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I, like most bloggers (and online visitors), have ADD (Attention Deficient Disorder). I want answers fast and I don’t want to search for them.

Put me on a blog that’s difficult to navigate, and I’ll need a GPS (Global Positioning System).

Today’s Lesson

For both business and blogging, I do online research. If I land on a website or blog and am not intrigued by what I see within seconds, I’m off to the next one. However, if I see an interesting title or first sentence of an article, I’ll stop in my tracks and read on.

If I find what appears to be an exceptional blog, I’m compelled to read more.

I scan the sidebars looking for popular articles or some type of archives. Often, I find none.

Sometimes, at that point, I leave. Usually, never to return.

However, when I’m looking for my NBOTW (New Blog Of The Week), I will give the new blogger the benefit of the doubt and often scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “previous posts”.

New bloggers excluded, these are the things I look for:

1) About page

2) Previous posts and/or Popular Posts

3) Archives (either full list or by month)

4) RSS feed

Although categories are often helpful, I normally don’t scan those, unless it’s a a blog that has hundreds of posts.

A contact page is also great to see. Some prefer not to leave a comment (or do not know how to), but may want to communicate via an email.

Personally, I prefer to see the this information, above the fold. I realize the “craze” is to have a lot of this information at the bottom of the page (in the footer), however, some visitors will not know to scroll to the bottom of the page. Sometimes I get lazy, and won’t scroll either. Sorry!

Without a GPS, the best writings on a blog could be completely missed.

I also put my blog to the test. I’ve made a few modifications and found my categories are in need of attention.. Although I had one spammy comment (which I deleted) about my Amber Alert Ticker taking up too much CPU usage, I choose to leave it on my blog, with hope it may save a child’s life.

Keep in mind, this is only my opinion, but I am trying to look at blogs objectively….as a visitor, and not necessarily as a blogger.

Today’s Assignment

What do you like to see when you land on a blog?

Do you often feel you need a GPS, or will you make time to “dig” through the blog?

How do you think new visitors will react when they land on your blog?

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  1. Bold LentilNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results of having a “bottom posts” post. If readers know up front what the worst they can expect from your blog is then sometimes that can work to your advantage 😉 Otherwise, a quick page load, no overly long pages, minimal lay-out and easy within blog navigation are what I look for. best

  2. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome Bold Lentil,

    I just left your blog and do like the idea of showcasing those old posts that get no traffic. I’m going to have to try that, and when I do will share a link to your blog as well.

    Thanks for dropping in.

  3. I always look for the about page. That’s the main way I judge a new blog I come across. Sometimes I even read the about page before I read any posts.

    I recently started experimenting with removing the “recent posts” widget as suggested by Skellie. However, I think that means I need to add an archives page so people can see what I’ve written at a glance.

    I never look through archives myself (though I might dig through internal links and related posts), but I’ve heard people say they’re frustrated when there’s no archives section.

    Hilarious headline and picture, by the way!

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..I Can Has Digg?

  4. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I like blogs that are easy to navigate. I also tend to read more if they have recent posts, or most popular posts categories.

    Until I got my new theme my blog was a pain to navigate. I had more categories than Kelloggs have types of cereal and when I’d written a post, I was never sure what to put it, so I pity anyone who was trying to look for something.

    A search box is a must – but I’m finding the one I have now just doesn’t come up with great search results. I’ll probably start using the Google one again.

    @ Hunter, I have archives – they show up on all but my front page. And I’m thinking of removing them and replacing them with something else. All those lists of dates just wouldn’t inspire me to click at all.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Quit The Internet Copyright Paranoia

  5. What do you like to see when you land on a blog? Organization. Not too many ads. A nice clean layout. Eye pleasing colors. A list of archived post titles.

    Do you often feel you need a GPS, or will you make time to “dig” through the blog? No GPS needed, sometimes I’m just not paying attention so I overlook stuff. I don’t mind poking around, sometimes.

    How do you think new visitors will react when they land on your blog? I hope its neat and organized. I hope they think the colors are pleasing. Fast loading..I want to cut down on the load time. I hope they think my blog is worth another visit.

    I had an about me page up there, but since my blog is an extension of my website, I took it off since there’s already an about me page there. I hate talking about me anyway. :)

    Natural Woman’s last blog post..Free Stuff!

  6. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Hunter,

    I agree with you on the “About Me” page. Although it’s a page that’s difficult for most to write, it helps to give readers on insight into the author and what we can expect from their blog.

    Hi Catherine,

    I just added another search button to this blog. I was using Google’s but it wasn’t in a very convenient place.

    I’m wondering about the dated archives myself. Does anyone ever click on a month and say, “Hmmm I wonder what they wrote in July’?

    Hi Natural,

    You brought up a good point about pleasing colors. I have a hard time reading blogs that have a black background.

    Another A :)

  7. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t like a blog to be too busy. I do like a profile page. It is one of the first things I look at. It gives me an idea of the person writing the blog and if I will relate to them. I rarely mess with archives, but I have it on mine in case others want to see it. I don’t like how Blogger does it because you can’t just look at titles you get the entire post and it’s a pain to skim through them. When I add someone to my reader, I mark all posts as read and start from the day added. I don’t have time to go back and read up. Sometimes I think I will, but I don’t.

    Ads don’t bother me if there aren’t too many. I’ve still not added them to my blog but I will. I don’t want them at the top, though. Personally, I do not click on ads, but that is my personality. I don’t do much internet or catalog shopping. I prefer to shop at a store, but if there are so many ads that I can’t find the articles, I get frustrated.

