Posted by Lilly | Comments Off
Traveling with sex toys is anywhere from “no big deal” to “they’re pulling out my giant sparkling rabbit vibrator in front of 50 other people and it is flashing and whirring” (or finding a note with your vibrator in your checked luggage from the TSA with words of encouragement on your next jerk off session). If you’re not flying then there’s much less of a chance that someone will be rifling through your bag – but if you have kids or are going to stay with family during holiday travels then a little thought should be put into things. Too many times I’ve traveled without a vibrator and ended up regretting that decision. Mostly it was because I was visiting family and there are two issues with that: First, you don’t want paranoia about the noise to be interfering with your orgasm. Second, there’s always that chance that a close family member will need to get something from your bag before you remember that oops, there’s a big dildo in there.
First up is lube: It’s important for nearly everyone. If you’re flying then you will definitely want to buy one of those little plastic travel bottles and decant about 1 fluid ounce of your favorite lube at home. Even if you’re not flying, transferring the lube into a plain, smaller bottle will save both space and questions. No matter how incognito your sex toys are, if you’ve got a bottle of Astroglide in there you won’t be fooling anyone.
Travel Friendly Vibrators
Discretion and trickery! I would want something that doesn’t look like a sex toy. Unfortunately when you look up “discreet vibrators” you get a mix of small shitty clitoral vibes that barely tickle the surface, novelty items like the yellow Duckie or “vibrating sea sponge” (also in the weak and disappointing category) or hairbrushes and lipsticks that will probably break down in half a dozen uses. This leaves high-priced luxury sex toys like MiMi or big, plug-in electric vibrators like the Hitachi, the Miracle Massager, or my beloved Wahl 2-speed. Of the plug-in electric styles I’d pick the Wahl – on Low, it’s pretty damn quiet. It’s also smaller than the others and the cord is pretty long too. Of course none of the plug-in styles are going to be all that lightweight – the Eroscillator is less heavy and if you’re clever you will store the attachments far away from the base and you might be able to pull it off as a plug-in electric toothbrush. Until they examine it closely and see the word “Eroscillator” in raised letters on the body, that is.
Rechargeable vibrators are frequently touted as “travel friendly” since many of them have a feature where you can press a few buttons and lock the control pad for travel. Which is great and this means you don’t have to include a pack of batteries in your bag – but also consider recharging it: Will there be a discreet place to do so? Remember that many of these take hours to recharge and if you damn near drained the battery it could take the night (or the day, if you’re using the We-Vibe). And if it should die on you before you’re finished you’re shit out of luck.
Battery-powered massager-style Mystic Wand is a possibility. You get vibration intensity, the believability that it is a back massager, and a motor that is moderately quiet (especially when compared to the Hitachi Magic Wand or the Miracle Massager). It will not take up as much room as the plug-in massagers and isn’t quite as heavy (unless of course you add in the weight of 1 or 2 changes of battery) but it isn’t nearly as small as say a bullet vibrator. If you’re flying, though, no amount of covert packing will hide something from those pesky airline baggage checkers. If you’re not at the mercy of the tactless TSA then you certainly could get away with packing a small vibrator of any type if you do it right.
When all else fails and you’re too paranoid to attempt any of these? A cheap, battery-op electric toothbrush. And a condom. Put the condom over the toothbrush head to minimize brush bristle abrasion to tender parts.
My travel-friendly sex toys
One of the sex toys that I plan on always taking with me is the Sweet Embrace. I’ve been using it more lately in a somewhat unorthodox fashion (meaning, not how they market it) and have been pleasantly surprised at the clitoral orgasms. My travel dildo of choice is now the Nobessence Fling because of the size, weight and discreet design that for me could also be coupled with a massager vibrator and written off as a merely a sore-muscles kit1. I’ve also purchased a spare spare (because I have a spare in case the current one dies) bullet vibrator that will be reserved just for travels – however as with all wired bullets, in my experience, if it is held at the wrong angle it can suddenly get really rattly and loud. I’ve had that happen in a public bathroom stall. So the bullet vibe will only be pulled out if I can feel secure that I won’t be heard.
How to Hide Your Sex Toys
Sure, you know how to hide your sex toys when you’re at home but what about for travel? If it’s a vibrator with attachments or is battery powered, separate the pieces. Batteries in one little pouch, half the vibe here, half the vibe there. If you need to really conceal it then you’ve likely chosen to travel with a sex toy that looks like a sex toy – creative concealment is a must if you prefer to be undiscovered.
