I’ve added a left-hand sidebar to this blog with “badges” for five of my main subject areas, using the labels (also known as tags) I’ve used to describe them: Life in NZ, New Zealand (which is general information), NZ Politics, Expat/Expatriate and US Politics. These badges do the same thing as choosing the label/tag from the drop-down list on my right-hand sidebar, but it only takes one click.
The idea is to make it easier and quicker for readers to get to some of my main subject areas, without having to wade through posts that don’t interest them. While there’s sometimes overlap (because most posts have multiple labels/tags), all posts with a certain label are at least loosely connected.
I originally came up this about the same time I considered spinning off US politics onto a separate blog. I realised that wasn’t the only subject area that didn’t necessarily fit well with others, and I thought maybe a visual badge for a subject area could help me get around that somewhat, making it easier for visitors to stick with the subjects they’re interested in.
Another idea I’d considered is putting the subject links on a separate page, but that would require readers to make at least two clicks. On the other hand, I could annotate those quick links to be more informative about what they are, something that’s difficult to do on sidebars without making it crowded and muddled. An advantage of the sidebar over a separate page is that sidebars appear no matter what page a reader is on, while a separate page is just that one page.
I’m going to leave the badges and left-hand sidebar throughout January as an experiment. If there are labels you think should be there, let me know in the comments to this post, or email me. Similarly, if you hate them, prefer the page idea or think the whole thing is unnecessary, feel free to tell me that, too.
At the moment, this is still just an experiment.