The evolution of a blogging tool

Several years ago our blogging tool undertook a major redesign. The old version had a number of problems but the most prominent and the ones that came up too often were related with narrow content area and small text size for the viewing experience, and too many clicks and a long journey before you even start to write a blog post. With more clients sharing the same feedback it was obvious that we had to redesign the whole look, feel, experience and improve user flows.

The big redesign

We don’t take such redesigns lightly. Feedback is what gives us direction and helps prioritise, but we need to make sure we look at the bigger picture. That’s why our research methodologies include:

  • Observations
  • User interviews
  • Stats
  • Competitors analysis

After doing a few draft designs and discussing with the team we did usability testing with a clickable prototype. The tasks covered:

  • Usability testing of the new reading experience
  • Finding a specific post
  • A new “Follow” and social features

After improving the reader’s experience we focused on the writer’s journey. For that part we made it much easier and quicker for the user to start writing and moved the administration of the product out of the complex administrative system. This had so many additional benefits on a later stage, enabling communities to easily share updates and bringing more content with the help of contributors and new regular bloggers. All of this is managed from a single administrative interface. But first things first. We started from the actual writing experience and the editor for which we had 2 promising concepts. That‘s why we had to do:

  • Usability testing
  • A/B test
  • User interviews

We reached out to clients and tested at an HR conference and networking event. It was great to see what people who use such software on a weekly, even daily basis, think about our two concepts.

Blog post editor interface

Not just improvements, but also new features

Iteration after iteration we: 

  • Rolled out the new, more enjoyable and accessible reading experience;
  • Beta (and later Final) version of the new editor and blogging experience
  • New blogging roles to give the right level of permissions
  • Collected feedback via surveys
  • Set KPIs to track how our improvements affect readership and content creation
Publishing updates from a mobile device

Thanks to continuous feedback and research we designed, tested and launched:

  • A new set of tailored “Reactions” vs. just “Likes”
  • Comment threading and mentions to encourage conversations
  • Follow” feature to let people stay up to date with topics and people they care about
  • Announcements” to let employers share with everyone important news
We did another A/B test for the interface adding the reaction 

More content = more readers

We noticed that while “following” and “announcements” boosted readership, there is a strong correlation between the content being added and the views. For example if the number of blog posts doubles, then the number of views is considerably more than doubled! That was partially an effect of adding a setting for “open blogs” where everybody has the ability to post content. Some clients used that for helping  communities thrive, sharing good examples and even competitions. 

Following a blog triggers alerts when there are new posts

Later on we heard from clients and especially from internal communication specialists about their need to enable more people to write, but at the same time keep a nice row of posts without overwhelming employees by posting too many things at once. There was also the need for editing what other people are writing. That naturally led to creating a new:

  • Contributor role
  • Approval and feedback process
Feedback pop up and status history

Of course all of that went through the usual discussions, usability and beta testing, resulting into a solid approval process with alerts, status history and post scheduling. Sharing the writing experience made it easier for employers to empower more people to share content while at the same time keeping the company’s tone of voice and consistent communication. 

Actionable stats and further engagement

All of the above sounds so cool, but how do I know what content gets more attention and what are the best ways of sharing the content?

Worry not as we got a solution for this too. We built Analytics Dashboards designed for user needs and continue to delight our customers by providing meaningful insights and empower people to make data driven decisions.

The team at Reward Gateway also developed integrations that let you publish new  blog posts to other software that your company uses, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, RSS, etc. In addition to integrations, featuring a certain blog post and announcements, we continued  our conversation with customers about effective communication. That’s why we just developed an email digest that is unique and personalised to every  employee, showing them the content that they might have missed.

These are just the bigger highlights of the evolution of our blogging tool in the span of 4 years. The continuous feedback, research, hybrid work models and our clients’ changing needs are constant motivators for pushing the boundaries and creating innovations.

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