How to tackle user experience when setting up your blog
A guest post by Jodie Manners.
You’ve probably heard the term user experience before.
It’s become a key buzzword of the digital age. But what does it actually mean?
User experience (UX) describes how a user feels when interacting with technology. It gets at the core of good design because, after all, people design for other people… for them to engage with technology and find it, well, usable.
The most successful blogs are those that consider user experience right from the off.
So, this post will share four actions you can take during the setup phase. These will give your new blog the UX boost that sets it apart from your competitors.
In 2016, Google announced they would prioritise websites that were mobile-friendly over those that weren’t. In 2019, they went one step further, putting mobile searches and mobile optimised websites first in all search results.
This is a very sensible move. Search engines want to offer the most relevant and user-friendly results first and over 60% of all internet searches are conducted via mobile.
What does this mean for those setting up a new blog? You need to:
- Build it using a small screen friendly template or theme (readily available from WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etc.)
- Ask your website developers to build a site for mobiles that also works on different screens.
By focusing on mobiles first, you’ll instantly satisfy over half of your users. This will instantly make your blog more visible in Google’s search results.
Sketch out a sitemap
Professional design agencies get very technical with sitemaps. However, I recommend staying away from these instructional blogs unless you want to get very deep into this issue. Any kind of sketch of how your pages are laid out, and how you expect your users to move through them, will improve people’s enjoyment of your blog.
You can think of a sitemap as a kind of floorplan for your website. It might look something like this…
When you draw yours, think about how your users might move through your site and ask yourself questions like these:
- What would they find simple to do?
- What might they find confusing?
- How would I like to move through a blog?
- What’s important to show first and last?
- Do I want people to ‘convert’, e.g. to subscribe or buy a product?
- If so, how do I want them to reach the purchase page or signup information?
You can use a free, online tool like gloomaps.com to create a simple sitemap, or stick with good old fashioned pen and paper.
Taking the time to put together a sitemap results in a blog that really works for people and avoids common design pitfalls.
Let’s go faster
Site speed is absolutely central to a positive user experience. How fast your website loads (how quickly it comes up on the screen after they’ve clicked on your link) is mostly determined by your choice of web host.
A web host is a company that you pay to ‘host’ your website. They store the data that makes up your site on their servers (like a giant USB drive). When a person wants to access your website, its data is sent to their computer via the internet.
Waiting for a website to load is torturous. Your potential readers expect your blog to appear on their screens within 3-4 seconds. However, the average website currently takes 15 seconds. If yours doesn’t load quickly enough, people will abandon their attempt to connect with you. They will feel they’ve had a bad experience, so it’s unlikely they’ll ever come back.
What can you do about it?
- If you don’t want to pay from the start, find the best free web hosting plan available
- If you’re happy to pay, learn a bit more about the types of hosting which might be best for your users and your blog
It’s tempting to throw everything but the kitchen sink at your new blog to make it stand out. But, in reality, people value simplicity. They want to find what they need quickly, scan your site easily and pick out essential information without distractions.
Make sure you meet these expectations by avoiding all of the following clutter when designing your blog:
- Popups – an aggressive popup should not be the first thing your visitors see; these should appear when someone is at least halfway down a page or article
- Image or video scrolls – less than 1% of users interact with them and most find them distracting; this also goes for galleries
- Unstructured text – if there’s no headings, subheadings, introductions and conclusions on your site, people won’t read it
- Blocks of text – people won’t read long paragraphs hat are over four lines long, or sentences that go on for ever
- Cluttered visuals – the use of white space in webdesign (areas where there is no content or other visual elements) allows users to focus on what’s important
Your user experience
Setting up a blog is exciting. It’s easy to get carried away and over-bake the whole thing. Keeping user experience front and centre means you’ll create a site that people want to use.
Just remember to:
- Think ‘mobile first’ rather than ‘mobile-friendly’
- Build a simple and effective site structure
- Choose a fast web host
- Keep it simple
About the author
Jodie Manners is a professional writer and editor working with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information to help everyone from small and niche business owners to budding web masters reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing and tech. You can connect with Jodie through LinkedIn.