Jakob Nielsen is the no-holds-barred expert on website usability (shaping your site so it works best for users–easy to see what’s there, find what they want, and easily absorb it), and he’s finally delved into blog usability.
Most bloggers are just now beginning to think about usability, and getting their blogs optimized to be found by interested folks. I saw the same evolution when websites were a new tool. Nielsen offers these key tips:
- Include an "About the Author" blurb in the typelist (at side of blog posts). Adds credibility to your content.
- Feature an author photo. Again, this adds credibility and enables blog readers to feel that they’re making a personal connection
- Make post titles count. Begin titles with what’s most important…Ten Tips on Blog Usability From…, rather than Usability Guru Jakob Nielsen…
- Ensure links say where they’ll take the reader. Forget linking "here" and avoid linking to jargon that some readers might not understand.
- Link to past pieces in newer postings. Don’t assume readers remember, or have been with you from the beginning.
- Categorize postings but select no more than 3-4 categories.Highlight key postings of all time on each category page.
- Post on a regular schedule. Daily is best but whatever your post schedule is, stick with it. Otherwise you’ll lose readers.
- Focus your posts. The more focused your content, the more focused your readers. Specialization is the watchword of online content.
- Think twice before posting. Reread and consider who else may read it. Then post.
- Own your own blog domain name. Forget XXX.blogspot.com or YYY.typepad.com. That approach will come back to haunt you when you want to change blog service provider, your provider wants to go out of business, or you realize that the blog URL is a great branding opportunity and you want to brand your organization, not the service provider.
Thanks Jakob, for more great advice. Readers, go to Jakob’s site often for updates and new insights. No one has sharper insights on online communication.