I don’t know what your main purpose in blogging is. Maybe you want to make a little extra money. Maybe you just want to write and be read. Maybe you just want to write.
Whatever your motivation, I hope you’re successful.
When I was doing the Carnival of Personal Finance, I got the chance to visit a lot of blogs. I didn’t feel comfortable e-mailing the bloggers and saying “Here, you should change this,” since I didn’t know them. But I thought I’d do a post with my observations.
1. Don’t make people register to comment. (WordPress-type blogs)
You can only do this if you’re already really successful, like the Consumerist.com or LifeHacker. If you’re trying to build an audience, then leave the comments accessible. Some people may sign up to comment, but most won’t want to bother with the hassle. People only have a limited amount of blog-browsing time, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to respond.
2. Similarly, if you’re in Blogger, don’t make them be logged in to Blogger to comment.
If they don’t have a blog-specific Google account or aren’t currently logged in as that user, they probably won’t bother. Commenters like to be anonymous (most of the time) behind their screen names…they’re not going to want their real ones up there. Or they might not have a Google account. You are basically limiting your audience to only people on Blogger.
3. Consider not having the Captcha.
The Captcha is the little letter/number combination people have to use to prove their human. Take it down for a day and see what happens.
You see, I’m slightly dyslexic. Typing in skewed letters and numbers in a random combination (normal word Captchas–not available on Blogger–are much easier) is horribly difficult for me. It requires a lot of concentration. So even though I’m a rabid commenter, I may decide that it’s not worth the effort to comment.
4. Consider not using Blogger’s popup comment boxes.
They have the advantage that you can still see the post while you comment. But honestly they’re a pain in the butt and the click-through allows one to pull up the text on the left anyway. It won’t stop me from commenting, but it’s a pain and may lead me to be annoyed with your site.
And this isn’t just me talking, there are a number of bloggers I’ve spoken to who say that they’d like to comment more often on interesting posts, but are dissuaded by these factors.
Commenting is a very valuable part of the blog–it’s a place for discussion, it’s a way to know who’s reading and what they might like to see in the future.
I won’t subscribe to a blog where I can’t comment–there’s no point.
I’m feeling sort of what Patrick said in a conversation:
I like leaving comments, and I especially like to thank bloggers who mention my blog or an article. I do appreciate any mention of my site, even if it comes from a blog with 1 reader. The fact they mention my site means a lot to me. But Blogger [and I’d add registering to comment] just makes things difficult and frustrating.
(Note, I do subscribe to Blogger blogs and suffer through the Captchas, but I know some people who are saying “Screw this” and giving up. If you want a free platform, consider WordPress.com. Downside is that you can’t use scripts or ads.)
How do you make your blog more user friendly? Do you agree with my suggestions or have any to add?