Call me a control freak, but what I love about having a blog is that I can do whatever I want with my little corner of the web, and I don't have to hire a programmer every time I want to change something. Whatever I want! Whenever I want to! In my pajamas! While eating ice cream!
Mmm-kay. You get the picture.
For months now, I've been eyeballing the Pages tab on my TypePad control panel (control panel! haaaa!) and occasionally fiddled around with it, but it took me a long time to figure out that I could build actual web pages with it. Pages. Right.
The first thing I did was to create an About page, which is super easy, and looks SO MUCH BETTER than the default About page that the system allows you to set up. Everyone needs a good About page - it's the first thing I look for when I go to a new blog.
Opening up a new blog feels like walking in on a conversation mid-stream; since I haven't been in on the discussion, I want to know who the characters are, and what I've just stepped into. Surprisingly, most people don't have an About page, even people who really need one, like independent professionals and small businesses.
Make an About page, people! It will improve your bounce rate and give your new readers a much-needed sense of context.
Here's How to Create an About Page using Pages:
1. Create a new page. From your main Control console, click "Compose" then click "New Page."
2. Enter a page title. Remember that this title will live on one of your sidebars, just like a web page. Make it very descriptive. "About BLOGNAME" is perfect.
3. Write a bio for your blog. What do you want to tell new people who don't know anything about you or your blog? This is the place to explain your vision, your mission - the goods on who you are and what your blog is all about. If you have a traditional website, be sure to include that link. This page is super-duper important, so take the time to do it right.
4. Name your page. Choose a simple, descriptive title, like "About-BLOGNAME.html" Decide whether you want to enable comments.
5. Save. Preview. Publish.
6. Activate Pages. Go into the Design Tab and click "Select Content." Under "Built-in Modules," click the check box titled "Pages." Next, look for the small text link beneath the word "Pages," named "Configure." Click that. In the pop-up box, enter a title that will float above your Pages links. Leave it blank if you don't want a title. Choose the order of your pages - oldest first or newest first. Save your changes.
7. Choose the placement of your About Page on your blog sidebar. I recommend placing the link to this page somewhere on the top half of your sidebar, so that new visitors can find it fast. To change the position of the link on the page, go to back to the Design tab, and click on "Order Content." Drag your About page to wherever you want it. Save your changes.
Your About page is now live! See? Wasn't that easy? Best of all, your About page now blends seamlessly into your blog design; your regular header will appear at the top of the page: smart and professional. Nicely done. Eventually I'm hoping to be able to re-craft my entire web site using Pages, but it might be a while, as I've got a few other things on my to-do list.
For more inspiration, check out these excellent About pages:
- Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka Swiss Miss. One of my daily go-to links, this is a “visual archive” of superior design. Tina’s About page clearly communicates who she is and what her blog is about. Simple, elegant, effective.
- No-Impact Man. Colin Beavan created a TypeList of the blog posts that described his mission, his family, his philosophy and etc., and put them right at the top of his sidebar, so that new readers can quickly get up to speed on what he's doing and why. Brilliant. Why make readers search back through old posts? Who has time for that? He thinks like a man who is writing a book, which of course is exactly what he's doing. Grade: A+
- Matt Armendariz. Okay, he didn't exactly use the Pages interface. Because he's an uber-talented designer, he riffed on the American Express ad and made an About page that is really a giant JPEG. But that’s okay, because it’s fun and informational. He understands the Why of the About page: slam dunk.
- Finslippy. Writer Alice Bradley created a very simple About page, but what makes it work is that she lists the "characters" that appear in her ongoing blog about her personal life. How often do you go to a blog that references a certain character with NO way to find out who it might be? SO useful.
PS: I've just put up a new page, a collection of links I've been building for a while on how to improve your writing skills. Figured it would be more useful on my blog than sitting on my computer collecting dust. Enjoy!