- Inside a sock which is inside a shoe – Just make sure that it’s all firmly in there and won’t come tumbling out
- Small, wireless bullet vibes could be tucked inside a tampon wrapper and then put inside a travel-size box of tampons
- Spend the money on something called the Sneaky Sack – it’s meant to go on a hanger underneath a shirt (sweatshirt or bulky sweater is best, to hide the lumps). Only problem is….what if the Sack is seen? They have a bright white logo screened on the outside. But you could put this inside a sweater, pack it, and hang everything up when you arrive.
- A small camera case could work
- A small vibrator could be tucked into a small cosmetic bag which is then tossed into a larger toiletries case or makeup case, blending in with all the other items in there. Any number of options could be found if you have a case in a case like that where there are plenty of other objects to take the focus. I like this collection of cases from Sephora, it has a couple of great options. For a cheap and really small option, they have a although it looks like they’ll be sold out soon.
The Basics: Tips for Traveling with Sex Toys
If you take away nothing else, remember these points:
- Always remove the batteries. ALWAYS. If the control pad locks for rechargeables, LOCK IT.
- Be sure that your toy is clean prior to travel.
- Pack at least one set of new, never-used batteries (if applicable)
- Planning to have sex or jerk off while you’re not at home? Invest in a Marsona white noise machine. Small, portable and when placed strategically it will conceal quiet sex noises.
- Your cell phone is never an acceptable vibrator replacement, despite the cute apps for smart phones
- Pack a few toy cleaning wipes and keep the toy in a plastic bag if you plan on flying – because even checked luggage isn’t safe from inspections, and those inspections are done out of sight so you will have no idea what has happened to your sex toy in the hands of the TSA.
- My husband disagreed with me upon seeing it but then again he’s seen entirely too many sex toys. I say that if my mom didn’t recognize a glass marijauna pipe when she saw it, I could get away with that excuse on people like her ↩
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The Rabbit Vibrator. Were it not for Sex and The City1, would this type of sex toy ever have gained the popularity that it has? Probably. Why? Because we are lured into the promised land of one toy (and therefore one hand) doing the job of two or even three toys, stimulating many spots at once like a talented lover or two in bed with you. My opinion? Rabbit vibrators are perhaps the biggest gimmick in the sex toy industry. Why “Rabbit”? While I don’t know the detailed historical timeline of these toys, the infamous Rabbit Vibrator2 used in Sex and the City is made by Vibratex, a Japanese company, and we know how they like to use animals in their vibrators. The clitoral stimulator is a cute wittle bunny wabbit head and ears…ahem. sorry. Theory is that the long jelly/TPR ears will flutter and stimulate your clitoris. Great for women who don’t want direct vibration on their clits – terrible for women whose anatomy doesn’t fit the exact length of the toy or who want more vibrations on their clit. Companies that stick with the animal theme have gone with dolphins (they have a snout) and beavers (for the cliche?) and other choices. Some of the clitoral stimulators rely on the fluttering of the extended material while some models have the vibrating portion directly on your clit.
Many Rabbit style vibrators (for this term is now used synonymously with “dual action” vibrators, even if the blessed thing thankfully doesn’t resemble any animal of any kind such as the Jopen Vanity line or Lelo or FunFactory or many others) are praised and put on pedestals, recommended to beginners and frustrated collectors alike. My question is…..WHY? Just like I don’t understand the hype and prevalence of vibrating cock rings, I don’t understand why a sex toy expert or enthusiast would recommend a dual-stim / dual-action / rabbit vibrator as a great toy for the masses but especially confused on why it would be recommended for a beginner.
Three things you need to know to buy a Rabbit Vibrator that will work for you:
- The exact layout of your vulva including how far in your g-spot is, how far up your clitoris is from the opening of the vaginal canal, and also how long your arm is or how flexible you are
- Does the vibrator in question have the type and intensity of vibrations you like and has it stood the test of time with other users
- The exact specifications and dimensions of the vibrator, not just length of the insertable portion or the clitoral arm but the angle and etc
I’m betting most buyers don’t know that stuff. I once bought a Rabbit style vibrator long ago and far away. A Doc Johnson one. I’m not sure if it was jelly or pvc but the material was sub-par but that was common back then. Did I like it? Hell yes! I loved it the first few times, but loved it more when my partner used it on me because he could get a more appropriate angle on it than I could solo. It also didn’t last very many uses and it certainly didn’t live up to its price which was over $75 at the time. There are certainly even more expensive dual-stimulator vibrators on the market (Hello, Lelo and Jopen Vanity). I still ask for them to review sometimes….it’s like the hope for winning the lottery. It lingers despite your logical brain knowing the odds. On EdenFantasys there are 250 sex toys in the “Rabbit” category (of course, I won’t let you buy a goddamn JELLY toy so filtering out that material leaves us still with 147 to choose from). That isn’t even every single one available on the market, I’m sure.
