When I started this blog nearly three years ago, I built the CMS myself. Not using off-the-shelf software meant designing and building things like next/previous links and a commenting system. When it came to thinking about how these elements would work, I just went with what seemed logical to me at the time, without looking closely at what other blogs were doing at the time. But it seems I got it wrong, or at least different.
So what’s up? Let’s consider the simple post-to-post navigation. It seems reasonable to assume that next/previous links take this form:
← previous | next →
That is to say, next on the right and previous on the left. Fair enough, but what does ‘next’ equate to in the context of a blog? If you are reading this post on the home page then the next post you are likely to read is the one below it – an older post. So it seems logical that blogs are read in reverse chronological order, if for no other reason than because the first post you come to is the newest post (search engine referrals excepted). So my ‘next’ link, the one on the right, points to an older post.
I will concede that if I used the words ‘next’ and ‘previous’ (as some do) instead of the name of the post, then this logic would be harder to justify as ‘next’ would probably be interpreted as ‘the next post I made’ as opposed to ‘the next post you’ll want to read’.
I applied a similar approach to the order in which comments appear below my posts. The most recent comment always appears first, which is counter to convention. At the time I thought this action may subtly encourage folks to comment. More importantly, I also figured that the most relevent comment would be the most recent one, so it went at the top. A factor in this thinking was that comments would relate to the post rather than to other comments.
So then, should I reverse my design decisions? Are there sound reasons for doing so above and beyond falling in with convention? What if I used my CMS for a third party blog, as I do here?