One of my favorite people on the web today, Dr. Drang (@drdgrang), recently gave some thoughts on blogging and readability based on another post by Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell). While I agree with quite a bit of what Dr. Drang had to add, it did get me to think about the subtle ways I can make what I write here the primary focus to my readers.
The first step I've taken is to scale back the 'bling' I've previously had on the site. The site now runs a modified version of WordPress's default TwentyTwelve theme. I've made some minor under the hood changes and significant CSS updates. I love work I've done so far that I plan to keep the theme up to date and available on GitHub.
The next step I've taken is to strip down the page layout when a reader is viewing a specific post. Why? If I'm really trying to focus on a good article, but the site has a lot of stuff (ads, widgets, etc), I'll tend to run the Instapaper Text bookmarklet so I can focus on just the article. But when I hit the home page of a site, there may be some interesting information in the other 'stuff' people have in their sidebars. So when someone is viewing a specific post, the sidebars are suppressed so the reader can focus on the post - note the differences below.
As far as some of the comments that Matt made on blog layout/design, I tend to agree with Dr. Drang about some of the absolutes that Matt brought up, especially narrow 3 column blogs. As I continued to read through Matt's ideas on blog layout and some of the design concepts he talks about, I think Matt slightly contradicted himself by stating:
...I think that blogs are for their authors first, and their readership second.
On this point I completely agree.
I believe the design of a blog is an extension of the writer, with the sometimes misunderstood hope that the writer's taste doesn't drive anyone away from seeing the actual content. I've laid out my site based on my personal tastes, how I prefer to navigate a website, and about topics that interest me.
And in the end that's why I continue to do this... for me.