In the spirit of following the advice I gave recently about ways to spruce up your book blog, I’ve been doing a spring clean of my own blog over the past few weeks.
Some of this was very quick and easy to complete. It took me only a few minutes for example, to update the “About Booker Talk” page and simplify the navigation in the main menu. Some other tasks such as adding alt text to images used on my older posts and simplifying all the categories and tags, are going to need more time and effort so are not likely to be completed for a few months.
In the meantime I’ve been looking at updating pages where I keep track of reading projects like the Classics Club and Emile Zola or feature authors from Wales.
My dilemma is over my Book Review Directory page where I list all the books I’ve read/reviewed since starting the blog nine years ago.
This page has been through a few iterations as I’ve tried to find ways to make it more easily manageable. At one time, each book had a hyperlink to the relevant review. But when I changed the URLs of multiple reviews late last year, the links got broken and I ended up with so many broken links, I removed all of them, intending at some point to reinstate them.
It’s time to fix the issue. But I’m starting to question why this page exists and whether it’s worth keeping on the blog. Does it serve a useful purpose in other words.
When I created the page my thinking was that it would be of value to visitors to the blog. It would give them a sense of my reading interests and also what kind of content they’d find on the site.
But my stats indicate this hasn’t proved to the case. The Book Review Directory doesn’t get many views: just a few hundred visitors over the last 12 months. Even those few visitors don’t linger on the page very long.
It’s clearly getting some traffic so I’m reluctant to ditch it completely. but it clearly needs improvements to make it more valuable an asset.
I don’t think the name of the page is the issue: it clearly signals what the content will be. So is it the lack of hyperlinks? I have a strong suspicion this is a big factor; after all if I visit a blog or a website I get irritated by dead ends myself. But I also wonder if part of the problem is the way the list is organised: perhaps it’s too onerous to have to scroll through a long alphabetical list of authors?
I can fix both those problems.
Adding back the hyperlinks will be a boring task but doable. I’ll just have to remember in future that any time I change the URL of a review, I have to update the link on this page. now wondering if there is any point to this page, with our without links.
What I’m less sure about is how best to organise the content to be more user-friendly. Looking at other book blog sites I see different approaches being used.
Lisa at ANZLitLovers has her Index Page organised alphabetically by book title with fiction separated from non fiction. Jackie at NeverImitate has a similar alphabetical approach in her Book Review Index. Simon at Stuck In A Book organises his list as I do, alphabetically by author surname while Susan at A Life In Books scores the highest points for a user-friendly approach with a table that visitors can sort and search. Raven Crime Reads takes a completely different tack with a separate page for each year within which the books are listed by month.
I’m not sure why way to go. So I need your help.
If you are a book blogger: do you have a review directory type of page on your own site? How did you decide on the best way to organise the content?
If you read book blogs: When you visit a book blog do you look for a page or pages where the blogger lists all books reviewed on the site? Do you find this kind of content of interest or helpful? What do you find the most useful and helpful way for this content to be displayed – by author name for example or by book title in one big list? Or separated by year?
I’m looking forward to getting your help with my dilemma.