Blog Factors

I subscribe to Jacob Neilson’s usability email and he always has good things to stay. He book on Web Usability is a must read.

Today I got his “Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines“. In my continuing series of blog usability factors I thought I’d translate some of them for bloggers. I also will be considering how well I do these things on Reactuate.

What is usability to a blogger?

1. Emphasize what your site offers that’s of value to users and how your services differ from those of key competitors

For the most part we don’t think of other bloggers as competitors so this may not seem relevant. But it is important to emphasize what your site offers. We come back to promoting what your site does. What its focus is. What topics you cover and how to easily find them.

To me two key factors in this are category lists and about mes. Most blogs are at some level personal, and the extent they are topical it is filtered through the author’s view point. About me tell something of the filters, and category lists tell the topics.

2. Use a liquid layout that lets users adjust the homepage size

Jacob pretty much says it all here.

3. Use color to distinguish visited and unvisited links

Knowing where you’ve been is one of the three basic features that all navigation designsshould support. (The other two are “Where am I?” and “Where can I go?”)

Bad, Ron, Bad

Reacutate violates this one, but luckily it is only a CSS change away. I’ve been looking for somewhere to put blue…

4. Use graphics to show real content, not just to decorate your homepage

Remember he’s focused on usability. Bloggers are often focused on creativity. That being said, don’t put pictures on your site that actively degrade usability. And putting pictures that show something you are talking about will increase usability.

5. Include a tag line that explicitly summarizes what the site or company does

Our recent study of how people use “about us” information on websites did find that most users could eventually dig up information about a company’s purpose. But why do most sites make prospects work so hard?

This is the about me.

6. Make it easy to access anything recently featured on your homepage

For the Alertbox, 80% of the readership happens after a column has passed from the homepage into the archives.

This is especially true for blogs read via an RSS feed. People don’t always come to your home page first. So if they come to an archive page they need to be able to find information about other content easily.

7. Include a short site description in the window title

I noticed my single item pages don’t use the article title in the title of the page. This may actually be a bit of a problem to implement given the way I handle making all my pages look alike, but I think it can be done.

8. Don’t use a heading to label the search area; instead use a “Search” button to the right of the box

This seems a little petty. I’m not sure what you use, other than some screen real-estate when you label the search area.

9. With stock quotes, give the percentage of change, not just the points gained or lost

Might be relevant to y’all with blogshares.

10. Don’t include an active link to the homepage on the homepage

I’ve mentioned this before. Remember title at the top of every page should link the homepage of the blog.

Written while listening to “Bessie Smith”
album House Of Blues-Chicago 4.16.02
by Norah Jones
Written while listening to “Shoot the Moon”
album Come Away With Me
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Written while listening to “End It On This”
album Tragic Kingdom
by No Doubt