Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Through a Visitor’s Eyes

Posted 21 March, 2013 by Amanda / 75 Comments

bloggiesta

Hello, my lovely Bloggiesta participants! Today I have for you an activity that challenges you to look at your blog from the perspective of your visitor. The idea is to make sure your visitors have the best experience possible. You want them to keep coming back to visit, right?

I’ve broken the challenge into three parts: 1. necessary items, 2. commenting, and 3. navigation + searching. Each part will have a task. If you need someone else to help you complete your task, tweet me! Either I will do it myself or I will find someone to help you. (If you don’t have Twitter, you can comment on this post. That works too.)

Part 1: Necessary Items

For this part, I will provide you with a checklist of items your website should have. If you already have these items, you’re ahead of the game! If you don’t, your task is to add them to your site.

Navigation

Make it easy for people to move around your site: give them easy navigation. The best way to do this is a menu bar. Got one? You’re good.

About page

You have a blog for a reason. What is it? Spell it out for your visitors on an about page. Who are you? What is the purpose of your blog?

Social media

Make it easy for your visitors to connect with you outside of your website by including links to your social media accounts. Put them all in one spot that is easy to locate without searching.

Contact

No blog is complete without having a way to contact you. This can be accomplished with a mailto: link or a contact form. (The latter is the best option, as it will keep your email address from being picked up by spammers.)

Search bar

Include a search bar so that visitors can easily search your site for information. You must–MUST!–have a search bar.

Product information (review archive)

I’ve used product information here to stay general. If you’re a book blogger, that means having a review archive. If you’re a food blogger, that means having a recipe archive. Whatever you publish the most of, you want a page devoted to listing all those posts.

Part 2: Commenting

Your task is to leave a test comment on your blog. You will have to log out to do this. If you are on Blogger and can comment without a Blogger account, do it. Otherwise this is where you will need someone to do it for you–and report to you what the process is like. I also suggest that you reply to your test comment. If you have a way of subscribing to comments, you’ll want to check this too.

What’s the point of this task? Here’s what you can discover:

  • How easy it is to comment on your blog
  • If you have CAPTCHA and don’t realize it
  • What your visitors see/experience when they comment
  • Ways that you can make commenting easier for your visitors
  • Whether something is broken or not functioning as it should

Part 3: Navigation + Searching

For this, we’ll test how easy it is to find posts on your blog. You will probably want to find a friend to help you with this part.

Before you get started, I invite you to test me, first: without using my search bar, find my review of That Voodoo You Do by Jodi Redford. How did you find it? Was it easy? How long did it take you? (Tell me!)

Your task is to choose a specific post you wrote and ask someone to find it. Ask them the questions I’ve asked you: How did you find it? Was it easy to find? How long did it take you?

The easier you can make their search, the better.

Another task you can do is test your search bar. Choose a topic to search and do it. What does your search results page look like? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for?

Bonus: Check Your Links

Make sure all your links work! Click on all your social media links, your RSS subscription links, your menu links. The last thing you want is to have someone NOT be able to follow you or contact you because you have a broken link.

Filed under: Event,

Divider

75 Responses to “Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Through a Visitor’s Eyes”

  1. AMANDA.
    YES.
    ALL OF THIS.
    BRILLIANT.

    Also, this especially:
    “About page
    You have a blog for a reason. What is it? Spell it out for your visitors on an about page. Who are you? What is the purpose of your blog?”

    I’m always astounded by how many blogs — and BUSINESS websites — don’t have this. Seriously, it’s the first thing I check on every website I go to: who are you, and what do you do?
    BRILLIANT post, you brilliant thing!

    • Links are definitely not something I usually think about either. But I got well acquainted with broken links when I started the Midwestern Book Bloggers site and crawled over people’s sites to get their social media information. It was an eye opening experience for me. Now I always check my links whenever I change something.

  2. Excellent post! I found something wrong with my blog D: But first a question: Did you do something special to add the “# comments” link at the bottom of your posts even on the main page? I want to make it easy for people to leave comments, but I know I hate having to scroll to the top of the post if I’m on the home page ya know?

  3. Ack, I passed most of these save the contact form.
    *Adds to ever increasing to-do list — oh my gosh random tangent, do you use a task management system? If you don’t, I’m going to wax poetic about Remember the Milk to you all day. (Side note: these are actually the things I get excited about… sigh)

  4. Thanks for the great advice. I didn’t know using a contact form would help deter spammers. I got a particularly mean spam comment earlier. I mean if you think my content has gone down the drain, then by all means, don’t spam me!

    I will have to test out my own navigation and appreciate the tips. Look forward to completing this mini-challenge and chatting with you more over the weekend!

  5. Awesome tips! Working on some of these this weekend during Bloggiesta, so this is awesome. Added the fact that I need an About page to my to-do list.

    My question for you is, how did you do your social media icons? I love yours! :)

    • I got my social media icons from a friend, and the Goodreads one was from the website.