A rabbit vibrator or dual-stimulation vibrator is usually going to be expensive – if it is not, it is made from jelly/rubber and you all know how bad that is, right? And, sadly, price (as we all know from my reviews) doesn’t line up with quality or longevity or compatibility with your body. I have reviewed or purchased I think 5 of these rabbit / dual-stimulation vibrators and ALL were over $100. Only one of those, the Vanity VR6, comes close to pleasing me but even that one is not perfect for my anatomy and certainly won’t be for even half of you. The Lelo Ina 2 is similar to the Vanity VR6 in design, but the clitoral arm is less clampy and the internal portion is less intense. It is still pretty decent though, and I’ve been able to orgasm from it. I recommend it but with cautions and caveats. The other downfall of the typical rabbit/dual-stim vibrator is that it is straight – even if the shaft is not straight (which, most of them are except the newest ones) the handle is straight and this is just not ergonomically proper. Unless you are in good shape, slender and are not cursed with shorter-than-average arms you will have a bit of trouble using the vibrator at the angle it is supposed to be used at. If you pull the handle/base of any vibrator or dildo upwards towards your body it of course angles the toy the other way – towards your ass and away from your g-spot. I’m not invalidating all the reviewers or other women who own a rabbit style vibrator and genuinely love it. All I’m saying is that they are expensive and can be very frustrating. I would much rather have to use both hands and two toys to achieve the type of penetration and clitoral stimulation that I enjoy, all at once, than choose a singular toy that does both things half-assed.
In the midst of writing this I just had to go download and watch the episode of Sex and the City, since it’s been a very long time that I’ve seen the first season. I put together the clips from that episode that focus on the toy. And now that I watch it I see it all with a very different point of view – I saw something…somewhere…like the greatest moments in tv for sex or something…I can’t remember. Anyways the Rabbit moment was discussed. It was put in a positive light, like talking about vibrators on the show opened things up for women everywhere. Maybe it did. But the way Charlotte, Miranda and even Carrie talk about the vibrator is pretty sex-negative. They’re comparing the vibrator to men, and of course men don’t stack up to it. They’re choosing it over men. Is it any wonder why we have to deal with men who are insecure about their partners wanting a vibrator? Can a vibrator give me orgasms that a person can’t: Yes. For me personally. But that doesn’t mean I would choose a solo session with my vibe over a sexy hour with a partner! Sex and orgasms are about so much more than the final moment. But that’s a topic for another post…..anyways here’s the video clip I made up.
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Posted by Lilly | Comments Off
A few weeks ago I got this question in my Formspring inbox and only now got around to answering it. All I know is what the person asked me, which was:
My vibrator has a lingering rubbery smell to it, how can I get rid of that? What should I wash it with?
Here’s my plain and simple answer:
THROW IT OUT.
The smell is coming from any number of things, and any one of those things has the potential to act like a toxic substance to the delicate mucus membranes of your genitalia. It could be that the toy is jelly and even if the packaging says “no phthalates” that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of other irritating chemicals that are leaching out. and the dodgy toys (and responses) she’d receive from them1. She received items that were claimed to be TPR (CalExotics actually claims on their Product Information sheet on their site that their TPR & TPE is non-porous. I call bullshit and do not believe them one bit. Most TPR’s are porous; after all they’re the cheaper version of the material and CalExotics isn’t famed for their expensive toys) but smelled so badly they gave her a headache. Response? Oops, we think you managed to get a rare manufacturing error and it’s actually PVC. Oh we’re so distressed about this, we’re as upset as you, we paid for TPR! (I’m paraphrasing here). Again she received other TPR material toys that had funny, lingering odors. The ole “oh let it air out a day” response didn’t fly, as the smell was still there. She got one email that said the smell might be from an accelerant that helps release the toy from it’s production mold; then he say no, it was the glue, it didn’t cure long enough2. But all the while she is assured that these culprits are all non-toxic, phthalates-free, etc.
