Those who can’t find history are doomed to get annoyed

blogging, technology

Some things in life are just amazingly simple, obvious, and intuitive.

Practically all books nowadays have page numbering; to get to the next page, you simply flip a piece of paper, and voila, you continue reading.

Newspapers can be a bit more complicated, but they at least offer straightfoward information: “Continued on page A17.” Sure enough, your fingers trudge you to page A17, and you can finish where you left off. Even most news sites on the Web have a simple “Next page” link at the bottom of each multi-page story.

So why are blogs — theoretically the next step in communications evolution — so amazingly backwards when it comes to basic navigation?

You’ll notice that my blog has page numbering (along with “next” and “previous” links), but I had to manually add this in myself (using a “plugin”)… and I’m betting my blog is among a measly 5% or so in blogland with this mindnumbingly obvious form of navigation.

I mean, come on, blog software developers, this isn’t rocket science!

People start reading a blog, continue down the page, and it’s not a huge leap of faith to assume that they may want to continue reading more of the blog.

But what are their options with the typical blog? Scroll through the oft insanely long right side panel until they find an archives list with links by week or month… click on such a link… and then realize that, hey, the last entry they read was August 6th, but clicking on the August Archives link forces them to scroll through all the stuff they already read. Many, I’d assume, simply give up in frustration. Or, even before that, they decide that if they missed a blogger’s earlier entries, it’s simply not worth the hassle to go back and find them.

Is it really asking that much of the blog software developers to offer a wonderfully basic “read more entries” link that’ll take readers to the next page of entries?

Are there any common-sense usability folks in the house? At all? Or is the blogging community just content to serve up ephemereal helpings of the ‘latest great thing’?

12 comments… add one
  • maddy Aug 15, 2003

    I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to simply go to the next page of entries like that. I almost never refer to monthly archives. In fact, I only have mine up because it took me ages to get my calendars the way I wanted them. I do have a list on recent entries, that aren’t listed on the main page, but I’m more likely to click a category link and browse that way. Maybe that’s just me.

    Then again, if it’s not a blog I read regularly and have missed and want to catch up, I’m not likely to go back and check anyway.

  • kristine Aug 15, 2003

    Well, the Default Templates DO have next/previous links on the Individual Archives.  That’s usually what I use when I’m reading more than one entry at a time on a single blog.  I also use next/previous on the monthly archives, which is also there by default in the Date-based Archives – that’s helpful when I’m looking through my own blog for a post, since I have a list of posts rather than the full text.

    Are you using the Pagination plugin for the “page 1 of 29” on the top of your index page?  I really don’t think I’d browse personally like that, because blogs are (by definition) in backwards order.  🙂  So going from page 1 to page 2 to page 3… doesn’t seem as productive to me as having a monthly archive.

    But, having said all that, I do have a wide variety of archives set up on several of my blogs because different structures work for different people.  With such a wide variety of readers out there – from every day visitors to the random google searcher – it makes sense to me to provide a wide variety of archives. 🙂

  • Adam Aug 15, 2003

    Kristine, you raise some good points about how archives will typically offer next and previous links.

    However, my rant was concerning the blog’s main index page, where folks will go when they type, for instance, “bladam.com.”

    From my personal surfing, at least, I know that when I’ve discovered various blogs that capture my interest, I often want to “scroll back” in time to discover some background.  Archives are a kludgy solution for orderly reading, even if it is—as you rightly note—all backwards anyway 😉

  • lynda Aug 16, 2003

    pMachine does offer next/previous links on the main weblog pages.  I’ve gotten so used to them, I do often find myself annoyed when it’s not available on sites using other blog software.

  • Crys Aug 16, 2003


    assorted as they are now


    Next Entry: ”>< $MTEntryTitle$>



    This will create a direct link (using an anchor, so no scrolling to find where you left off) to the next entry at the bottom of your main page, all done using standard MT Tags.

    Perhaps it should be on the default templates, but it’s certainly possible.

  • Adam Lasnik Aug 16, 2003

    That will take you to the next or previous _single_ entry, but not a page full of entries.  It’s partway there, but not really, since it involves the inconvenience of having to click a link after every single entry.

    With the plugin I’m now using, selecting the previous/next page brings one to a full page of entries.

  • Crys Aug 16, 2003

    Only if your default type is Individual—if your default type is Weekly or Monthly (or if you specify the archive type in the code) here’s how it would work.

    You read down the front page and want to read more.

    Click on the link created by my code (you could leave the Entry name out of it and simply make the link text ‘Older Entries’ )

    Get brought to the Monthly or Weekly Archive for the next entry and jump down to the correct entry (because of the anchor)

    Continue reading the rest of the month’s (week’s) entries till you reach the bottom of the page where there should be a previous archive link.

    Read back month by month (week by week) until you’ve had enough or caught up

  • A.J. Aug 19, 2003

    Clicked an entry link from kadyellebee.com

    Just read through your entry and comments. Which particular plugin are you using?

  • Adam Lasnik Aug 19, 2003

    Crys, thanks for the info.  It sounds like you’ve done some tweaking, though, and this isn’t right out of the box with MT, is it?  If so, then my original criticisms stand; blog software should support more intuitive navigation by default, IMHO.

    A.J., I do pagination with a plugin called MTPaginate.  It’s quite powerful and useful.

  • Crys Aug 20, 2003

    Okay, to work properly simply pasted into a new bolg – defaults totally unchanged – you need to make a small change to the code I offered: (also changed to remove the title of the next entry)


    “>Read Older Entries


    Paste this in directly before the closing MTEntries Tag.

    (working on throwing some mock entries up in a new blog to show but I need to head out now)

  • Crys Aug 20, 2003

    Okay, it had been so long since I’d really looked at a default template I’d forgotten they have the next/previous code at the top rather than at the bottom where you’d actually want to use it…

    And I ran into a bug with MTEntryPermalink, that caused me to change the code to the longer form:


    #”>Read Older Entries


    /Yes/ the default templates could use better navigation, more than I thought when I first looked at this post, but the actual feature set of MT is pretty good. Archive by count (what it would take to directly replace what you’re doing with MTPaginate) would be nice but there are lots of things on the Requests list that would be nice to have – this one at least has a plugin that can do the job.

  • That was inspiring and so true,
    You can never find related posts unless someone provides a link of there own… its really stupid!
    Thanks for bringing this up

What do you think?