Even if you write well researched, thoughtful and timely posts, you can still turn your potential blogging audience away if your website is difficult to use. The average reader spends under than two minutes reading a typical blog post and less than that if your website is hard to navigate or poorly formatted. Turn casual readers into fans with our blog usability checklist.
Make common elements stand out
Blog content varies widely between niches, but all blogs contain a few common elements that readers should have easy access to.
RSS feed link
Newsletter sign up
Readers should be able to find what they’re looking for without having to search for it. Keep links to RSS feeds and newsletters at the top of your design, where readers can quickly and easily subscribe and have clearly defined ways for people to get in touch with you.
Use clean links
Let your readers know where they’ll be going before they click on a link. Blind links look like this. The text like this doesn’t tell the reader anything about where they’ll be going when they leave your website.
Bad link usage: Good web hosting isn’t hard to find.
Good link usage: Good web hosting isn’t hard to find.
Your link text should give the reader a good indication of what they’ll find at your link.
Make sure it’s easy to participate
Readers love to throw in their two cents by commenting on your ideas. Comments add to the discussion and help to form a connection with your audience. Remarkably, many bloggers have made it difficult for readers to participate by requiring that they go through a series of unnecessary steps just to leave their thoughts. Whenever possible, don’t require membership to your website to comment and leave commenting open to all. Your audience should feel invited to the table and encouraged to participate.
Be readable and skimmable
Not everyone has time to read through your blog posting word for word. Remember, the average visitor will spend less than two minutes on your website, which means they’re doing an awful lot of skimming. You can make sure your blog is both readable and skimmable by following a few basic guidelines:
Use clear, commonsense headlines.
Use bullet points to sum up ideas.
Don’t write giant walls of text. Keep paragraphs short and easily skimmable.
Have a solid opening and closing.
Be easy to navigate
First time readers of your blog should be able to find their way around just as easily as your longtime audience. Writing one blog post is enough to get someone interested in what you have to say, but penning two posts that pique interest may earn you a dedicated subscriber.
Have clearly defined categories.
Let your header link back to the main page.
Make your archives easy to find.
Link to your best posts.
Number your pages or identify them in some way.
Allowing your audience to get in touch with you makes you authentic. Display an about us page and don’t be afraid to post a contact form and link to your other social media profiles.
Blog usability guarantees that new and old readers can easily navigate your website and participate in your community. Take a look at your blog as a new user. Is it easy to subscribe to your RSS feed? Would a stranger know who you are and why you’re writing your blog by reading the about us page? Use this checklist as a guideline to take your blog to the next level.