Site Navigation

A couple of weeks ago Shawn Blanc posted about his thinking for changing how a reader navigates his site. The biggest of the changes was the removal of blog pagination — the little link at the bottom of the main page that takes you to the next page, which is laid out identically to the first.

Pagination is the way a lot of sites work.

When Shawn made the switch, I had already been working on a similar switch for this site, testing it on a local build I have. The main reason I wanted to switch is because I always found the navigation on this site to be hideous — I hated the way the buttons looked. I wanted to switch to some nicer looking buttons and as these things do, it started spiraling into a much larger navigation rethink.

Shortly after Shawn changed his navigation I changed it on this site as well as part of the larger rethink I was working on. Why? Well as Shawn puts it:

The goal is to offer the best choice for the reader, based on what I, as the publisher of my site, consider to be the most valuable.

Link blogging is only a part of what I do and if a new reader stumbles along the way I want to encourage them to read my articles, not my quips on link I posts. So I removed pagination on the home page, opting for the link that you see now, which takes you to the Archives page.

I made the change and only announced it on my personal Twitter page, wanting to see what kind of feedback I received. I have yet to receive any significant complaints via email and only a few on Twitter (most of which has been fixed as a result).

The Result

My results are much similar to Shawn’s, no real difference but maybe a bit more reads on articles. I am keeping my site the way it is, so for those that have not noticed, here is how the navigation works.

Main Page

At the bottom of the main page is a button that simply says: “older”. This button takes you to the Archives and no where else.

Archives

I have decided rather forcefully that if you want to navigate the site you need to start at the Archive page. From this page there are four categories that you can peruse:

  1. Recommended Reading — where you will find links to content all sorts of people wrote (including me) that I love. This is like my Macy’s moment where I show you other great sites and take the “if you love it, set it free” approach. The response on this section so far has shown me that people love this section.
  2. The Linked List — I realize that some people still want to browse my links, this is the only place that you can do that. Clicking here shows you only linked posts, but these posts are paginated so that you can continue to move through them.
  3. Quote of the Day — Same options as the linked list, you get to browse through all the quotes that I post in a paginated manner.
  4. The Articles — This redesign was launched a while back and offers you the article titles in a chronological order, which you can view by month.

Single Post Pages

I also made a few small tweaks to the single post pages — the pages that Shawn correctly stated as the ones that new readers are most likely to come to your site on.

Linked Pages

For pages that are the permalinks for the linked list items there is a simple link at the bottom of the post to view “All Posts”, this sends you straight back to the archives and the process starts again.

Article Pages

Since I assume most new readers come to the site to read an article, I offer two forms of navigation at the bottom of the article posts:

  1. Page by page navigation between articles, allowing you to step between each post.
  2. All Posts, where once again you are kicked back to the archives page.
Quote Pages

Quotes work the same way article pages do, only you move between quotes only.

Theft

Like Shawn I have put a lot of thought into how navigation works. Personally I rarely use site navigation, opting for search boxes instead (conveniently located at the bottom of every page). However nothing I am doing here is new, it has all been done on other sites that I love to read and I have taken what I like best from each site. Don’t email me saying that you have seen this elsewhere — you have and I know that.

Goal

In the end my goal is to help you, the reader, read more. If you see something I didn’t think of, a glaring omission, or just have thoughts on this layout — feel free to get in touch.

Originally posted for members on: May 24, 2011
Follow along on RSS, App.net, or Twitter.
~I would appreciate it if you considered becoming a member.~