As a usability fanatic and perhaps self-professed ‘expert’ if you like, i am easily intrigued by the design aspects of information spaces. No less so is my interest in the usability of blogs and the impact bad design may have on readers.
So what might be some of the most important usability elements of any blog for it to achieve maximum viewership and use?
As a reader, my personal expectation of a blog is that is should be easy to navigate to start with. Further, the content must be presented in a readable format, using appropriate fonts, colors, and layouts. These attributes are a must. I am easily turned off and away by blogs that does not meet these basic standards.
A number of blogs that i visit at least once per week meet these basic usability requirements. Learning with e’s by Prof. Steve Wheeler is a good example of a simple blog layout( http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/ ). Another excellent feature of this blog is that it allows you a one-click process to customize the layout. Another very usable and very simple layout is used by Prof. Path Thomson (http://patthomson.wordpress.com/). These two blogs in my view, are excellent examples of information-rich blogs with very simple and usable layouts.
The thing about good design is that it is easily recognizable. The same could be said of bad design. Some blogs (while i shall not name any in this post) fail the usability test in different ways. Navigation and content-findability are two most common issues from my experience. In addition, some blogs fail the usability test in other ways. Advertisements competing for real estate with actual content on many blogs is another obvious usability issue. Reading these blogs is a combination of carefully winding your way through ads and real content – if you have the patience for it. My guess is that many users do not stay the course – they are turned off.
So as a blogger and a consumer of blogs, does design issues affect you? Do you pay attention to your own blog design? If so, what particular aspects of design do you pay attention to?