Hypercubed Blog

Incoherent chatter on issues related to science, computing, and philosophy.
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Weblog Usability or How I Suck as a Blogger
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005 10/18/2005 10:32:00 PM

The king of usability Jakob Nielsen has list the top ten design mistakes for weblogs. So I thought I would check out how Hypercubed blog stack up. 9/10 is not bad right? Well it is if that is the number of usability rules you’ve broken. Let's go over them one-by-one:

1. No Author Biographies
Not having a biography on this blog was a conscience decision. I decided a long time ago that this blog was not going to be about me and I avoid writing about myself. My blog is a place where I can share my technological experiences not my personal ones. I tried at one time to talk about my self and my chronic case of mental randomness but I didn't like it. I prefer to stick to science, technology, and philosophy; although I've been weak on philosophy.

2. No Author Photo
See #1.

3. Nondescript Posting Titles
I rarely use descriptive titles. I usually try for something pithy. I most likely fail at that but at least I’m trying.

4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
This is a basic web no-no. I know I should avoid using links that that don't describe the destination like this or that. However, when writing a semi-informal blog I make some sacrifices to allow the content to flow. It is hard to find the time to write as irregularly as I do. If I worried too much about this type of thing it would inhibit my ability to supply content. It takes me too long to write each post as it is. Hell, it takes me several minutes just to get through the spell check (if you ever IM’d with me you know that is true).

5. Classic Hits are Buried
This is my one out of 10. On the right sidebar I've linked to several notable posts. What defines a notable posts is arbitrary but I try to include posts that I thought were especially interesting or humorous or posts that seamed generated a lot of traffic.

6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
Unfortunately a calendar approach is the only navigation of the archive available through blogger. I've been considering several options to add categories including using del.icio.us tags as described here (damn, did it again, see #4). Personally I haven’t liked the results so that will have to wait tell I hack together something of my own (or blogger.com gets on the ball and adds them).


7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
I want to say that I publish when I have something to say but the truth is at any given time I have a backlog of topics I want to write about. Usually the problem is finding the time to create a coherent post. There is a certain minimum level of quality (very minimum) that I'd like to achieve and if I don't think I have the time to dedicate to the subject what I think it will take I don't. I'd rather miss a day (or a week) if it is needed. Is this inconsistent with #4?

8. Mixing Topics
Wow, I really screwed up on this one. Can science, technology, and philosophy all be considered one topic? How about stuff I’m not allowed to talk about with my co-worker, wife, and lunch buddies?


9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
I don't write for my future boss but I am conscious of the fact that people that know me or work with me will be reading. That is one of the reasons I don’t talk about myself and try to keep it mostly safe for work.

10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Well, I failed this one too. I’ve considered for sometime moving my blog to my primary website. Matter of fact I have a not so current backup located there. One of the reasons I don’t switch over is that I enjoy hacking up the blogger templates. I can still do that if host the blog myself but I know I’ll have the tendency to start playing with some server side stuff here and there mostly eventually creating my own blog system. That might be fun but who has the time. I consider keeping the blog at blogspot an act of self control. Besides why not use bloggers bandwidth rather then mine.

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