As a technical writer, one of the most important things to consider when writing technical documentation is making sure the help is user-friendly. After all, if users can’t find the information they are looking for, they will feel frustrated and never look at the help again. When writing a help manual, technical writers have to consider how to create, organize, and manage the help content in a way that boost user experience and empower the users.
The same things can be said about creating, building, and maintaining a blog. While some people blog for their own pleasure and self-expression, serious bloggers should consider how they can design their blogs to improve reader experience. If readers are able to navigate your blog and find what they are looking for, they will come back again. They’ll even subscribe to your blog. However, if your blog is not well designed, it doesn’t matter if you have great articles. Readers won’t be able to find them and you lose an audience.
Thanks to Daniel Scocco from DailyBlogTips for all of his great articles and tips on blogging. I’m using his blog as an example for this article. All the screenshots are taken from his blog. Please check out his blog!
1. About Page
Visitors will stumble upon your blog from searching particular keywords. If they find the article they arrived at interesting, the next thing they are likely to do is to find out what your blog is about. It is important that you have an about page or section that is easy to find on your blog. This could be a link on a top navigation bar or a section on your sidebar. This about page or section provides information about the focus of your blog and who you are as a blogger. Visitors are more inclined to continue reading more articles from your blog if they know your blog is of a particular topic or interest.
2. Contact Page
Interacting with your audience and engaging in active discussions are some of the highlights of blogging. Your blog should provide a way for visitors and readers to contact you without giving out your email address. This contact page is usually a form in which readers can fill out and contact you directly.
3. Popular Articles
When visitors stumble upon your blog from searching for something, they might like the article they arrived at. After reading the about page and learning that your blog is of interest, what’s next? Point them to your best articles! Your visitors are probably not likely to go and read all of your old posts, so it is important that you have a section on the front page of your blog listing your most popular articles. Sidebar is a good location to place these links. You can use various WordPress plugins to list your most popular posts based on visits and comments. You also can add these links manually.
4. Recent Articles
When visitors arrive at your blog, they might be reading an old article. Your blog sidebar should include a recent articles section so that visitors can quickly scan the titles of your latest posts. This section should include only post titles and not excerpts.
5. Searching Archives
You need to make your blog easy to navigate and search for older posts. The more articles you write for your blog, the harder it will be for readers to find articles of interest and relevance. There are different ways in which you can improve your blog archives and search system. You can add categories link to your sidebar. Categories help users find articles of particular interest. You also can add a sitemap or archives page, listing posts by date, by categories, by tags, by authors, and so on. Improving how readers search your blog will add to their overall experience. Your older posts are also more likely to be read again and again.
6. Related Articles
Many bloggers include a related articles section at the bottom of every post. This is an excellent way of pointing your readers to other articles of similar content, not necessary of the same categories. There are many WordPress plugins you can use to add related articles to your post. Most of these plugins generate related articles based on the tags and keywords you assigned to each post. Having this list helps readers find other articles of relevance. This also help bring to attention your older posts.
7. Subscribe to Feed
Lastly, if visitors and readers really like your blog, then they might want to subscribe to your blog. You need to provide a link to subscribe to your blog somewhere noticeable, preferably at the very top of the sidebar or header. You can also include the feed link at the bottom of each post. There are two types of subscriptions that you can provide: RSS and e-mail. Feedburner is the preferred subscription management service. Your blog popularity depends on how many visitors, readers, and subscribers you have. Make sure you encourage your readers to subscribe to your blog!