Return of the mullet
Five months ago, Jonathan Boutelle wrote about what he calls the “mullet-style blog layout“. Very interesting from a usability perspective: The thought is to make more content available from the front page, by utilizing time as a filter: The older the article, the less content is available on the front page. I really like the idea and would love to implement something similar on Justaddwater.dk.
Does anybody know of a WordPress plugin that can do this?
A successful web site should have direct links to as much useful content as possible on the front page (I think of craiglist as being the prototypical effective website: with one click you get down to pretty much any content that you are looking for). Most blogs simply don’t provide that kind of information density, even though there is plenty of space for it.
My new “Mullet” layout (rolled out over the weekend) solves this problem. The first 5 stories appear as before, with summary descriptions. This makes sure that the blog gives of the right “information scent”. But instead of having 5 more stories with summary descriptions underneath, I have links to the next 45 stories! This provides direct access to five times as much content as was available before.
I call it the Mullet for the obvious reason that it is much longer in the back (bottom of the page) than you would expect.
Complete archive page — remove monthly folders for increased user experience
Also, while you’re there, check out Jonathan’s recent article “Blog Layout: The Long-Tail Archive (or: Monthly Archives Considered Harmful)“. He argues that a one-page complete archive is superior to an archive based in monthly folders.
The casual browser who wants to explore your older content is forced to click on each month in succession, “pogo-sticking” from month to month just to scan your stories for interesting content. Loyal readers looking for a particular article are also forced into the same pattern.
This is a huge waste of time for readers. A much better approach to the archiving problem is to provide one page with hyperlinks to ALL your content, organized by date. This allows your readers to scroll immediately to the article they are looking for, bypassing the annoying “pogo-sticking”.
I call this archiving style the “Long Tail Archive”. The archive doesn’t have to include story excerpts: just the name of the article, and a link to it, are sufficient. This allows you to fit hundreds of links to stories on one page.
Most blog archives are represented by either a listing of dates, titles,
or at best both. This lack of context makes it quite difficult to find
or discover relevant content “buried” in the archives.
To address this issue, Jakob Nielsen recently
recommended employing a categorization of blog posts (so users can
find content related by subject matter), using clear titles, and including
a list of popular (and thereby potentially valuable) posts. Solid suggestions,
but there’s ample opportunity to go further.
Effective ways to filter blog archives and contextual links included
with blog posts can go a long way toward exposing valuable content to
readers. Archives can be accessed by:
- Headline (title)
- Subject (tags and/or categories)
- Time (time, day, month, year)
- Author (of post, of comments)
- Format (links, reviews, articles)
- Popularity (incoming links, comments, trackbacks, traffic, ratings)
- Editorial Selection
- Continuum (how an idea develops over time)
blogging, usability, mullet, jonathan boutelle, mullet style layout, long tail, long tail archive, lukew, luke wroblewski, jed wood