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.
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?