Tag Archives | design

What experience are you creating?


Many years ago I spent a couple of weeks with a friend in Halifax Canada. He had a very modern apartment overlooking Halifax Harbour and from his living room you could watch the daily happenings on that beautiful expanse of water. The view was captivating for a while but it wasn’t long into my visit that I stopped noticing it.

When I think back on that visit, the things that first come to mind have nothing to do with that view. The experiences I had are my fondest recollections; the food I ate (best wild mushroom soup ever), the people I met and the unique places I visited.

In some ways your blog is not any different for your readers. Your blog design is probably the initial reason a new reader will stay, but it’s the experience you create for them that will keep them coming back. How beautifully you craft your words, the wisdom and insights you impart, how easily they can move through your topics and how seamless it is for them to sign up for your email list – this is their experience.

It’s unfortunate then that so much advice and energy is spent on getting your blog design just right. Most design decisions, and here I’m talking images and colours, come from personal preference or your brand guidelines.
Have you ever stopped to consider the experience you are giving your readers that goes beyond design?

Below, in no particular order, are some tips for auditing your blog to enhance your readers’ experience and hopefully keep them coming back:

Your writing

This is a case of do as I say not as I do. I am not good at writing, well not in the way that I would like. If you’ve got this under control then skip ahead. If you’re curious to know what level you are writing at, run your favourite (and I do mean your favourite not your most popular) post through the Readability Score website. This brings back a lot of data but my favourite measure is the Flesch Kincaid Readability Score. What grade are you writing for? Keep in mind a higher grade does not necessarily mean better writing. Oftentimes a lower grade means that you can be easily understood by many levels of reading proficiency.

The navigation

This is how easy it is for readers to move through your blog. Do you require too many clicks for them to get to what they want? Are your tags and categories intuitive? Do your menu labels make sense? If you’re not sure, try this little test. Copy your menu labels (e.g. About, Contact, Downloads) onto post-it notes or small cards. Give them to someone who will give you honest feedback (a reason why friends are sometimes not a good idea for this task), one by one ask that person to tell you what kind of information that would expect to see under that label. You are welcome to set the scene for them and be up front about what you are doing and why. Try this again with a few more people – 5 should be enough. What did you learn? If what they expected and what exists is closely matched then you’re on track, if not you might want to rethink these labels and then test out the new ones. Rinse and repeat.

As an example, I once had a client that wanted three items on her navigation menu; food, art & life. Now, to me, food & art were easy to predict what I might see, but life? I had nothing. Was it about her life? Or mine? Or about living? It is such an immense word that each of us will think something different based on our own life (pardon the pun). In user experience design (and psychology) this is called a mental model. We all have them. If how you structure your blog matches your reader expectations, then you’re matching their mental model.

Remember that navigation is not just about that bar at the top of your blog, it’s how your reader moves around your blog – page to page, post to post. What opportunities are there to make that easier for them? What if they land in the middle of a post from a search engine, how well can they gain orientation in your space?


Your about page is so important. It is possibly the most visited page on your blog because people really want to know – who are you? Picture please. Add a little bio and only share as much as you want to share (read – please don’t overshare). How is it you came to be writing your amazing blog? Where are you in the world? Your story is the human connection your readers have with you so make it sing.

A way forward

In my day job as a user experience consultant I spend a large part of my time evaluating websites and apps. I have started doing this for bloggers as well but with a twist, not only can I evaluate your blog against a set of usability criteria but I provide a task list to help you prioritise your blog usability updates. Feel free to contact me to know more, or leave a comment.

