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How to Style a Lens
Presentation is Everything
Building a lens with style is something to aim for. It is all about presentation and being a great read. Colour, module position, non invasive ads and content all make for a great lens.
Reading a lens is a bit like opening a magazine. You will know from the first look whether or not this journal will interest you. That's the same when people open your lens. If it is something you have taken time with and is visually appealing you are usually tempted to stay and focus on its message
Dressed for an Event
Your lens exposes your talents to the world. While you might think that it only involves those here in Squidoo you would be mistaken because it is published to the big wide web. Anyone typing in a relevant keyword can land on your page.
So how do you look when you confront the world. Do you put on daggy clothes and look like you are a lazy bum. No, of course not. You spruce yourself up to make an impression. You put on your finest gear, take note of your appearance, how clean and approachable you look and what decorations, if any, you will apply to your body or dress. You check yourself repeatedly to ensure there are no mistakes in your appearance or even your smile.
Building a web page is no different if it looks gaudy, badly written, untidy, adds all over the place and generally fails to incorporate what readers expect to see you might get very few visitors. In fact you might not get any. The other turn off is, of course, typos, bad grammar and wafting around without being concise. Learn how to write well and then how to write better and the following lenses will guide you in that.
How important is Colour
This lens has colour and style but is it doing something for you? Is it teaching you something? Do you want to quit reading it? Is it engaging your attention? Would you want to copy it for one of your lenses?
These are probably questions one does not ask of oneself when doing a lens but maybe we should. How important is it that another will see what you have created as worthwhile and would want to emulate it?
What if it has moving graphics and other things to keep a reader amused. Does that help? What about glitter graphics or just good pictures? How much should you use shorthand text, such as pics instead of pictures, Should you say kids instead of children, and so on?
It's all about design and not overdoing your lens with things that will distract from the story, because, after all, it is the content you are promoting not the design or your skills in html or CSS and you don't want to be flippant. In fact be as nice as you can be and others will be more willing to respond,
What Best Represents Style
What main factor do you look for in the style of lenses?
You Can't Please Everyone
The best lenses are those written from the heart with passion and knowledge, If you don't know and understand about a subject then you will have trouble convincing anyone that you are an authority.
But if you are designing special lenses to really get people involved in what you are doing and saying then add some poll modules and quizzes, as I have done here. Readers will enjoy participating and earning extra points when they do so, They will also follow your debate more closely and pay attention to the contents. Videos help as well and are freely available from Utube and elsewhere through the video module.
But you can't please everyone and only probably a handlful of people will ever get to see your creation unless you have a smashing topic, appeal to the SE's with the right keywords and be writing about something topical and on a subject that people want to know about. This involved you doing your homework to get those keywords and to find out how to be SE friendly and maybe get on page 1 of Google with your lens topic.
I have achieved that with Save Planet Earth, which is now a hot topic. That lens has heaps of content and great keywords to keep it hot.
What does good style do to a lens?
Do you read lenses designed with style in mind?
Search Engine Optimisation
Style Without Spam
All too often new squids think it is cool to use their main keywords several times in the intro and the first one or two paragraphs. Some even repeat the opening couple of sentences in the first module of their story, These things are a definite no no. If you spam your page then the chances of it getting listed in a Search Engine are greatly reduced.
Not long ago clever marketers used white type on white backgrounds to put keywords into their page many many times. Some could do paragraphs comprising of nothing more than keywords and variations of the same. They were hidden from view at the beginning and end of the page while they were picked up by the SE's crawlers and the site would make it to number one on page one. But the SE's woke up to that and will now penalise any site using keywords more than once or twice throughout. Besides that it is not good for readers to be treated to the same thing over and over, as this is boring and will quickly turn them away.
Many new squids are not familiar with the term 'spam'. It is the use of content to market keywords in the expectation that the site ranks higher or outdoes other sites, It is also the publishing of sites several times in the same forums, for example on say two or three forums within Squidoo. These types of practices can get you banned from Squidoo and you lose all your lenses. So don't do it.
You can also spam someone by sending them emails about your work and expecting them to read it. If people have joined a list of yours with the knowledge that you will send them information on what you publish then it is not spam but if you do it to people who have put their email address in say a forum and you use that to spam them then watch out. Some people appreciate getting help from giants in Squidoo and knowledge of lenses where they can learn and that is different.
Spam is a bit like pushing in when people are standing in a queue waiting to be served and you come along and decide to get ahead of the mob by bustling your way in at the front. What do you think would happen or should happen to someone who does that to you? Well that's the view of the SE's as well. We are all here with the same intention so stand in line and wait your turn, The facts are that you get noticed for good work and content and not for your keywords.
The Origin of Spam
Still images from Dreamstime - click here
© 2011 norma-holt