Tying up loose ends in a blog launch part 1: Assessment

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This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Blog Development Series #4: Creating Content & Evaluation

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A blog’s launch can be an exciting event, especially as the blogger watches traffic increase day by day. But as a site grows post by post, traffic should be showing increasing metrics as well. To avoid stagnation in readership even with the posting of new articles, the blogger must conduct assessments on a regular basis. The best user research and testing gets to know who the readers are and what they are paying attention to. Accessibility is also a huge issue, since both browser technologies and coding languages update with every new version. The web is always changing, and the last thing a blogger needs is for readers to have slow-loading screens or error messages. In part 1 of tying up loose ends, I’ll discuss assessment strategies. Part 2 will cover accessibility, and how it is also an important piece of keeping readers.

Assessment

For my first assessment, I decided to have the user take a look at the Library Currents home page, and to read an article. In the survey, I ask a few questions about the user’s background, and also include questions regarding their opinions of how helpful and informative the site’s information is, as well as how engaging the site is. I also ask what subjects would be of interest to them in the future. The full survey can be seen at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HCGT898 and completed there as well.

Survey Monkey was extremely easy to use and created the type of survey that engages participants, providing a simple, effective design. The basic plan is free to use and allows up to 100 responses. Survey Monkey also creates links to your survey, and will also post the survey link to your social networking profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Survey Monkey also analyzes your data, collects it in charts and graphs, and provides other useful features, such as marketing your survey to a user group. If you are a librarian and you have not tried out Survey Monkey to streamline your online assessments, now is definitely the time!

Another useful tool is Amazon Mechanical Turk, located at MTurk.com. This is a crowdsourcing marketplace, where you can set bids for users to perform an action or action grouping, such as reviewing a website and then taking a survey. It is a bit more complicated than Survey Monkey, but the great thing is that you can link your Survey Monkey to MTurk.com and have users take your survey there! Like Survey Monkey, you can narrow your user groups and perform a wide range of functions besides survey-taking. There is a bigger learning curve with MTurk.com, but once you master it I believe you could do some wonderful things with it!

For the blogger who wants less quantity and more quality of assessment, Usertesting.com would be the way to go. It is literally the fastest way to get feedback on your blog, with results in 1 hour. The blogger first specifies the tasks to perform on the site, then orders testers at Usertesting.com (it costs $50 per tester),  and selects a target audience. The testers will conduct the test research and record a video of highlights or areas where they got stuck. I would love to use this, but the cost is pretty high. No doubt, I will decide to use Usertesting.com if I’m not satisfied with the quality of survey feedback or if it becomes difficult to find survey takers.

Assessment takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, which can be balanced with greater cost. But it is not for naught: you will be rewarded with a better blog. I will be creating an update to this post in 2014 following some analysis of the survey data, or user testing data if an investment is made into it. But first, accessibility must be addressed so that all users are able to navigate and access the site without slow loading times or errors.

Next up:

Tying up loose ends in a blog launch part 2: Accessibility

What do you think of today’s post? Leave your comments or suggestions below!

Series Navigation<< A Directory for Library 2.0 Resources!Tying up loose ends in a blog launch part 2: Accessibility >>
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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

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