Design is to Attract, Usability is to Engage- Part I
Friday, March 09, 2007
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.
Design is to Attract, Usability is to Engage-Part 2
Design is to attract, Usability is to Engage- Part 3
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