      The good news, though, is that you can search Google for social media icons. There are tons of them out there for free. And if you want to know where the Goodreads icons are, let me know. They’re kind of hidden on the GR website.

  6. Thanks for this! I think I have everything you mentioned, now just to test my own commenting system and get someone to search stuff for me!

  7. Great post! I found the review by clicking on your Reviews tab, then checking alphabetically. It took a minute.

    Great system.

    I also tried commenting on my own blog; it wasn’t difficult.

    Thanks for the challenge!

  8. I found the review using your Reviews index, but had to backtrack because I only remembered the title and not the author. One of the things I’ve got on my Bloggiesta list is to compile a Reviews by Author index in addition to the Reviews by Title. I wasn’t planning on attempting any mini-challenges, but yours would be really helpful, so I may be back to try it out from the beginning. Thanks for offering it!

  9. This is fantastic information! It helped me with the commenting portion of my blog. I’m not nuts about turning on anonymous commenting (vs. registered users) but since I was having a hard time leaving a comment without being signed into my Google+ account, I figured I’d give it a go and see how it turns out. Thanks for all of this!

  10. Retha

    I have categories and series on my blog to make it easy.
    But – although my book reviews are easy to find, a particular book review is not. You need to scroll down or use search.
    Any advice? Perhaps an alphabetical listing like yours? How do I do that?

    • I’m a big fan of having a review archive. It gives your readers a quick and easy way to see all your reviews at once. Unfortunately, the best way of doing that is starting at the beginning of your blog and enter in all the reviews by hand.

  11. I downloaded your pdf version of this just a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to work on it – thanks for the reminder! The big thing for me is the contact form. I always wanted to do it but never tracked down info on how. Now I know (and it’s up and running :)!

  12. Great mini-challenge! Thanks for hosting! I was able to easily find your review in Part 3. One suggestion: you may want to note at the top of your review page that the list is alphabetical by author’s last name. I tried clicking on “V” for Voodoo first, then realized it was by author. You’ve definitely given me something to think about with respect to how people find posts on my blog.

  13. I think I check out on all points! Go me! :) And thanks for telling people to have a search bar. I get so frustrated when I want to find something and can’t! Anyway, I hope lots of bloggers go through these steps you’ve laid out here and improve their blogs.

  14. I wonder.. if you are not signed up with Bloglovin does that mean people can’t follow me? Is it a must to have that somewhere on my blog?

    • People can still follow your blog on Bloglovin if you don’t sign up, BUT you don’t have access to subscriber stats. A way to follow your blog would definitely be something you want to have, whether it’s a Bloglovin button or a link to your RSS feed.

  15. For Part 1, I already had all of those items so I didn’t have to add any of those items. I tested out the commenting as well and I was happy to find out that it’s really easy to comment! Anyone can comment on my blog, which is what I prefer because Askismet works super good for filtering spam comments. For part 3, I searched your review with the full name “That VooDoo You Do by Jodi Redford” and it came up immediately in the search results(I belive 4 items down from the top!). I am also so glad I tested out my search page, I hated the way it looked! At first I thought it was ok but after seeing how your items load with just the page title, I perfer that much over mine which showed the entire post. Some of searches I did, the post was several down from the top so it was a lot of scrolling. I chose to change my search page to Only showing a small excerpt so it will be easier to find! VERY helpful. Anddd… for Part 4, luckily all my links worked :)
    Thanks so much for this challenge Amanda! It is amazing… especially the search part, incredibly helpful!
    Lauren @ Lose Time Reading

    • WP is great for commenting, I think. I rarely have difficulty with other WP blogs. :)

      Glad you figured out the search thing. It really is quite amazing what we don’t know about our own blog sometimes, isn’t it?

  16. Amanda, this is such a fantastic challenge, it actually contains quite a few of my noted to do items :) For example, writing my About Me Page.

    I’ve just got 2 questions:-

    – How do I do a contact form? What do you use? I’ve got a link to email me on my sidebar along with my social media links but I’ve noticed that not all computers let you click on it, or maybe it’s because I use GMail so there’s no desktop default email app but it doesn’t open to a “compose” a new email page…it dose provide me with the email address which I can then copy and paste. A tedious process for those that just wants to hurry!

    – What’s the Menu bar? Is that the bar at the top with “Home”, “About Me”, “Review Policy” etc?

    Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Angelica

  17. Great challenge! I did the test comment thing and I have all the main things you mentioned. I don’t have any review archive except for one page that lists all parenting books I’ve reviewed by topic. I don’t really get why that’s needed. I found your review by going to your archive but I could have searched, so why is it needed?

    I am going to be switching to WP very soon and then I can implement the things I really want to like a better search bar and better commenting system and such.

  18. Thanks for the nice mini-challenge! I especially liked the part where I commented on my own blog. :) I should do that more often. Makes me feel popular.

  19. This was a great challenge. I had everything you suggested, but I hadn’t made a comment like a reader would. I tried that and realized that I needed to add twitter. Thanks for the awesome tips!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge