I’ve been working on a redesign lately and thus have been thinking a lot about how people use blogs, and more specifically, how people use this blog. I think I’ve charted out the four kinds of people who use this site. Please let me know if you use it differently or think anything needs to be added.
Person #1: The RSSer: This person is kind of geeky and enjoys reading what I have to say about technology (or they’re a friend who I’ve convinced to start using RSS . . .). They don’t actually visit my website except to make a comment. The only thing they need once they get here is the comment form. After they finish they close the window and go on their way (maybe they bookmark it first on del.icio.us or other like-minded service).
#1 Navigation Needs: None. Most of the time the RSSer is in and out. They’d rather not be bothered with lots of navigation since there only here for a very specific reason. They might click to the home page and see what’s going on there, but that’s about it (and unlikely at best).
Person #2: The Not-so-geeky Geek (or family/friends): This person is any member of my family or other casual fan of my site that doesn’t use RSS. They are interested in seeing if there’s anything new on the site and they like to see the links I post. They read entries on the front page and occasionally click through to comment on them. Otherwise, they come to the site, read the front page and then leave, either by way of one of my links or boredom. (In a way, I actually fall in this category, but only by accident.)
#2 Navigation Needs: This person needs an easy to click comment button. They also need an easy way to get back to the home page once they’ve finished commenting and want to read more. Other than that, they need a search function for the occasion they want to go back and read something they read earlier but don’t know where to find it.
Person #3: The Searcher: This is the person that comes across the site via a search engine. They are looking for something fairly specific and are not here for any other reason.
#3 Navigation Needs: This person needs an easily accessible search box. As my stat logs tell me, often people come here looking for something specific and end up in the archives for a month. What they end up doing is searching the site for the same search term they used to get here. Other than search, they’ll need to get to the home page in case they want to read other things I’ve written and they need an easy to find contact info, in case they want to get in touch with me.
Person #4: The Linked In: This is the person who gets here from someone who was nice enough to link to me. They clicked through so they’re interested enough in what I have to say that they’ll most likely read it. If they’ve ended up on the front page, they become very similar to Person #2, except they might be a little more interested in who I am.
#4 Navigation Needs: This person needs to be able to get back to the home page from an individual entry. They also need accessible about information on the home page.
I think that about wraps up my four kinds of users. Have I forgotten anyone? What you should have noticed by now is that none of the people who use this site really need a direct link to the archives or almost anything else on every single page. They come for different reasons, but most of them have a specific reason for coming here. I haven’t figured out exactly how to reconcile this in my design, but I thought I’d share my thinking and see if I could get any feedback. Let me know what you think.