I don’t expect I ever will be chosen for a focus group. For better or worse, my answers skew the curve . Even so, one skill that fast tracked me through publishing was my ability to watch myself. I don’t mean to behave. I mean literally to watch how I behave. I pay attention when I do things and analyze how I do them. I may not be focus group material, but I still do lots of things that normal people do.
Knowing how I do normal things is a cache of valuable data. I gather the data about how I do things. Then I talk to my friends. They help me sort what I find out into two sets–weird things (things that only Liz does) and everybody things. I use that second set to improve my readers’ experiences. Here is one very specific example of how I might go about this.
One thing I watched for: How do I use archives? Do I read them in a certain way or a certain order?
- First, I realized that it depends. I prefer to browse archives from old to new. I stop to think about my reason–many times ideas build on each other over time. Other times I read for certain topics.
- Next, I consider other ways to read. Some folks might want to read only the newest information. New readers might want to know about the best ones they missed.
- At this point its time to get input from readers. I can write a post or have informal conversations. If the issue is small, I use what I already know.
- Then, I devise a way to organize my archives to meet all of those needs–an index by date and by topic and a listing of Golden Oldies.
The day I did that my page views were three times higher.
When I watch myself as an unbiased observer and test what I see, I get a solid answer to What would my readers want me to do?
–ME “Liz” Strauss