Every time True Pleasures would get a dodgy toy, her respondents (even Al Bloom) claimed to have gone out to the warehouse, opened up other toys like the one she had (even cutting them open, as she did) to see if others of the same toy had the same problem as hers. Of course, they were all ok. She just happened to get the one oddball. Also, they went out and ruined a case of toys? I’m sure their profit margin is high enough that it’s a drop in the bucket butt again I call bullshit.
Back to the issue at hand. We don’t even know what brand the toy is that the person is asking about.
A well-made toy shouldn’t have any lingering odors. A slight odor when you first open up the packaging – ok, I’ll consent to that. But it should not linger on the toy for very long if it is truly just part of the cleaning process or something to do with the packaging. Your supposed TPR toy could actually be PVC, or jelly/rubber. Who the hell knows. It’s not like there’s any real regulations out there. They can say what they want. Or it could be TPR, but what you’re smelling is indeed another chemical or glue or whatever. They say it’s non-toxic. Really? Show me the MSDS sheet then on all the materials and I’ll decide for myself.
THROW IT THE FUCK OUT. please.
Or you could attempt to contact the manufacturer and tell them your problem, be told it’s a one-off and maybe they’ll send you a new one that doesn’t stink. Maybe. Small chance the reseller will let you return it, depends on who you bought it from. But the bottom line is that you don’t actually know what’s causing the smell (unless of course it IS a jelly toy and I wasn’t told that the rubber-like smell is actually coming from a fucking rubber toy) and you don’t know what it might do to your body. You could use it once with no immediate repercussions and sometime down the line after a few more uses have this strange thing goin on down there and not know what’s up.
Buy from reputable manufacturers.
Buy hard plastic, pure silicone, glass, ceramic, metal, wood, and TPR only from trust-worthy manufacturers3.
If your sex toy stinks, there’s a decent chance that the stink is a warning: HEED THAT WARNING. THROW IT OUT.
If you actually do insist on using the damn thing, please use a toy cover or a condom on it. (use larger condoms for girthier toys, and if you have latex allergies shell out for the newer non-latex condoms).
Here’s another “test”: Would you put it in your mouth with that smell? Would you gag from the smell and taste? If yes, then why the hell put it in your vagina or ass?? There’s a million other sex toys out there that are not unsafe. Go buy one of those.
- Yes I’ve linked to it before, but I’m going to link to it again, because in my eyes it really shows that you just can’t trust CalExotics and the more of their shitty stuff I see, the more I want to steer people away from the company as a whole ↩
- Dodgy overseas manufacturing that they just blindly trust to be doing things the right way ↩
- Trust-worthy manufacturers are not synonymous with well-known manufacturers. I would consider many small companies trust worthy and would consider many big name untrustworthy like CalExotics, definitely Doc Johnson and Pipedreams, Topco is iffy, Hustler ehh ↩
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Recently I asked you all what you wished you would have known before you bought your first sex toys. One of the biggest things I’d touched on was that back when we first started buying toys there were no bloggers reviewing toys. I could see that a customer named Maria loved it and had great things to say about it, but I couldn’t ask Maria a follow-up question. I couldn’t ask ANYbody a question on a particular toy. I couldn’t really find out if one person’s “Wow that’s strong!!” was my “Meh…it’s so-so”.
Now I want to express here that I mean no disrespect to MyPleasure.com and especially Garnet, who works with us irritating bloggers ;) – it’s just that in my sex toy noob days we probably dropped around oh….$300-$350 over a couple months buying sex toys and accessories at MP that ultimately left us disappointed or frustrated or both. We were too afraid to drop $75+ on a better toy and I was still figuring out what type of vibrations I liked, along with being able to tell if something really was “powerful”. It’s nothing against the site; it’s simply what they happened to carry back in oh….2005? 6? And quite frankly, their selection was less iffy than Adam & Eve’s selection at that time but also much much smaller; yet both were already leaps and bounds better than they’d been even just 3 years prior. I think it’s only been in the last 4-6 years that sex toys have really taken off into the “premium” realm – yes? no?
