Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blog Review: The Birds and the Beads

The Blog: The Birds and the Beads by Lavender

The Reviewer: Liz Medwid from ThreeBrightStars

First impressions: At first glance, The Birds and the Beads is a very girly, very artsy blog all about – you guessed it – birds and beads. The title is cleverly specific about the main topics of the blog, yet suggests adult naughtiness (generally not delivered in the content). The tagline, “It’s nice & light… so it’s fun to read,” defines the tone of the posts as well as the appropriate reader response: it’s a clever and effective technique to invite casual surfers to stay and read further.

Design: Pinks and purples signal a feminine personal blog, and if you like that, you’ll like this page. At the top of the page, the sidebars seem a little disorganized, but as you scroll down, you notice the posts are short, consistent, organized into tight paragraphs, and littered with gorgeous photographs, which, to the North American audience, are bound to have an exotic appeal. Overall, I think most of the target audience will hang out here long enough to check the content.

Content: Lavender offers advice about raising budgies and parakeets, and sells home-fired glass beadwork on a linked web page.

Although she has only been posting on Blogger since April of this year, with a total just topping 100 posts, she seems to generate significant discussion on many posts. One post hints that The Birds and the Beads gets a lot of traffic from Google and other searches on the main topics. When you delve into the posts, the content type and the page design actually diverge, in the sense that the content, being expert and business-related, could benefit from a more professional web-page design.

The rest of the content deals with photography and Lavender’s personal experiences living in Australia. A beautiful nature photograph accompanies almost every post. She does include some memes, such as Wordless Wednesdays, and in this case, they blend well enough into the rest of the photography content that they don’t detract from the overall experience of a casual surfer.

Blog writing is so often hit-and-miss that competence in this area must be mentioned: Lavender’s writing is concise, conversational, and generally error-free, which makes it a pleasant read.

Best and Worst: While the design is good enough to attract casual readers, the content actually rates an even better design. Lavender’s knowledge about birds and bead artwork provides a light and fun read, as the tagline promises, but it is also a great starting point to develop and maintain customer relations with that part of her audience wanting to take advantage of her expertise on these topics.

Improvement tips:

  1. Improve design with a more professional color scheme. This doesn’t mean abandoning pinks altogether – but a little pink goes a long way on a page like this.
  2. Tidy your widgets, especially at the top. The most important elements, your bead link and your profile, should appear at the top of each sidebar. Then, consider editing your other sidebar links to include the most usefulness with the least visual clutter. If possible, condense your topics list. Periodically cull some of your directory links: only maintain the ones that provide the most impact to your readership.

Blogroll worthy? Yes, for anyone who is interested in raising budgies and parakeets, and anyone who might want to collect handcrafted bead artwork.

Overall score:


Featured Post and Blog of the Week

You Are Here

by Amie from

You did well in school to get into college. You tried to get by well enough in college to be attractive to an employer or graduate program, and along the way you may have opened your heart a time or two. Maybe you even found true love.

With a foot in the door, the first years of work were the time to
prove your mettle once again. Promotions, raises all with the goal to secure your future will allow you to settle down, buy a house, travel, commit to a relationship, have kids or not. In what feels like a blink of an eye, your future is here.

And now what?

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Chance Favors Only Those Who Court Her

by Debbie from Missives from Suburbia

After a less-than-friendly divorce, I was on the market again. Seizing the opportunity, my friends scoured their address books and Palm Pilots for single men and set me up on blind date after blind date. My reaction to most of those dates was, "I call these people my FRIENDS?" One of my real friends suggested, and given how much I love the Internet, I gave it a go.

A couple months of e-dating passed by in a blink. It was fun, but so far nothing meaningful had hit my radar, and my match inventory was starting to run low. You see, "matches" you to people based on a list of your requirements, and I'd pretty much run through all my existing matches who didn't seem psycho or stoned, based on their profiles.

Then, one day, I got an email from a guy who was not a match by my standards...

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A Lost Opportunity

by John from Altjiranga Mitjina

Trying to break in as a writer in the comic book industry can be a bit like the one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Every step forward you make means you land on your butt after your kick forward. Comic books are a visual medium. An artist can bring a portfolio to an editor at a convention and said editor can sit there and look at it within minutes and decide if this artist is worthy of working on the newest issue of Stupendous Man or not. Trying being a hopeful writer handing over a script to this same editor at a busy comic convention. You’ll be lucky if the editor agrees to take the script and promise that they’ll look at it later. Most times the hopeful writer is told to send for their submission guidelines and mail in their proposal.

The best way for a writer is to find an aspiring artist and hook up...

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Jesus Toothpaste!

by Karen Rayne from Adolescent Sexuality Today with Karen Rayne, Ph.D.

This weekend I went out of town, leaving my family to fend for themselves. On Saturday, my darling husband took my two darling daughters – 6 and 3 years old – to what he heard was a fun new toy store in town. Great, right?

They walk in the door, and the 6-year-old pipes up with “Look, Daddy! Jesus toothpaste!” He takes one look, puts one hand on each girl’s shoulder, and does a 180 out of the store. It may be a fun new toy store, but it’s intended clientele does not include the under-13 set.

When I got home on Sunday, the first thing the 6-year-old says to me was, “Guess what! We saw Jesus toothpaste!” I blinked, figuring I hadn’t heard her correctly. Regrettably, I had...

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A biker, a green thumb, a cracked hand, and a Queen.

by Megan from Velveteen Mind, originally guest posted at Queen of Spain

A random biker on a Harley-Davidson took my picture last week. What I wanted to do was take his picture, but I hesitated. Now, instead of a photo of some random biker holding an i am bumper sticker, all I have is a lame photo of me holding the bumper sticker and the mental picture of him riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Okay, it wasn’t as romantic or dramatic as that. It was nine in the morning and there was no sunset.

This is not the first time that I have hesitated to seize an opportunity. I don’t expect it will be the last. However, I hope with each lost chance for something intriguing, I will lose a shade of that hesitation for next time...

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