8 Ideas You Can Use to Improve Your Blog Usability
July 16, 2007 by Gaman
So you have been blogging for a while and now wonder if there’s anything you can do to improve your blog besides changing the theme. Well, here are 10 ideas you can improve your blog usability and users experience.
- Remove Clutter
If your blog looks like a giant billboard; it’s time to do some clean up. The most important element on your page is your message. Multiple image ads, links and graphic are all secondary elements to your blog existence. They will only make your users confuse. Add more white space, and remove ads that don’t make you money. This will also make your pages load faster.
- Clean up Your Side Bar
If you have the tendency to add every sidebar widgets under the sun on your sidebar, ask yourself if they contribute to the users experience. Use sidebar widgets judiciously and use only what you really need.
Having a 3 column layout doesn’t mean you can stuffed your sidebars with more widgets. If the total column width is larger than 750px, readers with a 15 inch monitor or smaller may have to scroll horizontally in order to view your third column. That defeats the point of having two sidebars to begin with.
If 2 column layout works for you then stick with it (as you can probably tell I am a fan of a fixed width 2 column layout). I find it works well for me because all the important widgets are accessible without the need for the readers to hunt around.
When you offer too many choices, more often than not, your users will end up selecting none and this hurts your conversion rates.
- Create About Me and & Contact Page
- Add a Search Box
From the click analysis generated from Crazy Egg, I find that the search box located on the top right of the page is the most widely used element at Sabahan.com.
While most WordPress themes come with a built in search functions, their placement is not always optimised. If that’s the case for you, move your search box above the fold where it’s easily accessible. In addition, you can use AdSense for Search to monetize your blog search traffic.
- Upgrade Your WordPress to the Latest Version
If you have been holding off your WordPress upgrade, wait no longer. If the new features aren’t enough to convince you, look at the upgrade as your security insurance. While there’s no guarantee that the latest version won’t be unbreakable, at least you are protected against known vulnerabilities present in the old version. Don’t wait until some hacker take advantage of these.
- Give Your Users More Control
Reward your top commentators by using plugin such as the Top Commentators plugin for WordPress
In addition you can also give them more control and what’s better than allowing them to edit their our comments after the comments are published?
- Invite Your Readers to Subscribe to your RSS Feed
I find that displaying myr RSS feed icon on my sidebar is not enough to attract all the potential readers I could have. Remember, when you first started reading blogs and haven’t started your own, did you automatically know what the chicklet is for?
Did you take the time to research how chicklet could help you get the latest posts via a feed reader? Did you even know what a feed reader is?
Sorry if this sounds obvious to you but there are many readers who have no idea what those are all about.
To cater for these readers, you should offer the option to subscribe to your blog posts via email and FeedBurner email subscription will do just fine.
In addition, you should include an invitation to subscribe at the bottom of every post. This is the code that I am currently using for Sabahan.com. Credit
<div style="padding: 5px; border: 1px double #CCCCCC; font-size: 1.1em; line-height: 1.65em; margin-bottom: 10px;">Did you enjoy this post? Please Subscribe <a href="http://www.sabahan.com/feed/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Click to subscribe to this blog">via RSS</a> or <a href="http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=256190&loc=en_US" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">email</a>.</div>
- Update Your Blog Frequently
There’s nothing more detrimental to a blog growth than a stale posts that haven’t been updated for a while. While it’s true that the more you post, the better the chance for your posts to be picked by the search engines, successful bloggers do not write for the search engines.
The Internet is full of bloggers competing for attention. Their posting frequencies don’t differentiate the good bloggers from the bad ones. What set them apart is the quality of their posts.
However, if quick money is what you are after, contributing to the information pollution may make you more money in the short term because it could increase your blog’s search engine visibility.
But you are not in this for the short term are you?