Your Main Blog Page- Summaries or Full Articles?

I’m often asked by both business and personal bloggers if they should have their whole blog posts showing on the front page of their blog, or if should they only show the summaries. I’ve prefer to set up Blogs for clients the way I liked to read them – with summaries or the beginning XXX number of characters on the main blog page. I scan through the blog posts to see where I want to delve deeper. I’ll slow down when I find something I like and click through. The only proof I had that this might be better was that I knew that people (like myself) scanned websites. Hence, people scan Blog titles only reading them once they’ve settled into an article or Blog post they liked.

Jakob Nielsen, the king of website usability (Crowned by Internet Magazine), has completed the study of what draws more visitors further in to your website. His conclusion:

Showing summaries of many articles is more likely to draw in users than providing full articles, which can quickly exhaust reader interest.

Now, I know that eye tracking studies don’t tell you everything, but this is a good indication of what might be better. Jakob Nielsen goes on:

If your first article doesn’t interest users, you lose them by “using up” all their interest as they wade through that first topic… On corporate blogs, summaries are usually superior to full articles because they let you expose users to a broad selection of topics. Offering more topics increases the likelihood that users will find something that really interests them and thus will click through to read more. (As opposed to leaving.)

Make sure you read Jakob Nielsen’s full article which shows the actual eye tracking studies.

The other problem I always had with showing the full article on the main Blog page is the way most Content Management Systems are setup. When your website visitors want to comment on your Blog, they won’t see a comment section even after they’ve completed the whole article. To comment after they’ve completed reading your blog post, they now have to click the title to get to the page where the post is by itself with a comment form at the bottom. I’ve rarely (if ever?… hmmm) seen the comment forms reside on the main Blog page.

You main blog page should function like the front page of a newspaper (yes, I just did use a newspaper as a good website example), showing different articles and letting people decide what they want to read. People can quickly see what article interests them and delve deeper into your website. People with Blog summaries on their blog homepage will be able to have more post titles showing potentially capturing the interest of a wider variety of prospects/clients.

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