OR On blog content arrangement Part 2
We talked about difficulties of navigating blogs without proper cues yesterday in Part 1. Let’s think about a few principles of arrangement of posts on the page today.
On a reader-friendly arrangement of posts
So how can we arrange content on our blog so that it’s more accessible to the reader?
There is only one answer.
The easiest way to do this is to put ourselves in the reader’s shoes.
We won’t be able to know how it feels in the reader’s shoes unless we first know what kind of content we are generating which in turn is attracting what kind of readers.
It takes a while to figure these two things out as we keep blogging and getting familiar with both our blogger selves and the readers we attract.
Some blogs are detailed, analytical and long. Presumably, readers of these blogs will come to the posts with more time on their hands, will be more involved readers and take a lot of trouble to look around for posts they want to read. So even if there is a lot of material in tiny fonts on the sidebars, even without visuals, they will read. In fact, such readers might find too many pictures a juvenile distraction.
Other blogs have posts that provide momentary entertainment, maybe humor or dating advice or what have you and these may need to have colourful pictures and fun fonts (or perhaps I am just stereotyping taste here but you know what I mean!)
When a blog covers a range of topics, or different kinds of posts (say by genre or length or analytical level or something else) the display needs to have something for each type of content for each type of reader as well–maybe a short list of the most popular posts under each category or a linked image leading to a classified archive.
On emphasis and the blog’s character
Once we have decided on the content, we need to decide what elements of the content to underscore through the layout, how to present those different elements, how to guide the readers and control emphasis so that we make sure the reader takes away something of value regarding what we want to make the reader remember about the blog. These are impressions that add to the blog’s character.
For example, if I have a recipe blog with little blurbs before each recipe that are my humble literary forays into creativity related to those cooking experiences, do I want the blog to be remembered primarily as a cook-book like blog or as my adventures with cooking? How do I manage emphasis on the blog to achieve the effect I want?
For example, say I cooked chicken curry last night and the dish turned out too hot. If it’s simply a cook-book style blog, I can classify my dish under “Chicken dishes,” “Hot and spicy dishes,” “Indian dishes” or maybe “Non-vegetarian dishes.” But if I am emphasizing my experience, I can title it “Friday Forest Fire Chicken” and classify it under “Crazy Evening Experiments,” “Fire and Brimstone Culinary Crafts,” or “Blown Away by Bottledworder–Secret Recipes.”
I’m not simply naming dishes here. What I’m really doing is creating character for my blog.
On determining the longevity of posts
Another aspect to focus on is a decision regarding whether the content of our individual blog posts is meant to retain interest long term or short term. If we are posting short memoir-like excerpts, short stories, recipes or travel related posts that won’t get dated and will be as enjoyable to read today as well as a month or even a year from now, it makes sense to have a clear marker by which readers can access old posts.
If the posts are highly topical in nature, such as news-related short posts or opinion pieces on current events, the old posts are not as valuable. Again, a lot of thinking is required here since other than completely factual posts, many opinions and news can have long-term implications.
Deciding on the shelf-life of posts helps the maximum utilization of space on the page since the most relevant posts should have the maximum exposure but relevance will be determined by both the readers’ needs and the needs of the blog as a whole.
Continued tomorrow: On focusing the reader’s attention