A clever blog anti-usability trick

August 20, 2010

Here is something that I have run into more than once. Through one of my various sources of links, I'll wind up somewhere reading an entry that is called '<interesting title>, part 1'. At the end of the entry, I'll decide that indeed, it was interesting, and I would like to see if any part 2 has been written yet. So I try to look around.

The best answer would be a 'next part' or 'related entries' link that pointed me straight to the next entry in the series. Failing that, blogs traditionally have a lot of internal navigation that lets people poke around; it's more time consuming and I might get lost in the archives (or discouraged), but if I'm interested I'll at least take a quick stab at looking for the part 2.

You can probably guess the punchline by now: several times, I couldn't even find a link to the main blog page, much less any useful topic or archive links. There was nothing that looks like a link and any of the usual places to hide one didn't work (it's common for the blog banner graphic to be a link to the main page, for example, but not in these cases). So much for seeing if there's a part 2; even if there is one hiding somewhere, it's not that interesting, not when the site evidently doesn't want me to find it.

If real blog usability is getting people who visit one of your entries to go on to read others, this is real blog anti-usability, making it hard or impossible for me to do that.

I am pretty sure that I've also seen this failing on websites that were article-based, not blogs per se. In an article oriented website this is an even weirder failure, because multi-part article series are not exactly uncommon; you'd think that the content management software and the editors would both be up to making it all work right. Blog software at least has the excuse that 'related entries' and similar features are not an immediately obvious need.

(This is especially striking when it happens on sites that carry ads. Here they are, passing up more pageviews and ad impressions that are basically theirs for the asking.)

Written on 20 August 2010.
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Last modified: Fri Aug 20 01:14:17 2010
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