Navigating Voluminous Blogs

By Deane Barker on September 19, 2003

As you get more and more entries in a blog, how to you ensure people can find what they’re looking for? Blogs are very front page-centric — unless you’re watching the front page everyday, browsing the site is terribly inefficient.

The category pages are all but worthless on Gadgetopia because there’s just such a volume of content. We’re pushing 1,100 entries right now, and category pages like Other have hundreds of entries on them. After the first ten, I just provide the title, but it’s still overwhelming and tedious to scroll through.

After a certain volume of entries get assigned to a category, it gets a little pointless. You have to keep sub-dividing categories and making them more and more granular to try and keep the number in each down to a manageable level — this strategy gave birth to new categories on this site like Crime and Net Law, Temple of Mac, and Viruses, Security, and Hacking. (We even started a keyword concept to make pseudo categories on the fly, with some success.) In the end, I don’t think categories are the answer because they eventually get more entries than is user-friendly for someone to browse.

Look at sites like CNet’s News.com. They have thousands and thousands of stories, so how to do find anything on their site? Do you use the categories? No — their site has five major categories, but once a story drops off the front-page of that category, there is no archive page. What would be the point? With only five categories and the volume of content on that site, browsing is not a really viable strategy.

Only one answer: search. When I want to find something on News.com, search is the only thing I try. After finding an article that’s close to what I want, I’ll sometimes drop to the “Related Stories” and navigate further from there.

For blogs with a large volume of content, search is the future, really. The category archive pages are pointless, and there’s no other solution than investing in search technology and try to help your users that way.

Gadgetopia
What Links Here

Comments

  1. Amen. I’ve never searched through a site’s archive pages to find what I’m looking for. I’ve always used the search. Call me a lazy bastard, but if there’s no search, I’ll move on to the next site instead of digging for information.

  2. Actually there is another strategy: knowledge maps. Aggregate useful knowledge into buckets that address specific questions and tasks your user’s need. Sort of an FAQ on steroids. The site owner works with the visitor to collect useful links to illuminate and solve a specific problem or task.

    While maps eventually suffer from the same problem you identify with categories (too many to browse), maps are a nice solution in addition to search. If you can figure out how people use your website…

Comments are closed. If you have something you really want to say, email editors@gadgetopia.com and we‘ll get it added for you.