Image by Bench Accounting via StockSnap – free high resolution stock photos

May 9, 2016 \ Web DIY \ 2 comments

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Circle logos :: help me choose three

20 circle logos and text

20 circles logos

Here is one challenge that has been messing with my head for the last 2 days. The task was to create a logo for a restaurant called ‘circle’ and we were allowed to use the word circle and the circle shape and we had to come up with 40 variations. Let me just say at number 28 I was ready to give up. The word ‘circle’ no longer looked like anything I recognised and my eyes couldn’t take in any more circles. This was a great challenge for me since I’m not great at pushing my ideas and that number 40 goal post certainly made me do that. Somewhere around number 16 I had a great idea in my head that I wanted to try and so I made a start and it would end up somewhere completely different , so I started again and then end up somewhere different. I never did execute my idea and I’m not doing 41! So now my bigger challenge is I have to pick 3 of these to present to the ‘client’ and so I’m enlisting your help. What are your 3 favourites? Leave a comment and let me know – I’ve even numbered them all to make it easy for you.

P.S. Click on each image (there are 2) to see a larger version

March 8, 2012 \ university \ 9 comments

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Dreaming of Paisley

Bungalow Denmark Handkerchiefs

Bungalow Denmark Kitchen Towels

These gorgeous handkerchiefs (yes really) and kitchen towels are by Danish company Bungalow. I have seen them mentioned a few times around the blogsphere but they have been slow to reach Australian stores. I love their use of traditional Indian woodblock printing to create these beautiful textiles. After stumbling upon these yesterday (can’t remember where) I was thinking it would be nice to do some woodblock printing and went in search of a block seller. This then led me to the traditional paisley design of Indian textiles. This gave me another idea for a web design of all things. My brain was seriously overloaded when I went to to bed and I had quite a restless night and when I was asleep I was, quite literally, dreaming of Paisley designs. Does this ever happen to you? Now, where was I? Oh that’s right paisley designs, I’ll be sure and show them to you when I’m done.

October 7, 2010 \ inspiration \ 3 comments

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Eames Design and the Story of Two Blogs

Without giving away too much… remember there’s a give away being drawn on Saturday. I have been researching stamp designs for an upcoming assignment. I do like being set the task to search for things that I don’t usually consider. There are some really amazing stamps out there.  I stumbled across this series celebrating Eames design. I do love the chairs and I think the Hang It All (left middle) would look great in our house and I’ve just discovered I can buy a replica from Matt Blatt. As part of my university studies all my research and final assignments are posted to a blog that I have on my subject site. So now I’m essentially writing two blogs but unfortunately I can’t share that one with you. I might give you glimpses though… is that OK?

March 11, 2010 \ university \ 0 comments - be the first

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My computer is almost back to normal, thanks to a new hard drive. My darling husband is not convinced that the hard drive is the issue so we are keeping our fingers crossed. On the plus side I have more disk space that I shall ever have a need for – 1 terabyte! With all this rebuilding and reinstalling I felt it was also time for new wallpaper. I stumbled on the Desktop Wallpaper Calendar 2009 thanks to Smashing Magazine. There are so many great choices. I think we need some Southern Hemisphere input though as many of the designs are celebrating the arrival of spring when we are watching our leaves changing colour.

March 8, 2009 \ inspiration \ 0 comments - be the first

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All Things Scandinavian

I’m not sure why it is that so much great design comes out of Scandinavia. I really love these wooden birds, available from Great Dane Furniture. They really have so many beautiful things that I will just have to add to my wish list. My husband and I joke that we keep Scandinavia is business, with our many visits to Ikea, our Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs and my passion for George Jensen jewellery – namely their year pendants.

November 16, 2007 \ inspiration \ 0 comments - be the first

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Breast Cancer Awareness

I received my T-shirt this week – thanks Sidsel! This beautiful design is by Sidsel Gaustadnes a Danish graphic designer. You can view her blog here or if you can read Danish you can view her studio web site here. Mine is the pink one and it fits beautifully. This is the Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirt for 2007 and was done for the Danish Cancer Society – I recommend you read her blog to get the real meaning. And just to add another connection, Sidsel is sister to my dear friend Mette who was my yoga, chocolate and swimming buddy when we both lived in Sydney.

October 21, 2007 \ inspiration \ 0 comments - be the first

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