OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: Geek Lab: Usability for Beginning Bloggers (Beginning Level)

BlogHer Original Post

Welcome to the liveblog of the BlogHer '10 panel: Geek Lab: Usability for Beginning Bloggers (Beginning Level)Click here for more info.

This panel starts Friday, August 6 at 10:30 am and ends at 11:45 am Eastern time.

Wondering why you have visitors but nobody seems to comment on your blog? Have you installed Google Analytics only to find that all of your visitors leave after a few seconds? Your content might be great, but if your blog isn't usable, readers will run away. It doesn't take knowing HTML or CSS to have a usable blog that's easy to visit and read, but it does take putting yourself in the shoes of new and returning visitors. Abi Jones and Tracy Osborn will highlight the top 10 usability issues faced by new bloggers, and give you an easy checklist for keeping your blog usable.

This session will be live-blogged by @momisageek at Keep refreshing this post for updates!

40% of the attendees of BlogHer are beginning bloghers, so the usability lab should give you some great ways to improve your blog.

The speakers want to know how the audience blogs:
- novice to HTML
- Intermediate - change the code in your sidebar
- Advance - change about
- None of the above

What type of blog?
- personal
- topical
- blogging for a large organization

What platforms
- wordpress
- Blogger
- Typepress

Most people are seeing your blog for the first time and
Top ten things to know:

1. Where am I? - Identify your blog boldly and make a good first impression.

2.Who are You as a Blogger? - Use an About or pictures. Make sure the tenor of what you say matches what interaction you want to have. Make sure the readers can get in touch with you. Even if it is an alias that goes to an email. This is for publishers, or advertisers.

3. Is your blog readable? - The typeface should not be too small. Vary the typeface appropriately, but don't make it a mish-mash. Some type faces will display differently in different browsers. IE substitutes Arial for Helvetica when it doesn't have the right typeface.

Where have I been?

Being lost on a site is Internet Hell. Put a home link on every page to make sure people can get to information
about you and your blog.

4. Put the navigation in the same place. Maintain a consistent look and feel.
Meanwhile, check out more BlogHer '10-related info:

5. Put dates clearly on the post. Having a recent date or any date gives context to the post.

Make your links look like links, and make them consistent.

6. Structure and Sense - Use your lists appropriately to lead the reader through the content
Then write awesome content. The quality of your writing leads to the best experience for your reader

7. What happens after? - Make sure you tell the end of the story. Take advantage of the advertising

Questions from audience - Does it matter if related posts are yours?
Linking to your own improves your page views, but you should give your reader to best content wherever it is.

Question from audience - Favorite Wordpress theme?
Look at the ratings from the users to see which are popular. Look at Downloads and Reviews. Make sure
you have great related posts, which can be supplied automatically.

Question from audience - how do you make Google see related posts
Add good keywords in the headline and the content of the post.

Share what is unique content, not the same link that everyone is sharing. Add to the discussion without repeating. Get be yond the usual post.

Organize> your Blog posts into sub-topics in the sidebar and by using tags and archives.

Most Popular blog posts are self-fulfilling if you put a link on every page. They stay most popular because they get the most exposure.

Question From Audience: How do you get help if you are not techy?
Look at the forums

Question: If you switch from Blogger to Wordpress, does the content automatically disappear? It doesn't change automatically. You should put in a message pointing to the new site with a link.

Question: What is RSS and how does it works? Depends on the theme and it may not have a link to the RSS plug-in. Wordpress automatically creates an RSS feed.

8. Are comments easy to read and leave? - Getting a comment is like getting a gold star. Make sure people can see what the comments are and where
This is a problem with Blogger because the comments are on a different page. There are links searchable on Blogger how to get comments on the same page. The only comment system harder to use than Blogger is Typepad. Use a spam repressor like Akismet to suppress spam. Captcha doesn't work because now there human spam mills (people who type in spam) to evade Captcha. Akismet thwarts this, and has a blacklist to keep blocking problem sites. It looks for content related to the blog instead of spam. Akismet plug-ins are available on every blogging platform and is a tool to suppress spam in comments.

9. How does your Blog look in other browsers? It doesn't have to look identical, but it should not be confusing or broken. Most common browsers are IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Question from audience: Some companies are still using IE6. How to handle? If you are on a required platform, you should make sure that browser works well.

Question from audience: Is it important to get .wordpress out of the URL? This requires your own domain name. When you are ready to start paying, that's when you should switch.

Question from audience: When I switched to my own domain, some readers couldn't read pages any more. Why?

10. Look at your blog - check to see if it still makes sense. Don't let the ads, the navigation, and extras don't overwhelm the content. Before you leave the house, take off one accessory - same thing for your blog. Police yourself to not clutter the experience.

Further Resource:
Don't Make Me Think

No One Care What you Had for Lunk : 100 Idess for your Blog

The Huffington Post: Complete Guide to Blogging

Online: problogger.cnet for more tips.

Meanwhile, check out more BlogHer '10-related info: