There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to blogging. Many of us use blogs as a creative outlet, but not so many of us write and publish following a content strategy. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it is considerably less effective than having a goal and taking active steps to achieve it.
That’s not the only consequence, though. Writing without a plan can lead to quite a bit of feature overload, meaning instead of supporting your content, the stuff you’re adding to your blog is actually interrupting your users or, even worse, driving them away. Let’s see which ones should be the first to go.
The Internet has a huge love-hate relationship with pop-ups. Some advocate their effectiveness and others profess their hatred towards them. I have to admit, I’m not their biggest fan. On the one hand, I’ve yet to experience their awesome powers of persuading users to subscribe and have, personally, never subscribed to anything as a result of having them slammed into my face.
Aside from my personal experience, there’s a much bigger reason why I don’t usually recommend them and you should consider giving them up too. By virtue of their function, pop-ups are an interruption to whatever users are doing. Instead of allowing your readers to perform the very action you spend time, effort and money to get them to do, you’re asking them to take an extra step, be it subscribe or close the window, before actually getting to the content.
From embedded comments and posts, to page, save, send, share plungins, social networks offer a huge number of features you can add to your website to engage and bring your followers closer. The trick to using them effectively is to be selective about which ones you implement.
Starting from which social media platforms you’re truly active on, you should only consider the social plugins that enhance your content. On a more practical note, while embedding a Facebook send button or a Twitter timeline might be a good idea for a conference sign-up page, adding it to your blog won’t do much more than add clutter. Similarly, a quote plugin might prove useful for a blog with loads of content but it won’t help you much if you have a photography blog.
It might seem counter-intuitive but search inputs might not be terribly useful for blogs. Why? Well, when you’re browsing an eCommerce store you’re looking to make a purchase, regardless if it’s on the spot or later on. In this case, helping you get to the product or product category as quickly as possible is crucial to an effective user experience.
Blogs imply a completely different user behavior. Instead of getting your users from a landing page to the checkout as fast and in as few steps as possible, people intend to spend time experiencing a blog and its content. Besides, your content might not lend itself to easy categorisation and your users might not necessarily know the full scope of topics you have to offer. Therefore, a search input might not really be useful at all.
The Bottom Line
There’s no one-size fits all feature recipe when it comes to blogs, but by using a combination of testing and common sense, checked against your Analytics results, you can filter out the clutter and implement the features that positively impact your audience’s browsing experience. That being said, considering the increasing number of mobile users, there is one golden rule you should keep in mind when selecting features – if it doesn’t work on mobile, just let it go. (Yep, just like Frozen)