Anyways. So there we were, looking to make another batch purchase from MP in the quest for more exciting orgasms and we’re trying to find things for me and for us. Enter: The vibrating cock ring. In theory it’s good. In actual practice it requires two things: for the woman to not have full outer labia and to have a prominent clit; and for the couple to be engaging in sexual positions that maximize body contact – i.e. something more tantric, maybe, or woman on top with very little thrusting. The key there is: very little thrusting. Because for every outstroke……AWAY goes the vibrator from her clit!!!
We quickly learned two things: A small watch-battery powered bullet vibrator was not going to vibrate his cock enough for me to confuse him with an actual vibrator. And two, half-second collisions with my outer labia wherein 1 out of every 6 thrusts might have landed the bullet in the vicinity of my clit did not have a prayer, not even halfway there, of giving me a clitoral orgasm during penetrative sex with him.
I can’t find the exact cock ring that we bought back then, but I think that this one is pretty close, ours was clear. I think it was TPR because I don’t remember a jelly stench, but clear stretchy TPR acts like jelly – kind of tacky, it sticks to itself, and it picks up dust/lint/fur. Once I went to pull it out of our toybag, the bullet wasn’t inside the little bullet sleeve, and it was this…..unrecognizable mass of clear sticky material in a ball. We finally figured out that if we stuck it under the faucet the water temporarily de-stickied it so that we could untangle it and maybe use it again. I must have tried the thing at least 3 times before it took up permanent residence in a pocket of the toy bag. Long ago I reviewed Lelo’s answer to a more premium vibrating cock ring, the Bo. Their updated version, Lelo Tor remedied one or two of my issues with the Bo, but in the end it’s still the same concept as the $16.99 TPR jobs – it’s not going to provide the clitoral vibrations that I personally need in either strength, type or time length of contact (can you orgasm with a black fly? that’s what it’s like) so it’s something that is more for “him” than “us”.
Vibrating cock rings. *shrugs* I just do not get the appeal. At all.
Recently on OkCupid a very unlikely candidate messaged me and he eventually started questioning me on topics surrounding open marriage; apparently I was the first he’d run into on OKC who admitted to being in an open relationship. I suspect he wasn’t looking very hard.
I’m very interested in trying open relationships for a change. In the past I would fall in love quickly, spend too much money, make too many compromises, and then watch things fall apart for reasons that were beyond my control. I always thought that the open relationship lifestyle (if you want to call it that) was more natural and more honest than the sort of till-death-do-us-part mentality I had. I haven’t meet many people who are living this way, what can you tell me about it? How do you handle being married and seeing other people? Why be married at all?
My answer to him was:
You might want to do some reading research on the differences between polyamorous relationships and open relationships.
You can still have that “til-death-do-us-part” mentality and to a big degree my husband and I do. What we DID remove from our vows though was “forsaking all others” (it was a tiny ceremony and I re-wrote the traditional wedding vows in a way that subtly reflected our lifestyle and lack of religion whilst being showy and emotional enough that the parents never noticed what was missing). Many people DO want what’s called a “primary partner”. Someone to share your home and potential children with (if children is something you might want), a rock to always have around……but with the ability to explore other relationships. People in the non-monogamy camp firmly believe that no one person can be one other person’s “everything”. After all, your platonic friends to a degree provide something that your primary partner might not, so why not a lover?
It’s not easy. Unless you are mostly devoid of jealousy and have perfected (or are trying really, really hard to perfect) the ability to maintain compersion for your other partners’ joy in their other loves, as well as all parties having the self-control not to completely drown in their “new relationship energy” at the expense of their primary relationship. 99% of people are not that perfect. So that’s why I say it’s not easy. It has perks and benefits, yes.
Why be married at all? As I said before, just because I want to have the ability to lust and love others doesn’t mean I don’t still want a primary partner to lean on and raise a home with. As for the institution of marriage itself – it’s more the legal and common necessity than anything else. At one point yes, the romantic side of us wanted to be married for the sake of marriage, to wear the rings and say “husband” and “wife” but this was when we were younger. Currently I personally don’t feel the need for legal marriage to fortify our relationship, I don’t worry that if we weren’t married we’d be any less committed to each other. My husband and I have been serious since 1998, but only got married a couple years ago (we had been waiting until we were able to afford a decent wedding, the wedding I’d planned and dreamed about, not to mention a proper length honeymoon) solely because he really needed to be put on my health insurance as I was the one working and had really good insurance. So it was a tiny ceremony with just our parents and felt more like a “green card wedding” than what I’d always dreamed of. But, oh well. Beyond the health insurance issue is all other sorts of legal benefits, very adult and boring matters such as taxes and wills and etc.Read More
Blogger Education: How to keep your individuality in blog design while maintaining readability for your audience
I write this post with full knowledge that I’m going to offend or at least bruise egos of many bloggers. Our blogs are our homes and how we decorate them says a lot about both us individually and the nature of our blog.
