How would you guide the reader’s eye in terms of content on your blog? What would you want them to look at and for how long? Would you want to present a lot of content or only a small amount?
There can be some reason why, in certain cases, you would rather have only a single post displayed on the screen and focus all your reader’s attention on that. If you decide that you don’t want the reader to be distracted by other posts on a day that you are posting the launch of your e-book, for example, it makes sense to have just the one post on the page.
Sometimes you may simply want to create the effect of providing little nuggets of material to the reader and nothing else because your blog may have a certain character. That’s who you think you are. Or you may want to create an effect of randomness as an element of your blog. The reader gets what s/he was in line for.
All good if you can pull it off.
The risk of displaying the one post on the blog however is that new readers will either accept or reject you based on that single post if they aren’t easily able to navigate to other posts from there. Displaying older posts have the advantage of letting the reader choose what s/he wants to read and gives them a sense of the character of the blog as a whole.
Understanding the readers
There will always be at least three kinds of readers coming to your posts.
There will be new browsers who will come and check out the buffet and decide if they want to taste some items. You need to display some of your best items from the past for them to look at.
The problem is, your old readers will already have read those best collections. You want to take care of your old readers too. (Don’t become the American cell phone service provider who only rewards new customers!)
So you can do two things for your old readers. Keep changing the selection of best posts periodically and display the recent posts in a prominent place as well. You can also weave in references to older posts blending them in naturally, only where and if they fit, to guide the erratic readers who visit your blog off and on but are not devoted followers.
For those readers who are new but like to approach blog reading in depth, there needs to be some kind of map which tells them where to start and how to go about reading the blog. Many people do this well by having a “Start Here” tab or by putting in clear pointers in the “About” page.
You have to keep freshening the arrangement.
“Nothing makes you feel that you’ve overstayed your welcome like a flower arrangement that has withered and died,” as Holly Brubach said.
The principles behind the arrangement are important, not just the decoration.
A blog is organic.
A blog is a dynamic form.
A great thing about the blog form is that just as our blogging impetus and our readership are not constant, so is the blog. The blog changes as we and our readers change and navigation has to keep adjusting to that. This is a strength, not a drawback. As we go along, repeated trial and errors are possible with content layout in the blog.
Continued tomorrow: On grouping posts