Jakob Nielsen, Blogs, and My Own Take

[Jakob Nielsen](http://www.useit.com/) –the well known usability expert– has written an article about [blog usability](http://www.useit.com/alertbox/weblogs.html). While I happen to agree with him on most of his points, I found there are several that I can’t fully agree with.

In his article, he listed ten design mistakes that –in his opinion– happen frequently in blogosphere. The first is **No Author Biographies**

> It’s a simple matter of trust. Anonymous writings have less credence than something that’s signed. And, unless a person’s extraordinarily famous, it’s not enough to simply say that Joe Blogger writes the content. Readers want to know more about Joe. Does he have any credentials or experience in the field he’s commenting on?

Well, in my experience it is not quite like that. In blogosphere, people tend to judge a blog posting from the quality of the writing itself, not from who wrote that and what his/her assumed credibility. It is a bit backward from what happening in ‘the real world’, but here we judge a blog author from his/her writings, not the other way around. As an owner of a personal blog, I wrote a highly diverse set of topics. However, people seem to be more interested in topics that probably will never be considered as my area of expertise. Just take a look on my [statistics](https://priyadi.net/statistics/).

Anonymity also has its place on blogs. The most famous example is the [Mini Microsoft](http://minimsft.blogspot.com/). We simply can’t ignore the anonymous writer’s comments about his employer, [Microsoft](http://www.microsoft.com). In fact, it is what makes the blog interesting. Again, his insightful comments about Microsoft is what makes all of his credential, not the other way around.

His second gripe: **No Author Photo**!

> A huge percentage of the human brain is dedicated to remembering and recognizing faces. For many, faces work better than names. I learned this lesson myself in 1987 when I included my photo in a HyperCard stack I authored that was widely disseminated on Mac-oriented BBSs. Over the next two years, countless people came up to me and said, “I liked your stack,” having recognized me from the photo.

I don’t fully disagree with that. But not having photos doesn’t seem to affect a lot of blogs, including mine. My blog has only this picture of [Tux](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tux) in [Kill Bill](http://imdb.com/title/tt0266697/) pose. But the fact that it is not my own photo doesn’t stop that it has become trademark of me and my blog. People has been using it to identify me elsewhere. Not that I intended it to be that way though, I simply didn’t have a good photo of myself handy when I created myself a [Gravatar](http://www.gravatar.com) account.

I might reconsider though, I’d really like to avoid the embarassing incident where a bad picture of me popping up on [other sites](http://jalansutera.com/2005/10/14/priyadis-top-100-indonesian-blog-list) :).

His seventh: **Irregular Publishing Frequency**.

> For most weblogs, daily updates are probably best, but weekly or even monthly updates might work as well, depending on your topic. In either case, pick a publication schedule and stick to it.

It makes sense. But I don’t think casual people writing blogs should be forced to regularly post more than he/she is comfortable with, or the quality of his/her writings will suffer. In my opinion this is where [RSS](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format\)) comes into play. It avoids visitors to manually poll a blog (or worse, several blogs) for new content. RSS enables visitors to be notified when there is new content. And this also makes it unnecessary for amateur blog author to post once a day to avoid losing repeat visitors.

Of course, we are still very far from widespread use of RSS and other syndication, so that point still applies if you are doing a professional blog, for now.

His eighth: **Mixing Topics**

> If you publish on many different topics, you’re less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They’re unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic).

A very good point, but also contrary to his seventh point: “Irregular Publishing Frequency”. If you split your blog into several specialized blogs, then it certainly will affect your perceived frequency of posting. In my opinion, a topic is only worth to be splitted into specialized blog only when it takes a significant part of your blog. If not, it’d only be a waste of effort of maintaining two or more rarely updated blogs.

And why don’t just use categorization like he suggested in his sixth point?

> Do use categorization, but avoid the common mistake of tagging a posting with almost all of your categories. Be selective. Decide on a few places where a posting most belongs.

With current blog software, visitors will be able to browse postings related to a specific category, and even subscribe to category specific RSS feeds.

His tenth and final point: **Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service**

> Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

> Letting somebody else own your name means that they own your destiny on the Internet. They can degrade the service quality as much as they want. They can increase the price as much as they want. They can add atop your content as many pop-ups, blinking banners, or other user-repelling advertising techniques as they want. They can promote your competitor’s offers on your pages. Yes, you can walk, but at the cost of your loyal readers, links you’ve attracted from other sites, and your search engine ranking.

I agree with this. That’s why I’m using my own domain name for my blog and email since the very beginning. I also noticed several top blogs in my [Indonesian Top 100](https://priyadi.net/archives/2005/10/13/top-100-blog-indonesia-atau-kira-kira-seperti-itu/) list are abandoned and their owners have moved into their own domain or other services. That can be considered as wasteful, because significant resources has been put into making those blogs popular.

