If you’re ready to go forth and fearlessly give an honest review of another blog… you need a list to guide you along the way. It helps to have a plan with points which can guide you through the review. You don’t have to mention each point in your final written review but they keep you on track during the actual review.
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- Is site navigation simple and natural? Do you have to search for buttons, links or archives?
- Is there any kind of error, script or advertising that makes the site drag while it loads?
- Does the site use pop up windows, flash, sound or video files which cause the site to load slowly or freeze up?
- Is the site cluttered in the posting area, the sidebar or the surrounding space?
- Is there some whitespace to let the reader’s eye have a break from text and images?
- If the blog uses a premade theme/ template is it obvious or has the blogger made a few customizations so that it feels unique and interesting?
- Does the site make use of the footer, include links back to the top of the site, contact information, links to other posts which may be of interest, etc.?
- Were the comments easy to find and easy to use?
- Is the overall blog design current (versus outdated looking) engaging, energizing or inviting?
- Is the title of the site clear and easily read, is it located at the top of the site where people would expect to find it?
- Is the CSS on the site working or do you see any images or text which are cut off or do not otherwise fit on the screen space or space which they are placed?
- Do all the links in the navigation bar work and does the blog make good use of a navigation bar under the header or places elsewhere easy found and workable?
- How many times do you scroll down to reach the bottom of the blog? Is there enough to read or too much?
- Is there something about the design, the overall look of the blog that you especially like and would comment on in the review?
- Does the blog use breadcrumbs so you can select the category to see related posts or skip to the home page, etc.?
- Can you get from one post to the next without returning to the home page each time?
- Do the links, on at least the most recent posts, all work?
- Does the blog redirect to another site?
- Is there a link back to the home page in the footer and at the top of the blog which is easily found on any page being viewed?
- Are categories and/ or tags used well?
- Is the focus/ purpose of the site easily understood before you go looking for more information or even read a post?
- Does the site seem to reach it’s intended audience, is it appealing to the target readers?
- Does it have relevant and current posts and information on the topic?
- Does the blog use a subtitle and does it make sense with the content and style of the blog.
- Do the blog posts attract comments/ reader response?
- Does the content of the site stand out enough from the rest of the site?
- Is it easy to read the blog posts, do the colours and fonts work?
- As you begin reading posts is there a post that you especially enjoy or find useful?
- Does the writer have a voice or style?
- How is the site for standard spelling, grammar and punctuation?
- Does the writer need to spend more time proofreading to catch typos?
- Are the blog posts proactive, give the reader something to think about or come back for?
- Does the site bring old posts up or related posts which can be read by readers once they finish the current post?
- Does the site have any broken image files?
- When graphics are used in a post are they effective, do they go with the post, make sense in their use?
- Does the blogger tackle a large topic or idea and push it all into one post? Could they use this as a series or a post continued instead?
- Does the blogger have enough space between paragraphs and ideas in their posts or when you look at a post is it a solid wall of text and not reader friendly?
- Is the blog sticking to it’s focus or wandering too far off? Are there niche areas which could be used or have been underexplored so far?
- Knowing many readers will skim posts, are the posts written in the pyramid/ news format?
- Does the site mix up the format of posts, do they have some lists, some bullet points, some quotes, a bold line to highlight a point or a subheader, maybe even some coloured text or highlighted text in a post?
- Do the headlines grab reader attention while also letting the reader know what the post will be about?
- Is there an About page which clearly explains the purpose and/ or niche of the site?
- Does the About page explain why the blogger is an authority on the topic with their experience and interests listed?
- Can you find the site archive and is it easy to navigate?
- Is there at least one way to contact the blogger, other than leaving a comment on a blog post?
- Is the blog software up to date or a security risk?
- Does the site use Creative Commons or some form of copyrights on the blog?
- Is there too much comment moderation, possibly limiting comments being made?
- Is there a way to search the site for specific content, using a Search or through categories, tags or an index of content?
- Does the site use meta tags for title, keywords, description, etc.?
- When images are used do they belong to the blogger or is credit given when they belong to someone else?
- Does the blogger give link backs/ proper credit to content they cut and paste from other sites/ sources?
- If guest posts are used or if the site is looking for writers to contribute are there clear guidelines to what is expected and what the writer will get back from it?
- Does the blogger have an author resource box at the end of each post, introducing the blogger and the site (a good thing when a post is linked from another blog)?
- Does the blogger have a posting schedule and is it one which they are able to stick to?
- Is there a blogroll (list of links), if so, is there some order to the links so readers could know what to expect when they click them?
Social Media/ Networking
- Are you able to connect to the blogger through social media links like Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter?
- Does the site syndicate, use an RSS feed?
- Does the writer interact with readers in the blog comments?
- Does the site use other media to interact or connect with readers: forum, podcast, etc.?
- If the blogger has other sites, activities like contests or regular events like a weekly podcast are these links and promotions found on the site? Do the links work?
- Is there a theme with the blog that carries through to different elements and any social media sites the blogger uses?
- Would you know this was the same blogger if you found them on Twitter or another social media site or network? Does the site use an avatar in comments or elsewhere?
- Did you learn anything while doing the review?
- Maybe you found a new site, a new plugin or social media?
- Would you recommend this blog, link to them or follow them on Twitter?
- Does the blog feel fresh, like it is still growing and evolving or does it fall a bit flat or feel stagnant even?