Oct 14th, 2006 by ravi
Blog slog! Rating the beasts!

A most unscientific blog comparison!

HuffPo dKos C&L TProg Malkin PwrLine
GENERAL
Leans Left Left Left Left Right Right
Rank 5 6 10 12 13 40
Size (KB) 314 130 702 126 130 304
Time (56Kbps) 68.61 26.87 141.30 25.24 26.06 61.14
Time (T1) 2.41 1.49 5.12 0.87 0.69 2.21
VALIDITY
W3C XHTML 51 210 180 0 102 606
W3C HTML 31 95 125 49 140
Broken Links 2 0 3 0 0 0
Speling 2 3 4 3 5 4
Truwex 17 14 24 17 22 25
ACCESSIBILITY
ATRC 12 (623) 8 (384) 33 (809) 4 (406) 26 (556) 53 (377)
UIUC FAE 144 200 199 14 226 324
WebXACT 159 93 346 74 310 191
SUBJECTIVE
Width (px) 1000 760 900 750 850 700
Design B A- C A+ A- A-
Headings A A- A- A B A
Contents A A B- B- B A
Feed Link B B B A A- B
Real Estate B A C A A- B
Sidebar C B B A A A-
JUST FOR KICKS
SeoMoz 2 7.5 8.5 8.5 9 9
MS AdCenter male
(0.54)
male
(0.51)
male
(0.52)
female
(0.54)
male
(0.53)
female
(0.53)

And the winner is: Think Progress! ;-)

With some props to Kos and Malkin. My own favourite site, C&L, seems to have fared the worst!

The All Important Notes

The other day, I decided to see how compliant my blog is, and found this useful site: UITest. It collects a bunch of tests together in one page. Well I fared quite poorly (see below). If I am going down, I am bloody well taking the rest of you down with me! And so, I decided to test out some of the popular blogs. Please do not take this as a serious evaluation! It is highly unscientific and utterly silly

There are things I would have liked to measure, such as how blog reader friendly a blog is, but that would require actual effort!

Test environment: Firefox 1.5, screen 1024×768, 12pt Helvetica (default font)

The Blogs and Ranks

  • HuffPo = The Huffington Post
  • dKos = Daily Kos
  • C&L = Crooks and Liars
  • TProg = Think Progress
  • Malkin = Michelle Malkin
  • PwrLine = PowerLine

The rank is based on Technorati ranking of blogs as of Oct 10,
2006 or thereabouts. The URLs used for testing where the ones
listed in the Technorati listing. Some of these blogs/bloggers
have more than one blog (HuffPo, Malkin), in which case I
chose the higher ranked one. Also, I wanted a partisan blog
shootout and had to make judgement calls: I did not include
InstaPundit and Little Green Footballs. You may disagree!

Times are in seconds.

Validity

  • W3C XHTML is XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  • W3C HTML is HTML 4.01 Transitional
  • If a site passed XHTML 1.0 no need to test HTML 4.01
  • Truwex is a report of a range of issues
  • Spelling was filtered for names, nicknames, acronyms, popular word corruptions, etc.
  • Special kudos to C&L for getting the spelling of dialogue right, and Michelle Malkin for getting neighbour right!

Accessibility

  • Frankly, I do not know a lot about these guidelines and tests.
  • The ATRC test reports known, likely and potential problems: I have listed the known and included the total in brackets.
  • The UIUC FAE test lists 5 main categories and provides % of failures for each: I have crudely added all the %s together.
  • WebXACT results are broken down by 3 priorities and lists errors and warnings: I have added up the error incidents.

Subjective

  • One thing I hate more than all else is the single-window assumption: anything larger than 750-800 pixels should be banished back to the times before windowing and multi-tasking!
  • Design… well, that's really subjective isn't it? Along with aesthetics, I look for consistency of UI, use of colour, contrast, spacing, use of markup, and so on. Malkin for example uses "***" as markup… surely better options are available? Malkin and ThinkProgress (and to a lesser extent PowerLine) have an uncluttered and well-structured interface.
  • Many folks read blogs through a blog reader that may list only post headings: are these clear enough to tell me what the post is about?
  • And what about the post contents? Don't you hate cryptic one-liners which serve as a link to an external page with the real info? ThinkProgress, C&L, and Malkin (to a lesser extent) seem to enjoy this sport.
  • What's a blog without a feed? How clear and prominent is/are the feed link(s)? If your feed link says "XML" you get a negative point! If it uses the new standardised feed icon, you get a positive.
  • How cluttered and crazy is the sidebar? Are tags or categories offered for readers to focus on their area of interest?
  • To give you an idea of spelling errors I found:
    Kos: whever, TProg: prescise, Malkin: afor.