However, I also concede that the availability of free blog services like [Blogger](http://www.blogger.com) and [Blogsome](http://www.blogsome.com) is also one of the most important factors that encourages rapid growth of blogosphere we enjoy today. And to say that having weblog address ending in blogspot.com or typepad.com means that “you are naïve beginner who shouldn’t be taken too seriously” is a very bold statement. In fact, a significant part of my blogroll consists of blogs whose addresses end with blogspot.com, and I can’t even consider them not to be taken too seriously.

To Jakob Nielsen, welcome to blogosphere!


  1. Mas Pri, maaf, saya pasang gambar Anda tidak dengan minta ijin terlebih dahulu. Tapi, saya nggak punya maksud buruk kok. Paling nggak, orang akan semakin mengenal Anda kalau kelihatan fotonya, khan? Mestikah saya turunkan foto itu?

  2. jadi inget shakeshapre… toh mawar juga tetep mawar biar namanya bukan mawar, gw juga tetep doyan ngebaca anothers priyadi.net biar namanya udah nyampur dengan geocities dll yg gratis2 itu. yang penting isinya bukan namanya

    gratis apa ngga .. ngga masuk dari 100 daftar hal-hal yang penting utk menentukan layak apa ngga layak dikunjungi, tapi masuk 100 hal penting bagi gw utk bikin blog setelah kejadian raibnya blog gw di spymac dulu :(

  3. Point taken.
    Tentang foto, yang penting mungkin “kesan visual” aja ya.
    Priyadi = Kill Bill. Kira2 seperti itu.

    Tentang Mixing Topics, saya sepakat untuk tidak terlalu luas, tapi bukan dengan alasan yang sama seperti yang dikemukakan Nielsen.
    Alasan saya : udah terlalu banyak blog yang terlalu takut kehilangan reader (doh) dan berusaha menjaring semuanya dengan multitopik. Kalo ngeblog dengan mixing topik jangan2 malah blog kita jadi “blog biasa” aja.
    Iya sih ada kategorisasi, tapi kalo terlalu luas kadang ya jengah juga bacanya.

    Tentang frekuensi, saya malah pikir ini yang paling penting. Intinya ada ritme yang bisa diikuti reader. Sehari burn-out lalu seminggu hiatus kan gak baik karena mengasumsikan semua reader punya RSS Reader. Yang bener mungkin, IMHO, ada semacam “jadwal” posting yang harus diikuti.
    “Oh.. blog ini sehari sekali”.
    “Oh.. blog itu nyebelin, sehari 6 kali posting copy paste doang”
    “Oh.. blog ini sebulan sekali, tapi sekali posting ampun panjangnya”.


  4. Blog adalah sarana kebebasan berbicara di dunia digital, jadi esensinya tetap kembali ke isi apa yang ditulis sebagai perwujudan kebebasan berpikir seseorang.

    On internet nobody knows that you are a dog telah berubah menjadi On internet everybody knows that you are a dog.

  5. si nielsen ada benernya. jika kita kembalikan ke diri kita, selaku bloggers, mungkin sebagian dari kita sampai pada persimpangan.

    di satu sisi blog menjadi solilokui, curahan isi benak dan hati, dan pada tingkat tertentu hampir menafikan pembacanya.

    di sisi lain blog menjadi sebuah “koran pribadi”, si blogger menjadi penerbit yang butuh khalayak yang populasinya kudu ditambah, dirawat, dan diajak berkomunikasi.

    lebih berat ke mana kita? jika timbangannya jelas berat sebelah, maka gampang pasalnya. kalo solilokui, silakan berasyik sendiri. orang sinis akan bilang (maaf) “silakan bermasturbasi”. kalo jadi koran pribadi, ya ikut hukumnya nielsen.

    yang repot itu ya yang medioker, nanggung :) dengan catatan: kalo bloggernya memang merasa kerepotan. :D

    blog saya? au ah :)>-

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  7. gak kok.. saya gak anonym…
    cek aja di kampung :P

    *wah… gara2 oom pri, kayaknya bentar lagi order domain nih..*

    liat2 isi kantong duluw…, btw indoglobal ada gratisan gak ?

  8. #13 Koran pribadi? Ehm, saya setuju dengan istilah ini. Seperti blog inilah sebagai contohnya! Sudah menjadi koran pribadi bagi beberapa orang hehe.. including me tentunyah! :x

  9. ooohhh…jadi intinya Pri’ g PD yah mejengin potonya hehehe :d, kira2 ada admin ISP yng mo ngasih gratisan hosting, biar g dikatain Norse ? :)

  10. Jadi kalau yang gratisan itu “naif” dan “norak” ya?

    Jadi ingat mas Roy Suryo saat ngomentari Blog ama Friendster… :d :d

    :)>- peace lah…

  11. kaya’nya sih soal budaya..
    budaya non-indonesia sangat berbeda dengan budaya kita kita disini..

