Does Your Blog Deliver a Positive User Experience?

blog user experience

By Linda Dessau, {grow} Community member

You know how some people’s houses feel warm and welcoming, and people enjoy hanging out there? You want your blog to be just that kind of place. In website terminology this is called user experience (UX), and can be a content marketer’s invisible advantage.

Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman explain that “the first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.”

Why would you want your blog to be joyful to use? Consider your own experience visiting other blogs and websites. When you have a pleasant experience, aren’t you more likely to return, and to send someone else to the same site?

The opposite is also true. One study cited by econsultancy revealed that 88% of consumers surveyed were less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

So what entails a bad user experience on a blog? It might be a combination of things, or one element such as design might stand out from the others (Ironpaper reports that 48% of people named a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business).

To identify potential user experience issues on your blog, think about what frustrates or annoys you when you visit a website. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pop-up messages
  • Being unable to figure out how to get from one page to another
  • Having trouble finding more information about the topic, site or author
  • Light-colored text that is difficult to read
  • Videos that start playing automatically
  • Slideshows that force you to keep clicking to view all of the content
  • Broken links
  • Long paragraphs with no breaks, lists or images
  • Sidebars cluttered with ads or other links

User experience tips from America’s #1 most-visited hospital blog

I recently had the chance to interview Amanda Todorovich, content marketing director at Cleveland Clinic. I asked how she and her team make sure users have a positive experience navigating the Health Essentials blog, and easily find what they’re looking for. She outlined five key elements of user experience:

  1. Responsive design – “We launched a new responsive design last year, and that has been a big improvement.” Responsive designs adapt to the device and screen size of each user. In a Google survey, 48% of responders said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.
  2. User-focused navigation – “We also created navigation that isn’t based on how our organization is structured but is based on how people search for topics.” You can compare your blog’s navigation options to how grocery stores help their customers find what they need.
  3. Media mindset – Cleveland Clinic’s content marketing team studied how other media sites are organized. Whether you’ll be producing many new posts every week like Cleveland Clinic or building up more slowly, large media sites provide great examples of how to manage extensive content libraries.
  4. Search functionality – How easy is it for visitors to search your site? “I think the lesson we’ve learned with site search is to keep it simple,” writes Todorovich, “and make it as straightforward and easy as possible for your visitors to use. Make sure the placement is intuitive, too. Search is not an area where you want to be super clever or creative. Make sure it works and functions properly above all else.” Her team recently made the site search specific to Health Essentials (versus searching the entire Cleveland Clinic site) and utilized some basic WordPress functionality to replace a more complex tool previously in place.
  5. Category and tag clean up – “We made sure our categories and tags are useful and meaningful.” Your blog categories show readers your key areas of expertise, and help them find what they need. If you use the same language your ideal clients would use, they’re more likely to find you.

What will your blog readers remember?

Koen Claes of Mashable’s UX Magazine has a different take on user experience, suggesting that “UX design should be a function of the memories it creates.”

There is a difference, he says, between our “experiencing self” who is reading a blog post, and our “remembering self” who will decide later whether to return to and/or recommend the blog.

He recommends focusing on making an emotional connection and telling compelling stories as two ways to connect with a visitor’s remembering self and create memorable experiences.

Even with outstanding content, if readers have a poor experience they will not stay, remember, share or return.

linda dessauLinda Dessau is a blog ghostwriter for health and wellness practitioners and manages group blogs for wellness clinics. Please visit http://www.contentmasteryguide.com for more information and connect with her on Twitter.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Peter Morville

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