…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
I’ve had my blog for over three years and I suppose the categories gradually formed naturally within the first year as I created varying posts and chose suitable category titles to assign to them, or assign them to. I also had the advantage of having content on a website prior to having my blog and having categories there, but the WordPress ones aren’t so rigid.
Once all the categories sort of created themselves (but not literally because WordPress isn’t that clever/helpful) it has been a case of simply choosing from the list of already defined categories and assigning new posts to them by clicking the ones I think the post fits into.
Once created, the Categories form a list, or “category cloud” on your blog which provide your visitors with a means to browse around the blog posts they might find interesting, which is especially helpful when, if like me, you have a blog that has a variety of topics.
What seems to happen now though is I avoid creating a new category for a new post, or I avoid considering a new a radically different category, and simply accept that “that post pretty much suits that category” when perhaps a new and more carefully chosen category title would better suit it… but then if I make a new category now, I feel like I would have to re-assess all my previous posts to consider others that might fit that category too.
So what am I to do?
How does anyone else deal with WordPress blog categories?
I find a lot of blogs are hard to digest – take this typical scenario: You arrive at someone’s blog, they’ve been blogging for a while and have a lot of posts, perhaps covering a variety of (seemingly unrelated) topics, and in addition to reading the first post you come across you want to read a little more, but what next? You might read their previous post, if the post you read was their latest, or you might read their first post if the first post you read wasn’t their latest. After reading the first post I come to I usually find myself looking for that blogger’s About page, to gain a little more insight into who they are and what their blog is about – not everyone has an About page but I think it is important. Another way to find out what someone’s blog is about is to see which categories they have formed for the posts they have made. The categories can be in a list or ‘cloud’ format and can give you a handy glimpse into what the whole blog is about and what makes this person tick – something reading or scrolling through one blog post doesn’t (or isn’t likely to) achieve.
Different themes mean that the layout of each blog varies. Variety is good because bloggers can choose a theme that better represents them, but bloggers should not just think about the colours and style, but they should think also about the navigation from their visitor’s perspective – sometimes About page links aren’t easy to spot with a particular theme for example. Sometimes lists of Recent Posts or Categories aren’t there or aren’t easy to spot either.
The way we surf the web can often be seen as impatient, with surfers following links and buttons like a trail of breadcrumbs, nourishing our curiosity as we click onward, but if the next breadcrumb on a blog isn’t within sniffing distance then something else is likely to grab our attention instead. This is an opportunity missed for the blogger.
I think it’s fair to say that us bloggers like people reading our posts, but not only that, we like readers (especially new ones that haven’t seen our blog before) to stick around a little longer, go on to find other posts of interest, like posts, comment on posts, and then perhaps, once they have found they like what we and our blog is about, to follow our blog. An easy to find About page helps with this, but Categories do too.
If a visitor comes to our blog, reads the first post they find and then asks themselves “what next”, that “what next” should be close at hand.
A final tip is to include a link at the end of each post to where you recommend your reader goes next. Links to our sources is helpful to them, but also links to our own similar posts are helpful to us to keep our readers interested.
You can read more about how we surf the internet and the concept of brain nourishment in the book The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr.