Blog Usability Improvements: What we’ll Change to make this blog better

To follow up on Thomas’ post from yesterday about how to improve usability on out-of-the-box wordpress blog, we decided to prioritize the 23 20 point list that we’ll work on. (Three items are already done since we started the list).

There are several reasons why we should do this: Primarily, our time is limited as we both need time to do real work and be with our friends and families (this is kind of the unspoken reality of bloggers — if a blog suddenly goes silent, it’s usually because of that).

First group is low hanging fruit — the quick and easy improvements that instantly give som sort of usability improvement. One example is to install the WordPress plugin that enhances the search engine to search all material on the website (not only blog posts).

Second group are improvement wishes we want to user test. We want to be sure that the ideas we think will improve our blog actually will improve usability for our readers. Although this also requires some work, we want to give these tasks higher priority than the plugin writing tasks.

Third group are the long term tasks that involve for instance changing a plugin, writing a plugin, etc. These may involve more work and a better understanding of how a plugin is written. As a result these tasks will get the lowest priority on the list.

Enough said. Here’s the list re-prioritized.

First group: low hanging fruit

  1. Search in both posts and pages with search pages plugin
  2. Test the Google Analytics plugin for WordPress (and use if good)
  3. Add Google Analytics tracker code to other pages as well — if necessary
  4. Use K2 plugin. This gives us an easy way to evaluate features that we think may be useful to our readers. First step here is to use the plugin. Later on we might check out “live search”, “AJAX-style commenting”, “related posts” (separate plugin )and other features it can give
  5. Add “About the Authors” block to the left column when viewing posts (unfortunately not part of K2 plugin)
  6. Activate daily backup plugin
  7. Improve “About the authors page”. Add photos, more description, LinkedIn profile links
  8. Maybe a “subscribe to new posts” (plugin) that could target non-technical users that read our blog infrequently. Install plugin and decide later if we’ll use it
  9. Add a mandatory Technorati-tag check when posting a new post (maybe with UTW)
  10. Create a favicon that appears in bookmarks, technorati, etc
  11. Add a contact form so the readers can contact us

Second group: Changes that we will user test

  1. Instead of showing prev/next post titles at top of posts, show just prev/next with tooltip text showing the post title
  2. Show popular and/or new posts in a box in the left column when viewing posts (some of it part of K2 plugin).
  3. Show a clear indication of how to get to the front page when viewing posts
  4. Create a single complete archive page and remove monthly archives
  5. Create a Mullet style plugin for WordPress

Third group: Changes that may require new plugins and plugin changes

  1. Show “GMT+1” next to every place we show the time (maybe a change to K2 theme)
  2. trackbacks should have its own gravatar (icon next to post)
  3. Update the Gravatar plugin to let the users know how to use gravatars
  4. Create a Measure Map plugin for WordPress
  5. Create a popular-posts plugin for WordPress that gets its data from Measure Map
  6. Emergency plans. How to handle being slashdotted or how to put up emergency website in case of server breakdown.
  7. Make an image appear on Technorati next to our posts

As Thomas mentioned, we keep this as a Tada-List publically available for you to see the progress: Visit the list and feel free to return here and share your comments

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24 Responses to “Blog Usability Improvements: What we’ll Change to make this blog better”

  1. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says: blog just posted a similar article with a new one thats very good:

    Put up a “Post not found” error 404 page – if someone tries to visit a broken link on your blog does the visitor get a nice friendly message or “error 404 file not found”? Even better for you, do you provide handy links to your top content, a search form and some adsense ads? It is surprising the difference just this small thing can make to your blogs usefulness and bottom line!

  2. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    Maybe we’ll check out Advanced editing for WordPress 2.0″ plugin” (

    Just to see if that’ll increase usability for writing posts.

  3. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    WordPress 2.01 was released a few days ago. We might also upgrade as it fixes a few bugs.
    In particular there has been one annoying bug around using images when posting. The editor always used thumbnail image dimensions when inserting a full-size image. This upgrade should apparently fix it so that I don’t have to edit image dimensions manually. I’m looking forward to that!