    I recently changed my blog to only show the most recent 3 posts. I didn’t like how you paged down so far with all those posts. I like how this blog has a short excerpt and you can click on it if interested, but I don’t think Blogger has that option.

    Bottom line, I think in this case, you are preaching to the choir!

    Debbie Yost’s last blog post..World Down Syndrome Day

  8. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Debbie,

    First of all, I love your avatar. That is beautiful. Which daughter of yours is that?

    You know, I wish I knew more about Blogger, so I could help those who use that platform. I know we can do some much more with WordPress, and with the soon to be release of 2.5, it’s getting even better.

    I, too , like the excerpted posts (on older posts and/or archives).

  9. NezNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I also agree with Catherine a search box is very important.

    I found my way to a blog about mystery fiction, but there’s no search box. I’m not going to sift through the archives month by month to see if the title of a book I want is in there.

    As for my own blog, I’m still thinking about tweaking things, or even the theme itself.

    Your post just reminded me again. :-)

    Nez’s last blog post..Blog Haiku #1

  10. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Nez,

    Although I rarely use a search box on a blog, I think they do get used.

    That gets frustrating if you assume a blog might have information you are looking for, but they give you no way of finding it.

    Hmmm…Is it time for another theme change? I’ll be paying attention so I don’t think I landed on the wrong blog. With so many new themes out there, it’s hard not to try new ones.

  11. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    That’s my Peanut in the picture. She’s about 20 months old there.

    Debbie Yost’s last blog post..World Down Syndrome Day

  12. ah your timing, your timing. I am working on new things for InMyHeels.com because I think navigability is so important. I want to make it even easier for my visitors to find things they ought to see on my site (so look for some changes soon!)

    You make an important point here

    I often look for an about page – especially when I love what I see. I expect it to be up top. I expect to be able to contact the owner of the site quite easily.

    One of the very first impressions I had when I first came to this site was just how easy it is to navigate and find all sorts of stuff on here. Even when checking out the NBOTW – If I’d like to visit again, I know “hmm head on over to Barbara – I can find the link super quickly there!”

    The only time I dig through a blog is if I’m on a crazy manhunt for something very specific and I am convinced they ought to have something about it there. That isn’t very often bc..well.. there’s google. So yes, Blog GPS is quite important

    JEMi @ InMyHeels’s last blog post..Stripped: Vulnerability In Love

  13. Barbara, your are on-topic as usual. I’ve been spending the weekend looking for a decent commercial template that I can customize for my blog. I want to have the relevant info on the sidebar that you mentioned, but my current design is too narrow and not very readable.

    Also on-topic w/ headline because I’ve been trying to update the ROM on my HTC 6800 smartphone to activate GPS. But it keeps crashing on the install :-(

    sterling | bizlift’s last blog post..Walking On Water Miracle Revealed. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes.

  14. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi.

    I purposely published this post (assignment) on Friday, as the weekends (if I open my blog) are when I do a lot of maintenance/changes, and thought others might too.

    Now you have my curiosity up…knowing you are going to make changes. I can hardly wait to see what you do.

    Thank you for the compliment. I try very hard to have everything that’s important above the fold. My way of thinking is that if my present post doesn’t interest a visitor, maybe an older one will.

    Hi Sterling,

    I have had a lot of fun with changing templates/themes. I tried two column, but they were too confining for all I wanted to include, so that’s why I went with three column. There are tons of free choices out there. It just takes time.

    Good luck with your smart phone/GPS.

  15. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – I like what you have to say in this post about navigation. I’m fairly new at blogging and started out with Blogger and I’m finding it’s limited compared to WordPress. I agree with Debbie in that with Blogger some of the ordinary things are hard to come by or maybe it’s just I haven’t learned enough about html.

    Some examples I’ve been frustrated with are: trackback links (not available on Blogger); on my particular theme the sidebars are narrow and so if I add a Google search box that includes my site it cuts half of it off; wanting to add a privacy terms-type page and a donation information page but it involves adding a page like a post and then editing html (haven’t been brave enough to dig into that very far).

    A lot of it is probably due to me not being as tech-savvy as I should be. Blogger has been a good opportunity to start in the blogging community and get my feet wet. So, I’m thankful for that.

    Good information for me to keep in mind.

    Pat R’s last blog post..“Go Feed the Birds” (from The Tracker by Tom Brown, Jr.)

  16. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    Frustration at the beginning of blogging certainly isn’t limited to only those with Blogger blogs. I beat my head against the wall so many times and I had WordPress. It’s imperative to understand HTML, and to do so, takes time.

    I know what you mean about the Google search box, and two column themes.

    I agree, Blogger is a great free place to start. And, it gives you the opportunity to blog and decide if you want to stick with it. Then, when you decide you want to make it a serious hobby, you can always sign up for WordPress and invest some money in a web host.

  17. RemyNo Gravatar says:

    A visible search box, archives page, and contact page is very important for me. I guess usability is what is lacking on most sites.

    Remy’s last blog post..Promotional Spring Break Products

  18. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Remy,

    Thank you for dropping by.

    Usability is very important. If readers can’t find what they are looking for, they’ll quickly leave.

  19. Interesting post! Very interesting and informative. I learned a lot from the thread of comments too. Thanks for the tips on blogging and for all other things.