Neilsen’s Top Ten Blog Design Mistakes Deconstructed

Jakob Neilsen has a new Top Ten list. Now, what do we think of his recommendations?

1. No Author Biographies
I have to agree with this one. People want to know who you are. If you’re an anonymous blogger, give some background info that explains your reason for blogging and why you’re anonymous.

2. No Author Photo
Guilty. I know it seems arrogant, but again, people want to know what you look like. Someday I’ll get around to posting one in the author bio section. It would probably be better to put it on the front page, but I’m not going to go there. I did on Cognitive Daily, though. Call me a hypocrite.

3. Nondescript Posting Titles
For the most part, I agree with this one as well, but sometimes a vague title, provided it offers a bit of mystery, can help draw a reader in.
Brad DeLong is the master of clear headlines
But Scott Esposito’s cryptic slugs make me want more

4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go
Here Neilsen suggests that readers are too stupid to hover over a link and look in the status bar to see where it leads, but they’re smart enough to hover over a link and wait to see if a mysterious “link title” feature that no one ever uses might pop up. I do agree, to a certain extent, that cryptic links can be annoying, but used with discretion, they can be a great source for humor.

5. Classic Hits are Buried
This is a great tip: put links to your best posts right on your home page. But who has the time?

6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
Here Neilsen makes a plea for categories. Yes, categories can be useful, but a big problem with them is that you never know when you make a post on a new topic if that’s going to be something you return to over and over again, or if this will be your last post on that topic.

The best approach is probably to constantly revisit categories and re-categorize all your old posts. I’ll get to that one right after I finish organizing my sock drawer.

7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
Yes, right. A regular publishing schedule is a good thing. What I’d suggest, in addition to Neilsen’s points, is to not be afraid to make a short post.

8. Mixing Topics
He’s probably right, here. Single-topic blogs are much more likely to be successful than multi-topic blogs. Cognitive Daily regularly gets five times the readership of Word Munger. But if you don’t care how many readers you get, feel free to wax on about GMail one day and Hurricane Katrina the next. I don’t know anyone who’s done that, though.

9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
Yes. Don’t do this, unless you are a member of the leisure class.

10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Meh. I haven’t seen any stigma attached to this. If anything, I find people who’ve registered their own name as their domain a little obnoxious. Not that I know anyone who’s done that.

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One Response to Neilsen’s Top Ten Blog Design Mistakes Deconstructed

  1. Doug Hoffman says:

    How am I doing?

    1. No Author Biographies — I’m fine.

    2. No Author Photo — Good again.

    3. Nondescript Posting Titles — Usually, I play it for laughs. Is that nondescript?

    4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go — If I really want my readers to see the link, I underline. That’s a subtle nudge.

    5. Classic Hits are Buried — I’m good on this one, too. I put up ‘this week’s favorites’ and ‘old favorites’.

    6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation — Guilty! Categories would require more programming knowledge than I have. Eventually, I’ll drop Blogger, move over to my own domain (it’s there waiting for me), and get me some decent blogging software.

    7. Irregular Publishing Frequency — Good again. I’ve only missed one day since I started.

    8. Mixing Topics — My biggest sin.

    9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss — I’m never going to have another boss (besides my wife) as long as I live.

    10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service — I’m not sure I understand why people care about this so much. Guilty, at least for the time being.

    Interesting list, Dave.

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