Feedback on Writing a Haiku Poems Blog

As you may have noticed, I have been experimenting with ways to make this site better as a community forum for the practice of writing haiku poems.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Keywords and categories are important to help people find the site. Words like haiku, poems, examples, How To, etc., are typically used by people to find haiku on the web. You need to balance keyword usage against awkwardness.

Comments – One of the reasons I think “examples” works as a keyword is because, as you may have noticed, I put out a new haiku for feedback and then make multiple changes that are tracked within the Comments section. These are works in progress as I receive feedback, and my skills develop. Sharing, commenting, and editing haiku can be a great exercise for all involved. Join in the development of your Haiku Habits!

Don’t forget to check the Subscribe to Comments option when you leave a comment. You will then be notified via email when someone else contributes to the discussion.

Titles – Haiku do not traditionally have titles, but see #1. In addition, Title Headings and Paragraph Headings (the font I use for the haiku itself) make a big difference with search engines.

Layout – One, two, or three columns. I don’t want to clutter the page, eye, or mind, but I am trying to encourage Response through clicks, comments, subscriptions, and link-backs. The big choice is typically between two or three columns. I think the column on the left, dedicated solely to comments, may work. What do you think?

Comment Plug – I have this yellow alert box at the end of each new post asking for comments. Any thoughts?

Pictures – Blog posts with pictures get much more attention than those without. I am sure that this research was not conducted on Haiku blogs! Do the pictures help or distract?

Gravatars – The little icons on the left of the comments will be replaced with your own picture or avatar if you set one up at It adds a personal touch, but, again, may be distracting. It also slows down page load time and may be blocked by Spam filters.

“Share This” button – Providing tools for readers to easily share content can help grow a site’s community. There are many available. Do you like this one?

Similar Posts list – Once your posts exceed the first page, you need to have tools to help the reader find archived content. The Archive page helps with this, but a list of similar posts that immediately follows the current post seems to increase reader page views and time on site. Does this tool help you enjoy the site more?

What’s Next for Haiku Habits?

I will be developing pages to help explain Share Options and Subscribe Options, since these social media tools are unfamiliar to many website visitors.

Soon there will be video and audio.

What do You suggest to help make this site better? What do you Like or Not Like?

What are you struggling with as you develop your own site? Let’s help each other through a discussion in the Comments section below!

Any feedback is welcome!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adriaan Dec 3, 2008 @ 7:55

    I’m not familiar with stuff like this, so I can’t really comment. I did find the word “example” a bit odd.

    About this being a community site: it still feels much like a Ken Wagner site. Don’t get me wrong, that is okay by me, and maybe it wouldn’t even work to get dozens of people all submitting haiku of very different styles, and commenting on each other. It is something to think about though.

    On a different note, I’ve been thinking it might be fun to get some play-element in. How about making some rengay?

    rengay link one
    rengay link two
    rengay link pdf

  • Qrystal Dec 3, 2008 @ 8:28

    I hope this doesn’t come across as too critical, but I’m just going to start the ball rolling with some brief concerns about your sidebars. (And mention that I thought the word ‘example’ seemed odd, myself.)

    I think once there are comments lining the left side, the page will look really busy. There are some navigation tools missing from the sidebars as well, and I see they are actually way at the bottom of the page. Or maybe that was just a bug — it seems to be gone now.

    You definitely don’t want to make it difficult for people to find your links to Subscribe, ditto for your Search field, and especially ditto on the Categories! I, personally, love categories and tags. Every blog I visit, I always check out what’s going on in one or two categories and/or one or two tags, just out of curiosity. For haiku in particular, I’d think categories or tags would be even more important than the search field, but you never know, and so both should be very accessible. (Edit: the bug that got me earlier seems to be fixed, and this stuff IS easy to find on the right sidebar. Hmm.)

