Reflecting on a design committee I was part of last year… We followed a pattern that now seems like a legacy pattern: section off stories into subject blocks like Technology, Environment, Sports. Each department has their own space to list several stories. People on the committee probably felt good that they were claiming territory to show off the work of their teams. I did.
I’m thinking that this sorting behavior will/has reduced reader engagement. If I am reading a site and see five stories in a box labeled Sports (or whatever), I can decide not to read any of those five stories simply by my reaction to the label Sports (or whatever). If I am not interested in the category, I won’t even read the headlines within the category’s box. One decision eliminates five stories.
My idea is that you should present your best stories to your audience on the front of the site. Give them the headline,
maybe a tag that indicates and draw them into the story. There are great Sports (or whatever) stories that non-Sports (or whatever) fans will – and should – read. By blocking content into categories, a lot of it won’t be seen.
That said, categorization and taxonomies are very important to every site I build. I want the data to be sortable, searchable, organized. But you put that in for yourself and the small number of people who will drill down into it. Most of your readers will not drill down, but the ones who will are important visitors to your site and their attention is important. If someone is interested enough to drill down to a sub-cat, reward them.
All of this thought is going into how I’m redesigning my own sites. Trent.Photo now has a front page that brings up 16 of my best photographs and GIFs, randomly chosen from 1988-2018. There’s a headline, a date, and a catgory label. Since I’m presenting images only and the cards themselves only link to a single post, I’m leaving the category label on the cards
On this site I am in process of figuring out exactly what I want to do. For example, as of this typing I still have my media diet broken into categories on the front page. I need to change that so it’s pulling x number of recent entries, with category icons next to each entry. Again, I’m only listing the title of a book or film, so the category isn’t stopping anyone from reading the entry (and it’s not like the content is critical to humanity). Also need to change Media to Recommended or something similar.