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.
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.
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?
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.
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.)
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.