When a person visits your blog, they can be overwhelmed by the amount of content that is on display. It becomes even worse when you consider the fact that some blogs manage to push out several 500+ word posts on a daily basis. For all that content to end up on your homepage, it can just be far too much. The use of excerpts can be a simple and effective way to control information overload.
Truth be told, a simple reverse chronological order of the entire contents of a blog are just unappealing to me—who reads past the first page? I don’t have time for that. It is just more unnecessary effort required by the users.
This is why I believe that many of today’s blogs are going to—slowly but eventually—transition to magazine-/newspaper-like designs in the future. And why not? They look just as good and allow more links to content on your blog. It gives the blog an opportunity to display their best content while organizing it for the reader. The problem with the typical blog these days is that it is just content from all types of categories mashed into one linear listing, and if your blog covers a wide variety of subjects, you could imagine how much more complicated things can get for the reader.
Excerpts can be just as effective as full content listings, and if you can take the opportunity to display more content in the same amount of space (or even less) than you should do so. Your subscribers don’t really care (they end up directly on your content’s page anyways), and those that end up coming to your site via search engines are probably an impatient bunch too. Those that want to find the good stuff on your site in a glance can’t do so because they have to scroll down an endless amount of text and images to find something they like, and that is just a waste of time.
If you visit a site like Wired.com, you are presented with 20 stories in the same space it takes for one blog entry to be completely displayed on the typical blog. It is just too much to bother with reading. Who could argue with displaying more content? Granted, Wired has a pretty amazing site design, but it’s blogging component is the same as that of a magazine article; it can be done with WordPress as newer themes are developed for it.
A Worthy Change?
Now I don’t expect any of you to go out and transform your blog drastically, but I do believe that bloggers benefit from posting excerpts instead of full content on their website. It is a teaser, and it is a paragraph or two that convinces those users that they must read this article.
I also would love to point out the fact that by using excerpts you should be able to generate a significant amount of more views by people that visit your site directly, and that means more advertising opportunities. This is even more true with smaller blogs that are in dire need of views to make a few bucks.
I am certain that future designs will make further use of excerpted content—it is less overwhelming to a user who finds their way to your blog’s homepage. The more active your blog is, the easier it is for your other (and maybe even better) content to be lost in an endless glob of text.
Agree? Disagree? Do you use excerpts? Let everyone know! Keep the conversation going in the comments section.
Ever since I changed to this format my Technorati ranking went from the low 30ks to 175k – the only thing that has changed is switching to excerpting. You did not address whether this format is a problem with them…?…
Catherine, the redhead blogger
Nice to hear. Excerpts do seem to work well. The extra page views, like you said, can’t hurt.
Excerpts (And teasers) definitely in my opinion make a high output blog look a lot cleaner and easier to navigate. And in terms of Alexa rank, those extra page views cant hurt either. I never even thought of Alexa benefits from excerpts (And/or Teasers) until I read a similar post over at Hochstadt.
I also like Excerpts in rss feeds versus having ads in the rss feed. It may annoy some readers but the benefit is that a reader can then choose to visit your blog where your advertising can then be displayed,and read the full post, versus subjecting them with advertising via the news reader, leaving that, advert free.
That said Ive only changed over RSS feeds to show teasers, and changing over my blog to excerpts is still on my to do list.
Yeah, this post was aimed primarily at those bloggers that produce a lot of content. It just can be a lot of content for people to handle. Again, if a blog doesn’t pump out post after post, I could enjoy the linear full content display, but most of the blogs I watch, this is not true.
Hopefully the change to your blog works out though!
I agree except personally I hate them. I don’t want to click through. A page of excerpts annoys me. Maybe I need to see a shrink! 🙂 but it’s true. However everything you say makes perfect sense, so much so that I am thinking about changing one of my blogs over to that format. It already has the excerpt feature if I want it.
Nicely written that was.
Read on on performancing.com: Boring Article About Excerpts (Blog Design Basics)
And of course the performancing.com search for excerpt is a valuable info source.
“If the first few lines of a post aren’t appetizing then how do you get your readers to continue? If a post sucks me in, then I’d read on. If it doesn’t, it’s a bigger risk to keep reading only to find out you’ve wasted time.”
Right on, and that is exactly my point.
We already have so much information thrown at us, and it is a waste of everyone’s time to have to scroll through content they might not be interested in. It is fine for those that might post once a day, but in other cases, it is less than ideal.
I don’t have enough experience blogging (my cherry has yet to pop as it were). So I don’t know if I can validate this for myself but your rationales make sense.
If the first few lines of a post aren’t appetizing then how do you get your readers to continue? If a post sucks me in, then I’d read on. If it doesn’t, it’s a bigger risk to keep reading only to find out you’ve wasted time.
I’d have to tweak my blog’s theme for this (I don’t think WordPress offers this option in the Dashboard). And I’ll have to develop a following of course, but that can wait until my posts get more delicious with time. Good to know ahead of the curve.
Agree in theory. We’ll see how the practice goes.