The article gives guidelines on Corporate Blog Design & New Eyetracking Trends. Designing a blog is different than designing a home page for a website. A blog’s main content is transient; appearing on the home page one day and not the next. Various design tactics have been tried, including displaying static front pages that look and act more like standard websites and home pages. To know what will work for your enterprise or design, a little analysis in advance of wireframing is a best practice.
As far back as the late 1800s, reading was observed as a series of short stops, not a smooth sweeping motion as was assumed. Emile Javal, a French ophthalmologist, uncovered the fact that our experience of seriality as we read was, in fact, made up of saccades which are quick, parallel movements of the eyes as they scan in a succession of fixations and discontinuous individual movements. Later, in the 50s, a Russian psychologist named Yarbus showed that there was a definite correlation between the time the eyes are still during this scanning and the subject’s interest in the task. He also showed, maybe more importantly, that the task itself influences the saccades and fixations.
It would seem then that balancing visitor interest and site layout, while understanding the tasks required of the visitor is the key to successful corporate blogs. One of the ways interactive designers can try to visualize this balancing act is eyetracking. Much has been written about it over the last 10 years by authors like Jakob Nielsen and Jared Spool. For designers, it offers the chance to see through their users’ eyes and watch them behave. Of course, nothing can be precisely determined with tests like eyetracking because each visitor has different knowledge gaps and levels of tech-savviness, but inferences can be made and statistical models can be created.
The most recent report from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox shows different corporate blog designs offering different layouts, different content strategies, and different business goals, all resulting in different eyetracking patterns. In the Blog Front Pages article, Neilsen lays out the parameters for success based preferred topics, tone of voice, scannability and layout, charts vs. tables, and how readers interpret links, as well as the use of summaries or full articles. From the scanning tests done, Nielsen’s group makes these general recommendations:
- Encourage selective reading by using summaries, especially when the blog touches on many topical areas.
- Blending longer articles with shorter posts keeps the visitor focused on your message, but allows them to move on to other things naturally.
- Use site analytics to determine what visitors are doing and where their interests lie – formulate your design and content structure accordingly.
- Blogs with regular returning visitors or subscribers should feature longer articles because their visitors are returning for the next installment.
- Making the most recent articles and posts available in a nearby widget or call-out gives the returning user what they need to find what they missed.
- Let your visitors engage with lots of varied content styles and types – be bold enough to redesign when the analytics suggest it.
As you can see some of these same ideas can be extended to the design of home pages, product pages, landing pages and microsites. If you have other styles of corporate blog designs, have other suggestions for designing practice, or have other eyetracking links to share, please send me an email and/or a comment. For more about designing blogs click the link or use the tag widget.