Happy Friday everyone! My name is Angel and you can find me at Static-Romance. I’m a freelance graphic designer and web developer from Florida. I’ve been blogging for over five years now at various places. I’m so grateful Sarah has opened an opportunity for me to guest post here at OSN.

Lately, I’ve been connecting with many personal bloggers who blog about everything from babies to handbags. Having a blog is a wonderful experience for the blogger and the reader. As an avid blog reader, I enjoy visiting a site that is optimized to make reader usability easy. However, there are some things we, as bloggers, don’t realize make our sites easier for readers. Here’s five tips to improve reader usability.

1. RSS Please

I cannot express how important it is for a blog to have a visible/active RSS feed. I know some of you are wondering, “What is RSS?” RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

Your users use feed reader or news aggregator software allow you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use. – Whatisrss.com

If you have no idea how to set up your RSS feed with your CMS, I would suggest getting a Feedburner account. Feedburner is the easiest way to track your RSS feed readers, optimize your RSS feed, and share your RSS feed. One of the biggest turn offs is not being able to find a site’s RSS feed. I will usually never visit the site again if I can’t find an RSS feed unless they have outstanding content. Bookmarks are so 2004! More people use RSS feed readers than you think.

2. Battle of Categories and Tags

I cannot stress how important it is to organize your organize your categories and tags. As a reader, when we visit your blog and we find a specific topic interesting, we’d love to find more entries about this topic. If you have 200 tags, you make it hard for us to search through what we’re looking for. Be sure to not overdose on categories and tags. Always use correct spelling and grammar when naming your tags/categories. It’s easier for you to organize and it’s easier for the reader to find them.

3. I Can’t Read Your Text

Have you ever visited a blog and thought, “I love your turquoise text. I really do, but I’m sure you don’t expect me to read your blog entries.”? Despite the fact that I’m terribly far-sighted, as a graphic designer, I cringe when visiting blogs with terrible text readability. Text that is too small, with tiny letter-spacing, and tiny amounts of line-spacing turn your readers off!

Remember that it’s always nice to have a great blog design, but be sure your text colors aren’t clashing. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to read light-colored text on a light background without straining their eyes. Always be sure to use dark text on a light background, and light text on a dark-background. Try to steer away from harsh colors such as #ffff00 yellow and #ff0000 red when it comes to text.

4. Do You Need A Compass To Navigate Your Site?

What’s the best way for your readers to discover everything on your site? Using the navigation! Most blogs offer a menu of the pages they offer on their site. How is a reader meant to read more about you when they can’t find the page? It’s important to have a well-styled menu. Use grammatically correct terms. It’s tempting to name your links after your blog’s “theme” however it may be confusing for your readers. Be sure your navigation is easy to find. It’s best to have it at the top or in a sidebar. It may be a hassle for the reader to find your pages if they’re all listed in the footer. Navigation is key! Don’t let your readers get lost.

5. Don’t Forget Us!

It happens to the best of us. We all get into some situation where we just get tired of blogging. Blog burn-out gets to all of us at one point or another. I’m terribly guilty of this, seeing that I didn’t update my site for over three months at one point. However, you at least owe it to your readers to tell them you just are tired of blogging. There’s nothing worse than following a really great blog and the blogger disappears. Then he/she reappears years later saying how much they missed us, only they didn’t give us a proper goodbye.

When all else fails, turn to guest blogging. If you can’t blog, find a friend who will blog for you or put your site on hiatus. It’s easier for the readers to know that you’re leaving the blogosphere than to have them constantly checking your site daily, wondering when you’re returning.

I hope you enjoyed the post! I hope to return to guest post here at OSN sometime in the future. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Kimm
posted on September 11th 2009 at 2:14AM CDT

I think also interacting with your readers also is key, instead of just replying back to what they had to say on your site, email them /chat with them on IM and of course visit their site. Make it so they want to keep coming back.

posted on September 11th 2009 at 2:46AM CDT

I agree with Kimm, especially those who are regular visitors, it helps to build a personal relationship.

For RSS, I use Google Reader, it’s way too hard to “guess” when a site has updated and RSS has eliminated that guesswork.

I also VERY much agree about the crazy or just plain boring navigation out there. Either it makes no sense “the rainbow falls” turns out to be a page of links, or “girl” “woman” for info/about pages. DRIVES ME INSANE.

I am worried about blog burnout or more so, just no TIME due to the baby coming any day now, I have to give you a big awesome THANK YOU for the wonderfully written guest post! I hope to see more in the future!

posted on September 11th 2009 at 10:12AM CDT

Great post! I see what you mean. I’m definitely guilty of number 5. I try to be one of those people that blog every day, but truthfully I don’t see how other moms do it. I just don’t have the time. I like my posts to be well thought out and I like to include photos whenever possible because I’m personally more attracted to photo posts. I like to give my readers something pretty to look at just in case my post bores them to tears lol. It’s time consuming for me, but I agree, you should at least let your readers know what’s going on. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

Caity
posted on September 20th 2009 at 11:36AM CDT

Great post! I think a lot of people overlook one or two of these things as they are not generally things bloggers tend to think of when they start blogging. The first thing, from my own personal experience, was content. What the heck do I write about? But these things, I have found, are equally – if not more – important.
.-= {Caity┬┤s shared blog entry ..More dumpster buddies!} =-.

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