Friday, December 20, 2013

Backwards runs the blog

Why is your blog backwards?

Blogger, like other blogging platforms, standardly shows your posts in reverse chronological order.

Older posts spill down the page and onto archive pages.

To read your story from the beginning you must go to the end.

This does not work for everyone (and there are workarounds). But for most of us, most of the time, it is a good thing.

Consider your readers' point of view. Especially if they are returning (and aren't those your favorite people?), they want your latest work, not the whole saga of how you and your blog came to the present day.

Newest-first gives them exactly that.

Even first-time readers may be more interested, and inspired to follow or bookmark or return, if your timeliest content is foremost.

Short attention spans rule the web. If you want to keep your readers do not burden them with a single extra step.

Rather than force-marching your readers through a chronological journey, or a lengthy explanation, each time they visit, give your blog an informative title and tagline. Consider an "About" page.

For some blogs, the "journey" really is key. Travel blogs, in particular, benefit from an oldest-first telling, at least for individual trips. You could make a similar case for a blog about training for a Marathon or recovering from a heart attack or losing weight.

And of course, if the journey is over—if your year abroad has ended and there will be nothing further—oldest-first makes perfect sense.

If you want to share the journey, consider putting your content, oldest first, on a separate page that you can link to from your main page. You might alternatively put a chronological list of posts in a sidebar gadget.

You can do either for all your posts or for any category you have set up using labels.

Showcase older content of particular value in your sidebar, perhaps on a tabbed navigational widget. Serve your content on a silver platter, but don't burden your readers by trying to force them to interact with your blog in a particular way.

It won't work, and they'll go elsewhere.


  1. There's another really important point, too, which David over at Confluent Forms recently wrote about:

    Most of your blog visitors don't arrive at your home page. They go to a post somewhere in the middle of your blog. So to them it really doesn't matter what is first and last.

    1. Yes, +David Kutcher nailed it pretty well.

      I'd say the related issue with blog designs that want readers to read x before y etc. is that they are too brittle—they break when readers enter through the "side door."

      Better to be supple and flexible.