In the thread The Real Blogosphere Kim Krause Berg is interested in
finding someone who can make archives more usable. They are a blog nightmare, I think, for long-time blogs with years of archives. All those pages of posts could be little gems of history, links, and information, with ads and text ads on them to bring in revenue. Blogger sorely lacks ways to deal with sorting blog posts for example. Some software offers categories, which is a big help. Most blogs are immediate resources which could be changed if there was a way to drill into them deeper.
Kim is asking for a solution for existing pages/archives but the whole sub-thread got me thinking about optimizing the intuitive navigation for new visitors. Every first time reader always has to face the problem to handle a new site design and some kind of the blog owners personal content strategy. BTW I responded pretty arrogant that “this (problem) sounds exactly like somebody made the wrong decision for the wrong system architecture” – which I believe is true but not a real answer. So how can we get a flexible solution which suites many platforms and has good usage values for the king – our readers?
I think for big pages tag clouds are a very intuitive tool to understand and to use in these cases. Their look & feel is kind of ‘universal’ and the information compression rate is impressive. I did not implement tag clouds on my pages yet but right now I start to think that this is a good idea. What do you think? How are your experiences with good navigation on huge blogs?
Just today I got a recommendation for zoomclouds.com from a famous German blogger. He has a site with many articles and is pretty proud of his tag clouds. He only uses it in the article view and he said that he restricts single clouds to his individual WordPress category feeds which caught my curiosity. What you could do with that is to integrate different clouds on your archive page or on a specific ‘tag cloud page’. Textpattern i.e. offers the template tag txp:feed_link which can be used in templates to create different feeds. Of course you can also use external RSS feeds with zoomclouds to offer more content on your page.
I only checked zoomclouds.com very roughly but it looks promising. Basically they read RSS feeds and you can restrict the time window from ‘actual feed’ over ’24 hours’ in some steps up to ‘forever’. They offer an API, design customization, design templates, tag filters, tag click statistics and you can create more than one tag cloud. One disadvantage though is that every click on a tag first leads to the zoomclouds page so you risk to loose visitors but that’s the rule of the game. For Textpattern I could have a general tag cloud on the front or archive page and I could also easily customize the individual TXP section template pages to have different tag clouds for every section of the site. I believe tag clouds could be a good additional feature maybe combined with a ‘related posts’ block.
Are you using tag clouds? What is your experience? What are the best tag cloud services on the Internet? I am really interested to hear more about that subject!
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