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Blogging best practice 101: Don’t annoy the user

Ben Long

May 19th, 2020

Written by

Ben Long
Ben Long

Category

Product Management

There’s more to a successful blog than writing good content. Without a user-focused design, your readers will find it hard to engage with your content, no matter how well it’s written. Fortunately, if you’ve made mistakes with your blog setup in the past, it’s not too late to fix them.

We’ve shared previously about essential and nice-to-have blog features your users will love, but sometimes less is more. It’s just as important to avoid features that could annoy your users and create a bad user experience.

Our digital experience team has uncovered 7 features you should (generally) avoid on your blog.

7 features you should avoid on your blog

1. Payment/subscription gateways

Unless your business depends on a paid content model, payment controlled gateways are best avoided. Most blogs are set up to make money in other ways, like:

  • Selling a product or service
  • Paid sponsorships
  • Affiliates
  • Display ads

Follow best practice and make your blog content as easy to access as possible. Remove any barriers so your audience stays on your site, reads the full article, and comes back for more.

Make the blog post as easy to access as possible (in its entirety). If you’re writing to make money, then a payment gate is ok.

Dallas Clark, Associate Manager of Engineering @Tiny

2. Autoplay video or audio

A very irritated looking Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants.

While multimedia options on your blog can add value to the audience, autoplay video or audio will annoy them. Especially if they’re taken by surprise while browsing on the train or at the office 🤐 If they can’t find the “pause” button quickly enough, they’ll close the window and probably won’t come back. 

Also, we shouldn’t have to say this, but please don’t add background music to your blog (or any other part of your website).

3. Undated posts

There’s been a trend towards undated blog posts (since older posts might get overlooked by users), but this can come at the cost of trust, transparency, and usefulness. Unless your blogs are evergreen (and essentially timeless), it’s best practice to date-stamp your blogs or add an “updated on” date-stamp to show that your content is fresh and relevant.

4. “Admin” author

The author field is an often overlooked but important detail on your blog. Too often, blogs are posted under a default “Admin” username, instead of the real author’s name. This is a missed opportunity to show the people behind your blog, build trust, and connect with your readers. Wherever possible, publish your blogs under the author’s name or a suitable representative from your company.

5. Instant pop-ups

Animation shows various pop-ups appearing on a computer screen.

Want to know the fastest way to annoy a website visitor? Trigger a pop-up window asking for their email address as soon as they land on your site. Most users will click to close the window without a second thought and might even ditch your site out of annoyance.

Avoid instant pop-ups to subscribe to your blog for updates. If a user has just landed on your site (probably for the first time), they’re going to find a way to dismiss this.

Dallas Clark, Associate Manager of Engineering @Tiny

6. Too many display ads

Display ads can disrupt the user experience on your blog, making them scroll past large images and videos to get to your content. Although many blogs rely on display ads to make money, it’s important to balance this out with the user experience and avoid overdoing it, or users will click away or won’t come back a second time. And if the main point of your blog is to sell your own products or services, avoid display ads altogether as they’ll water down your brand and lead traffic away from your site.

7. Too many features

Kitten looks in all directions. Text says

Don’t be tempted to cram plugins and widgets into every available spot on your blog. This risks overwhelming your audience with visual input and will make it hard for them to focus on your content. Plus, it can bloat your site and make your blog slower to load. For best practice, stick with a lightweight blog with plenty of whitespace. So, only use the features that add value to your audience and help them find and share your content.

It’s all about your audience

Person using a laptop that shows a blog feed.

The number one blogging best practice is to follow your audience, since every blog is different and audiences will respond in different ways. This applies to the content you write and the features you include on your blog feed.

Stay focused on your audience by surveying them to find out:

  • What blogs they do and don’t like
  • What content they’re interested in
  • What features they’d like to see on your blog

And pay attention to your analytics as you make changes. If you change something and your readers start spending more time on your site, reading more blogs, and sharing more regularly, you’re on the right track.

Also consider the ways in which a good rich text editor like TinyMCE can help your content authors keep your readers happy, with advanced tools like accessibility checking, link checking, and case change.

Over to you

We’ve covered 7 common blogging mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got them all. What mistakes have you seen, and what best practices do you wish more bloggers would follow? Let us know @joinTiny!

Content marketing
Ben Long
byBen Long

Developer Advocate at Tiny. Computer scientist turned storyteller. Reminisces about programming on the MicroBee. Writes picture books for kids. Also the wearer of rad shoes. “Science isn’t finished until you share the story.”

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