Blogging Myth – Don't Annoy Your Users
A lot of bloggers have opinions about what will annoy readers. And while I think it's important to consider changes to a blog carefully, I think it's misguided to think that readers are so easily annoyed that they'll unsubscribe and never come back.
Instead, I think your blog can support a certain level of annoyance that corresponds to the level of value it provides. That value can be entertainment or informational, it doesn't matter. Take for instance John Chow's site. His site includes many of the elements that your typical blog owner would say is annoying and should be avoided. And yet despite these annoyances, John enjoys a subscriber base exceeding 3400. If you're a blog owner you know that's an impressive accomplishment.
So what does John do that is annoying? Let me count the ways…
- Most of the home page is taken up by eye-candy in the form a picture of two sports cars. Visually appealing, yes. Useful, no.
- Below the overly large header image is an image ad. Annoying.
- To the right and a little down from the image ad is a large banner telling visitors that John will review a site for $250. Also annoying.
- Above the fold there's room for just one post title and the first paragraph of that post. If that one post is of no interest you need to scroll. Within the first few lines of scrolling users are shown a large Google AdSense ad. If I wasn't blind to such ads, it'd be annoying.
- Throughout the post a bunch of words are hyperlinked via the IntelliTXT advertising system. All these links are annoying, wouldn't you say?
- Guess what shows up at the end of the post? That's right. More ads. These ones aren't even relevant. They're product ads from DealTime.
- In the right nav there's a list of featured sites. Hand selected for their quality? I doubt it. Paid for links? Most certainly. And most certainly annoying.
- And finally, to add insult to injury, it's likely that any post recently written by John has been paid for rather than being something that John is actually interested in. Ugh, that's annoying.
Somewhere on his site you'll find a comment from John to me that it's better to be annoying than dead.
So how does John get way with being so annoying? Well, in my case I find his site entertaining so I've subscribed and I check in now and again to see what's new. In exchange for entertaining me, John reserves the right to annoy me. And as long as he annoys me less than he entertains, I'll keep coming back. Pretty damn smart of him I would say and I wish I could be as annoying! He's so good at this blogging game that he's got people writing reviews of his site for free.
One thing that helps people coming back to annoying sites is that they don't need to see them every day, but only when they are updated and when the new blog entry is of interest to them. Gotta love RSS feeds!