes, I do like your “compromise” idea… to have a full post on the home page, and then a sidebar “menu” of the last 5 posts – that’s pretty good.

          The home page UI/UX “Feels” so important to me… but it actually probably only matters to a small percentage of peeps.

          Your “regular” readers pretty much look at everything you post, so they’re going to see it all anyway.

          Anyone who gets to your work from a Google search will probably go straight to a specific post, so they’ll likely never even see your home page.

          So it’s only those in-between the 2, who actually visit / land on your home page that will even “contemplate” the UI/UX that you and I have noodled and thought so long over.

          Although pretty much every week, my home page is either the #1 or #2 page of the week, so a decent number do land there.

          Hope you sort out that image alignment thing! I’m not a coder either and I sort of hate that. Like I’m part of some technological underclass. Then again, I do remember a long time ago I was having my bike worked on at some bike shop, and the guy said “You can either work on bicycles, or you can ride bicycles, but you can’t do both.”

          Maybe that’s true for web content too. If we were developers with those skills — hahaha, well besides making more money! 😛 — maybe we’d wind up doing way more coding and less content posting. IDK. Anyway, I feel a little lame for not “rolling my own” but I’m happy there are such cool themes / templates for pouring content into.

          BOTTOM LINE:
          Your blog is awesome! Thanks so much for doing it and for sharing your ideas Ravanel!

        • Friday, 08 June 2012 at 03:36 UTC #

          Oops, I totally forgot to reply to your question about image loading times.

          On a platform like Wikispaces, I think they load the whole image on the page, so if you had 10 huge megapixels images on a page, that would load REALLY slow.

          On WordPress I think they load a scaled down version of the image. So even if you posted full size camera images, I think it’d only load screen rez till you clicked for full image, so a page of images should actually load pretty fast.

          On Blogger, IDK… but I’d guess it’s like WordPress rather than Wikispaces, so probably, your page of images isn’t really hurting a lot.

          I do try to have all the images on my own blog. The WordPress.com servers might or might not be fast, I actually think they’re kind of medium, but at least if the content is all from 1 site, you’re only counting on 1 set of servers more or less.

          If you embed / link to, pix from many different sites, then just to draw your 1 page you’re depending on content/servers from all over the globe, any of which could be down or slow.

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