Is Your Blog User-Friendly? Avoid Deadly Mistakes Many Bloggers Make

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A surprisingly large number of websites have Web Usability
usability and presentation issues that are a result of poor design planning and pre-launch usability testing while some are just the result of a lack of common sense, in the most extreme cases. The ease at which your web audience can find, understand and make reference to your content can make or break your blog. This can mean the difference between earning a quick buck here and there versus a sustained revenue stream from your site.

Making Your Readers Happy

Most, if not all of us, agree that content is king. People are always searching for rich content whether it be downloadable tools, music, tutorials, themes, etc. The content must offer some value to the web community otherwise the site would be deemed useless.

However, just imagine that you’re conducting research on a topic and you visit a website whose navigation menu is not easily found, topics are not grouped with appropriate categories, site designed with conflicting colors and you have to dive 5 pages deep before you can find anything of use. More than likely you will not spend the time to vet that site’s content, you will move on or just lose interest.

So now, let’s ask the question: Are you dissatisfied with your site’s visitor statistics? High bounce rates, low page views, no comments? There may be something wrong with how you are presenting information on your site. If you are satisfied with your visitor and subscriber statistics, it would not hurt to conduct a site audit and test for things to improve on and create an even better experience for your visitors. Your community will thank you for it and become even more involved. Plus, there is nothing wrong with getting results from what you do, even if you are already a pro.

Let’s go through the key areas you need to pay close attention to:

Menu Placement & Navigation

Main menu bars should be at the top or the side of the page. Preferably at the top. Have no more than maybe 6 menu items. If you are focusing on one niche, then this should not be difficult to achieve. Ensure to use a theme that allows drop-down menus so that when your site gets bigger, the additional items are beautifully displayed in a drop-down format.

Important Info Above The Fold

“Above the fold” is the section of the web page that can be seen without scrolling down; this is usually the top half or quarter of the page depending on the viewers screen resolution. Ensure that all relevant links or advertisements are placed above the fold, so these are the first things the visitor sees.

Proper Choice Of Fonts

I recommend using Sans-serif fonts rather than Serif. Sans-serif fonts like, Arial or Verdana are much easier to read on computer screens than Serif like Times New Roman. Below is an image showing the difference:

Sans-serif vs. Serif

Appropriate Headings

There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a heading that interests you, only to then take the time to read the article that does not bring home the initial idea. Ensure that you are writing content that flows with your headings, this will turn off many visitors and they won’t come back.

Use of Proper Grammar

I know that most of us have errors here and there but your articles should not be sabotaged by poor grammar. If you know that you have a weakness here, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Asking for help is the first step to mastering the complex English language. Poor grammar can negatively affect the reader’s experience and can also affect your image as a blogger. If you are trying to be a professional, poor grammar will make you look like a newbie or someone who is just not serious about their site.

Attractive Graphic Elements

If you wish to use photos on your site, Do Not Use Free Clipart Images that look like the 1990′s. If you can afford it, purchase stock photos from iStock Photo or Shutterstock to use alongside your posts. These are great sources for beautiful and professional photos. You may also design your own unique graphics and of course this would be free.

Broken Links & Dead-End Pages

Ensure that there aren’t any broken links on your site that lead to a page that does not exist. This ruins the user experience because the expected value from the content was not received. Also ensure that for whichever page a visitor clicks to, there are visible  links that lead to previous and home pages.

Use the iWeb Tools Link Checker to automatically test your site for broken links.

Conduct A Site Usability Test Now

Conduct a usability test on your site right now to ensure that you’re not losing out on valuable traffic and loyal readers who will most definitely convert to additional revenue. If you are serious about blogging, then ensure that you are doing the simple things correctly.

Discussion:

What steps do you take to ensure that your readers have the best experience possible? Do the tips above matter to you or do you believe that great content alone can guarantee a dedicated readership?

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13 Responses

  1. UniqueWebTools

    03/18/2010, 01:31 pm

    When I visit a new website that is ugly and confusing to navigate, it gives the impression that the makers of the site don’t really know what they’re doing and i probably won’t read their articles or take any advice from them.

    Great reminder Sam, I’m thinking of designing a website for my business soon.

    Reply
  2. Sam

    03/18/2010, 01:36 pm

    Hey thanks for reading.

    I hope you will keep reading here. If you need any further advice for building your site please let me know.

    Reply
    • Sam

      03/24/2010, 05:23 pm

      Thanks for commenting Ryan :)

      Having the perfect combination can be achieved. It just requires that we study our audience to have a good idea of what they like to see and the information they’re looking for. Although you can’t please everybody.

      Reply
  3. Tek3D

    08/11/2010, 12:30 pm

    Very useful information, thanks for sharing, Sam.
    Btw, there is the WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker, it will check all links in your posts and automatically fix, cross it out or just notify you whenever it finds a dead link.

    Reply
  4. Karl Foxley

    08/11/2010, 02:53 pm

    All great tips Sam.

    I recommend Xenu’s Link Sleuth (just type in Xenu Link Sleuth in Google and it should be the first result) for finding broken links on the sites I’m working on. It’s a desktop application so is not limited to a number of uses per session like other online tools.

    Warmest regards,

    Karl

    Reply