Post Blog Usability
The impact of blogs on web usability Is something I am noticing constantly. Firstly lets all agree that the most frequented websites on the Internet are blogs, and secondly lets agree that blogs are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. The impact that blogs have had on personal publishing and news distribution has been phenomenal but the lasting impact in the post-blog Internet will change web usability and web design forever.
There are probably many different ways to determine web usability, from people with many more letters behind their names than me but I like to think of it as the way that we naturally use the web. This means how we interact with websites and what cognitive processes we naturally go through to use websites.
Cognitive processes are made up of skill sets, the more times you perform the human computer interaction the more robust the skill set. So as average Joe surfs the net and uses the most in-vogue websites which of course are blogs, the simple navigation and predictable layouts mean their skill sets for browsing the Internets many blogs have grown.
People are used to browsing well designed templates that blogger and word press amongst overs provide for free and users now expect a similar layout with obvious navigation, a very friendly and responsive browsing experience with vast user communication, meaning a website has to have at least one form of easy dynamic interaction with its users.
Raising the bar
The average blog has a 2 column layout usually made up of a content and sidebar. A sidebar on the right seems the most popular layout method and all blog layouts seem to handle white space very well indeed. I think for the majority of designers the impact of blogs has raised the bar as far as web usability is concerned.
Users now expect an updated website with fresh content, if average Joe Blogosphere can keep fresh content on his old p3 machine and a blogger account, a small to medium company with real funding and expected ROI from blog and Internet marketing should have wonderful content. Users also expect user interaction features, at least a comments section and maybe latest news or events and again this should be up-to-date. Users are also now used to having well categorized information, so navigation and page structure are now expected. I would even go as far to say that blogs have made the about, contact and Even archives / index page mandatory. The impact of blogs is unmeasurable, and its only just starting, imagine what the Myspace generation of webusers expect from our websites next! – Their teenage websites were featured packed and interaction and media driven.