Happy Birthday! UsabilityGeek is Two Today!

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Yes indeed! UsabilityGeek is 2 years old today! It has been another great and eventful year and surely would take me much more than a simple post to describe the awesome people I have interacted with and the engaging discussions that have taken place as a result of this blog. Therefore I will have to share with you the highlights that have taken place this year, the current state of UsabilityGeek and what one should expect over the coming days, weeks and (12) months.

The Past

Let’s start off with a look at this past year …

Off with the Retro Feel …

One of the most exciting changes was launched in mid February 2013 – the newly re-designed UsabilityGeek.com. After much pondering I opted to move away from the retro user interface (UI) that had characterised the previous 2 designs.

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UsabilityGeek – Pre launch mock-up – May 2011

Don’t get me wrong. I still am a huge fan of retro UI, retro technology, retro music (specifically 1967 – 1974 UK rock music scene). So why the change of heart? The reason for this was twofold. – the retro feel was at times conflicting with the actual usability of the blog. I know, this sounds ironic but in a bid to keep a consistent retro UI I was finding myself having to compromise usability. For instance, retro UI is characterised by patterned backgrounds – a big usability no no if you have to show text on that patterned background. Secondly, the retro UI was not giving anything back to usability – actually it was somewhat distracting and taking too much prominence over the content of the site.

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UsabilityGeek – Before the redesigned UI – February 2013

… In with the Responsive UI

Implementing a responsive UI was also a logical step in order to improve the usability … of the usability blog! The site now automatically adjusts its UI in order to make the best use of the available display space. In this way you can enjoy UsabilityGeek irrespective if you are viewing it on your mobile phone, tablet or your 32” monitor.

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Through responsive UI, UsabilityGeek easily adapts itself to make the best use of the screen of the device that is being used to access it

Top 10 Articles on UsabilityGeek

A “highlights article” like this one would be nothing without a top 10 list of the most popular articles during this past year. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the articles that have obtained the most pageviews this past year:

  1. 10 Free Screen Readers For Blind Or Visually Impaired Users
  2. Official Usability, User Experience & User Interface Guidelines From Companies
  3. 15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO
  4. 14 Guidelines For Web Site Tabs Usability
  5. Top 5 E-Commerce Trends For 2013
  6. An Introduction To Website Usability Testing
  7. 7 HTML Guidelines For Website Usability & SEO
  8. Paper Prototyping As A Usability Testing Technique
  9. 10 Free Web-Based Web Site Accessibility Evaluation Tools
  10. 112 Effective Guidelines For Breadcrumb Usability and SEO

Looking at the titles and content of the above articles, it can be seen that readers still prefer guideline articles that are structured as checklists. In fact, 6 out of the above 10 articles are usability and user experience guidelines for specific user interface aspects. This is a good sign since it shows that designers, website owners and user experience enthusiasts are searching for fine tuning specific elements of the user interface rather than tweaking generically. It is of course a good sign that UsabilityGeek is meeting those needs.

The Present

Over this past year, there has been a substantial increase in the followership of UsabilityGeek. Suffice is to say that the average monthly views is almost 4 times as much the same period last year. If I were to sum up the present state of UsabilityGeek in Numbers, I would quote the following:

  • 55,000 – Average monthly visitors
  • 9,200 – Twitter followers
  • 93 – Published articles
  • 48 – Authors who have written articles

The Future

So what lies ahead for UsabilityGeek?

Same Core Values

As I have always stated, the primary objective of UsabilityGeek was, and still is to serve as a resource for designers, developers, marketers, consultants, practitioners … and anybody who is interested in delivering a great user experience. For me, the web has been a source of personal inspiration, tuition, research and interaction. This blog is a means to share my knowledge and that of all those who in any way contribute in it. It truly is my way of giving something back to the community that has taught me so much over these past years. I have always held these core values, and will continue to do so.

Great Content

It would be cliche of me to quote Bill Gates’ overused phrase from ‘96 that “content is king”. A Google search did not yield me a better saying so I will just say that the main factor that has contributed to such an explosive growth for UsabilityGeek is the quality of the articles. I would not say that the articles are perfect, or the best ones out there. Indeed, there are some truly awesome blogs out there such as the almighty Smashing Magazine. However, I always do my best to deliver a weekly article. My secret? Adopting a strict publishing policy that only considers what the user will benefit from reading each and every article. Unfortunately this means I refuse several articles which are good but have little to do with the overall theme of this blog. This also includes the refusal of articles that exist for the sole purpose to obtain link juice for SEO purposes. And, of course there is a lot of editing which I do (late at night, over cups of coffee) on all posts that are submitted. But the overall result is well worth it. Therefore, continue to expect great content.

New Sections

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be working on and launching a number of new sections. The objective is to develop more the community that surrounds UsabilityGeek. Apart from great articles, I will also focus on providing resources that usability and UX enthusiasts will find useful. Some of these sections have actually been requested by the community. Without going through much details, I plan to launch sections providing information about events, jobs, resources, giveaways, coupons and lots of other stuff. If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Contributing To UsabilityGeek

Although relatively new and still (when compared to what I have in mind for its future) small, UsabilityGeek has evolved from a hobby to a rather demanding schedule in a very short time frame. This of course is an excellent sign and a motivating factor that fuels me to give even more to invest in it – both in time and money. While I will always strive to deliver my very best, this is not something I can do alone. You too can contribute to the UsabilityGeek success story by:

Last but definitely not least, a big thank you to the readers, authors, sponsors and whoever contributed in any way to UsabilityGeek. May I say yet again that it was not possible to do all of this without you. Your dedication and commitment means everything to me and to the UsabilityGeek community!

Cheers, everyone!

Justin

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