Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nine Must Read Articles For Bloggers

Todays post isn't really a post, but more of links to articles that just about everyone should read. All but one of the articles I will post today are from one site, the other is from Chris Brogan.

The site that most of the articles are coming from is - usable information technology, a site by Dr. Jakob Nielsen a co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group. He has been called a guru, a king, a leader, a czar, an expert, and a pioneer in web usability. He writes a bi-weekly column called Alertbox where he focuses on web usability. Alertbox has been going strong since 1995.

How Users Read On The Web
This is an article from 1997 where Dr. Nielsen states that users don't read on the web, they scan. I've talked about formatting posts before and just about every other professional blogger or someone blogs about blogging will you that readers scan. With so many people saying it, why not do it?

He also talks about smaller paragraphs, relevant sub-headings, bold keywords, and fewer words. Most readers won't read the whole paragraph nor the whole article, but scan through the first couple of paragraphs and look for links and bold words. Format your posts accordingly.

Using Link Titles to Help Users Predict Where They Are Going
Link titles are something that had just been invented when Dr. Nielsen wrote this article in 1998, but holds true today. He talks about the title= feature with links and how this will help a user learn more about the link they may want to click on.

The example above is from his site and is a great example of how to use the title= feature. Although he does state not to do it on every link as a user clicking on a link that says Home or About Me is pretty sure on where they are headed.

Microcontent: How to Write Headlines, Page Titles, and Subject Lines
Blog posts are generally seen just by their title as a link and unless the title tells a reader exactly what they will read about, they won't click it. He talks about staying away from "cute" and "clever" headlines that might trick the reader as they will just close the page anyways.

Another important point he stresses is not to start titles with "the" or "a" because these articles can get lost in your archives. There could be 10 or 15 articles that start with "the" and your readers will get lost and not know which ones to read. Start the title with something about the article, something with relevance.

Deep Linking is Good Linking
Just like the title of his article says, linking your articles from within your other articles is a good thing. Don't get carried away though, as Google might penalize you.

Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes
A must read for anyone that has a blog or wants to start one. Some of them top ten are found through the articles he has written and I've posted about, but this list simplifies them into one nice neat package.

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content
Another must read article from Dr. Nielsen for anyone who has a website or blog. Read the article and format your posts accordingly.

Write Articles, Not Blog Postings
This might seem as inconsistent with his article about writing shorter posts but if you read the whole thing, you will understand what he means. This article is a little longer than all the others but it has a lot of good information and is another must read.

How Little Do Users Read?
Like his article about how readers read, this one talks about how little they actually do read. There is research, comparisons, and graphs. Once again another must read.

The last article is from Chris Brogan
His post is titled 40 ways to deliver killer blog content. Chris is another person that can be called a leader, an expert, and a guru on the web and if you aren't reading his blog, then you are missing out on a ton of content.


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