The Importance of Usability and Your Blog

After reading Steve Krug’s, “Don’t Make Me Think,” I started to think about all the websites and blogs that I frequent and whether or not they’re easy to navigate. I’ve experienced many frustrations when entering a website and not being able to find what I’m looking for in a quick search.  I’ve also entered many blogs and left due to the content. While there are plenty of lessons in "Don't Make Me Think," three lessons stuck out to me: conventions, omitting needless words, and the importance of a search function.

He states that as users, we are constantly looking for conventions. As someone who grew up using the Internet, I never really thought about how I learned to navigate it. Krug states, “well applied conventions make it easier for users to go from site to site without expending a lot of effort figuring out how things work” (35). This is important when reading through a site. The more I have to read through a website, the less I want to stay on it. Our conventions tell us where links are on the page, how to get back to the home page, and how to submit a form and there is no thinking involved when a website takes advantage of this. However, not all websites, or bloggers, are created equally.

What does this mean for us bloggers? It means that we need to start considering our readers. While our blogs tend to be advertised as our personal space on the web, we still want readers to relate to us and find comfort in familiarity. Krug writes about omitting “needless” words (also see Usability Guidelines). I asked myself why it would be important to omit words in my blog entries and while I feel there is a time and place for long posts about significant life happenings, I also feel that the reader just wants a quick peek into my life. He also discusses the importance of getting rid of “noise.” The benefit that stood out to me was that it would make “useful content more prominent” (45). As a blogger, I want the reader to find usefulness in what I’m writing because I want them to come back.

Last, Krug explains the importance of adding a search function to your website (he also discusses it in this interview). The search function allows users to quickly navigate a website by simply typing in a word and discovering results. I want my site to be searchable and this is why I use labels and will start using “anchor texts”. Anchor texts give my blog a better chance of showing up when a specific word is typed into Google. They will be key when blogging about reviews or linking to relevant entries. The search function, labels, and anchor texts add an element of usability to my blog and make it different from other similar blogs.

While Blogger is a great platform due to it's many options and tools to personal a blog, it’s up to us to make our blogs usable. As more blogs appear on the internet, it will be crucial for me to continue to critique my site and make it better. If anything, Steve Krug shares that we should always be learning and reviewing our websites. Even as technology advances, Krug finds that usability is still a constant struggle for web designers. Here is a recent (2009) slide show that Krug did for New Riders Voices That Matter Conference, "What I Have Learned So Far in the 21st Century". He discusses what he has learned since writing “Don’t Make Me Think." 

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