Slimline

      Comments Off on Slimline

There are two things I’ve been meaning to fo with this website for a while.

1. Slim the number of categories.
I went a bit mad when I first installed WordPress, and I’m pretty sure I can trim the number down from the 22 I currently have (although not all are used, grand plans and all that) to a more manageable and sensible 6 or 7. More on that in a minute.

2. Categorise all of my archives.
I started this about a year ago and after slogging through some of the backlog – I’m tidying up, and adding titles as I go – I began to realise that I should have slimmed the number of categories FIRST. Yes, it’s obvious now but I was all caught up in just HAVING categories that I went a bit OTT.

Weird. Just got a massive dose of deja vu…

Anyhoo, onto the task at hand. Firstly I’m going to list all the categories I have available to me at the moment, and then I’m going to take a stab at a shortlist. If you have the time or inclination, I’d appreciate some feedback on the shortlist. Is it too short? Too long? Do you guys even USE the categories? Etc etc. I’m sure you know the drill by now (e.g. you leave comments stating your opinions, and I come along later and either correct you or ignore you!). First up, the current list of categories:

  • Articles – in a pretentious moment I deemed some posts should be ‘articles’. Usually the long waffling ones that no-one reads.
  • B.B. – the stuff I wrote before I had a blog.
  • Blogs – posts about blogs and blogging.
  • Books – reviews of books and posts about books
  • Diary – posts about stuff wot I have done in my daily life…
  • Firefox – posts about Firefox
  • General – the default category, used for stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else.
  • Gigs – reviews of gigs
  • Meme – posts about… ohh you get the idea…
  • Movies
  • Music
  • My site – stuff about this very site
  • News – commentary on current affairs.
  • Personal Musings – largely written B.B.
  • Software
  • Technology
  • TV
  • Web
  • WordPress
  • Writing – writing about writing… again with the pretentiousnessness!

Phew, far too many. What WAS I thinking? So, let’s trim that lot down, merge a couple and see what we end up with:

  • Articles – in a pretentious moment I deemed some posts should be ‘articles’. Usually the long waffling ones that no-one reads.
  • B.B. – the stuff I wrote before I had a blog.
  • Diary – posts about stuff wot I have done in my daily life…
  • General – the default category, used for stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else and the posts with multiple topics.
  • News – commentary on current affairs.
  • Personal
  • Media
    • Books – reviews and whatnot
    • Gigs (not strictly media I guess…)
    • Movies
    • Music
  • Technology
    • Software
    • Firefox
    • Hardware
  • Web
    • Blogging – posts about blogs and blogging.
    • Meme – posts about… ohh you get the idea…
    • My site – stuff about this very site
    • WordPress
  • Writing – writing about writing… again with the pretentiousnessness!

Right. Looks OK to me, over to you ladies and gentlepeeps. Set your inner librarian free!

Actually there is a further question relating to the usage of websites. Categories can be found all over the place these days… how useful are they? Do you use them regularly or only on certain types of sites? My own opinion sways on this. For my site I think the categories are useful as I tend to veer onto different topics as my mood takes me, so finding similar topics as the one you are currently reading can be tricky as there might not have been one for a couple of weeks. For sites that are a lot more focussed than mine they can sometimes seem like overkill, but then again, if you are surfing a knitting site and don’t want tips on needle choice, then a “patterns” category would be useful? No?

And then there are tags. Useful? Perhaps. The ones listed on this site should fire technorati searches allowing you to find other sites with similarly tagged posts (hmmm should maybe make that a bit more obvious), but maybe they’d be better used to navigate this site. Tag clouds are possible, but are they better, or worse, than categories?

Comments please (ohh and the bit below is just to remind myself that I am occasionally capable of reasoned discussion, it’s all a bit ‘overly analytical’ and may bore the pants off you.. if you are wearing any..

I’ve discussed this before (it’s good discussion if you are interested, although the spambots kick in about 2/3 of the way down the page):

Hang on, I’m supposed to be using tags as navigation? What nonsense.

Can we scroll back a little please – if you could apply ‘tags’ to a printed book how would you do it? Probably with post-it notes sticking out or something, right? Little flags of interest.

Everyone who comes along adds their own post-it and soon you can’t close the book, but if you look closely it’s only certain pages that are “post-it tagged” heavily.

Switching back online, is this any different?

Pickup a book, with no ‘tag’s. What do you have. A title that tells you you have the correct book, a table of contents that tells you the structure of the book and where each major section starts. Page numbers so you can find those sections. Possibly an index at the back with “tags” linked to page numbers. Cross references within the book.

Tags are not and SHOULD not be used as a navigation aid. Neither Flickr not Technorati suggest this so where has this notion sprung from?

Tags are a way of providing another level of interaction with a site. It’s not navigation as it’s not fixed, you don’t control what that tag link will come up with.

Surely we have to get that basic level of understanding in place FIRST before this discussion can move on.

Tags = navigation = bad
Tags = exploring the unknown = good

Without a fall back of structured, user focussed and well design navigation, tag clouds have a tendency to float off and become something that, whilst it’s pretty to look at (and some people claim they can SEE things in them) are just too far off to be bothering about.

Unless it’s raining but I’ve stretched this metaphor far enough.

Still here? Gosh. For the record, I’m not introducing a tag cloud. Yet. They are pretty though.