I get it. I DO. My first two blog themes were very dark and sexy and gothy and I cringe, CRINGE, when I look back at screencaps from those days. Why? Well let’s ignore first that my original banner on my blogspot blog was fucking hideous, and admit that I did the whole all-dark-all-the-time and had white text on a dark background. With the blog design that came before this current, bright (in comparison) color scheme was yet another dark and gothic fantasy world – but I’m still proud of that design. I and CoyPink‘s hubby, Alec, worked quite hard at that and I’m still proud of that header with its clickable words. At least I’d wizened up though and made a compromise – dark on the side, white for the posts. Perhaps some things in my sidebar were still a little hard to read for some, but it was a big improvement over the first real design.
What I hate and why I hate it:
1. You can convey a sexy sex blog without all being in the black/gray/very dark jewel-tones color scheme all the time everywhere. A little goes a long way.
2. For the love of pete please realize that for many people white/light text on a black/dark background is VERY hard to read1. As is a very bright colored text on a very dark background (red and blue are the worst). I’ve actually had to stop reading a blog because the color choices hurt my eyes so much.
3. Fun fonts are fun. But fun fonts should be used sparingly because they can sometimes be hard to read. Especially when they’re white text on dark background. They should be limited to the blog name in the header and at most the blog post titles or sidebar heading titles. Something that is bigger than your standard 12pt font – a crazy font will be easier to read when it’s larger.
4. Not knowing and respecting the width of your theme’s sidebars and body sections. Learn how to trim down the size of YouTube embedded videos. Keep your photos in posts to half (3/4 at most) of the width of your post body section. And please pay attention to all that crap in your sidebar. You probably CAN change the size of the items, you just don’t know how or don’t think it’s a big deal. It is. At best it just looks like crap, at worst it covers up text in the post body section.
For some of you reading along I might have just inadvertently told you that your blog, your very own blog, hurts my eyes and makes me cringe. I’m not saying this to offend you personally but to offer the wisdom of someone who’s been around the blogging block a bit. Having a blog that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read visually will not only increase your readership but keep them on your blog to explore. I’ve seen some blogs recently that I’d truly like to explore more but I can’t – I absolutely can’t deal with the color and/or design. Don’t take just my word for it, I’ve not designed nearly as many websites as AAG has. I’ve added her comments in below.
My suggestions for making changes:
1. You don’t need to know much about code to make color changes in your existing theme (the only people who can’t do this are the free WordPress bloggers who aren’t able to get into the CSS stylesheet, I do believe that the newer Blogspot dashboard allows you access to the code, be it html or CSS). If you utilize the Firefox browser and then use this add-on called Firebug, you can bring up your blog, turn on Firebug and see the code. You can then go through it and start “turning off” lines of code to figure out what that line of code affects. This won’t actually change your code – just what you see. (I hear that the latest version of FireFox and FireBug make it so that if you’re self-hosted your changes in FireBug CAN be permanent but that’s not my point here). So scroll through it and try to find the sections that are usually labeled “post”. Using this helpful website, pick a new hexadecimal color and replace it (black is #000000 (zero’s, not O’s), white is #ffffff, occasionally coders will abbreviate those two to just #000 or #fff). This way you can change what the post portion of your blog looks like without having to ditch the theme that you like. You can keep the dark background on the sides and top and bottom just have the posts portion be readable.
2. Use your header and graphical design of the blog theme to express your individuality and sexuality, within reason. Also make that header clickable so that it can easily take a reader back to your home page.
AAG sez: a) Reign in the individuality just a wee bit – the header can be sexy but probably shouldn’t be, for example, a close-up lifesize image of your asshole. (yes, this was a true story)
3. Changing to a hand-writing or script-y font just to be different can lead to your blog being even harder to read visually. Sure, it’s different. It’s “you”, even. But it makes me run away very quickly.
