This starts a new series that I’ll be running on my site to help bring some lesser known weblogs some additional visibility. These sites will either be splendid examples of the state of the art, or be works in progress, in which case I will also point out areas where I believe they can be improved, hence “under the microscope”. I hope you find this informative!
I’m really the target reader for the Email Overloaded weblog, with well over 150 messages coming into my mailbox every day. Many evenings I spend an hour or two just trying to clear things out and a good day is one where I can get my mailbox down to 30 messages or less. Last night I had my inbox down to 22, but by this morning it was up to 68 by the time I woke up.
Email Overloaded is written by Itzy Sabo, though you can’t tell by looking at the weblog. That’s my first bit of advice for Itzy: why not have an “about the author” or some other way to at least associate a name with the weblog? Even the entries on the WordPress.com site lack an author name attribute, unfortunately.
As it turns out, Itzy and I are both members of LinkedInBloggers, which is how I learned about his weblog in the first place, but if I’d just stumbled across the site, it would be hard to ascertain whether it was written by a corporate PR flack or a passionate individual on first glance.
Another challenge for bloggers is to get the “frequency thing” right. When I teach blogging to entrepreneurs and businesses, my advice is always to post 2-3 times/week, roughly 250 words per posting. That gives you lots of fresh content and each entry is then sufficiently long that the search engines can figure out what you’re writing about (that’s one big reason I never do the popular one-line “link posts” you see so commonly on other weblogs. I actually strongly dislike them, but that’s another story!)
Itzy does a great job with clear, coherent entries that are nicely spread out, use bullet lists, graphics and other elements to break them up, and have at least a few paragraphs of content each time. But I would advise that his frequency increase: In February, he posted five articles, and didn’t post any articles in the month of January.
Like many bloggers, he might find it difficult to allocate the time to produce as much content as some of us, um, more loquacious bloggers, but there are so many different ways that you can come up with content, ranging from simply commenting on other weblogs to discussing news items, industry gossip, and much more. I actually spend almost two hours talking about this very subject in the teleseminar I’m just wrapping up with Brad Fallon. (Interested? Please sign up for my Blogsmart list for more info when it’s available)
From a usability perspective, I’d also like to see the colors tweaked a bit on the site. Don’t get me wrong: it looks great! Simple, elegant, and very inviting and modern. But there’s a bit too much gray on white, particularly in the navigational columns, for my taste. Maybe I just have older eyes (did I just say that?) but having it be a bit more contrasty could help legibility. That’s my only comment in that regard: generally the site’s splendid.
Ah, wait. There’s one usability issue worth pointing out on Email Overloaded: it turns out that I’m wrong in my comments a bit earlier and there is an “about me” link: it’s just a tab that’s very dark blue and blends right in with the background graphic on the top left. Here, have a look:
(I narrowed it a bit for layout reasons, as shown with the vertical chop mark in the middle of the graphic)
Can you see how the about me tab really gets lost in the design?
Once you visit the about me page, however, it’s great to get a quick overview of Itzy, but even here, we don’t get to learn his name, since it’s written in the first person: “I am a seasoned hi-tech manager…”.
I believe that the biographical information on a weblog of this nature is really quite important, because it’s where you can establish your credibility to a readership who has no clue who you are. I really like having the picture here, and the rounded edges are just another example of the attractive, professional, elegant design, but making it so hard to find the information and then forgetting to tell us his name makes this less valuable than it otherwise could be.
That’s about all I see under my microscope this time. Itzy, thanks for letting us examine your weblog and I look forward to watching it evolve.
If, like me, you too suffer from email overload, you now have another resource to help tame the monster. Goodness knows we all seem to need it!