Blog user interface scramble: Memories of '96

Brian Boero

In 1996, at the dawn of online real estate time, broker and agent
websites were a garish melange of glamor shots, animated gifs,
table-laden code, photo-less listings and clip art. In the course of
the next ten years, the tenets of website usability seeped into the
industry. While many real estate pros clung to the old way, many more cleaned up their act.

Then came blogs, the platform that channeled the knowledge between
the Realtor’s ears directly to consumers. No forms, no lead capture, no
spammy mess. A great thing.

But many blogs I visit these days are starting to look like their
primitive ancestors. Widgets, chiclets, gadgets, avatars, blog rolls,
comment lists, clouds and other clutter are strewn across my screen
with little thought. I can always pick out the top post, but finding
most anything else is often more trouble than it’s worth.

The flexibility of blog platforms and the free for all ethic of web 2.0 can be taken too far. The user is still important.

I’m thinking about this because we just updated the 1000watt Blog
interface. We needed to add a few things (e.g., search and email
subscription functions) but wanted to keep it simple. Let us know what
you think. I’ve always been of the school that less is more on a
website. The point of diminishing returns on features, copy and
navigation is reached very quickly. I also favor usability over SEO.
I’d rather have one visitor that comes to my site based on word of
mouth than 10 that stumble across it in the long tail. My thinking here
may seem antique, but it has served me well to date.

The best book I’ve ever read on website usability is Don’t make me think
by Steve Krug. The thesis is the title: If a visitor to your site (or
your blog) has to think, you’ve failed. Everything must be self-evident
or easily inferred. Make no assumptions. Utility always. It’s a simple
book loaded with a great examples. It predates Web 2.0, but that does
not matter. Users are still the same. Ignore them at your own risk!

Brian Boero