Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Blogological analysis notes (revolt and revolting)


Blogological Analysis Notes
on
The Revolt and The Revolting


When I ran Blog Core Values through the BlogPulse Profile, one of the blogs that was stated to be in my "neighborhood" (similar links and content) was:

The Revolt and The Revolting
http://stopwarsaveearth.blogspot.com

I Google the blog title, which provided me with its URL and more information, and based on that information, I decided to visit this "neighbor".

That blog, and the photo above ("Hooker, Oklahoma"), are by Elisa Barrett. I am pacifistic, so I liked the URL and the blog description tagline. I did not read much of the post content, however, due to the following Web Usability Errors...



The Revolt and The Revolting
blogological analysis notes:



(1) Post Overlap.

It's hard to tell where one post, one line of thought, ends, and a new one begins. There is not enough separation, differentiation between one post and another.

This blending, blurring, overlapping effect produces a sensation of falling downward into a bottomless pit or endless hole that leads you know not where. It feels like an eternal sheet of paper, or an actual scroll that unwinds forever, you never reach the end.

Posts need to begin abruptly and end suddenly. Not too long, not too short. More than one sentence, less than a multi-volume tome. Sufficient treatment of the topic, without being wordy, verbose, or prolix.

TECH TIP: Use a blog design, custom or template, that clearly distinguishes each post. Tweak your template code to make post titles larger, a different color than body text, or whatever you can do to differentiate them from each other. If you don't know how, take a free online HTML Basics tutorial, or purchase a book on HTML, and learn some.

BLOGOLOGICAL CONCEPT: The post is the atomic unit of the blogosphere, much as the page is the atomic unit of the web. It is what is assigned a link address, its title is what is archived, it is the indivisible, named and dated, specific "product" of the "blogospheric info-process hub" called your blog.



(2) Post Title Deficiency.

This is a case of naming a post in an inefficient manner. In most cases, project team collaboration blogs being the main exception, the date of a post is irrelevant. So why would you want to put irrelevant information in the beginning of the title of each post?

EXAMPLE: "October 3, 2005 Flowers as tall as buildings in..." is the truncated title of a post, as listed under Previous Posts.

What's so wrong about this?

Users rarely "read" a blog or web site.

Instead, they scan and skim and skip around, seeking relevant information or needed functions.

Once they identify what seems relevant, interesting, or entertaining, they may slow down and patiently read word for word what the blogger wrote.

But post titles are glanced at hurriedly, to determine quickly if they seem to promise or offer personal benefit, useful information, or entertaining content.

A funny title promises humor content. A smart title promises wise advice. But a date in the title just seems boring and not important to the user's needs. And that date information is taking up space better filled by the entire post title, rather than a truncated, abbreviated, shortened title.



(3) Archive Misconfiguration.

Here we have the archives of past posts indicated by:

2004-12-19
2004-12-26
2005-01-02
[etc.]

The problem? Weekly archives, with just date designations that are irrelevant to users, pile up fast, and take up too much space. The meaningless list of archive dates is occupying space that only serves to allow users to backtrack your blog, read older material, all the contents of your blog. An important function, but not necessary to break it up by week.

Save space by archiving on a monthly basis:

2004-12
2005-01
2005-02
[etc.]

...or better, more humanized, less mechanical:

December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
[etc.]

In addition to dated archives, it is highly valuable to categorize posts, and provide a link list to all the posts in the categories you choose to use.

For example, my blog might have such categories as:

Blog Creation
Blog Post Writing
Blogocombat
Blog Promotions
Blogology
Business Blogging
Personal Blogging
Intranet Team Blogs
Blog Analysis
Blog Errors
Pseudo Blogs
Personal Blog Dangers
Safe Blogging
Blog Protection
Blogosphere vs MSM
Personal Blogging Tips



(4) Linked URLs.

Almost never make a URL a hypertext link.

Instead, provide the URL of a site or blog, typed out as text--but make the name of the site the hypertext link that users can click-select to visit it.

Why?

For one thing, some URLs, especially deep links, can be very long. Too long. So long, they will break the layout.

We see this problem manifested repeatedly in this blog.

What happens: the URL, beginning with "http://" and ending with ".php" or ".html" or ".asp" or whatever, stretches too far across the page, and actually overlaps a sidebar. Now you have text superimposed, accidentally, over other text. Not good.


CONCLUSION:

All these errors add up to users being provided with less than a sophisticated, user-friendly blog.

You may say "I love people. How dare you say my blog is not user friendly!", but consider this...

...you may be user friendly as a person, and still have a blog with poor usability or amateur mistakes, that can alienate, disorient, and frustrate users.

Forunately, these problems are easily remedied.




[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

:*)

1 comment:

carrie said...

yes... it seems like one of those SPAM blogs.