Saturday, September 30, 2006

Writing for the Reader: Preview Pane and Blog Feeds

When you're designing a website, blog or email template do you ever think about how your users will actually see it? This may seem like a stupid question but it's extremely important to ensure that the people viewing your website or email see what you intended them to see.

When I wrote a post on How to convert blog traffic into loyal readers I mentioned that it's important to make it easy for your readers to subscribe to your blog. This means placing your web feed button or email form right at the top so visitors don't have to scroll to access it.

The same concept applies to email but it's a little different. When you're trying to get people to sign up for an event or download a whitepaper, you need to ensure that you design for the "Preview Pane". For marketers this may be an added pain in the ass but it's worth it.

As you can see from the image above, the preview pane default is to see the top left of an email.
MarketingSherpa recently published a case study indicating 28.24% increase in their newsletter Click-through rate when they switched their "offers" column to the left of the email from the right side. I've also seen this with other clients that I've worked with. Therefore, while this may be an additional task, remember to think about your readers will view your emails and design accordingly.

Applying this to blogs, remember that people will be reading your blog in multiple ways. Here's a few but I'm sure there is more:

This is just the beginning. What does it all mean? Check out how your posts look in these multiple formats from time to time. For example, I subscribe to my own feed using Bloglines so I can see what my posts look like to my readers. This has lead to adding a link to YouTube videos that I post and not just adding in the video. I've started to add links to some of my images as they may not show up in my email updates. Make it easy for those people that want to check out your posts (hey, I don't have many):
  • Content should be clearly laid out
  • If you use images, include actual links so all viewers can see them
  • Make it easy to scroll
  • Add helpful links to view old posts if they relate to the current one
Remember - have fun and keep on blogging!

Chad H

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