    So, I would strongly suggest not having so much emphasis on displaying the links to recent comments, and instead having navigation tools nearer to the top. How to arrange them on the page depends on some HIO: human interface optimization (an acronym I may have just invented), rather than SEO. Take a look at what the sidebars look like when the post is a short one, and try to tweak them so the sides look balanced. Examine how long each sidebar extends down the page, but also look at the visual “weight” of the elements — pictures are heavier than underlined links, which are heavier than plain words. Put some heavy stuff on each side.

    Also consider the F-pattern: this is the way the human eye tends to look at a webpage. Whatever you put in the top left-hand corner will be what is seen first. Actually, after awhile the header will be getting ignored, and the most seen will be the top left-hand corner below the header, followed by the whole line below the header, followed by the top right-hand corner. Consider those spots for your twitter and RSS and subscribe options, and maybe your most recent posts. Try a few ways, and try and pretend you’re a newcomer to your own site — where would you want to go next? 🙂

  • Qrystal Dec 3, 2008 @ 8:43

    Regarding Titles and Similar Posts… if titles are too similar to each other, the similar posts are difficult to navigate. I just went to look at your Human Nature category, clicked on one of the post links, and then navigated around using the Similar Posts… there were several with similar titles, but different dates, and I couldn’t remember which ones I’d seen so I landed on the same one a few times. (I’m not sure how the Similar Posts thing organizes links, but they don’t seem to be in order by date!)

    Okay, time for a disclaimer: I’m far from experienced with SEO or HIO, but I’m an attentive user of blogs and I’ve read a lot about blog design and thought about it for my own blog. I know it’s difficult to balance between a clean interface and one that’s got everything that’s needed. And I respect what you’re doing here, and will randomly offer advice when it seems warranted (or when I’m procrastinating doing something I need to be doing — whoops!)

  • Ken Wagner Dec 3, 2008 @ 22:34

    Adriaan – Yeah, the “example” thing is a bit much. I will clean it up when I get a chance.

    Regarding community – I envision setting up a forum on the site to allow people to post/talk about haiku, but conventional wisdom is to wait until you have more visitors. A forum needs committed stewards. Interested? I’ll post a survey soon to see if interest in a forum is there.

    Although I agree it probably wouldn’t work to regularly have others post their own haiku here, I came across this site which does appear to focus on just that. I think Guest Posts will work well on Haiku Habits, however, including shared haiku.

    Nice find with the rengay. I’ll check it out.

  • Ken Wagner Dec 3, 2008 @ 22:42

    Qrystal – Thanks for the great feedback. You have great insight into site design. The suggestions on eye tracking, sidebar placement/weighting, and category navigation are spot on.

    I’ll get to work on better Human Interface Optimization (HIO!) pronto.

    Thanks again!

  • Qrystal Jan 22, 2009 @ 14:09

    I was thinking again, as I flipped through a few months of haiku posted here, about the choice of the word “example” in the headers. First, recall what you say above about the subject:

    One of the reasons I think “examples” works as a keyword is because, as you may have noticed, I put out a new haiku for feedback and then make multiple changes that are tracked within the Comments section. These are works in progress as I receive feedback, and my skills develop. Sharing, commenting, and editing haiku can be a great exercise for all involved. Join in the development of your Haiku Habits!

    Would perhaps the word ‘exercise’ would work better for what you use it as? It’s not so much that you are providing examples for others to emulate, but instead you and your audience get to work together to exercise poetic muscles.

  • Ken Wagner Jan 22, 2009 @ 19:27

    Again, a good point, but I decided (the haiku equivalent of “sold out”?) to take advantage of the fact that “haiku poem example” is a big search engine keyword/phrase when people go to Google for haiku. About 70% of the visitors come from Google, and a good percent of those browse around.

  • Amy Feb 5, 2009 @ 15:32

    How can one post their original haiku on here for critique? I have posted on other sites. Thank you.

  • Ken Wagner Feb 5, 2009 @ 21:24

    Amy – Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

    Right now, there is no spot on Haiku Habits for others to leave their haiku, other than through comments. Several people have already left poems – sometimes inspired by the original post; sometimes improving the original – in various comments streams on this site.

    Perhaps in the future, we will add a forum section, where others can post and critique, as you suggested.

    Thanks again.