I’ll admit it: I don’t have a lot of tolerance for websites that I find annoying (or people I find annoying, but that’s a completely other topic, haha). I’m not talking about blog content. Sure, if a writing style isn’t for me, I’m probably not going to be back, but that’s completely subjective. The type of annoying that I’m talking about is pretty much universally recognized as annoying. It’s like when your little sister hold her finger an inch from your face and then sings, “I’m not touching you, I’m not touch you, I’m not touching you…” I don’t care if you’re a 53-year old father of three writing a tech blog or a 20-year old fashionista blogging about food; it’s hard to resist the urge to smack someone who’s being that annoying.
Unfortunately, many bloggers don’t realize they’re being annoying, simply because you have a different perspective on your own blog. I’ve been guilty of some of these annoying habits/design flaws/what-have-you in the past, and you might be guilty of them right now. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad blogger. Just be aware that you are driving readers away – so if you want that to change, take some time this weekend to de-annoyify* your blog.
- Check your blog on other computers.
Most of us have only seen our blogs on our own computers and maybe one or two public/friends’ computers. Check it out on as many as you can. You might be surprised to see what the homepage looks like on your mom’s ten-year-old desktop or your sister’s brand new iPad. True story: recently, I was browsing and came across an article I really wanted to read. Half-way through the first paragraph, an ad about the person’s free report popped up, but it was sized so that I literally couldn’t click the “close window” button (it was one of those pop-ups that scrolls with you). Fail. Check your blog on different browsers too – IE tends to break things that look beautiful in Firefox or Chrome or even Safari.
- Check your blog on mobile phones.
Along these same lines, check your blog with mobile phones – as many as you can. A lot of times, I run across a site that has a pop-up ad and like with my above issue, I can’t close it because I’m on a tiny three-inch screen and the ad size is larger. You gotta turn it off for mobile versions, friends. Otherwise, I can’t read your site, even if I’m not annoyed enough by the pop-up itself.
- Bring up your site for a friend who’s never been there and time how long it takes for them to find your contact information.
Why aren’t you getting any emails from readers? Why isn’t anyone following you on Twitter? Why aren’t advertisers contacting you? Because you’ve made it too hard. “Contact” should be on your top navigation bar, in the footer, or VERY CLEARLY on the sidebar. If I have to hunt for the information buried in you About Me page or Profile page, I might not bother. The same goes for your social media accounts – please don’t make me hunt for a link to your Twitter or Facebook page if you want me to connect with you.
- Make it possible for anyone to comment.
Hey Blogger users – I’m looking at you. Occasionally, I come across a Blogger site, where to leave a comment you have to sign in with your Google account or another account – there is no name-only option. This also applies to WordPress users who check the comment option that requires users to register before commenting. No everyone has a profile or wants to use it to comment, so you’re missing out on what your readers have to say, and that’s usually enough to make me stop reading because I know that I won’t be able to leave a comment. In short, your readers shouldn’t have sign up for any kind of profile to voice their opinion.
- Visit your site using dial-up.
Yes, some people still have dial-up Internet. In fact, a lot of people in the world have dial-up Internet. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, as of May 2010, 5% of people in the United States were using dial-up. Compared to broadband users at 66%, that number might seem small, but that means there are over 15 million dial-up users out there. World-wide, that number only rises. I have no clue whether or not that data is accurate, but I think we can all admit that the number of dial-up users world-wide is still in the millions. Are you really willing to make your blog inaccessible to millions of people? If you want to use a design that takes a long time to load (i.e. uses lots of pictures, videos, flash, etc.), have a simpler version linked near the top of the site for those with slower connections.
Okay – your turn. What are some of the things you find most annoying about blogs (outside of subjective things like “the content is too long” or “I don’t like the background color”)?
*Yes, de-annoyify is a word. I say so. That’s totally how words are invented. LOL wasn’t a word until someone said so and now it’s in the dictionary. Along with the little heart symbol which is totally not a word no matter what anyone says. Seriously.