Today's Random Jessica Biel Fact: Jessica Biel is a recovering vegetarian (true).
I'm so fucking weak! I wrote most of this entry over a week ago, and then I forgot all about it. Last Whateverthefuckday was World Usability Day, so I thought I'd check in with Danish pastry chef Jacob Nielsen to see what he has to say about blog usability, and how it relates to SUPERBLOG!!, the blog you're reading just now.
Here, in no particular order, except the exact order he mentions them in, are My Nielsen's top Usability Issues for bloggityblogs (for the sake of convenience, I'll cut and paste relevant bits below, but if you have a blog yourself, I urge you to check out the complete article):
1. No Author Biographies
It's a simple matter of trust. Anonymous writings have less credence than something that's signed. And, unless a person's extraordinarily famous, it's not enough to simply say that Joe Blogger writes the content. Readers want to know more about Joe. Does he have any credentials or experience in the field he's commenting on?
I do have credentials. Trust me.
2. No Author Photo
Even weblogs that provide author bios often omit the author photo. A photo is important for two reasons: It offers a more personable impression of the author. You enhance your credibility by the simple fact that you're not trying to hide.
I'm a Gorg. Just kidding.
3. Nondescript Posting Titles
[...] Users must be able to grasp the gist of an article by reading its headline. Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.
As the kids say: LOL. (Not really. Tears are streaming down my face. Tears now of hilarity but of saddity.)
4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
Many weblog authors seem to think it's cool to write link anchors like: "some people think" or "there's more here and here." Remember one of the basics of the Web: Life is too short to click on an unknown. Tell people where they're going and what they'll find at the other end of the link.
SUPERBLOG!!'s stated goal: To fill the few remaining days of its reader's lives with unnecessary clickiness into the Unknown.
A related mistake in this category is to use insider shorthand, such as using first names when you reference other writers or weblogs. Unless you're writing only for your friends, don't alienate new visitors by appearing to be part of a closed clique.
You listening, SUPERBLOG!! bitches? We're gonna ignore you from now on.
5. Classic Hits are Buried
Hopefully, you'll write some pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base. Don't relegate such classics to the archives,
Yeah, this is something to think about, actually. Maybe you've noticed we've added a "greatest hits" section, but the posts selected are maybe not all that great.
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
A timeline is rarely the best information architecture, yet it's the default way to navigate weblogs. Most weblog software provides a way to categorize postings so users can easily get a list of all postings on a certain topic.
But fucking Blogger fucking doesn't.
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
Establishing and meeting user expectations is one of the fundamental principles of Web usability. For a weblog, users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates will occur. [...] Certainly, you shouldn't post when you have nothing to say. Polluting cyberspace with excess information is a sin. To ensure regular publishing, hold back some ideas and post them when you hit a dry spell.
I've actually done that ever since SUPERBLOG!! started. These last few days, though, I was out of town, and Sammy was busy doing mysterious stuff.
8. Mixing Topics
If you publish on many different topics, you're less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They're unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic).
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
Whenever you post anything to the Internet -- whether on a weblog, in a discussion group, or even in an email -- think about how it will look to a hiring manager in ten years. [...] Years from now, someone might consider hiring you for a plum job and take the precaution of 'nooping you first. [...] What will they find in terms of naïvely puerile "analysis" or offendingly nasty flames published under your name?
Yeah, could this possibly be why we write under aliases?
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously.
I agree, but a proper address costs money. It's alright for wealthy Danish pastry chefs like Jake Nielsen, but the rest of us barely make ends meet as it is. A domain name costs several thousand bucks a month, for crying out loud!
Yes, it's tempting to start a new weblog on one of the services that offer free accounts. It's easy, it's quick, and it's obviously cheap. But it only costs $8 per year to get your personal domain name and own your own future. As soon as you realize you're serious about blogging, move it away from a domain name that's controlled by somebody else.
Hey Sammy, are we serious about blogging...?
Join us again tomorrow for another exciting Random Jessica Biel Fact.
SUPERBLOG!!: Not very super, but definitely a blog.