    sehingga..blog orang indonesia belum tentu harus mengikuti usability si jakob

  12. Ya tulisan masalah usability selalu memunculkan pro dan kontra, tapi kayaknya ada benernya juga sebagian tulisan si kangmas Jakob ini, meskipun gak semuanya….so mari sama2 ambil yang baik, mumpung ramadhan.. :d

  13. setuju sekali dengan komentarmu pri, juga tambahan dari pakde kerekemplu.
    eh.. terlebih komentar jay.
    *lho… kok jadi kayak voting?*
    Bagiku sendiri, ngeblog adalah satu transformasi arus informasi. Dulunya, sumber, alat, dan cara menyampaikan info ditentukan dengan berbagai pattern. Kini, dengan blog, pattern itu “tidak harus” diikuti. Kalau di media konvensional, judgementnya adalah seberapa sering media tersebut menjadi rujukan sumber info, maka di dunia blog kurang lebih sama, walaupun itu tidak lagi mutlak. Penanggungjawab informasi yang tadinya adalah sistem/perusahaan/masyarakat jurnalisme, beralih menjadi sistem pribadi (sang blogger). Mungkin munculnya blogger seperti polisieyd bisa dijadikan satu rujukan tentang “arah” perkembangan blog di Indonesia.
    *baca ulang* *bingung sendiri*
    intinya sih aku cuman mau bilang: (tafsiran pribadiku atas apa yang dikatakan jay) internet berarti kebebasan.
    *summon enda: old media vs new media?* hihihihi
    bravo blog! bravo hacktivism! :)
    dont be affraid to be anonym!

  14. nulis aja terus.

    jadi, kenapa harus pusing dg macem2… yang penting bisa nulis yah nulis. pasti ada yg ngebaca kalo memang ada guna apa yg kt tulis itu. :d

  15. Kayaknya si Oom Jakob ingin memberi sedikit ilmu teknisnya kali. Yah, dia mungkin menerapkan kedisiplinan dalam membina web secara umumnya ke blogs. Kalo pembacanya developer web mah maklum baca ginian (emang dari dulu, pedes banget kalo baca situs useit), karena tujuannya untuk satu standar web. Eh iyah, jadi inget si Dody “failco” …

    Kalau content mah suka – suka aja, mo ngapain juga terserah, mo ada foto, mo ada rss, terserahlah. nggak ada aturan. mo foto nungkring juga nggak ada yang ngelarag :D.

    yang jelas emang lebih ciamik kalo pake domain sendiri. ini point yang paling saya setuju.;)

  16. IMHO balik lagi ke niat buat blognya mau ngapain? kalo asal iseng aja kayaknya mereka bakalan nggak ngurusin masalah usability :)

    #35 hehehe.. nggak punya tuh Oz kayaknya ^^

  17. niatan saya nulis di blog ‘hanya’ menuliskan hal-hal yang ada di pikiran, masalah penjaringan pembaca gak terlalu dipusingkan, nantinya malah sutress mikirin “ini postingan bermutu gak? atau, ini sudah basbang™ belum yak?”
    masalah usability memang penting, cuma jangan terlalu berlebihan nanti malah lupa apa yang mau kita tulis :)>-.

  18. I don’t really agree in the point, that having provided blog is bad for you. Well, it’s not the best you can have. Your own server is a great advantage. But i dont like the point that its like having an email with an aol-ending: It qualifizes you as a newbie he said. So what ? Blogs are spreading like weeds. All around you, there start new blogs (like mine). But how could you possibliy now, if the blogwriter is an experienced writer ? I don’t declare it for me, but i think there are hardly user who start blogging without knowing at least a minimun about blogs, like writing before as a guest or so.

  19. Bung Pri,

    Apa kiranya dengan hasil survey Anda, Adsense daroi Google dapat dikontak. Bahwa sudah sewajarnya “bahasa Indonesia” dimasukkan sebagai bahasa yang dianggap satusyarat untuk memasang Adsense di blognya yang berbahsa Indonesia. Mengingat jumlah yang cukup banyak, belum lagi dari Malaysia.

    Adakah kemungkinan Anda atau siapa saja di tanah air yang dapat menjadi Agen perusahaan Indonesia untuk mengisi Adsense-nya Google disetiap blog Indonesia dan Malaysia.

    You make money, kawan-kawan yang punya blog juga make money dari Google. Membuka usaha baru, menarik devisa dan bagi-bagi rezeki. Ada minat ??
    Pak Joe

  20. wah keren kalo norak dia mabil dari unsur mana ya menurut saya tapi minimal kita bisa belajar kalo dah pinter ya bikin atau beli sendiri biar ga norak :) no metter lah :)

  21. mohon petunjuk tentang steps memasang plugin gravatar wi wp blog karena beberapa kali sudah saya coba tidak muncul juga.. terima kasih

  22. wah tanx juga nih infonya sangat berharga sekali… seharusnya sebagai pemimpin dia harus narsis juga dong, asal tidak berlebihan.. masa dia gak narsis sih sedangkan dan harusnya pemimpin itu kan bangga dengan sendirinya :-?:-?

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