It's a tough pill to swallow but the amazing blog you have built and nurtured could possibly be considered "annoying" or a little on the user un-friendly side. Sometimes we as blog builders get so involved behind the scenes, that usability and simple aspects on the public side get lost.
Here is a quick exercise that will help you take off your blogger hat and put on your visitor hat so you can be your own blog strategist & consultant. You can then do some editing to rid your blog of any quirks and improve your readers experience. This starts with defining your ideas about what's annoying and realizing your own tendencies of where you naturally or instantly look for certain things when you first visit a site/blog.Let's Get Started:
Step away from your blog and merely spend some time browsing the web keeping in mind the items below. Don't shop or get side tracked (that's a challenge). Give yourself 10-20 minutes and look at all sorts different kinds of blogs and websites including e-commerce & social media sites. See what irks you, slows you down or makes you want to leave that site. Also, see where you're eyes/mouse goes first when you're looking for something specific. See what distracts you or steers you in the wrong direction. Maneuver through a few pages of each site with a goal in mind such as contacting help, viewing past articles, viewing gallery images, viewing product info, reading comments, signing up, unsubscribe/subscribing to a newsletter, etc. Or even just landing on a website and figure out what it's purpose is w/in 15 seconds. Just do very basic steps that you do when you land on a website or things you do when you're in a hurry for example using the search box. You don't need to get knee deep in a user area since most of your readers won't be doing that. Quick tasks only for this exercise.
While navigating, here are some questions to pin-point good/bad usability aspects or nuisances:
Menus & Navigation
- Can you move from page to page or category to category easily & naturally? Forward? Back? Start over entirely?
- Can you find contact/about info quickly?
- For blogs, can you find posts by tags, categories or months quickly with out having to hit "previous posts" over and over again?
- What about back to home? Is it easy to start over at the home page?
- Can you search? Quickly?
Typography & Colors
- Are the colors too light or too dark? Blindingly neon or barely noticeable they're so pale?
- Are there too many different colors? Or not enough contrast to help guide your eyes?
- Are there too many different fonts used or fonts that are hard to read?
- Like colors, does the typography contrast help guide your eyes or distract you?
- Most importantly, can you read the words on the screen?
Pop-ups & Sound
Apply what you've learned.
- How many pop-ups are OK before you're annoyed? Before you leave the site?
- Will you mute or exit if music/sound is instantly playing?
- How many seconds before you give up and leave due to slow page loading
Now that you've spent some time browsing websites, getting an idea of things that bothered you and saw some of your natural browsing tendencies, how can you apply this to your blog? How can you make your blog as easy as possible for your readers to navigate? Do you have any common items that are out of place and can be moved to a more expected and convenient spot? Is your blog missing key elements? Have you gone overboard with the number of font and color choices or let them become inconsistent and distracting? Now not every visitor will be just like you but by studying your own surfing habits and your own web pet peeves, you really can do some useful editing to make your blog more accessible, improve navigation and overall user experience.Menus & Navigation
You may not realize it but we are all trained to look in certain places for certain aspects of a web page. There are standards. Think about where your eyes naturally go when you're searching for something. For example it's very common for the a website to have a logo at the very top of the page that is linked to the homepage. We are trained to scroll up and click the logo to return home. Same for a search bar. It's very common for a search bar to be in the top right hand side of a page. We are trained to scroll up and look right for a search bar. Do you have a logo or heading image at the top of your page that's linked to your home page? Do you have a search bar towards the top (sidebar primarily for blogs)? What about a contact link at the bottom of your page? That's a common place for site info and contact links.
Visit a popular website, for example OldNavy.Com
, and try to find those items. You'll likely find them in 5 seconds or less because they are all relatively in standard placements. Standard is not very exciting but when it comes to navigation & user experience, being too complicated or too sparse could be detrimental. Standard is helpful and faster. If you slow down your visitor, they may just leave.Typography & Colors
Use colors and typography to help guide the eyes of your readers. Like a frame or a highlighter would. Bold or fancier scripts are good for headings or attracting attention (think sidebar module headings, blog titles, etc) or to highlight a phrase. Just be careful over doing it and stay consistent. Pop-ups & Sound
Newsletter signup or social media prompt pop-ups can be very effective but just be careful. Too many or ones that don't go away will surely scare away visitors. Think about how many pop-ups you'll click to close before you leave for good. 1, 2 maybe 3? Will you tolerate 1 but then you're done?
Most people these days do not put auto-play music on their websites. That was very popular 20 years ago and pretty universally detested now. But some bloggers still do and some ads have audio so sound can still be a nuisance factor. Keep in mind your video ads and consider a start-stop button if you must have music. The moms with napping babies in their laps and anyone surfing at work will be very thankful for the quiet.