Saturday, August 2, 2008

The disappearance of tag clouds and other forms of navigation

Rob Cottingham at the ReadWriteWeb notes the disappearance of tag clouds:Tag Clouds R.I.P.?
These days, though, I'm noticing that on more and more sites the tag clouds have evaporated. I'm not saying they're dead (okay, granted, that's exactly what the cartoon's saying, but that's why they issue artistic licenses), but they're getting scarcer.

I love tag clouds too. It was my favorite form of navigation on this blog. And that is exactly why I removed it. Where I loved my tag cloud no one else did. In reality, no one clicked on any of the non-contextual navigation. The only thing people were clicking on were links to other articles that appeared within posts: hyperlinks. The very foundation of the Web. Period.

So where the tag cloud is disappearing, so should all other forms of site navigation. They are not used and just get in the way. If people really looked at their metrics, and paid attention to what their readers were doing, they'd take a completely different view of all of the bloat appearing on a page. I did, and that is why this site now supports a minimalist design

There is one link on a page that can be justified, and that is the one that tells people who is behind the stuff they find there. Nothing else is really justifiable and it all can evaporate-- not just the tag cloud.

1 comment:

Eloise said...

I think the key thing is "look at your metrics"

I read this blog, mostly by RSS and rarely click through to the main page. Tag clouds etc. are lost on me.

However there are blogs and sites I use for reference. Tag clouds can help, certainly more than the absolutely no navigation on your look is appropriate there, as far as I'm concerned. The Official Linden Blog would be a case in point: I often read just by RSS - but I go back for references about various things too. I could try to just google it, but it's often faster to head to the site and hook it out of the relevant category or search by author if I know that so there is still a place for search there.

The BBC News homepage is another one where links and searches out works really well (although they've never done a tag cloud).

But, I've done away with more than minimal search tools that I use myself in most places where I have that influence. There is a change working through though: people are starting to look at the tools available and use the ones that are relevant and that their users like. Surely that's a step the right way?