I read a lot of blogs and what keeps playing over in my head is the fact that many of them are not user-friendly.
This is just my personal opinion but this is what I believe a good blog should have in terms of layout/design/elements:
1. A title with matching URL
Some of the blogs I read have a URL that is different to the title. Why? I don’t understand it. Why would you have a blog called “Cooking with Fran” and the URL is memoirsofabakingqueen.blogspot.com (just an example I made up). There is no relation between the two and if some reason someone remembers your blog title but forgot the URL, and tries to google or guess the URL they have a far less chance of finding it.
2. Search box
On blogspot blogs, the default is the bar at the top of the screen. On other blogs it’s usually in the sidebar. Wherever it is, it’s important that it’s near the top of the screen.
3. Author bio/profile
People like to know who you are. You don’t need to write a lot but a little blurb about who you are, and what you do is always a welcome addition to your blog. A picture also helps! By picture I mean a photo of your face, not some random non-descript thing or a photo of someone else.
4. Email the author
There should be a way for people to contact you privately and easily, so put an email link somewhere near the top of your blog.
5. Subscribe to RSS Feed
If you read a lot of blogs you’d be silly not to use a feed reader service. If people can’t subscribe to your blog it’s unlikely they will come back to it (unless they are still using the old-fashioned method of bookmarking and visiting it every so often). You’d be surprised how many times I have had to do a keyword search for “RSS” or “subscribe” because I could not find this link! Some blogs have this broken up into ‘Entries’ and ‘Comments’ which is even better. The RSS icon looks like an orange square with curved white lines and should be at the top or side of every blog.
Some people don’t use them. Some people overuse them. I think they are very useful in helping your readers find your posts. A tag cloud is cool and visually interesting. However, they need to be used correctly. If you think you’re going to use a tag only once or twice there is no point in using it. I think 1-4 tags per post is a good number. I make a conscious effort to think about which tags are relevant to each blog post.
7. Latest posts, Archives, Calendar, etc
This is a useful way to search through old/previous posts.
8. Pictures for every post
Add visual interest by using photos. Even just one photo makes a post so much more interesting to read. I mostly use my own photos/pictures but if you are using others’ work make sure you give them the appropriate credit by linking to the URL where you got the picture from, and also crediting them in the text. For example if someone used one of my photos from Flickr, they can credit me with ‘Flickr/supercamel’. The text is important because websites move and change all the time, and servers go down, etc.
9. Too many posts on the front page!
This is a pet peeve because it makes loading time very long and slow. IMHO there shouldn’t be more than 5 posts on the front page, or less if your site is graphically intensive. In Wordpress I started using the
<!--more--> code to summarize posts. This isn’t a problem for most blogs, generally only the very popular and commercial ones that also have many widgets and gadgets and ads in their sidebar(s).
10. No year mentioned on each post
When I’m looking for articles, it’s important to me to see when they were written. Was it 2002, 2005 or 2008? A few blogs I’ve seen neglect to put the year in their dates, and I think this is a big no-no, especially for timely articles such as web design.
I’m big on usability and I think with a little thought and planning, every blog can easily be made into something easier to read and use! And if, for some reason, you find my blog difficult to navigate, please let me know!
Posted May 6, 2009 by Livia. Read related: blogs
, web design