  4. | Pogosticking and why it should be avoided Says:

    […] I previously referred to this in a post about mullet style blog design and long archive pages, and this is actually something we’ll change on this blog. […]

  5. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    Mullet is implemented! Thomas put it up 10 hours ago. And I must say it looks beautiful. Also, Thomas did some very slick graphical work, oh, and upgraded to WordPress 2.01 as well.
    Well done Thomas!

  6. | Mullet Layout: A user-friendly front page Says:

    […] Blog usability improvements: What we’ll change to make this blog better […]

  7. The Optimist Says:

    Lol. Man I love your banner. The quote is just sick! Kinda feel like stealing it hehe. And your layout is not bad at all.

    Seriously want the source code :)

  8. Big Men Clothes Says:

    Thats a pretty definitive list.

  9. irish gift store Says:

    Thanks for all that. You’ve given me more work to do now though!

  10. KabonFootprint Says:

    Also don’t forget to add the Google xml Sitemap creator plugin. It will renew the xml sitemap file everytime you make a new post and them ping the search engines. The robots loves that…!

  11. Web Template Fiend Says:

    Another one to the list: WP-Cache. For traffic spikes WP-Cache is your friend – WordPress without caching leaves a huge footprint on the server – CPU usage through every last character on the page being rendered via database calls. WP-Cache takes a snapshot of the page, and so each page load is taken from a cache – easy on your server!

  12. David Says:

    THis is an interesting blog. I would like to make some money online so that I can help my family – so this is a good place to start. Thanks!

  13. Clean Red Widgets Says:

    I agree on the WP-Cache recommendation, definitely makes a huge difference in page load speed.

  14. Max Roble Says:

    Blogging is fun, But when it makes you money it’s every more FUN!!!
    Decide which small ad based revenue to run, (But be particularly carefull optimazing you blog just for sales or click). But rather do what you love and through in a few ads on the sides or content and forget them for while, they might as well suprise you – and off you go on holiday’.

  15. Mike Rutkowski Says:

    Thanks for these great ideas!

    I’ve bookmarked, and added to my to-do list!

    I’m always amazed how much great and useful information is out there….


    PS – what about adding a Dofollow plugin, and graphic at bottom of posts encouraging comments? I have a dorky guy crying on mine, looking all pathetic & begging people not to leave before they comment…

  16. Phil @ Site Rush Says:

    Yea the Do Follow plugin is good to use. It’s created hundreds of links to all my blogs all on autopilot. This is still a good list though.

    Keep up the quality posting !

  17. Scott Roberts Says:

    Don’t forget a good SEO plugin tool, such as All-in-One.

    The rest of the list looks great.:)

  18. Chris Says:

    Great list! Very comprehensive and useful. I especially like what you have said about the low hanging fruit. Good point and I have a lot to do with my blog now!



  19. Justin Briggs Says:

    Wonderful list of improvements. So many simple changes can really turn your blog around.

  20. bedava oyun oyna Says:

    I agree on the WP-Cache recommendation, definitely makes a huge difference in page load speed.

  21. Ekince Says:

    Great list! Very comprehensive and useful. I especially like what you have said about the low hanging fruit. Good point and I have a lot to do with my blog now!

  22. wmturkiye Says:

    I saw you mentioned AJAXed style commenting there. Although I’ve got nothing against AJAX, sometimes complex AJAX behave as weird elements. I prefer the dynamic php comment boxes like these against AJAX ones in my blogs.


  23. Nadeesha Cabral Says:

    These are some great usability tips here. I got some good tips for my blog as well. Especially the one about improving the “About the authors page”. That way, I believe you will be able to effectively engage with your readers.


  24. sports chat Says:

    Yes the “About the authors” are really important when writing blogs.

    If the profile is missing, one would wonder why the author don’t want his/her reader know about him/her. If she/he hiding something? Specially if the blog is very impressive… Just my thought.