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Design is to Attract, Usability is to Engage- Part I

Friday, March 09, 2007

Your Blog is to be read, so leave a mark on your reader providing him an experience of your organizing skills as well as knowledge. Providing an Optimal reader experience do not take much but little important points that are often forgotten. Get better than your competition and make your visitors your readers. Reach out to your readers and renew their reading experience, check your blog on the following points.

1. Personalized template- What do you see when the first window opens after entering the URL. The appearance of the site. It matters. Not a lot, but you cannot ignore it. If you are using blogging platforms for instance blogger(like me), wordpress and typepad, would you like others having the same look as your blog does. It will be if you are using default templates that these services are providing, or templates from net which are free to use without personalizing them. This would also help in projecting your own thinking. The more professional it is the better.

Also about personalizing, I saw a blog on blogspot which gives good information about finance, the blogger has tried to add personal touch to it and have added a few widgets. A picture in her side-bar displays her favorite actor. Well, personalizing is fine then to this extent destructs the professionalism. Imagine Darren Rowse of ProBlogger displaying Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in the sidebar of his blog.

2. Categories- One of the most important feature of a blog that you should take care of is dividing your posts into categories or tagging them. This makes it easier for your visitor to search each of your post written on the topic he is searching for. It will not only get your blog more organized but also your posts more visible and accessible. You should generally place these categories along with the rest of navigation provided.

3. Search Box and Archives- Do not Omit a Search Box. This is most easily forgotten by the bloggers. Returning visitors might want to read a post they found the last time. If there is no search box, it would be very difficult for him to locate the post of his interest. They might also want to check their own comment or a about particular topic, so it is very necessary to place a search box in a prominent position.

A professional blog’s archive should be by title in date order so that it is easier to skim through. An archive by date, month or year can never be user friendly. You may also want to dedicate a separate page for the following. Whatever you do, remember you do not want your articles should be hidden behind the layers of time and not accessible by the user at all.

Other navigation should include recent posts, most read or commented, recent comments which are available as blog software plugins. This is a good way to bring in notice of the readers the master pieces of your blog. Going through 100 and more posts may not be everybody’s choice, so your posts should be organized accordingly to self promote and best pieces should get more attention value.

4. Profile Page- You may not be aware of this but your profile is one of the most visited links. Like companies have an about us page, every blogger should have a profile page which should talk about his qualifications. While going through your profile page your visitor should realize your authority over the subject you are writing about, without being directly told. Even if you are not a professional you can share about your informal experiences, and why are you passionate about the subject. It gives a sense of familiarity to your visitors, a sense of agreeing to the known. People do not like to follow anonymous advices. Will you like to pop a pill on recommendation of Dr. Jack without knowing that his qualifications or why is he a Doctor you should look forward to? Your advice is like a doctor’s prescription to your visitors, a solution for their problems. Its their right to know about you. Be honest in your writings though.

Don’t forget to put your own image in your profile page. It will give you a physical base, a personable impression to your virtual existence. You will enhance your credibility just by showing that you are not trying to hide.

5. Inward linking through posts- While writing posts try and link your previous articles wherever relevant. It is yet another method to give your other posts visibility and blog stays better interconnected. This way your readers will be provided with more information, and they will stick longer to appreciate your insight :)

This is one point that would help you bring a little more traffic to your site. How? When other blogs pick up your RSS feeds to display on their own, readers there would come to your blog to read further entries. When your Feeds are read through the RSS aggregator or in Email, these would bring your subscribers to your blog. How About That?

6. Make your Blog Legible- As always recommended, Dark background with light text or anything that makes your blog uneasy to read should be avoided. Low contrast and busy patterns will weaken concentration levels as well as give your reader an eyestrain(you can think of better gifts). Much of red even on white background, combination of black and red, or even white text on black background can give serious headaches. I hope you understood what I meant…

Use enough space for your content. No spacing and paragraph divisions would make your content to cluster and again increase visibility noise. Give proper spacing and paragraph divisions, with bigger or bolded headings. It would help to give structure to your article.

7. Use pictures in posts- Oh should I repeat that a picture is worth a thousand words, or do I show you one. Involving pictures makes your article more expressive and lively. It not only removes monotony from your post but something to scanners that would catch their eye and if its interesting enough they will read what you have to say after all.

There is lots more to come. Stay tuned.

Divya Uttam,
Happy Blogging.

Related Posts:-
Design is to Attract, Usability is to Engage-Part 2
Design is to attract, Usability is to Engage- Part 3

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posted by Divya Uttam, 8:48 AM

15 Comments:

Hello Divya,

Another great post that should be a requirement for any blogger wanting to get noticed...

Great Job :)

commented by Anonymous Matthew Sherborne, 11:37 AM  

Nice write up!
Writing good content only is never going to help to attract users... usability and readability are definitely important aspect, to make the visitors come back to the blog again...
I have added a new widget to my personal blog which actually displays quick links to all the posts in the page. We can't expect the user to scroll through the entire page to see the titles of the available posts....
-Chandra

commented by Anonymous Chandra, 1:22 PM  

Good post! Thanks for sharing! I agree with all your points. good work!

commented by Anonymous George C., 2:46 PM  

Although I am not sure about the title of this post... this is a really helpful reminder to me about a few things I need to remember to do on my Blog.

Thanks for the post.

commented by Anonymous Greg Scowen, 2:51 AM  

Excellent post, Divya, as usual!

Yeah, I've divided my posts into categories.

And one reader told me my site was very interactive, so I liked that.

And I really agree with your tips about the black background on white text being harder to read.

commented by Blogger Paula Neal Mooney, 3:00 AM  

Always great posts. I especially like the search function...I'm going to add it to Bryan-Baker Dot Com right now.

commented by Blogger Bryan Baker, 7:15 AM  

Divya,

I really liked this post but I'm on blogspot like you and I can't see how to set up separate pages like you have done. As you can see I'm still new to blogging. I could sure use the help.

Thank You

commented by Blogger webster, 9:12 AM  

Definitely have a major point there Divya.

I've always believed that Content is King. If your website lacks focus content, why would anyone come back? Or even stay for more than a minute?

Get the visitor with an attractive design, offer good content and clear navigation, and that's worth a whole deal more than SEO.

SEO is important, of course, but don't foregt your content chasing SEO.

commented by Anonymous RK, 11:25 AM  

Hello Divya,
Great info..some really good suggestions that I usually do take advantage of, but it always good to be reminded. I recently started inserting text boxes into posts with some Key points...that serves as a good hook also.
Just got to work on getting participation via comments...

commented by Anonymous PixelHead, 5:24 PM  

Thanks for the tips. Whilst they seem like common sense I often forget to link back on previous posts so I will make that my task this afternoon. Thanks for the reminder.

commented by Anonymous Michelle, 12:57 AM  

Thanks alot for your posts. I got a few ideas on how to improve my site.

commented by Blogger Bradley, 3:15 PM  

Hello!
Great informations not only for me...
Thank you. Must take me on your site more time to study all.

Success

Sarka, your friend
from MyBlog


PS: I am too interested, what are mean about my
Aglco Blog

commented by Blogger saksa, 7:48 PM  

Interesting post. Also interesting ideeas. I came for the first time on your blog and a read just the first post (and i found it very interesting); i will come back to read more posts, i think i will learn more from your posts.
I have a search button but is a buzz cloud; i will make a search one just for my blog (wich, by the way, can be found at clfootball dot blogspot dot com). Keep posting! :D

commented by Blogger Michael, 12:33 AM  

Great Post. Really useful. And speaking about useful, I just discovered a cool web based feed RSS aggregator : http://www.itsmynews.com

What I like about it : you don't need to know anything about RSS technology. They seem to have a big database of feeds from which you can choose. They claim 50,000 sources. Simple. Clean and clear.

commented by Anonymous john, 9:00 AM  

awesome post...keep it up!

commented by Blogger Tejas, 1:45 PM  

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