Monday, June 11, 2012

How important are search boxes, navigation and labels?

Revamping, redesigning or reconstructing blog
Pick a word....:-)
Any one of them and that's what I'm trying to do on my blog pages. Its not so easy...

After being a judge for the Really Good Stuff blog contest I learned a few things and I wanted to started fixing my own blog.
Oh and by the work on judging was done a week early! It seems that my fellow judges and I had picked so many of the same blogs as our top five that we didn't need to deliberate any further! Awesome!

Anyway...I learned a few things and after looking a few times at 28 blogs in the catagory I was judging, here are the top 3 things that I found that were most important:
1) "SEARCH" box -
 It's very, very important to have a "search" box on your blog, some of your visitors may only have short spans of times and are looking for something in particular. The search box makes it easier for them to find those things in the pages of your blog.
A clearly defined "menu" at the top of your page makes it easier for visitors to see what your blog pages are all about, its vital in fact. Sometimes that "blog archive" feature is confusing, especially for visitors that aren't used to how a certain brand of blog sites work.
Having that menu bar going across the top really helps.
Also helpful is having a "recent page update" box which shows the pages of your blog, the title's of the most recent posts and the dates posted.
3) "LABELS" -
This is similiar to the search box feature - this feature gives you a block or menu of those labels and also having the option of how many posts mention those subject tags. The labels themselves are that list at the bottom of blog posts that you tag the subject or subjects mentioned in your blog postings.

There were a few others that we important as well - such as too many graphics, too many color's, not having a clearly defined theme or color palette. That too many graphics one is number four on the list I would have to say, there were a few sites that I visited that I thought were nice but after looking at them for a bit those graphics really hurt the eyes. They were too busy and confusing and if they blinked or changed images it was very distracting while reading posts.
If you are hosting a blog hop or something else that links a lot of those button images for other blogs, it would be better to have the preview of the blog as a shorter snippet - one that doesn't start showing all those image buttons on your landing page. Once the visitor hits the link to the full blog post then its fine to have all the buttons show up but its much better visually on the landing page to only see a title and information on the blog post in a small paragraph. Even a small picture graphic of the "official" blog hop is fine, it would clearly show that you are part of the blog hop but not be annoying to your visitors. There were a few pages that I visited and so many of the posts were blog hops that it was just a long, long, long busy page of images which interferred with finding the educational posts in between.

In the end, it all has me fixing my own blog to make it easier to navigate. My blog pages will be changing over the next couple of weeks as I flip things around and add extra dedicated pages, mostly to the homeschooling pages. Now its time to put my labels at the bottom of this post!

                                                     Join the hop at No Ordinary Blog Hop



  1. Great post with valuable information. I have found that the blogs I like best are the ones that are almost restful on my eyes when I visit. The colors all go together and there isn't too much to see all at once. I am going to go check out my labels, navigation and search box features to make sure they are useful, though! Thanks for sharing and for linking up with NOBH! Smiles -

  2. Hi Dawn, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris