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Improving Consumerist Navigation/Findability: Review

January 4th, 2007 · No Comments

The Consumerist asks for tips on organizing their site better. I stopped by from my feedreader to leave a comment, and guess what, you need to login to comment! (And finding how to create a login is not intuitive).

That is unacceptable to me, and I bet to a lot of people. We all know that comment spam is a problem. Combating it by making it more difficult for folks to leave comments is a lame approach, one which would be justified only if that were the only way to prevent comment spam. Fortunately, that is not the case now. Use Akismet — use a nuclear weapon to toast the spamming vermin! The consumerist, more than any other blog should know that collective power equals nuclear weaponry! Seriously, what you lose when you turn down one valid commenter is worth a lot more that what you gain by using Akismet for free. No brainer.

Now for answering the question they ask:

  1. Add a search form
  2. Use the Sidebar for displaying a list of tags, or categories, or something that enables better navigation.
  3. Cut down on the number of front page posts so that people actually see the fat footer, or add a link on the top to the fat footer.
  4. Use some plugin like the Ultimate Tag Warrior to make tagging easy – and if possible enable us to add tags.
  5. Whatever you do, add a page in the “About” links that details how best to find the info that I am looking for, in simple terms.

The current archives are 100% useless. Who would want to read old posts, purely by their date? Even if I do remember that the consumerist wrote about some company in the past, what are the chances I remember the date that appeared on? So what would I do to find the post? Search on google, and then there is the possibility that I wander away to some other site that seems like a better answer!

Think as someone who lands there for the first time would –
she reads a post, and is impressed. Next, she wants to find out what you have to say about Foo Bar corporation. She looks up an down, looks in the archives, can’t find a way to search, and flails about for a while. Then she throws up her hands and goes away.

Or, she arrives at the site, likes what she sees and wants to read more about something. Thing is, there is no way she can continue reading except down the page – with tags, or categories, or lists of relevant related posts, she’ll probably stay a while, and who knows, maybe click an ad or two.

The sidebar is currently dedicated to ads! Agreed, ads float your boat, and are probably a major reason why you blog, but they should be secondary to my interests. Why? Because I am the consumer – the dude you put your weight behind (and who is the weight behind you!)

I guess the tool used dictates the ease with which the information can be organized, so use something like WordPress or something that is fully featured and that you are good at modifying.
Good Luck!