Top 10 Usability Guidelines for Blogging

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Top 10 Usability Guidelines for Blogging

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Brian Sullivan. @BrianKSullivan @bigdesign Hi, my name is #UXblog

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What is Usability?

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Classic Definitions of Usability Usability assesses how easy your site, app, or blog is to learn and use by your customers. (Jakob Nielsen) The usability of a website is based upon whether people can find the information they need. (Jared Spool) Usability is based on whether you are meeting your business and user goals with your product. (Brian Sullivan)

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Five Planes of User Experience

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The Strategy provides an overview of what you want to get out of your blog and what do your customers want to get out of it. From a business view, the strategy plane is interested in Return on Investment (ROI) for a product. User Needs: externally derived goals for your blog, which are identified through web analytics, interviews, and testing. Site Objectives: business, creative, or other internally derived goals for the site. The Strategy Plane

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The Scope plane transforms your strategy into requirements. What features does your blog need to meet your customer requirements? Functional Needs: defines the “features” you need for your site, such as a shopping cart, sign up form, or download features. Content Requirements: defines your content elements required to meet customer needs, such as large bandwidth for video blogs. The Scope Plane

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Your blog has some overall Structure. The Structure plane gives shape to how the overall pieces fit together, behave, and interact. Interaction Design: development of application flows to facilitate user tasks and defining how the user interacts with site functionality Information Architecture: structural design of the information space to facilitate intuitive access to content The Structure Plane

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The Skeleton plane lies just below the surface. The Skeleton helps people to easily understand, learn, and use something. Interface Design: how the design of interface elements facilitates user interaction with functionality Information Design: how the presentation of information facilitates understanding Navigation Design: how the design of GUI elements helps the user's navigate through the information architecture The Skeleton Plane

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As its name suggests, the Surface plane describes the basic finished project. We could use visual design techniques to describe the Mona Lisa. From UCD perspective, we are primarily concerned with Visual Design, such as the graphic treatment of GUI elements (the "look" in "look-and-feel"), the visual treatment of text, graphic page elements and navigational components. The Surface Plane

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Good Blogs Require Thinking We’ll re-visit each of the planes in the next hour.

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Nielsen’s 10 Heuristic Principles Slide 14 Feedback: Visibility of System Status Metaphor: Match Between System and Real World Navigation: User Control and Freedom Consistency: Consistency and Standards Prevention: Error Prevention Memory: Recognition Rather than Recall Effort: Flexibility and Efficiency of Use Design: Aesthetic and Minimalistic Design Recovery: Recognize, Diagnose & Recover from Errors Help: Help and Documentation

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Top 10 Usability Issues for Blogs

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Brian’s Top 10 List for Blogs Slide 16 Strategy: No Clear Blogging Strategy Credibility: Lack of Credibility Cues on Blogs Headlines: Poorly Written Headlines to Grab Attention Navigation: Using Only One Navigation Scheme Content: Writing Ineffective Content Frequency: Infrequent or Irregular Updates Burying: Classic Hits are Buried Bad Forms: Cumbersome Forms to Use Search: Bad Search Forces Users to Think Un-responsive: Blog Can Only Be Views on One Device

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1. No Clear Blogging Strategy

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It Always Starts With Strategy

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25 Basic Styles of Blogging

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25 Basic Styles of Blogging

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Combine Strategies (Ex: LukeW)

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Insight Blog: Mobile & Forms

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Video Blog: View Presentations

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Link Blog: Data Mondays

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Event Blog: Convey UX

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Your Strategy Defines You! Luke as an Expert: - Three Books, But One Blog - Luke W is now a personal brand Data Mondays: - Probably, links from a Google Search - Resources for many designers Video Blog Posts: - Self-promotion, but that’s ok - The videos are really good Mixture of Writing Style: - Link, video, presentation, and event posts - Data is on Monday (at a set frequency)

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2. Lack of Credibility

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Four Types of Web Credibility Presumed Credibility: You already have heard of this person or brand. (Ex: Known brands vs generic brands.) Reputed Credibility: You have heard of this person or site from someone you trust. (Ex: Your friend likes it.) Surface Credibility: You like how something looks on a casual inspection. (Ex: Looks good vs looks confusing.) Earned Credibility: You know it is credible from your personal experience. (Ex: Good customer service.)

