When someone visits your blog, can they find their way around easily? Is everything neatly organized on your site… or is it more of a jumbled mess of information, links and text? Here are some excellent tips to help you get (and keep!) your blog organized.
- Be predictable. When we want to know what a site is about, the first thing we look for is an ‘About’ page. When we want to contact the owner of a site, the first thing we look for is a ‘Contact’ page. When we want to leave a comment, we usually look to the bottom of a post. When we want to subscribe to a blog, we look for the subscribe button at the top of the sidebar. These things are so common that they’ve become standards… things we expect. When we can’t find the standard, we look for the next most similar thing. By adhering to these predictable standards, you’re actually making it as easy as possible for your blog’s visitors to do exactly what you want them to do. Sometimes being predictable is not a bad thing!
- Be obvious. Look down at your keyboard, and you’ll probably be able to spot at least one key that you’ve never noticed before. This is either because you have no need for it, or you don’t know what it does. It could be the most useful key ever, but your hesitation when confronted with the unknown has probably stopped you ever pressing it before. What if it deletes everything you just wrote? We don’t like not knowing what the result of our actions will be, and so it goes with your blog. Non-obvious links and buttons will very rarely be clicked. Would a new visitor know what this does, or where it leads?
- Subtract the unimportant. By hiding important elements (your most popular posts, your feed icon, your comment button) amongst a dozen other unimportant things (widgets and recent comments), you’re making it harder for readers to do what is truly important to you.
- Limit options. A category list with 10 categories is a lot more usable than a list with 50 categories. Too many options creates overload, which leads to deferral: a visitor will not engage with that element at all. Your list of 5 most popular posts will get clicked more than your list of 20, and so on. Simplified options make it easier for the visitor to decide where they want to place their attention. Too much choice will actually hurt your blog’s usability.
- Do the little things. A usable blog, aside from the above, is also made up of many little touches that make your visitor’s browsing experience easier, such as:
- Does your header image link back to your main page?
- Does your blog have an about page?
- Does your blog have a contact page?
- Do your headlines match your content?
- Is it clear where your links will lead?
- Do you use frequent paragraphs in your posts?
- Do you have comment links at the bottom of your post?
- Do you use sub-headings?
- Are your posts less than 2/3 screen-length wide?
- Are you making your best posts easily accessible?
- Are your links easy to pick out?
All of these are things you should think about, and improve upon where needed, if you want your blog to be successful.
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