Monday, 11 February 2013
When was the last time you paid attention to the navigational elements on the blogs that you read? Unless the blog happens to have exceptionally well done navigational elements, my guess would be sometime around 2003, when the medium was relatively new and people were still figuring out what works. That was a long time ago.
Things have changed since then. Changed a lot. Conversations are largely on third party networks — Twitter or Reddit or Hacker News or wherever. These sites push visitors by the thousand to interesting content. Those visitors read, bounce back to their source, and, if your content was interesting enough, talk about the content there. A vanishingly small percent navigate around your site and read anything else you link to in the standard next post, previous post, archives block at the bottom of your content. It's banner blindness, and it renders the vast majority of the twiddly bits you have on your blog superfluous at best, and distracting and detracting from the value of your content at worst.
Get rid of them. Get rid of your previous and next links — is the temporal ordering of your content at all relevant? — and the automatically generated list of related posts, and the links to a hundred different social networks, and for the love of all that is good get rid of links to content farms and dubious “relevant 3rd party content.”
Write awesome content. Craft provocative titles. Link to other relevant content within the body of that content. Clean up your design. Make reading your content easy. Participate on the social networks that are important to your audience.
It's 2013, and visitors are going to bounce. Deal with it, embrace it, and design your blog accordingly.