When developing your blog, no matter its niche, your primary goal should be to offer readers a pleasant and fulfilling experience. Only satisfied visitors are likely to return, recommend your blog to friends, sign up for a newsletter, order a product or service you offer, etc. The opinion of your visitors after they land on your pages greatly determines the level of success your blog achieves. And it’s your job to keep it positive.
Your readers’ needs and wants must be in the focus of all your important decisions, particularly in the design and development phase. Think how your choices reflect to them? It is one thing to produce a blog that you like, or your designer thinks is cool, but if in the same time you can also find ways to make the blog easy to use, friendly and valuable to its users, you’ll certainly win much more readers and keep them longer engaged with your content.
Surely there are many different factors that influence how user-friendly is a blog, and here are few of the major ones:
How fast your pages load?
These days most online users are not patient; they want to get what they search for fast, and slowly loading pages chase them away almost immediately. The loading speed partially depends on the type of internet connection your blog readers use when accessing your site. Look into your Google Analytics for data on the visitors share with dial-up and high-speed connections, and based on the numbers see if you can add few more elements to your blog without hurting their expectations.
The loading time also depends on the size of your pages, the number and size of images, gifs, videos, flash added elements, etc. Click for tips to make your blog load faster.
Is your site accessible?
Web accessibility refers to making your blog accessible for people with disabilities, so they too can enjoy equal access and equal opportunities to explore the Internet, and your blog content (read why accessibility is important). This issue still has a long way to go, even though in the recent years it became bigger priority for web designers and developers.
Use alt tags for all images on your blog, make sure the HTML and CSS coding is valid, and allow readers to re-size the text on your pages to make them more accessible. Click for more on this matter.
How simple is the navigation?
Providing simple and intuitive navigation is crucial when it comes to your blog visitors’ satisfaction. Searchers want to be able to movie through a blog or website and easily find what they want to find. This means you should have the common elements that users expect to see on your site consistently located where most online users think they would be and will look for; elements like the About and Contact pages.
One of the rules in web development regarding navigation is that any page on the site should be reachable with just two clicks from the homepage. On larger websites this is usually achieved with sitemaps or sitewide search.
Also, make sure your blog readers can easily understand your links and where they will lead them, no matter if it’s a link within a blog post, or link in the site header and menus.
Do you provide the information your readers are seeking?
The visitors who land on your pages have come there for a reason. And though the reasons may vary depending on the type of blog or business you run, you still need to make sure that you provide the information they look for in order to be user-friendly.
For most blogs rich content is a must so readers would be satisfied, but if you also offer professional services and/or products, searchers may visit your pages to find out more about your business too (read what blog metrics may be valuable to get the data). Whatever the reasons they are there, you need to be ready to meet them, and this means anticipating the expectations of your blog’s target audience, and delivering as they need.
What other factors, you think, are also important for a blog to be user-friendly? Share your thoughts below!