A look at the Glass House

How did Plato's Beard fare?

  • Spell: 0 errors! How would I know?
  • Seomoz page strength: cannot even fetch the page
  • MS Adcenter says: neutral (0.5) under 18 years (24.17%)
  • Truwex Page check: 22 issues
  • Size/speed: 201kB, 40.17s (56K), 1.26s (T1)
  • ATRC: 14 known, 0 likely, 286 potential
  • UIUC: 201
  • W3C: XHTML 1.0 Trans: 84 errors, HTML 4.01 Trans: 53 errors
  • Width: 700px
  • Headings: B
  • Feed Link(s): A
  • Content(s): zero ;-)
Read the full post and comments »

Read Comments and Respond

5 Responses

  • light says:

    Wow…must’ve taken you hours. I switched several templates on mine because I felt the margines were too wide. I have google reader which just updated, I preferred the older version though.

    I usually don’t read partisan blogs but sometimes I might.

  • ravi says:

    It didn’t take me that much time really (with some scripting around ‘wget’) — perhaps an hour or so. I see that your blog is on wordpress.com which is a great service, but the available themes are not the best they can be. For one thing, many of them are very wide. Others waste a lot of real estate with a header image or block that is huge (200+ pixels). At the least they could bury a bit of the sidebar, or some other links, within that header!

    Google Reader is another pet peeve of mine. The older interface was nicer since it required lesser clicking. But the new interface has “Mark All Read” which the old one did not. I continue to use Vienna for now, for reading newsfeeds, but keep checking on Google Reader every now and then.

  • Doyle Saylor says:

    Good Day Ravi,
    Accessibility on a simple mainly text blog is about how to line up the text in a logical way. A blind person with a screen reader will hear the site being read to them left to right down. So if you have columns and the screen reader can’t ‘see’ the columns you get a sound mungle of the content.

    YouTube graphics with moving picture, PDF, Flash are all different breeds of horses. They are bears to make accessible. Captioning sound, and moving images requires more than just logical order thinking. And they take tons of work to do right.

    In general everything should be done redundently, so that content conveyed with color/form is conveyed by text/form as well. this is the mantra of W3C seperation of from from content on the web coding.

    Dreamweaver has built in accessibility checks which help to build as you go. I know hacker developers use notepad. Then you better know what access means, but usually a site has dozens if not hundreds of access details to address. Dreamweaver keeps track of points to fix.

    Number one persons who benefit from access to web sites are; the visually impaired, two people with learning disorders, three mobility impairments (navigation through the site without a mouse), and for sound files deaf people.

    Usually site checkers are good at finding all the points where a question could be raised, but not so good with solutions, and especially useless at interpreting things that are accessible but the tool is too primitive to understanding content.
    thanks,
    Doyle

  • light says:

    A friend told me about movable type, I wonder if the templates are any better. I may try blogger again, to see if this time, text will show up in my posts.

  • ravi says:

    Doyle,

    thank you for the great bits of information on accessibility. Most of these sites are simple when it comes to the content (HTML, CSS, a small bit of flash if at all. C&L and TProg have some embedded video).

    Light,

    MT is the software. You can (IIRC) get a free copy or buy a more full-featured version from their site, and install it by yourself elsewhere and run your blog on it. Alternatively, you can host your blog on their service, called TypePad, though it is not free.

    Blogger used to be very limited (you have to edit HTML to create a blogroll, and there is no support for categories or tags) but there is significant improvement in Blogger Beta. There themes are quite a bit cleaner than WP but Blogger Beta breaks most blogging clients, unfortunately (ecto, Qumana, Performancing, etc).

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