1. No Author Biographies
Unless you're a business blog, you probably don't need a full-fledged "about us" section the way a corporate site does. That said, the basic rationale for "about us" translates directly into the need for an "about me" page on a weblog: users want to know who they're dealing with.
It's a simple matter of trust. Anonymous writings have less credence than something that's signed.
2. No Author Photo
Even weblogs that provide author bios often omit the author photo. A photo is important for two reasons:
3. Non-descript Posting Titles
- It offers a more personable impression of the author. You enhance your credibility by the simple fact that you're not trying to hide. Also, users relate more easily to somebody they've seen.
- It connects the virtual and physical worlds. People who've met you before will recognize your photo, and people who've read your site will recognize you when you meet in person.
Descriptive headlines are especially important for representing your weblog in search engines, newsfeeds (RSS), and other external environments. In those contexts, users often see only the headline and use it to determine whether to click into the full posting.
Sample bad headlines:
- What Is It That You Want?
- Hey, kids! Comics!
- Victims Abandoned
Sample good headlines:
4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
- Pictures from Die Hunns and Black Halos show
- Office Depot Pays United States $4.75 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations (too long, but even if you only read the first few words, you have an idea of what it's about)
- Ice cream trucks as church marketing
Life is too short to click on an unknown. Tell people where they're going and what they'll find at the other end of the link.
A related mistake in this category is to use insider shorthand, such as using first names when you reference other writers or weblogs. Unless you're writing only for your friends, don't alienate new visitors by appearing to be part of a closed clique. The Web is not high school.
5. Classic Hits are Buried
Hopefully, you'll write some pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base. Don't relegate such classics to the archives, where people can only find something if they know you posted it, say, in May 2003.
Highlight a few evergreens in your navigation system and link directly to them.
Also, remember to link to your past pieces in newer postings. Don't assume that readers have been with you from the beginning; give them background and context in case they want to read more about your ideas.
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
A timeline is rarely the best information architecture, yet it's the default way to navigate weblogs. Most weblog software provides a way to categorize postings so users can easily get a list of all postings on a certain topic. Do use categorization, but avoid the common mistake of tagging a posting with almost all of your categories. Be selective. Decide on a few places where a posting most belongs.
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
Establishing and meeting user expectations is one of the fundamental principles of Web usability. For a weblog, users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates will occur.
For most weblogs, daily updates are probably best, but weekly or even monthly updates might work as well, depending on your topic. In either case, pick a publication schedule and stick to it. If you usually post daily but sometimes let months go by without new content, you'll lose many of your loyal — and thus most valuable — readers.
8. Mixing Topics
If you publish on many different topics, you're less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They're unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic).
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
Whenever you post anything to the Internet — whether on a weblog, in a discussion group, or even in an email — think about how it will look to a hiring manager in ten years. Once stuff's out, it's archived, cached, and indexed in many services that you might never be aware of.
Years from now, someone might consider hiring you for a plum job and take the precaution of 'nooping you first. (Just taking a stab at what's next after Google. Rest assured: there will be some super-snooper service that'll dredge up anything about you that's ever been bitified.) What will they find in terms of naïvely puerile "analysis" or offendingly nasty flames published under your name?
Think twice before posting. If you don't want your future boss to read it, don't post.
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously.