Something to remember
I had to write this because I wanted to share my experience with user testing and some lessons I have learned so far. You can get a free Peek test and find out someone's first impression of your site. I have done this about a handful of times in the past and have been frustrated, pleased, etc. Keep in mind that, many times, it seems like the person reviewing the site does not have an idea of what goes into making a site or they may not take the time to really look at your site. The more I have worked on organizing my site, especially the first page people see, the more I have listened, read, and researched what people want out of a site, especially my target audience.
So, let me tell you about my last experience with user testing (about a week ago). First off, I finally had someone who was knowledgeable about websites and was able to be descriptive in his first impressions and ideas for improvement (finally!). He never got off the first page but that's okay because that is where we make our first impression and can be where people decide to stay or leave our site. He made comments about how busy my page was and how he felt it could be more organized and helpful for a user. I have been working ever since to figure out the best way to present my site from the first experience a user may have. So, I changed the name from a Home page to a Start Here page. Then, I got rid of the fluff (most of my explanations as to what the pages on the site were about), changed my pictures to be larger and shortened the "about" part of each section. I then put links to all of the posts that were under each page or category.
Today, I submitted for another user testing experience. The person who looked at my site had the experience that I have been working so hard for!!! Finally!!! She talked about how easy it was to navigate, how organized the page looked, and how the pictures drew her attention to the information rather than drawing it away from where to go next. Yay!! It's taken about three and a half months (and then some) but I now have a home page (or start here page) that won't make visitors lose interest. She even mentioned that she wanted to come back to the site on her own time to look around.
I share this experience just because I know how easy it is to become frustrated and overwhelmed. I have watched people who joined WA about the same time I did and it seems like they just got everything right from the beginning. Of course, I know that's not the case and they have probably worked about fifty times harder than I have. The point is that we can become so frustrated when it feels like we aren't making progress no matter how hard we try. Coming to terms with the fact that I just don't have the time I want to have to work on my site has helped me keep from giving up. I work on it when I can and that's okay. I try to make sure that the content on my site can continue to help my target audience even when I can't get new content created. If only that were as easy as typing this I would have no problem! :)
My story is over but, the moral is the same. Don't give up. Keep trying even if you have to walk away and come back to it later. If you really feel passionate about what you are doing, then it will come together. The support is here for you to ask questions and get all kinds of help. I even have a wonderful new addition to my site thanks to a friend I made here and I'm thrilled about it! It may take time and I'm starting to see why so many people have talked about having their site for a year before things really took off. I'm not a patient person but I'm learning. You can do this!!!