Design & UX
By Lisa Herrod

Usability tips for bloggers

By Lisa Herrod

Now this is an article that grabbed my attention straight away!

Often when I think about web usability and usability heuristics I think about it from a commercial perspective. I think about my clients and the type of sites I would normally work on: Finance, government, retail, travel, telco’s… you get the picture. But one genre I haven’t considered in much detail is the blog.

Tom Johnson has just published a really useful and well researched article on his blog, I’d rather be writing. The post, entitled Twenty Usability Tips for Your Blog — Condensed from Dozens of Bloggers’ Experiences really does cover a lot of ground.

I’ll leave it for you to take a look at the post yourself, but in summary his 20 tips are:

  1. Pick a topic for your blog
  2. Encourage comments
  3. Make it easy to subscribe
  4. Include an About page
  5. Present your ideas visually
  6. Keep posts short and to the point
  7. Use subheadings for long posts
  8. Link abundantly
  9. Make headlines descriptive
  10. Archive by topic
  11. Include a list of related posts beneath each post
  12. Allow users to contact you offline
  13. Present your real viewpoint
  14. Write for your future employer
  15. Include a Top Posts section
  16. Provide an index
  17. Get your own URL and match it to your blog’s title
  18. Include a Recent Posts section in your sidebar
  19. Reward commenters for commenting
  20. Post often

Let me tell you, if you haven’t already noticed ;), I struggle with the last one and it’s something I’m working on at the moment :)

This is a really great list of tips that most of us will be able to work with immediately; many of them you’re probably already doing… But it’s a great check-list to identify ways of improving your blog further.

Think about printing out the points above and sticking them on the wall next to your desk…. I know that’s what I’ll be doing!

  • malikyte

    I can see how to do almost everything here except #19. Does anyone have any ideas on how to reward commenters for commenting, other than superficial “kudo” point-type systems? Obviously, if you’re blog is geared towards the selling of services and/or products, there can be coupon type rewards given out…but what if your blog is only on the discussion of niche or other topics?

  • dylanjones

    “Write for your future employer”

    Is this in case a future employer googles you and reads the blog?

  • malikyte; whats wrong with a simple “Thank you for your comment” or simply engaging them in discussion might be reward enough

  • Lisa Herrod

    Malikyte, I’ve been trying to think of some good examples of how you might reward users’ participation in “discussion / niche area” blogs. That’s a tricky one, and I’m struggling to come up with something; I like Octal’s ideas. These are a couple of good examples that also show common courtesy. It’s definitely a positive experience to have your input acknowledged when you’ve added value to conversation or simply shown interest by being there.

    Dylan, yes, that’s how I understand it. the fact is that most recruiters not only Google to check your credentials and see what you’re involved in, they even use Google as a tool to identify people to start with.

    I like to think that this does not mean being all prim and proper though. It’s a good opportunity to show what you know, what your position is and also a bit of your personality. From experience, a large part of getting a job is the cultural fit within an organisation.

  • mark alves

    Malikyte – The post suggests using a plug-in that features your most frequent commenters in the sidebar of your blog. Other non-monetary options that come to mind include responding to their comments on your blog; writing a post about their sites, or at least linking out to them; mentioning their sites in relevant comments on other blogs and nominating them for awards.

    Dylan – I’ve googled candidates before interviewing them, including reading their blogs. Having a blog is a good way to demonstrate writing skills and interest in your field. But, bad-mouthing clients or employers on your blog, admitting to questionable behavior on social networking sites or otherwise showing poor judgment online will get your resume tossed pretty quickly by many employers.

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