What is usability?
Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. The object of use can be a software application, website, … or anything a human interacts with.
(Definition of usability at Wikipedia)
What does it mean for your blog?
When readers visit your blog and browse your posts, they are interacting with a website.
If this interaction is very easy to do, readers don’t have to think about finding their way around your blog, and can just concentrate on consuming the content.
If it is difficult for readers to find their way around, to find the posts that interest them, or to read your posts without being distracted by popups or ads in your sidebar, the ease of use decreases.
Understanding Conversion Funnels
If you want people to do something when they visit your blog, it helps to think of this task as occurring at the end of a conversion funnel.
First, choose just one call to action. Next, when you’re writing a post, decide how you’re going to get people to convert. If you want people to comment, you could ask a question at the end of your post to encourage a comment.
The conversion funnel is a process with a call to action at the end, along with a conversion.
Where Blog Usability Comes In
Interrupting the conversion funnel with a different call to action or an unexpected distraction is going to risk derailing the conversions you were looking for in the first place. It also confuses and annoys visitors.
For instance, let’s say you’re encouraging readers to comment on your blog post. Your post starts by putting forward your arguments, then justifying those arguments, before leaving readers with a statement that makes them want to have their say.
Just as the reader reaches the end of the post, they’re thinking about leaving a comment. But wait – a popup immediately appears, asking them to subscribe to your newsletter.
That’s a split focus – and it could lose you a conversion on your original goal. In contrast, if your original goal was to get newsletter subscribers, why not put the newsletter form below the blog post and do away with the popup?
Stats Don’t Tell You Everything
In the case of newsletter subscribers, a popup may very well increase your subcribers. But how do you know it’s not also pissing off a lot of your other readers, such as those who may have already subscribed to your newsletter, or who might have done without the popup?
Sure, you can’t please everyone. If you want to know what people really think of the approach you’re using, give readers a very simple poll to ask “Did you find this box useful?” That in itself might detract from the purpose of the popup. But without a clear way to give feedback, you may find that if you annoy people, they won’t actually tell you so.
Stats will only tell you the ones who did subscribe, not the ones who were put off by the popup.
How to Make People Love You and Your Blog
Give them a predictable, enjoyable, happy experience every time they visit your blog.
Define a single call to action.
Gently and naturally push people towards this goal. Don’t get impatient and throw a popup in their face.
Don’t mix messages and try to push people into more than one conversion funnel at the same time.
Do you care about blog usability? How are you making your blog as usable as possible?
This post is the first in QBT Season 2, which continues every Monday at 5pm GMT / 12pm EST / 9am PST.