UX Review: Fresh Tech Tips Blog – Break Free From a Standard Template

UX Review: Fresh Tech Tips Blog – Break Free From a Standard Template


Hello, my name is Paul Boag and you’re
watching First Impressions, a video series produced
by the people at Balsamiq. The idea of the series is very simple,
they send me a link to check out, each episode, and I give my first
impressions on it, what I think works, what I think doesn’t.
And it’s as simple as that. A cross between online real-time usability
testing and maybe a bit of opinion and review as we go. A critique, if you like. So let’s dive straight in with
today’s website which is technologies simplified, FTT. Okay, so it’s a blog.
Excellent. I love looking at blogs and I have certain
things I always look for when I’m reviewing blogs, things that I feel work
particularly well. I’ve been blogging for 13 years myself,
and so, I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Let’s have a look at some of their
articles, “Seven Best and Free Registry Cleaners for Windows PC,” “How to Stop
WordPress from Resizing and Uploading Photographs,” “How to Speed up Windows 10
PC,” “How to Build…” Okay, this person, whoever it is,
or company that owns this blog, knows how to create good titles. They’re doing some really good stuff here. There are three broad types of blog titles
that work really well. There are lists, people like lists. You know, a lot of people are rude about
lists and derogatory about them, they would say they’re lazy writing,
but actually what they are is lazy reading. People like lists because they can just
scan them quickly. So he’s got a lot of lists here. The other thing people love in a blog post
is a how to, “How to Stop WordPress from Resizing the Uploaded Photographs,”
and the other one is questions. He doesn’t seem to use questions but
questions are a really good way of engaging with people as well because,
whenever I ask you a question, you have to think of an answer.
Right? If I say, “Do you like sushi?” without even trying,
you either think yes or no, you have an opinion on it.
So questions are very good as well. So good, from that point of view,
great content. Or at least great titles, obviously,
I haven’t read all of the content. The other thing I always look for is how
often they post. So April 12th, April 5th, March 29th. So we’ve got some good regular
posting going on. March 16th. There’s a bit of a longer gap there so
they’re not on a schedule… oh, it’s all the same person that’s
posting, so it looks like it’s an individual’s website.
February the 4th. Yeah, so fairly fairly regularly but one
or two gaps, that’s fair enough. One of the most important things when it
comes to blogging is to be regular and consistent in your blogging. And the reason for that is because,
if you go through long periods of time where you don’t blog, then people,
you know, think your blog is dead or, you know, you don’t build up that
readership of dedicated people that are following you. So overall, from a content point of view,
looks like he’s doing pretty well. Let’s then have a look from
a design point of view. So I mean it’s a very standard blog
design, isn’t it? You know, you’ve got your main content in
your left-hand column, you’ve got some other stuff going on in
your right-hand column. But let’s pop into an individual post,
let’s pick something that actually vaguely interests me. Okay, let’s go into this WordPress one,
because I run on WordPress. Okay, again, a very standard blogger
layout and design. Nothing particularly crazy there.
Okay. So let’s just go back to the
home page for a second. Blog templates have traditionally been
laid out like this, haven’t they, that you have a list of your posts,
down the left-hand side, and other bits and pieces
down the right-hand side. But I’m not convinced that that’s actually
necessarily the right design anymore for blogs because I think blog
reading has changed. There was a time when people would
regularly check a blog, wouldn’t they? They’d go to it, you know,
once a week or whatever and see what’s new on it. So it made sense to display all the latest
blog posts in a reverse chronological order.
Right? Absolutely, you know, spot-on made sense. But now, behavior has changed. We don’t tend to be loyal to a blog
anymore, instead I suspect, if these people looked at their Analytics
traffic, they’d find that the majority of people are coming by search engines,
and so, they’re not necessarily checking it regularly in the same way
as they once were. So that maybe means that instead of
the home page focusing just on the latest blog posts, what it really needs to
do is focus on the best. Show off the kind of breadth and depth of
what it is you offer. My own blog does something very similar. So we’ll pop over to my blog just for a
second, you’ll see what I mean. Sure, I’ve still got the latest posts but
actually I’m only showing the latest post, in my case, the latest podcast episode. After that, I then talk about different
subject areas that people might want advice on. I have, you know, various different sub
categories in my blog. And then, what I do is I pull out the top
posts in each of those categories, the ones that are viewed the
most or are most popular. And then, I have a few other bits and
pieces as well but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we’re showing some of
the best of what we’ve got to offer rather than just the latest posts. Certainly that’s something that these guys
might want to consider. The other thing this doesn’t really do is
it doesn’t clearly communicate the scope of the blog.
Right? Every blog has different subject matter,
right, a focus, if you like. So if you go back to mine again,
you can see that is my scope, “Improve the Effectiveness of Your Site,”
that is what I’m going to do for people. This doesn’t really say it,
it kind of does in the title bar, “Technology and Web Guide,” but that’s a
little bit kind of broad and a little bit wooly. It might be worth tightening up
that scope a little bit and make that very clear, you know,
at the top somewhere, to establish what it is
that the site’s about. It’s the same as I’ve said many times for
pretty much any site I reviewed that one of the first things people want to know
is, “Am I on the right site and will this site be able to help me?” So yes, you kind of get an indication of
that from the post, but it would be very easy just to look at the first two and go,
“Oh, this is a Windows blog.” Well, it’s not, it covers WordPress as
well and, you know, it’s into GitHub and all of these other things.
