Watch a First Time Reader of Your Blog [Day 17 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog from Problogger]

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Jonathan graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. While he works for a contractor buying specialized tools, his passion is personal finance, frugal living, blogging, and stewardship.

Here’s my notes on Darren Rowse’s Problogger Free Podcast on 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. You can listen to Darren Rowse’s free podcast here Day 17 Watch a First Time Reader of Your Blog. The complete list can read here on Day 0 – Welcome and Introduction.

Become A Problogger with Darren Rowse

To get the full benefit of this series I’m going to go at a slower pace by posting this series on Tuesdays each week. I hope with this challenge we are all able to improve our blogs and websites.

So lets do this together! Day 17 here we go! Subscribe and check back often! #31DBBB

Day 17: Today the challenge is to watch someone read your blog for the first time.

You will need some help with this challenge. This particular challenge can be a little bit intimidating or frightening.

Within just a few seconds of arriving on the blog you spend hours of your energy into, chances are this person will have some strong impressions of your blog. The reader is likely making snap judgements if the content is relatable, what the blog is about, if it’s worth their time to stay on it, and if it’s worth their time to come back again. First impressions are so important in real life. In online space it’s even more important.

We just have a few seconds to draw people into our world.

This is a great activity to do because it will give you insight into what a first time reader thinks about your blog. Think of this as a first time reader audit that will allow you to get inside their head. You will need a friend, . Preferably someone who doesn’t know anything about your blog. Ideally, this would be someone who fits your reader profile demographic. First time around you will want to also have a computer. You could do this on a phone or tablet but the first time around try to have a computer handy. You will want to ideally be in the room when they’re clicking your site. You could also try to do this virtually with a program like Skype for example.

Give the blog’s URL and let them load up your site. Have them spend 4-5 minutes surfing your blog.

Don’t talk to them while they do it. Don’t distract them.

This may be uncomfortable at first because you’ll want to point them in a specific direction but simply sit back and watch how they navigate your site.

How To Improve Your Blog by Watching a First Time Reader

I. Ask Yourself These Questions:

As the Blog Surfer starts to navigate your site ask yourself and make note of the following questions.

1. How do they navigate?

2. What do they click on first?

3. What do they pause on to read?

4. What does their cursor hover or pause on?

5. What calls to action do they react to?

6. What do they seem to skip over without a second glance?

7. Where do they look confused?

8. How far do they scroll down the page?

9. What parts of the page do they seem to click more often?

10. What areas of the blog do they seem drawn to?

11. Are there any links that don’t work?

II. Ask the Blog Surfer These Questions:

After they’ve surfed your blog for 5-10 minutes or when their visit to your blog ends you could ask the following questions.

1. What was your first impression of the blog?

2. What did you think the blog was about?

3. Was it easy to read?

4. Was it easy to navigate?

5. What did they feel when they first arrived?

6. What suggestions do they have for you to improve?

7. What questions do they have after surfing your blog about what you do?

8. Is there something they didn’t understand?

9. What words would they use to describe the design of your blog?

10. What were the main elements they remember about the blog 10 minutes later?

11. What words do they remember you used in your blog?

12. What was the blog’s name or tag line?

13. What words would they use to describe the content and voice of your blog?

14. What type of person do they think would read your blog?

Some of these questions they may not have too much to say. However, you might be surprised. Darren tries to do this on a regular basis. Even in 5-10 minutes you can great insights into how your reader’s view your blog.

III. Beyond This Episode: Fellow Bloggers 

Another good idea would be to get some feedback on your blog from fellow bloggers. You can request to join this Facebook group I’m a part of: Blog Review Group. This has been very helpful to me as I’ve had my blog reviewed 3-4 times in the last 6 months. You will need to review two blogs before posting your link. The questions that are typically used as a guide is as follows:

1. What is the first thing you notice about this blog?

2. What do you like or dislike about this blog?

3. Is the blog easy to navigate?

4. Are the about and contact pages up to date? Do they contain all the info you need?

5. Read one post. Leave a comment. Was commenting easy?

Further Resources:
  • Sign up (free) to Peek User Testing and you can get a 5 minute video of someone using your site. You can pay for more tests, choosing your audience, setting users tasks etc. and on different devices etc.
  • CrazyEgg shows you exactly where users ‘click’ on your site when there and creates a ‘heat map’. It shows how far people scroll and where they stop. Fascinating tests!
Previous Challenges in this Series:

Have you asked first time readers of your blog for feedback before? Who will you ask next? 

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{Click to go back to day 16 here} {Click to go forward to day 18 here} *Coming Soon*

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About Jonathan Key 112 Articles
Jonathan graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. While he works for a contractor buying specialized tools, his passion is personal finance, frugal living, blogging, and stewardship.

60 Comments

    • Michelle, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Glad you found it helpful and you totally should try it out with someone who is in your target audience or niche. Sorry to just respond to this now but this comment was in the spam folder for some reason.

  1. I picture myself wincing when the SIGN UP NOW box pops up a second after I’ve clicked on a site. Give me a chance to see if I like your content for pete’s sake! I try to design my blog with the feel of what makes me happy on other sites, but it is so helpful to get someone else to walk through with their fresh perspective. I appreciate the tips!
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Bloom in Any SeasonMy Profile

    • Jennifer, I’m totally there with you regarding the popups! It’s so annoying when they pop up without even getting to read the content… The way I look at it if I want to subscribe to the blog as a reader I’ll find how to do so without having it shoved in my face. Thanks for commenting and reading!

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