AAG sez: a) bear in mind that not all operating systems will display various fonts (used in the body, not in images of course). Check them here.
b) keep in mind that a font that’s awesome today may be passe tomorrow. ask for feedback2
c) Pick a contrasting color for links that does something different yet recognizable upon hover. Check to make sure it doesn’t do something weird after the link is visited. Check this on various browsers as some display visited links differently.
3. Using a lot of banners & buttons and graphical wonders in your sidebar(s)? Consolidate, and change their size so that they’re all the same (or at least so that they fit into your sidebar’s size allotment and don’t spill out into posts or the outer edge). Easy size change tip: When you post the html code into the text box, erase the “height” marker and change the “width” number on them all3. Caution: only go down in numbers, never go up – it’ll look pixelated and cheap.
4. Don’t use lots of colors and/or font styles in one post. It looks high-school-ish (to me), is distracting, doesn’t flow, and doesn’t always translate very well into feeds (why not? see #5). I even run into the problem with my blog that a certain paragraph-styling looks one way on my blog but completely different in the feed.
5. If you insist on having a colored background for the posts section for all that is blog-holy please take caution in forcefully changing the font color of your writing. If the font color is hard-coded into the CSS stylesheet then it will still appear as black text on white background in your feed. However when you go and force the change in your post editor box it will show up in the feed as the color you changed it to – and guess what? Unless it’s a dark color, it’s going to be damn near impossible to read it for those who use feedreaders to keep up with your blog. You think I hate light text on dark background? Bright & light text on white background is even worse!
6. Don’t use a font that is too small. I’ve been to a couple of blogs where the font size is small even for my 21″ widescreen monitor – ok, it was also white on black, so that added to it. But find the Goldilocks Font4 for your theme – again this is a change that can be made utilizing Firebug and changing the CSS stylesheet – not too big, not too small, not too hot and not too cold.
I could have screencapped or linked to examples of some of the things I’ve mentioned above in a “don’t do this” sort of way but that’s not the angle I’m going after here – I’m not doing this to be mean or pick on a person. This is just about good intentions turned into bad designs. And just because you have violated my personal font/color mantra doesn’t necessarily mean that your blog design is terrible. It might be really awesome in every other way….just hard to read. If your answer to this is a shrug and “hey subscribe to the RSS feed, it’s plain black text on white background, just like you like it” then you’re missing the point. Don’t you want your readers to interact with you and each other? Don’t you want someone to pour through your archives and become a fan or friend? That won’t happen if they get to your site and their eyes bleed.
Comments are wide open. You can tell me to go to hell and why. You can tell me that you agree with me and give some other helpful suggestions or “Don’t”s. You can say “hey I think I might fit a bunch of these Do-not-do things, can you look at my site and give me your honest feedback?” and I will be happy to do so tactfully. I’d suggest a feedback site that at one point helped me really tweak this current layout and design thanks to honest & anonymous feedback on the design, but I got yanked for being “porn” as did another blogger; you can certainly try your hand and see how long it takes you to get flagged (given how easy they’ve made it to flag for adult content, don’t expect to last long): Feedback Roulette. You look at other people’s sites and tell them what you honestly think, good and bad, and then others do the same for you. Or….just ask me here.
Go for it.
Color Scheme Designer – This tool allows you to input your primary preferred color and get many options. Various hues of the color, complimentary color, and a whole coordinating color scheme. For best use, enter in the Hex value of your primary color on your blog (next to the RGB work lower right of the wheel).
Colorzilla – An add-in to Firefox that allows you to find the Hex color (or RGB values) of any color on any web page.
Firebug – The most important add-on for Firefox to help you tweak your CSS stylesheet (if you need any help figuring out how to use it, please feel free to email me)
How to make your Header/banner clickable –is geared towards WP users (self-hosted). For Blogger users I believe you can set that attribute in the Design Dashboard.
- Please note that I did not say everybody. And I’m sure someone will comment and say that one group of people or they personally prefer what I am saying is hard to read. That’s fine, go ahead. But when the majority of websites are primarily light-colored, that is when it becomes really hard on the eyes – switching from the contrast of the two. ↩
- She’s on Twitter, if I were you I’d show it to her first. Just never Papyrus or Comic Sans. ↩
- Why erase the height and only change the width? By doing it that way you are allowing the html to automatically proportionally re-size the height to match up to the new width. Otherwise you need to figure out on your own what is height-weight proportional and no I’m not talking about swinger club and adult dating site body requirements ;) ↩
- And no I don’t mean the actual ↩ , sheesh!