It’s about time we clean up the blogosphere, it doesn’t have to be this ugly, and not everyone needs to hire me or my likes to get a pretty blog. There’s a lot you can do yourself, and most of it is related to your content.
Take a look at your average listing of posts, usually your front page but it could also be a category page or an archive. Post after post after post after post. Boring? Might be. Long? In most cases, yes. Too long? Yep, I’d say so.
I believe in using read more functionality, in other words, in just displaying some of the content (if the post is a semi-long or long one) in post listings. If you display a 20 paragraphs long post after a 30 paragraphs long post, but before a 50 paragraphs long post, then you have a very ugly page.
By using read more functionality, available in any good blogging software, you can show as much content as you like in your listings, and it shouldn’t be too much.
Take a look at Wisdump, for instance. You’ll find a Read the rest of this entry link on most of the posts I’ve written, only very short ones get published in its whole in the listing. Even less gets published on my blog, rethord.com, but the principle is the same – the only thing that varies is the font size, and that means I’ll have to make the read more break earlier.
If you’re a WordPress user you might be tempted to use the_excerpt, which publishes what you put in the optional excerpt box, or cuts your posts for you. That’s fine for long listings, but if you want an attractive front page, for instance, you want full control, and that means you’ll have to use the optional excerpt box on every post, otherwise it might look like crap since you can’t control where the post will get cut in a per-post basis.
Today’s homework is to take a look at your post listing. Do you have long post after long post after long post? Then reconsider, because it doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t offer the reader a decent overview.
The lack of read more in the blogosphere is both a usability and a design problem. It’s not practical to present big chunks of content in lists, and it looks like shit. That’s the bad part.
The good part is that you can fix it on your end, right away. So please do.