Go to your website. You’re used to seeing it and you’re familiar with your own design. It’s easy to navigate and to you, you see nothing wrong with it. In fact, you’re so accustomed to it that you start to not notice the details. First time visitors however, do notice.
Look through your website. One of the questions you need to ask yourself is if some of the features or information is even necessary. Are your visitors clicking on all your links, looking at that graphic, or using all of websites features? If not, then why do you have it? Clutter may drive first-time visitors away. You want to feature what’s actually important on your website.
Never put something on your blog because you feel it looks good but adds no real value.
Heat Maps: Find out what’s REALLY being used
Ever wonder exactly what everyone is clicking on? What’s the most popular part of your website? There’s a few websites that tells you this information amazingly well. You can visualize exactly what’s being clicked on. You’re seeing in through the eyes of the visitor. If you’re not sure if that widget is actually being clicked on, this will help you. You might find yourself removing a part of the site and maybe working more on what’s being clicked on. My recommendation: Crazy Egg
Remove Useless Widgets
Does your widget displaying your latest 5 tweets really have a use? Have you ever went to a blog to see someones latest Tweets? I don’t. I find it completely useless to have a widget displaying the latest tweets. A normal Twitter follow button is enough. Save the resources and space.
More useless widgets/images include the Alexa ranking image and the PageRank image. Your readers don’t care if you’re a PR3 or a PR6.
You Lose by Adding Awards Won
You’ve won the Best Travel Blog by a random website that’s in no way even relevant to travel. Most of these fake awards are trying to game the system by having you linking to their website in a widget. They also make it all so easy by providing you the exact code to put on your website. If you won an Oscar or Emmy, now that’s something to show for. If you didn’t, delete the email and widget. I once won Best Information About Cruises on Art of Backpacking. I’ve never published an article about cruises.
Top Blogs Ranking
I’m talking about those little tiny images (usually 80 x 15 in pixels). The websites require you to add their code/image to be ranked on their website. The only people who actually go through these are other bloggers. It’s added code to your website that’s unnecessary. It does nothing useful for your website. Instead, list yourself on Technorati and get displayed on other blogs that might rank you (the manual way). They don’t need you do anything besides keep building good content.
A clutter of random words with different fonts all mixed within a box. I can’t see how this is helpful for any user. It’s messy, unorganized, and defeats the purpose of having a friendly easy to follow blog. Remove it. It helps no one and rarely will you ever have anyone clicking on it.
Recent Comments Widget
How useful is this really to your reader to read a 100-word except of on your blogs recent comment? It adds no real value and the excerpt is usually far too short to ever get the real meaning of the entire comment. Remove it.
Latest Images on Flickr
I’ve seen a lot of themes that come with this feature automatically as a widget. This might be useful for someone that’s very active on Flickr and wants to display their Flickr images just as much as their main blog. When a user clicks on your Flickr thumbnail, it’ll take them away from your blog. Do you want that? How useful is it really to give your readers a thumbnail overlook of your latest images on Flickr? I display photos in my articles anyway so for me personally, I have no use for it.
Links to other bloggers
Supporting other bloggers is a great idea. I definitely support that. What you don’t need however is to display it on every single page of your site. Instead, for those interested, make a separate page of bloggers you support and remove it from the sidebar.
Simplify Your Categories
Keep your category count as low as you can while still being as relevant as possible. Categories are an important part of the blog but they are often left and forgotten. Each category should be seen as a separate important page that should draw in your readers to find more information.
For example, you might have a category called Middle East then under that you’ll have another category called Iraq. In your Iraq category, you might have only one article. Instead of forcing WordPress to create a whole new page and have a new entry in your database, why not just leave it in your Middle East category? When the time comes when you have dozens of articles about Iraq, that’s when you should start thinking of creating a separate category.
Removing the above has an added benefit!
By doing what I mentioned above, you’re making the user experience friendlier by creating a website that’s easy to navigate and find the information that’s important. As a bonus however, you’re also increasing your website speed times. A faster website will increase your website rankings and your readers might even stick around longer.