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Strategic insights
Organizing Entries in Blogs - with Guidelines

Written by on June 7, 2004

Many websites, not only Blogs, are increasingly using the blog format as their publishing platform. And, that is good business - it is easy, very quick to setup and cheap.

Blogs are ususally organized
by date. This is not content-
friendly.However, the blog system is built upon the real world's diary - and organized accordingly. People who write diaries do so to get things off their chest. Once written it is no longer relevant - the content is dead. Because of this, a diary is organized by time. The "now" time where it gets focus (the home page) and the "past" time where it is forgotten (the archive).

This is not content-friendly. Writing good content is not just about the content but also about how it is organized, how relevant it is and how easy it is to locate. It needs to be used.

To use content you need to first find it. The best way is to place it into memorable topics. The worst is to use date. People do not remember when you wrote something - especially if it is older than 1-2 weeks.

A quick test: What did I write about 27 days ago?

You most likely cannot say because you cannot remember - or you might not care. But what if I rephrase it and ask "what was my last guideline about" then you might remember that it was about "Usable Breadcrumbs with guidelines".

What if you like this article and want to read other guidelines? How would you know that the last one was published 27 days ago? You won't because time is not remembered. Instead if I organize this guideline, and the previous one, in a category called "Guidelines" - then you would have a memorable way to find other guidelines.

We need to stop organizing content by date and instead focus on organizing by what people remember. The most important one is organizing by category, topics or keywords. If your site has multiple authors it could also be relevant to organize by author.

"Archiving" Guidelines

Organize your content by what people remember.

What it was about (category/keyword/topic), the author and possibly by what type of content it is (review, report, article, resource etc.)

Do not call it an archive

An archive is for many people the same as "out-of-date". An archive is where you put you bills, bank statements, letters etc. when they are no longer relevant or needed. You put things in an archive for safe-keeping, not to be used. Instead use words like categories, topics, articles or entries.

Do not "archive" entries with short life-span

Content with a short life-span should not be archived. On many blogs entries like "This site just published that information" is only relevant for a very short period of time. Just as entries like "tomorrow I am going to see this movie".

Make the summary list items brief

A list of e.g. guidelines should be as brief as possible. A summary list is not about details. The optimal list is just a single line with a descriptive title. In cases where the title is not enough a very short intro text might be needed - but nothing more. Keep out the clutter.

Keep your categories/topics to a minimum

Creating a lot of topics/categories will often confused the reader. If you got categories like e.g. guidelines, best-practices, rule-of-thumbs etc. it is hard guess where to look - they are basically the same. Keep your topics to a minimum and do not use similar categories.

Use sub-organization when you have a lot of categories/topics

In cases where you need a lot of categories consider grouping them into main categories and sub-categories.

Always add date to you summary pages

When displaying entries on a summary page it is very important to add the publication date. It enables the reader to know how "fresh" the entry is.

Remove or mark out-of-date content

Out of date content needs to be removed or at least marked as "out-of-date". For many sites this is relevant when you publish new content about the same topic. Not doing so will increase clutter, make relevant information hard to find and in the worst cases it can create a situation where you contradict yourself.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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