Thursday, December 29, 2005

Blog Design Mistakes (continued)

Continuing yesterday's post about The Top Ten Blog Design Mistakes and how this blog measures up to these standards ...

Mistake #4 in Jakob Nielsen's view is "Links Don't Say Where They Go" like this one and this and somewhere else. I see his point. As he says, "Life is too short to click on an unknown." I hope I don't do this too often, though I probably am guilty of the occasional obscure link. I promise to do better in 2006. (Hope you liked my very accurate description of my link to yesterday's post in my opening sentence, Dr Nielsen?)

Mistake #5 is "Classic Hits are Buried". Nielsen recommends that the reader of a blog should have some "easy way to navigate to pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base". Ha ha. That assumes that the blogger in question has written something of "lasting value" and not just several years worth of self-obsessed drivel. This a highly dubious proposition for many blogs.

For example, what would be the classic hits in Change is Good which is simply an account of the loose change that the guy picks up off the ground? He's been doing it since 1998 and has been blogging about it since September 2003. Classic Hits? Would it be the post about the day he found a Canadian penny, or one of his fascinating This Day in Change Quest History posts or perhaps the day last week when he was "batting for the cycle with three quarters, four dimes, one nickel and twenty-six pennies."

But seriously folks, maybe our friend Jakob has a point here. From the sitemeter stats I see I do get a fair amount of hits from new readers every day and some of them do stay and poke around a few pages for a while. I think I can find a way to provide them with easy access to a range of posts that will give them a good sample of what I write and allow them to decide whether they ever want to come back.

Sin #6 is "The Calendar is the Only Navigation" in which the dear doctor pleads for sensible use of categories, a feature not supported by Blogger. Not much I can do about that without manually preparing some kind of index to the blog, but that doesn't sound like much fun. Any suggestions?

Indictment #7 is "Irregular Publishing Frequency". Nielsen recommends establishing a regular publishing frequency and sticking to it. On the other hand he says you shouldn't post when you have nothing to say. I know he's right. The blogs I check every day are those where I know I am going to see something new every day. In this blog I am trying to post something of interest every weekday at least. But it's tough. Sometimes I run out of new sailing topics and end up blogging about blogging. (Like now.) Or running. Or my new grandaughter. (Can I show you some pictures?)

And there tucked away at #8 on Dr Nielsen's list is "Mixing Topics". Ahah. The heart of the matter. Whether to write about anything and everything that a blogger finds of interest in his or her daily life. Or stick to some specialized niche such as "coins I found behind the vending machine in the office". Defining the focus of this blog more clearly is something I want to do. And it's a subject for another post on another day ...


Anonymous said...

Well even with all these so called "mistakes" I always read your blog, so it can't be that bad!!!

Claire (England)

Carol Anne said...

I will have to say I agree with Nielsen on a couple of issues, but I disagree with him on others.

Absolutely, I hate links that don't give a clue where they go. Right now I'm surfing on somebody else's high-speed connection, but most of the time I'm on a glacial dial-up connection, so I'm not about to click on an unknown link and waste who knows how much time for who knows what benefit.

As far as I am concerned, irregular publishing frequency is the death knell. For somebody I care about, such as a husband or cousin, I will dutifully check the blog daily, but otherwise a blog, no matter how interesting, is going to drop from my daily routine. Sure, it's not good to post simply just to post if you have nothing to say, but it's even worse to go for days without posting. Even if you have nothing to say other than bragging about your grandkids, that's better than saying nothing.

On other issues, I must disagree with Nielsen. I don't think having a mass-market free blog address in any way detracts from the credibility of the blog. And treating the blog as if some Big Brother potential future employer might see it is totally bogus. If what you're posting on your blog is something a potential future employer might not like, then probably you're not the right employee for that employer anyway.

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