User Experience Matters
One of the hidden secrets of blogging is the importance of delivering a good user experience. It sounds obvious, but it involves a combination of factors that many bloggers get wrong. To assist you in avoiding those mistakes, I want to explain what user experience (we'll refer to it as UX on occasion...) is, why it matters, and what you can do to deliver a good one. User experience matters, perhaps more than anything else you can do. NOTE: Michael wrote about something similar in his last post. We actually agree!
Good User Experience, Defined
At Renegade Blogger, we write about all kinds of strategies and tactics. The combination of them should help you deliver a good UX. To make it clear, here are four cornerstones.
1. The content must be useful. We always say you must fulfill some unmet, or poorly met, need. Renegade Blogger, for example, strives to dispel bad advice and supplant it with useful tips to help you turn blogging from a hobby into a business.
2. Your blog needs to be found. That is, all the SEO tips we share are provided for a reason. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? If a blog is posted, can it be found? Do the basics to enable connecting with an audience.
3. Your blog needs to be (reasonably) attractive. Having been in the web game for a long time, I promise you that an ugly website or blog sends users running for the back button. It feeds credibility by an innate human sense.
4. Details matter. We'll drill down on this in the 'how to' portion, but if stuff is broken, it's another form of ugly. Pay attention to the details.
Why User Experience Matters
Two reasons drive the why of an investment in UX. First, it helps you engage your audience. If your user thinks you're cool/smart/entertaining, perhaps they'll stick around, read the whole post, leave a comment, and maybe even subscribe. Good UX leads to engagement, and that's a good thing. Second, all those factors of the first part are a signal to the search engines. If your user is not bouncing out, spends some time on your site, and leaves a comment, Google and Bing notice. They're measuring engagement as a signal to what blog posts or websites are the most popular. More engagement improves your page ranking. Better page ranking leads to more traffic. More traffic leads to more engagement. And the cycle continues. One good blog post can change your whole story. Suddenly a good UX and a good post has you atop Google...
How to Ensure a Good User Experience
1. Make sure your page loads fast. Michael wrote about this last year.
2. Deliver on the promise of your headline. If you're sharing your posts on social media, in a newsletter, or with an PPC ad, you don't want to mislead the user. We talk about bounce rate often -- when your user quickly hits the back button of the browser -- and it's a signal that your headline and content are misaligned. Don't use click bait. It's also helpful if you understand your audience. Deliver the content they want.
3. Write clearly. Just yesterday I landed on an article that was poorly written. I bounced. Write as if speaking -- be conversational but authoritative. Don't write with too many adjectives and adverbs. EDIT YOURSELF.
4. Make sure your post looks good. I told you previously that the eyes eat first in your blog post. Style counts. If you use images, use eye candy. Use easy-to-read typefaces and appropriate colors.
Images, fonts, colors, spacing
5. Pay attention to the details. Yes, I repeat myself. Things like poor spelling and broken links hurt your credibility. Know how to use "it's, its" and "They're, their, there" correctly. Use Grammarly if you need to. SPELL CHECK before you publish. Have someone read it. Read it out loud to yourself. It's all polishing the diamond to make it better.
6. Don't be annoying. We're guilty of using a subscribe popup here. It's annoying, but we only do it in one place and with a big time lag. I HATE sites that pop up a subscription or special offer immediately. It happens on my phone all the time. I'm shopping from Instagram, and BAM, 10% off if I put my email address in. Hey, people, I'm not ready yet. You haven't earned credibility. There are some funny stats on those popups. They're annoying but they do work, so keep that in check. Don't piss the people off TOO much :)
7. Check your site/blog on mobile. The geek term is responsive. Does your site look good on desktop and mobile? I have some older websites in my portfolio that suck on a phone. Make sure your text is legible on mobile. Most modern blogging platforms handle it, but you have to check. Look at desktop, tablet, and phone.
User Experience Matters!
Hopefully you see the message here. It all adds up. To emphasize the point, think about going out to dinner. When you drive by a cafe and the sign says "Best Sushi in LA", is it credible (probably not)? But maybe you stop in, order a Sapporo and a yellowtail sashimi appetizer. Hey, that's pretty good. Fresh fish, well-presented... The sushi chef is fast, efficient, courteous... You order omakase and get a delightful meal. The waiter keeps your water glass full, clears the plates, smiles. The bill arrives, and you're pleased that it didn't wipe out your bank account. You pay, leave a good tip, and head home. Later, you write a little Yelp review. "I was unsure going in, but man, what a great dining experience. Definitely going back." VOILA, that was a good user experience.
Do the same for your readers -- deliver a good user experience -- and you'll get good reviews too.
If you haven't done so already, please join us.
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