Friday, March 4, 2011

Better tabbed navigation with link lists, not the Pages gadget

There's an old Vaudeville routine about a man in an airplane and a series of reversals.
Unfortunately--he fell out.
Fortunately--he was wearing a parachute.
Unfortunately--it wouldn't open
and so forth.

The unhappy conclusion:
Fortunately--he missed the pitchfork.
Unfortunately--he missed the haystack.
Well, fortunately, Blogger provides a nifty Pages gadget that automatically lists all of your static pages. Blogger nudges you to set one up if you publish such a page, and if you put it in the horizontal area over your posts, many templates render it as a handy tabbed navigation system.

Navigation gizmos like this can connect readers to your content, making your blog more useful, fun, and, ultimately, popular.

Unfortunately,
that gadget is probably not as useful as it looks. The Pages gadget can only link to static pages, which do not, for many bloggers, live up to their promise. You can't put posts on them for instance, like you can on a label-search page.

Although you can specify what pages to show on your Pages gadget and in what order, you can't have a label on the tab that is different than the title of your page. So if your titles are long, your tabs will not be very tab-like. They may not even fit.

Update: Fortunately, Blogger has a new Pages gadget lets you add non-Pages links, hybrid style. Unfortunately you have to use the inferior new Dashboard interface to get to it. Fortunately, for a limited time you can switch back and forth.

The Link-List Alternative
Fortunately, then, there is a better choice: the link-list gadget. Use it to link to anything on the web, including static pages but also the far-more-useful label-search pages and even other blogs or web pages.

You can specify short tab labels on a link list even with long titles. Just like the Pages gadget a link list will assume the appropriate horizontal appearance (e.g., tabs) when dragged over the posts. (It formats as a list in the sidebar.)

About the only thing Pages does that a link list can't is automatically add static pages.

You can install a link list like most other gadgets, from Layout > Add a Gadget. Scroll down the window that opens to find the link list.

Conclusion
The Pages gadget, like the static pages with which they are so tightly integrated, are specialized and limited.

Only you can decide what is best for your blog, but many bloggers who have installed that Pages gadget would be better off, with happier readers, with a link list that can link to all pages.

Fortunately, the decision is yours.

Update: Blogger is rolling out a better version of the Pages gadget that will let you add custom links just like the link-list gadget does.

The improved version is currently available through the quirky and unpredictably changing Blogger in Draft. Many features introduced there eventually make their way into all of Blogger.

Looks like some day this post will be obsolete.

7 comments:

  1. Well put, sometimes logger does feel like vaudeville :-)

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  2. Yes, but does the Link List show up in the blogger mobile version like the pages widget? I don't think it does.

    I found how to add any link you want to the page header, but the ones you add don't show in the mobile version either...would like to find a solution that lets you add any links you want and they show in the web and mobile version!

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  3. Jon, that is a very good point, since the minimalist mobile version does not show sidebar gadgets such as link list. (You can see a preview of the mobile version at Settings > Email & Mobile > Show mobile template > Preview.)

    Some of the smart phones handle web pages quite well, and would probably be better off showing the full version. Since I do not have such a gizmo, I cannot test to see which version they show if the mobile template is enabled.

    So, note two things. At the bottom of the mobile-template page is a link to revert to the web version. And, the mobile templates are off by default--you have to enable them for this to be an issue.

    This is a new blogger feature. Jon, if you learn any more, I'd be much obliged if you kept me posted, here or via my email (which is in my profile).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Adam,

    Thank you for the info!

    Monica
    http://happyandblessedhome.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm having trouble with comment boxes not showing up on pages created with a search. I'm using a Blogger site for a university class I'm teaching, and all the students have been given author status in the blog. Each assignment is set up as a search page, and they are instructed to label their post to match the name of the page. All of that is working fine, but nothing I have tried will make comments show up by their posts. I can get comments to show up on static pages, but not on the type of posts I'm having them do. And since I am setting the assignment pages up as a link to a URL, there is no setting associated with those pages regarding whether to show comments or not. I am using
    "simple" as my template, have tried all ways that comment posts could show up (embedded, full, etc). I have tried both Firefox 15 and Explorer 8. And I have no previous blog experience before a few weeks ago when I chose to set this up.

    --Colby

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    Replies
    1. Colby, I am basically stumped, though I have one note. But generally you will be better off posting these sorts of general questions to Blogger's help forum (see sidebar at right). By doing so you will get the attention of many experienced bloggers (including me).

      My note, which I am not sure will be helpful, is that (1) comments only can be associated with posts or static pages, not search pages, and also (2) Blogger does not support a comment to a post showing anywhere other than on the post's post page. That is, not on any dynamic pages (search, blog, archive) on which the post also appears.

      Probably you know all that, but I couldn't really tell from your question. In any case, the help forum is the place to go.

      Delete
  6. I am still confused all I want are foodie posts to be on the foodie tab? How does this help that do it? Do I need to add a link each time? Do I add only one label?

    ReplyDelete