So just bear that in mind. You don’t want to give people
the wrong impression. So let’s look at one of the other big
things I always look for when I look at blog posts which is how scannable they
are because people don’t read articles in their entirety, instead what they do is
scan them instead. So here is the first article. Well, it’s doing pretty well,
it’s broken up into headings, subheadings. They’ve got these kind of
code snippets in it. So it’s pretty scannable actually. It’s a list post,
which certainly helps out. Let’s have a look at another one. Let’s go back to that WordPress one that I
looking at a minute ago. Again, we’ve got bullet-point list,
we’ve got things made bold, you know, and highlighted. It’s got imagery peppered through it,
it’s got code samples. Yeah, it’s doing pretty good, you know,
it’s even got kind of these little asides, which is great. And that’s what you want from a blog post,
you want something that’s scannable. Don’t expect people to read that blog
post, instead what they’re going to do is scan down looking for the bit that’s
relevant to them or picking out the main points. So anything you can do
to help with that is great. So, you know, here he’s talking about the
multiple image sizes. Oh, I can see, without reading all the
texts, the multiple size in WordPress, thumbnails, medium,
medium large, large, full. Boom. All right?
That’s what you’re enabling people to do. What he doesn’t have on this is a summary,
at the beginning, you often find a summary that kind of summarizes the whole article
and the key points ahead, that’s really worth doing. Again, if we pop into one of my posts,
you can see how I do that there. So that kind of always works very well. The other thing you can do is pull-out
quotes, he doesn’t have any pull-out quotes on his site, or at least a few I’ve
looked at, so I suspect this one’s got one.
Yeah, here we go. Here’s a pull-out quote. Now, notice the other thing I do with my
pull-out quotes is I associate them with…I tweet this, so I encourage
sharing at the same time. And actually, if you click on that,
it’ll pre-populate that, hopefully…yeah, with the content of that particular
pull-out quote. So I wonder if he’s got anything
regarding sharing. No. So blog content…you know,
if he’s looking to increase traffic, which I guess he is because there’s quite
a lot of advertising on the site which is very traffic-driven, then, you know,
enabling sharing is always a good way. Now, don’t just whack a load of social
media icons, sharing icons, on the website because that’s not going to
be particularly effective. Instead you want to actually make sharing
as easy as possible, so you want to…you know,
clicking on some kind of sharing call to action should pre-populate it with
certain text, like it does on mine. So yeah, encourage some sharing,
maybe there’s a little bit that could be done there.
Right. Talking of encouraging people to do stuff,
let’s have a look, further reading is always good…ah, here we go.
“You might also like.” Yeah, so we’ve got a series of blog posts. What are we looking at? So these are actually relevant blog posts
to WordPress here because I’m looking at a WordPress post. Am I?
Yes, I am. “You might also like,” doesn’t seem very
confident, you know, I think I would, you know, “For more on WordPress,” or “For
more on whatever the category is,” so that they can see very quickly that it’s a
continuation of the conversation, the subject matter that’s
already being discussed. “You might like,” is a bit kind of, “Well,
we’ve just thrown in any old rubbish here,” which obviously isn’t as good. It’s good that they’ve been placed at the
end however because you want a kind of continuation.
Okay, I’ve read that, now what? You haven’t left people at a dead end. And that’s always a good piece of advice
really with any website is that no page should ever be a dead end,
you should always be leading people on to the next thing that
you want them to do. When you have these kinds of things,
please make sure they’re relevant, which this guy’s doing really well,
they’re all about WordPress. The only thing I would suggest maybe is
that…you’ve collected them all at the end, and it’s quite good as well to
scatter them through a post as well. So he’s kind of done that here. I’ll also advise you to take
a backup of your blog. And I’m guessing, if I click on that,
it’s going to go through to an…yeah, another article that he’s written about
backing up the blog. And that’s great, good for doing that,
but sometimes it’s worth making those a little bit more visible and a little bit
more in-your-face. So again, sorry, I’m going to pop
back to my own blog. You’ll discover…yeah, here we go. I pull them out and display them
separately and a bit more prominently. And I actually find that having them
embedded in the post in this way, but not just a text link,
they tend to get more traffic, more people tend to click through to them. Obviously, your mileage may vary because
it depends on your readership and a lot of other factors, but that’s certainly
been my experience anyway. Ah, look, he’s already done it,
he’s well ahead of me. “Read also,” yes, he’s already done it. Probably my attention was getting drawn by
this massive big image that really doesn’t add a huge amount to this. I know it’s his thumbnail that he’s using
on the home page, but it’s not really strictly necessary, it doesn’t add
anything to the post, so it probably doesn’t need to be there. Let’s talk about the
reading experience then. And it is a little bit cluttered. There are some things that are really well
done and some things that are not so well done. So as I’ve already said,
it’s nicely broken up, you know, lots of pull-outs and that kind of thing. People don’t like big blocks of text,
they find it intimidating, so breaking up in that way is great for
reading experience. He’s also got a nice spread
out line height. Right? Between each line of text. And again, that really helps
with the readability. The line length’s not too long either,
again, another great thing. Text size maybe a tad small,
that’s kind of up for debate. If you pop back to my site,
my text is slightly larger on this big screen. But as I scale it down,
the text adapts as well, while I think the text on
this site is pretty fixed. So you might want to make use of
additional real estate, if it’s there, to have bigger text. But, you know, it’s not big deal,
the text is pretty readable. The only thing I would perhaps say is that
there’s not a huge amount of contrast in text sizes. So, for example, our headings aren’t that
much bigger from our body text. And so, yeah, you could probably break it
up a little bit more. Let’s have a look at a different blog
rather than mine, let’s look at another web-design blog. My keyboard has stopped working.
