Things those are redundant or unused in a blog!

We get to see blogs of all kinds these days. The look ‘n’ feel or the content organization of a blog depends a great deal on the underlying platform (WordPress, Blogger, MovableTypes etc), the theme or template applied, and the extensions (widgets, plugins, gadgets etc) added to the platform and the theme.

Many of us blindly use the ‘standard set of features’ that is used by most others or offered by the platform. But are these neatly-laid out and space-occupying things make sense to most readers? Do you have any features on your blog that is never ever used by anybody? It’s time to do a self-analysis.

Blog features that are of no use to most readers

The following is my list of least used or redundant features of a blog. Please note that, this is purely my personal opinion after studying my own usage pattern and that of my visitors. If you defer in your opinion, let us please discuss.

#1 Chronological archives: We have seen them in 99% of the blogs and I myself have one :) But does it make any sense to the user if we list months and years there? I mean, does anybody ever interested in knowing what the blogger wrote in 2007 October? Perhaps one of your astute readers must be remembering what you wrote about the Halloweens last year and even in that case he might just do a search rather than browsing the archives. So chronological archives are the #1 useless feature

#2 Visual Sitemap (categorized): Sitemaps are a must for any blog or website so that the search engine spiders can get instructions on the content of the site. The visual version of a sitemap, though, makes sense only to generic websites that have a tree-like content structure. In this case the users get some guidance on how to navigate the site and locate content. However, blogs typically have just posts and pages which is not really hierarchical and hence categorized sitemaps don’t really help anybody (Let me know if anybody has really browsed my sitemap here which has not been changed yet to incorporate my offers such as D$ Tools)

#3 Recent posts when the homepage itself shows 8 or 10 posts: There are many blogs where the front page or homepage itself shows the last 10 posts or so. If this is the case, there’s no reason why recent posts need to be there at all. At least, it doesn’t make sense on the home page. However, if search users hit your single posts they may find this feature very useful.

#4 Traffic feed widgets such as FeedJit: Well, they look cool for sure but then they also occupy one scroll height on your sidebar! I am not sure if anybody is ever interested in knowing that ‘a visitor came in from XYZ state of ABC country for reading a post named ‘crap’! Another thing to avoid when you have a very low traffic site, is the BlogCatalog widget that shows ‘how many days or weeks back a particular face visited’ your site. If a new reader sees that the last visit was a week ago or so, your blog is not going to retain new readers for sure!

#5 Popular posts, Top rated posts, Most commented posts – all of them on one blog!: Seriously, nobody is going to look for all these at the same time. Having popular or recent posts above the fold will definitely help (as per #3 as well) the search visitor but let us not overdo it!

#6 Recent comments: This is another debatable feature for its usefulness! I recently removed it from my blog as per the advice received from a fellow blogger. This feature may inspire some readers to comment if each recent comment shows a reasonable number of words, rather than 4 or 5 words. Unfortunately, a short excerpt doesn’t serve any purpose.

There are a number of other things that may not be of any us – For example, random posts (random photos may be of use for sure), admin related options, reader’s system information (e.g. browser version, OS, javascript version etc) widgets etc.

Let me know what your ‘unused features’ list would be. And do you have anything common with my list to avoid? Also, do you often analyze the usage pattern of your own readers via Google Analytics (e.g. Site overlay feature) or tools such as CrazyEgg?

Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. Ajith,

    Well, you know how I feel about the usefullness of chronological archives for most site. I have not yet come up with a better way of dealing with it yet.

    Recent comments are not that useful either other than showing that people are commenting. I have them in my footer and actually use them when I want to respond to comments but I doubt my users find them valuable.

    I also question the usefulness of the tag cloud. They look cool but I don’t ever navigate around someone’s site that way. I use the search. Again, this is another feature that I have but don’t find useful :-)

    Oh – and good point about Recent Posts – I definitely don’t need that on my home page – only on the single post page. I’m going to change that next time I do some tweaking.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post…Stuff This in Your RSS – 10/28/08 – Neatorama

  2. Kim, yes :) the archives part is inspired by your views as well… Btw, in fact, I thought about the tag cloud – but on rethinking, I felt that it may be of some use if number of tags are less?

  3. Vijay S :

    About landing pages for blogs? They are very irritating for me. Some ppl have landing pages for all visitors and then u have to proceed to the actual blog via clicking a link.

  4. @Vijay, for marketing and communicating purposes a simple but attracive landing page might help… However, since this is usually a ‘separate page’ of the blog and doesn’t appear ‘within’ the typical blog content…

  5. Mitch :

    I agree with you on the archives list, and yet we both still have them. I’m sort of reluctant to go into the PHP and remove it, mainly because I’m unsure as to what kind of damage it might do to everything else. How about you?

    Mitch’s last blog post…BlogRush Is Done

  6. Hi Ajith: Nice post. I agree with you all the way. I have a blogger blog that I started about a year ago and was really frustrating to see half the things to be pretty useless. Being new to blogging, I did not want to change over to WordPress. Looking back that seems like an incorrect turn I took from the get go. The worst is the archives feature. I mean who wants to read yesterday’s paper. You know you can really get rich if you can read tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal today, but yesterday’s? Thank you.

  7. @Mitch, sometimes you want to ‘still’ go with the old approach right? Somehow when people visit blogs they expect some kind of a look and feel 😆 sad but true. For example, many people are yet to get adjusted to the magazine themes for they don’t know where to look for the newest posts. I am planning to take out the chrono archives once it’s suitably replaced with a more appropriate functionality to access older items, if needed. I am following Kim’s advices on these topics.

    @Raj, I appreciate your visit and comment. I liked your example on why archives are not always a useful thing :D. Btw, congratulations on your new blog/site.

  8. Mitch :

    You’re right about change. Some blogs have confused me in that I don’t know what’s new or old, but if I got there via a CommentLuv indication and I liked what I read, then I just subscribe to the blog and read it in my Feedreader program so I don’t have to deal with it.

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