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Home Page is a Cartoon

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Great People, Poor Blog

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Why Credibility is Important?

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Stanford Studies on Credibility

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One Factor Damages It All

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Ways to Add Credibility Make your site look professional (surface credibility). Make it easy to verify accuracy of info (sources, links). Show there’s person behind the site (name, picture, bio). Highlight your expertise (credentials, organizations). Make it easy to contact you (email, social, phone). Keep your content fresh (old content is not trusted). Restrain from marketing (reduce ads, offers). Avoid errors (broken links, spelling) impact credibility. Use simple, plain language for people to understand. Use testimonials and case studies (reputed credibility).

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3. Poorly Written Headlines

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Online versus Offline Headlines

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Online Headlines Displayed out of context. Part of a series. Compete with other links. No background material. Text is the same size. Do not use ALL caps.

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Offline Headlines Displayed with context. Surrounding data: - Photos - Decks - Article More information to start. Usually the biggest text. Use ALL caps a lot.

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40-60 Characters per Headline

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Headlines: Writing Assignments Treat headlines as their own writing assignment!

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Guidelines for Headlines Short abstracts of your article. No teasers to entice people. (They don’t click.) Written in plain language. No cute or clever puns. Skip leading words like “The”, “A”, or “An”. Do not use the same verbs each time (to differentiate). Make the first word an information carrying one. (Ex: Titanic Sinks, Design Like Da Vinci.)

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4. Using One Navigation Scheme

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Most Blogs are Time-Based

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Default Setting is a Calendar

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Use Pages, Categories, & Tags Pages to separate content. Categories to group similar types of content together. Tags to group related content together.

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Guidelines for Navigation Timelines are only one method to organize content. Provide more than one navigation scheme. Use pages, categories, and tags to group content. Avoid the mistake of tagging to all your categories. Categories must be sufficiently detailed to reduce posts. 10-20 categories are usually enough for any subject. Highlight each category’s most recent articles and the most popular ones.

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5. Writing Ineffective Content

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How Users Read on the Web

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Implications of the F Pattern Customers will not read your text thoroughly. They do not read in a word-by-word manner. Use inverted pyramid style for writing. First two paragraphs must state most important info. Use information carrying words for headings, paragraphs, and lists—people can easily scan them on the left. Most people scan the first two words of every line.

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The Scent of Information

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Spend More Time Elsewhere “People spend more time on another person’s site.” (Jared Spool)

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Guidelines for Content Usability Use clear, simple language. “We won the award.” vs “The award was won by us.” Limit each paragraph to one idea: - Easier to scan - Get the general sense of what is coming - Move to the next idea (or paragraph) Front-load your content (put the conclusion first): - Quickly scan the opening sentence. - First sentence is usually read (again, F pattern)

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Guidelines for Content Usability Use descriptive sub-headings: - Breaks up the page - Shows the organization - Easy to scan to see your idea, or argument Use font differences sparingly: - Harder to read with competing fonts - Decrease your credibility Use descriptive links: - “Click Here” is rude - Descriptive links support your article, too

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Guidelines for Content Usability Use lists for scannability: - Less intimidating - Information chunking - More succinct, usually Left-align text: - Easier to read - Blockquotes add credibility, but decrease reading speed

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Don’t Write What They Don’t Need 50% Less Words 2X Understanding

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Color and Text Appearance

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Color-Blind Users and Content

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6. Infrequent or Irregular Updates

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Blog of a Well-Known Person Latest post is from February 1, 2013 (not too bad). Next post is from October 2012 (this is old). Outdated meeting widget on sidebar (on every page).

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Infrequent Schedules Hurt Fans Without new content, you risk losing your fans, who are your best customers.

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Establish an Editorial Calendar Use the Wordpress Editorial Calendar plug-in. Write universal content, which can moved around. Publish at regular intervals to keep your site fresh.

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Let Users Know of Expiring Content Use the Wordpress Content Scheduler plug-in. Provides notification for expiring content to contributors. Change when content expires, too.

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Do You Know When to Publish? Lowest readership is on Saturdays. Mondays and Tuesdays have the highest readership. Dips on Fridays (most of the time).

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7. Classic Hits are Buried CLASSIC TODAY HITS

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Most People Do Not Visit Daily Average 500 daily views. We have 3 posts with over 50,000 views. We get 25,000+ views at the conference.

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Show Popular Articles

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Show Related Articles Zemanta is a good plug-in for related articles.

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Use Embedded Content Embedded links Embedded video, audio, slides

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Guidelines for Past Hits Don’t relegate past hits to your archive. Revisit past hits with a fresh perspective. Embed links, video, or audio in newer articles. Use a Popular Articles list on the Home page. Embed related links using a plug-in like Zemanta. Do not assume that people visit everyday. Compile lists of past articles (ex: SEO 101, Top 10 List).

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8. Bad Forms are Used

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The Tool is Good, Usage is Bad Gravity Forms is an awesome plug-in. Google Forms is also great for simple forms. Most people don’t know how to build good forms.

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Linked-In: Optional is Required

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Linked-In: Optional?

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Example: Any Data is Accepted Postal Code accepts any data format. Phone number accepts any delimiter (dash, dot)

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10 Rules for Good Forms Use a simple, vertical layout with labels above the input fields. It is easier to scan If vertically aligned labels are not possible, make them bold and left-aligned. If you put more than one field on a row (e.g. first and last name) make them look like a single piece of information. Emphasize section headings (via color or shading) if you want people to read them. Only ask for required information. Identify optional fields rather than required fields (don't use asterisks).

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10 Rules for Good Forms Use a single input field for numbers and postal codes, and allow input in various forms. Avoid displaying unnecessary information and make sure important information stands out. Real time feedback may be distracting — good implementation is key. Place instructions to the side of the field. For multi-page forms tell users how many steps remain before completion.

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9. Bad or Ineffective Search

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Search Helps Small Sites Compete Big sites get more traffic, but niche sites can dominate.

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SEO and Usability Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about attracting people to your site by making sure your blog and article show up in search engines. SEO happens before the first click. Usability is about people completing tasks, so it is interested in their behavior after they arrive on your blog. It is about conversions (and more). Usability is about what makes them click.

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The Importance of Search If your website is difficult to use, customers leave. If they get lost in your website, customers leave. If a customer can’t FIND your product, they can’t BUY it. …. Then, they leave! About 60% of people are search-dominant (1st step).

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No Search Better Than Bad Search Bad search greatly impacts credibility. No search slightly impacts credibility. Bad search loses lots of customers. No search loses less customers.

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Site Search When Navigation Fails

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All in One SEO is Good Plug-in This a good start for SEO, which is half the equation.

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Guidelines for Site Search Make it a box. Button on the right. On top right of page. Must be on all pages. Box is initially empty. Button label = “Search”. Searches whole site. Don’t search Internet. Read Rosenfeld book.

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10. Un-responsive Design is Used

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We live in a Post-PC Era In 2012, PC sales were down from the previous year.

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Tablet Sales Rapidly Increasing In 2014, tablet sales will exceed 100+ million units.

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Mashable Mobile = 50% Traffic

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More Phones than Toothbrushes

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Over 60% Read News Online

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2014: Year of Responsive Design

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What is Responsive Design? “In simple terms, a responsive design uses media queries to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on.”

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Food Sense: Responsive Design

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Responsive WordPress Themes Lucid Angular Trim Glamour Deadline Boxline Inovado Simple Press Flexible Blox

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Brian’s Top 10 List for Blogs Slide 95 Strategy: No Clear Blogging Strategy Credibility: Lack of Credibility Cues on Blogs Headlines: Poorly Written Headlines to Grab Attention Navigation: Using Only One Navigation Scheme Content: Writing Ineffective Content Frequency: Infrequent or Irregular Updates Burying: Classic Hits are Buried Bad Forms: Cumbersome Forms to Use Search: Bad Search Forces Users to Think Un-responsive: Blog Can Only Be Views on One Device

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