Running a blog is fun, and specially when you are getting good traffic, good engagement, it’s time for a blogger like you and me to improve the user experience. In today’s date, search engine loves websites or blog, which offers great user-experience. Usually we are so busy in writing great content for our blog, marketing our blog, that we forget the important elements which makes a user stick to our blog. Today, I will be sharing few tips for every blogger, that will help to give their readers a good user-experience. Some of the tip may change according to your blog style, for example if you are running a blog as single person or under a brand name, you should make the changes accordingly. It might not be possible for you to in-corporate everything mentioned below, but try to integrate as much as you could.
Why you need to offer a great user-experience?
This is very first thing that you should question yourself:
- What makes you stick to a blog?
- What elements of a blog make you remember it?
- What kind of errors turns you off, and make you go away from the web-page you are viewing?
- Do you like to re-read content written by you from your own blog?
Once you have asked these questions to yourself, you will have a definite goal in your mind to increase the over all reader experience on your blog. Now, let me help you with some of the things that will not only make readers come back to your blog again, but you will be getting a great amount of free marketing for your blog.
Work on branding and Trust factor of your blog:
This is the foremost reason people remember a blog. When they come to a blog, and it creates a first-time impression, he/she are more likely to bookmark your blog, or come back to your blog. More over, people like brands, as they like to associated with something which has created a name. Once you succeed in creating a well-known brand of your own blog, you have done the 50% of task for creating a big name for your-self and for your blog. There are just few elements which will help you to brand your blog, and increase the trust factor.
- Your blog design : Keep it unique and keep it according to personality of your blog.
- Blog logo and avatar: People remember visual aspect more than the textual stuff. Your logo should create a great impression on user mind, so that they remember it. A good idea is to work on a logo/avatar in a way, that you can use on your blog and on your social-media profiles so that user can connect to it. One rule of thumb: Use the same avatar everywhere.
- Important pages: Pages like about page, contact page, start here are very useful for first time readers to know about your blog. This will make them connect to your blog.
- Copyright years: If you are running an old blog, it’s a good idea to show that in the footer section of your blog. For example: I stared ShoutMeLoud in 2008, and if you look at the footer, you can clearly see 2008-2014.
- Show off your numbers: If you have done tremendously good in certain part of your blog marketing. For example: thousands of RSS subscriber, or lacks of Facebook fans, or an appealing Alexa rank, place them in a way, so that it;s visible to first time user. When we see thousands of people liking a page, or subscribe to a blog, we are more likely to subscribe to it, assuming this blog/page have something great to offer. (Of-course you have to offer something great).
- Add a favicon: It’s a small thing, but it helps a lot in branding of your blog.
Here are few articles, which will help you to create a brand name for your blog:
- 6 useful tips to brand your blog
- How to make brand for a blog
- How to build strong brand image for your blog
Speed and loading time of your blog:
This is one important aspect of a well-maintained blog. If your blog stuck while loading, or gives internal server error due to slow hosting hardware issues, you are more likely to lose a reader. Even study shows, if a page loads in more than 3 seconds, it’s considered as a bad user experience. Work on improving the load time of your blog. If you are on WordPress, all you need is a server optimized for WordPress, a cache plugin, and a fast loading WordPress theme. Rest, there are many techniques which you can use to improve the loading time of your webpage. At the time of writing, I’m hosting my blog on a VPS server, along with varnish caching, which helps me to serve my pages in a blazing speed. Here are few articles, which will help you to lower down the loading time of your pages from 10 seconds to 3 seconds:
Broken links and 404 pages on your blog:
Broken links and 404 error pages are really bad for a user experience and for search engines. You should constantly look out for such links on your blog which are broken, or pages giving 404 status code. When it comes to WordPress, you can take advantage of broken link checker and redirection plugin to fix broken link and 404 error pages issue. Here are 2 guides, which will give you all the details related to broken links and 404 error pages on your blog:
If you are not using WordPress, you can take help of minalyzer to find broken links on your website.
Mobile friendly blog:
No matter what technique you use, but you should ensure mobile users are seeing a mobile friendly version of your blog. A good idea is to use a responsive theme (Ex: Genesis), as it will help you to maintain your brand value. If you can’t spend money on a responsive theme, you can take advantage of plugins like WpTouch, Jetpack responsive design to offer a mobile friendly version of your website. If you are like me, who plan out future in advance, you should not ignore your mobile visitors.
This is another important aspect of offering an excellent user-experience, and improve the analytics of your over all blog. Usually a reader will come to your blog via search engines, or via following a referral link to some internal pages, your goal should be: Offer them an easy way to navigate through your blog. Here are few tips for improve the navigation of your blog:
- Offer related post after the blog post. You can use Zementa related post to show related posts with thumbnail.
- Place important resource pages at prominent space on your blog. For ex: I have created WordPress guide resource page at the navbar, and it’s one of those pages on my blog, which is helping me to keep my bounce rate low.
- Popular post widget : You can place it on the sidebar of your blog. A good idea is to use a query to show popular post according to current category and tags of the page. This will help you to show popular posts based on the section of your blog.
- Breadcrumb: This is another great way to give a new way for your readers to navigate through your blog.
- Offer subscription options: Ensure you have placed subscription options at prominent place. This will help first time user to subscribe to your blog updates.
This is something which will not only help in improving user experience, but also it will help in building a community around your blog. You can take help of Cubepoints plugin for WordPress, to add point based gamification on your blog. If you wish to read more about gamification, here is one article to give you detailed insight on benefits of gamification.
A good practice is to, browse pages from your blog, and think from a readers point of view. Think, what part is making you stick to your blog, and what points are turning you off. Make a note of all the points, and then work on improving on it. You can also ask a random friend of yours to check your blog, and give his opinion. An unbiased feedback will help you to understand common readers problem, and you can work on it to improve it.
Here is a must-watch video by Google AdSense team to improve the user-experience on your website. Video is bit-long, but if you are serious about your blogging career, do consider watching this video seriously:
If you have more ideas and tips in your mind, do share with me via comments. If you find this article interesting, considering sharing it on Facebook and Google plus.