Top 10 Blog Usability Mistakes

Amanda Etches Johnson did a post today where she mentioned the “Top 10 Blog Usability Mistakes”.  I'd seen this before and intended to do something in response but never got around to it.  But there's no time like the present.

1. No Author Biography
Well, contrary to some people who think this blog is purely an exercise in ego, part of the reason I didn't do an “About Me” page is I didn't think it was worth it.  But on second thought, it might be useful, especially for people who stumble upon this blog from Australia or Europe or India (probably looking to outsource my rambling!)  So I'll create an About Me page in the next few days.

2. No Author Photo
I do have a picture on every page but my face is half-obscured.  I don't have severe facial scars or burns that would prevent me from posting photos of myself.  Instead, I just really like the photo and  find it appropriate for a library blog with a book being the thing that blocks my face.  (If you can't make it out, it's “A Literary History of Alberta”) Although I don't exactly avoid putting pictures of myself up, having both a category for “photos” and a Flickr account that's reasonably easy to find, I do like that it adds a wee bit of mystery. 

3. Nondescript Posting Titles
For the most part, I think I do a fairly good job of coming up with catchy, engaging, descriptive post titles that make people want to read more about the stories. 

4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
I think I'm also fairly good about indicating where links go by the text description associated with them.  But I've never really understood this as a major issue either.  It's a bit inconvenient but  for non-descriptive links, you can briefly hover over with your mouse and get a pretty good idea where it goes in the status bar at the bottom of your browser.

5. Classic Hits Are Buried
I realised this was a potential problem before I ever read this article which is why I created “!Jason's Unofficial Guide to Library School” (the exclamation point to make sure it's at the top of my links section which is sorted alphabetically.  Hmm, “An Unofficial Guide to Library School” would accomplish the same thing.  I guess I do have a bit of ego!

6. The Calender is the Only Navigation
I have categories, keywords and a search box to aid with navigation although I do wish that that blog software was a bit more robust about how some of these options are implemented.

7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
A couple classmates have recently started blogs and my biggest piece of advice to both of them was to make sure to post on a regular basis, at least weekly at the minimum.   You don't have to post  on a daily basis like some keeners but a regular publishing schedule lets readers know that it's worth  coming back to your blog once they've visited the first time. 

8. Mixing Topics
This can refer to two things – mixing topics within individual posts and within the overall “theme” of the blog.  Regarding the first point, I try to stay on one or two topics per post or use my “Holiday Randomness” gimmick when I want to cover a few different things.  If I really want to write about multiple topics, I'll do multiple posts in one day rather than jam them all into a single post.  (I think my record is 6 or 7 posts in a single day. )  As for the second point, it was nice to come up with the idea of a blog about my experiences in library school because nobody was doing anything similar and it gave me a natural, built-in audience.  Now that I'm done school, I'm a bit more scattered now about what I want this blog to be “about” but hopefully I'll find a new niche eventually.  

9. Forgetting That You Write For Your Future Boss
In my presentation on non-traditional online genealogy resources, I cited a stat that 33% of employers Google potential employees while 10% use resources like social networking sites and blogs. 

This one's tough.  I tend to be very open and can also be very opinionated on this blog.  I am pretty sure that I won't be to the same level about my workplace when I get a job as the relationship is different between employer-employee instead of student-professor/institution (at least in my opinion.) 

I would hope that nothing I've posted here would affect my job prospects but you never know – I do use the occasional swear word, I have pictures and stories of me drinking alcohol, and there is some nudity that some people will likely find offensive as well. 

10.  Having a Domain Name Owned By A Weblog Service
Depending on what you want your blog to be, there are definite advantage of having your own domain rather than being “yetanotherblog.blogspot.com”.  I think this mainly applies if you want to use your blog for professional reasons – either to produce revenue or if you're writing about things where you want to attract a wider audience than friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

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