That’s frustrating. Okay, well, we won’t look at it,
we’ll look at mine then. So, you know, notice how much bigger my
text is, the body text underneath. So doing that, creating those typographic
contrasts just adds to the scannability and readability of copy. And also, notice the amount
of space that I’m putting between paragraphs and headings. Everything is a little bit more cramped
together here which reduces the readability just slightly,
but it’s not a massive issue. Okay. So the big thing that I’m
a little stuck on and I haven’t seen, let’s have a little look,
see if I can spot anything. Yeah, I’m not seeing any kind of prominent
call-to-action going on here. Now, what your call-to-action is is very
much dependent on what you’re trying to achieve from the website but,
at the very least, I would’ve expected to have some kind of subscribe or sign up
because, as I’ve said, you know, people are not checking back blog posts
regularly so you’re going to want some kind of way of, you know,
people subscribing to a newsletter where they’re going to be informed about updates
to the site, what’s new on the site, in order to keep them coming back to it. I’m sure there must
be something like that. Ah, here we go, “Subscribe to Fresh Tech
Tips,” so that’s exactly what I was talking about.
And he’s got a feed as well. But unfortunately, that is about as bad a
position, again, as you can put for your call to action as possible. It’s completely lost in that right-hand
column and it’s dominated by advertising that’s sitting all around it. I’m going to come back to advertising,
just a second. Again, if you pop over to mine,
you’ll notice at the bottom of every one of my posts is this big
very prominent call to action. So I put it at the bottom at the post
because I want people to be able to see my content before I make the ask for the
signing up to the newsletter. But certainly I think it needs to be a lot
more prominent than we’ve got going on here. We want to build up that email news list
because that is a value itself, it’ll help generate your repeat traffic,
there are advertising opportunities for that, etc. Which brings me on to the adverts. Obviously this site is quite reliant upon
adverts, he’s making some revenue from that, but it seems to be a one-person
site so it’s not like TechCrunch or anything like that so I can’t imagine he’s
making a huge amount from advertising. We’re also seeing quite decline in
advertising on blogs so it might be that he wants to explore some other methods of
generating income. One that is becoming increasingly popular
is sponsored posts, so it might be that some of these posts could be sponsored
rather than just having advertising on the side of them or embedded in them. A little bit more work to get people on
board with that but there are services like BuySellAds that do
that kind of offering. But I’m also wondering…let’s just have a
look who’s behind this. Okay, so look, he designs websites and
blogs but that is completely buried away in here.
Okay, so has he got his own business? Yeah, so he’s a freelance
front-end developer. And he’s separated out his blog,
and he’s blogging on that. Bloomin’ heck, he’s quite prolific.
Oh no, these are really old, 2015. So whether he’s still working or not,
I couldn’t tell you. But it would make sense,
instead of focusing on advertising, which you make very little money on unless
you get huge amounts of traffic, it’d be much better off promoting his own
services, you know, or own offerings, maybe selling an e-book,
maybe running a course, maybe promoting his web-design services. But the advertising is quite intrusive on
this site and quite overwhelming because, right, fair enough, he’s trying to make
some revenue off of it, but there are probably better alternatives
that are available to him, if I’m honest. So there you go, running a blog is a big
commitment but, if you can build an audience, it can be a hugely effective
way of generating leads for other things, generating income. But you need to follow some basic
principles, that you’ve got to be posting content regularly, you’ve got to think
about that content and optimize it, both for search and for engagement,
you need to design your blog posts to be engaging that they’re drawing people on to
the next thing all of the time, and that they’ve got clear calls
to action built into them. You need to make them very scannable and
accept that people aren’t going to read them word-for-word. So you have to make that reading
experience as good as you possibly can. But yeah, it’s not bad, this blog. It’s simple, it’s basic,
but it’s got a great content. And at the end of the day,
that’s what you want from a blog. So thank you very much for submitting your
blog for us to have a look at. Hopefully, we’ve learned some lessons from
your site about how to design a good blog. But maybe just a little bit less reliance
on advertising, there are other methods that you can explore,
affiliate advertising is yet another one that I forgot to mention. So there you go, that’s it for this time. Thank you very much
for watching and until next time. Goodbye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *