Nielsen's top-10 blog usability mistakes

Jakob Nielsen, the legendary usability curmudgeon, has released a list of the top-ten usability mistakes on weblogs. I agree with nine of them but take exception to "8. Mixing Topics" in which he advises bloggers to restrict themselves to narrow subject-ranges. I believe that the thing that makes blogs so exciting to read is that they represent a view into the diverse interests of their authors. But the others are very good:

3. Nondescript Posting Titles
Sadly, even though weblogs are native to the Web, authors rarely follow the guidelines for writing for the Web in terms of making content scannable. This applies to a posting's body text, but it's even more important with headlines. Users must be able to grasp the gist of an article by reading its headline. Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.

Your posting's title is microcontent and you should treat it as a writing project in its own right. On a value-per-word basis, headline writing is the most important writing you do.

Descriptive headlines are especially important for representing your weblog in search engines, newsfeeds (RSS), and other external environments. In those contexts, users often see only the headline and use it to determine whether to click into the full posting. Even if users see a short abstract along with the headline (as with most search engines), user testing shows that people often read only the headline. In fact, people often read only the first three or four words of a headline when scanning a list of possible places to go. Sample bad headlines:

* What Is It That You Want?
* Hey, kids! Comics!
* Victims Abandoned