Top ten weblog usability blunders

Not long after posting a list of the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005, Jakob Nielsen has posted another list, this time taking a look at Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes.

All valid points, and I’m very happy to note that I don’t see myself making any of the mistakes on the list. Or maybe you think I am? If you do, let me know so I can make this site better.

Posted on October 19, 2005 in Quicklinks, Usability

Comments

  1. Bugs freak me out!

  2. October 19, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Haha! Well, I like my grasshopper bug!

  3. That’s all that really matters, he doesn’t stop me from visiting. Your site has been a wonderful resource along the path of CSS education.

    Thanks

  4. I have to dissagree with #10. Having a blog that ends in typepad.com is not bad. for example, Mike Rundle’s weblog is hugely popular, altough his URL is http://phark.typepad.com

  5. Yes, #10 is a bit off… Two blogs come to mind: headrush.typepad.com and sethgodin.typepad.com…

  6. I wonder why he didn’t mention how to setup the xml feeds, quite a number of weblog feeds only give a part of the blogpost, which forces the user away from the feedreader and onto the weblog - this behavior (I think) should only be necessary if you want to participate in the discussion (if any) - and thus only feeding part of the post is poor usability.

  7. This is a surprisingly good list of ideas from Nielsen who I’ve long written off as being out of touch. Even so, he still comes off as cocky… I think it’s the negative tone he takes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to point out flaws, but the overall tone could be much improved if he took a positive approach.

    For example, he could say “Use descriptive headings and titles” instead of “Nondescript posting titles”. He just sounds too proud of himself. It would be annoying if he were some kind of uber-designer, but it’s plain pathetic when he obviously knows nothing about design and the psychological role that it plays in usability, and more importantly, popularity.

  8. Point #2 author photo

    I understand that it’s easier to remember with a picture but that has nothing to do with weblog usability. Secondly people judge by how you look.

  9. October 19, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Nik, Rimantas: If you read #10 carefully you’ll find that Jakob doesn’t say that a blog hosted at blogspot will be less popular, only that you won’t be able to have the same level of control that you have when you use your own domain name.

    Kasper: Probably because he didn’t think of it ;-). But yes, that’s an important point.

    Gabe: I think most of Jakob’s writings are very useful. Yes, he could use a different tone, but I guess that’s just the way he is. He doesn’t give that impression in real life though.

  10. I don’t think he has a valid point with #2 at all. Content and design are what make me return to sites. I develop a connection with blog authors through their writings, and comments. But he is the expert, so maybe I’m just way off the mark.

  11. Point #2 really is important, since photos are also a credibility thing. Stanford Web Credibility Research proved this even years ago, it’s also part of their Web Credibility Guidelines. Important stuff, go reading!

  12. It is good to see Jakob raising points like these. They are good for discussion. Fortunately… the world doesn’t follow them “to the ‘t’” - as it would be a very bland world.

    Just like in the art of TV commercials - you remember the Apple Mac promo 1984, or the Tabasco drinking mosquito explosion. Do you remember the other bazillion commercials or billboard Ads you see? Probably not…

    It is good to have “common parts” - but causing someone to squirm a little in their seats is what gets noticed. Then you have to back it up with the balance of the site.

  13. October 20, 2005 by Martin Smales

    This is an interesting point:

    1. No Author Photo

    I encourage Roger to put a photo of himself on this blog to increase his pulling power of the world to his attractive, unknown features, but I will understand if he refuses this kind of attention ;)

  14. I just updated my blog with a picture of the author - problem solved :)

  15. Okay, I’ll say it. Most of these reflect Neilsen’s opinion on what makes usable blogs. I’m willing to bet there’s little or no research to back up any of these assertions as they pertain to blogging.

    Which I think is a big problem I tend to have w/ Neilsen. He either passes off opinion as fact or relies on outdated research based on the habits of users from before the turn of the century. Today’s user is a lot more sophisticated than the users of IE/Nav 3, and theory needs to change to embrace that growning sophistication.

  16. @Bryce: I’m sorry, but Nielsen’s assertions are proved by countless studies and tests (for example, see the links above for more details on Web Credibility research). And personally, I can only tell that user tests I executed also proved almost all points he covers in his column.

  17. Jens,

    The Web Credibility Guidelines you site above do not say anything about photos of authors. Instead, it talks about photos of your offices and personalized bios. In fact, if you follow this link (http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=634067.63424, you can sign up for an ACM account for free to view the study details) and scroll down to the citings, the first study specifically states that personnel photos do not help credibility with users. Even when combined with other measures there is no guarantee.

  18. Correction: The free account does not allow viewing of cited work, but I was able to grab the abstract as cited below:

    Use of staff photographs is frequently advocated as a means of increasing customer confidence in an e-shop. However, these claims are not conceptually or empirically grounded. In this paper we describe a qualitative study, which elicited customer reactions towards an e-commerce site that displayed staff photographs and links to richer media. The results suggest that employing social and affective cues, particularly in the form of photos, can be a risky strategy. To be effective they should be combined with functionality and targeted specifically at the user types we identified.

  19. I do agree with #1 and #2. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. Own personal experiecne as working for a large web company, my contract says i should not make websites, not for third parties, not for myself. A stupid rule but changing the company’s policy is not an option. Changing job neither at this moment. So i had to give me a second personality.

  20. What I said was “…little or no research to back up any of these assertions as they pertain to blogging”. I think it’s easily arguable that blogs are not the typical web site, and you cannot assess their usability based on cookie cutter standards. I’d also argue that credibility and usability are two different beasts entirely.

    I still assert that most of these “guidelines” are opinion on what would make a blog more usable. And I find that a lot of what Neilsen pushes is either opinion or based on outdated research.

  21. I think a photo is fine on the about page, but certainly don’t see why it would be required. In fact, I hate it when there’s a photo on every blog post page - it’s so distracting, having this face stare at you while you’re trying to read. I find myself scrolling the page to get it out of the window as soon as I can.

  22. @Keith: I didn’t find the exact reference that quickly anymore. The Stanford Mankovsky (?) study of 2002 investigated this issue in details, as well did BJ Fogg’s report in his “Computers as Persuasive Technology” book (which is great, actually).

  23. Thanks Jens,

    Very interesting to note. Though I am still not conviced that it necessarily builds trust with users, I really appreciate the info and list of sources. I will definitely check them out.

  24. I am surprised he didn’t mention “overlinking”. When someone posts a normal enough paragraph, except they link absolutely everything for no good reason.

    Example…

    So me and Steve went for a latte in Starbucks, and talked about the new iMac. Steve clearly thinks that it is a good price, but as I’ve said many times I think that a Sony Vaio is equally good. I am not alone on this opinion.

    It’s really annoying, like If I don’t know where Starbucks is, or what a latte is, I can probably look it up myself. I don’t mind a couple, but when people say Microsoft and feel obliged to point me to microsoft.com, it really bugs me.

    Thats my 2 cent anyways

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