Last week I saw a write up by another blogger on the good and bad review they received from using "peek" . peek is a FREE (my favourite word) user testing tool where you can enter the URL of your blog and have a random person view it and give you feedback - the feedback is actually a five minute video of them browsing around your posts and pages and commenting as they go. It's a scary thought putting your blog out there for an honest appraisal and seeing how it looks to someone else.
The first thing that hit me when I opened it was that the reviewer was a young man (possibly in his 20's??) and I immediately thought "well there goes any chance of someone getting what my blog is about!" and braced myself for the disparaging comments the younger generation are so good at. Much to my absolute amazement, he actually liked it - it took him a moment to figure out what sort of site he'd opened, but once he got the idea he was really positive and it made my day.
There were three points the commenting person works from:
1. What is this page all about:
It took a moment (he obviously sees lots of different types of websites submitted) but he figured it out fairly easily and completely understood what my blog was based on.
2. What do you want to do - go ahead and try it:
He looked at my "About" information and was strongly in favour of my categories across the top of the home page that made navigation easy. He liked those better than straight archives because you can choose what interests you more easily.
3. What stood out and what was frustrating:
This is where they have the opportunity to make constructive (I hope) criticisms, and I waited to hear his suggestions. Once again I was happily surprised, he just reiterated how clear and clean and readable it was and he enjoyed browsing through it.
So, there you have it - a tool to give you an insight into how others see your site. You can have up to three reviews a month for free - I think I'll leave doing it again for a while and just rest on my laurels (and allow my self esteem to build up again before throwing myself back out there).
One thing I took away from his general browsing and his commentary was that it's important for new viewers to know what you setting out to do. I assumed that everyone who lands on my page knows they're coming to a midlife blog, but that may not be the case. So, I have tweaked my little "about me" blurb under my photo to summarize my blog a little more clearly, and for now, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and will come back for another assessment a bit further down the track! I hope you get brave and have a turn too - it's quite an eye opener.