Archive for September, 2011

Do you know when your readers are?

September 16, 2011

When designing content and applications, it’s important to consider where and when your readers will be when they access it.

For instance, Mike McCue of iPad reading app Flipboard notes in a Montreal Gazette story that “people use Flipboard at late evenings, mornings when one might be having breakfast, and on weekends” – pretty much the opposite of most websites, whose peak periods are generally when people are at work. Mobile fills in the third slot – commuting and waiting time.

What does this mean? Content and applications designed for mobile and web should be quickly and easily accessible and read – or saved for later reading. Tablet-oriented content, on the other hand, will more likely be accessed when readers can spend more time on it.

Not a hard and fast rule, but it always bears keeping in mind that you have to put yourself in the user’s shoes. It’s not enough that they’re interested in a certain topic area – they have to be interested then and there.

Are your content pages well optimized?

September 14, 2011

How do you think most readers get to your website, and how do they move around?

If you check your analytics, you’ll probably find (perhaps unless you’re a portal) that the entry point for the majority of readers isn’t your home page – it’s an article page, or a recipe, or a blog post. You might also find, if you dig deep enough, that most readers don’t click on your navigation menu, no matter how much effort and consideration you put into it. More likely, they click on anything that happens to catch their interest, whether they’re in the middle of the current story (and just get distracted) or at the end and looking for more. (Read “How important is your home page?” for more on this.)

The lesson here? We should be putting as much – or more – effort into designing and optimizing content pages as we do designing the home page. And most of all, we should be putting ourselves in the mindset of the readers landing on those pages. After all, they may be new to our site, to our brand, or to the topic they’re reading about (especially if they’ve come from search). Every content page should operate on the assumption that the reader may not have seen anything else on the site – especially important when repurposing from print. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s found a fragment of an article on a page with no easy way to find the rest of it.)

Interested in going deeper into this subject? Check out this presentation by Luke Wroblewski – you can download an mp3 and the slides, or click through to the links at the bottom of the page for overviews by others of the presentation.