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September 02, 2007

Three things EVERY blog should have "above the fold"

above the fold
Originally uploaded by irina slutsky
I've been adding a lot of new blogs to my news reader these past two weeks. I've also been contacting (or trying to contact) a lot of bloggers recently. Interestingly, I've found it quite difficult to either subscribe via RSS or contact some bloggers, and unnecessarily so.

If you're writing a blog under your real name, I have to assume that part of the reason you're doing so is to get attention for some reason: Perhaps to be viewed as a subject matter expert, to generate sales leads, to show off how funny you think you are, or whatever. So, if you're eager for attention, why would you make it difficult to contact you or subscribe?

Here are three things I think every blog site should have "above the fold" -- that is, visible on screen when I first navigate to your blog without forcing me to scroll down:
  1. Your primary RSS feed, clearly marked with the standard RSS icon.
  2. Your email address, even if it's not hyperlinked with a valid mailto.
  3. A link to your bio or profile.
And I'm drinking my own kool aid here. I just put my email address on right under my picture, although it's just a link away if you click on my big head at the top of the screen.

Here is the one thing I believe should NEVER be above the fold: RSS feeds for anything other than the main feed or comments (i.e. separate podcast feed, vlog feed, etc.). Having extra feeds up there is uber confusing. Put those feeds below the fold or on another page, please!

What do you want to see above the fold? What do you wish bloggers would push down the page?



LeeAase said...

Hi Ben - Good advice - and I'm drinking your Kool Aid, too. I just remade the top of my right navigation as you suggest. I also think recent posts should be relatively high, as well as the search box. I agree you should arrange your navigation according to what you hope people will do.

Dave S. said...

Ben, some really good practices. I think the primary challenge is determining what would be most useful from a reader/visitor perspective. I like the idea of having some identifying/contact information to some credibility. A picture is a good addition too, at least if you are trying to build a relationship with your readers. As for the rest, I think feeds are key and also agree with Lee: search is another key element, at least if you are posting a lot over time.

I think the bottom line is that it's about making your site usable and your content findable. Generally, this means steering away from unnecessary embellishments, at least above the fold. I have some work to do, but think you gave me (and everyone else) some food for thought.

Anonymous said...

FYI, blog usability advice from Jakob Nielsen:

"Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes"

Jason Della Rocca, IGDA

Mark Flavin said...

Good advice Ben, I drank the "koolaid" and changed my blog to reflect some of your recommendations. One addition I would suggest is adding an easy way to filter through archives either by date or topic.

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Ben. I have been trying to figure out a way to get more stuff "above the fold" for a while now. I am considering switching to a two-column layout, but I'm not sure just yet.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Thanks for your input, everyone, especially to Jason for the usability link.