So, I finally took some time to go back an review the state of the categories on my blog this weekend. All in all, it took me about 2 hours to get things to a state that I’m now reasonably happy with. No wonder I was putting it off… it wasn’t fun. Quite an exercise in acquiring RSI thanks to the category management interface that WordPress currently offers. But that aside…
In retrospect, I think it’s interesting that I didn’t approach this as I would a standard information architecture project. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been intimately involved with developing the content and gradually evolving the categories. For this reason, I think, it actually didn’t occur to me to approach this project methodically… which is strange. Perhaps the outcome would have been better if I had! Nonetheless, I did manage to cut the number of categories down from 29 to 19 (still too many, is my gut reaction), and that includes adding two new ones! There were a few name changes as well… some of which I’m happy with and some I think are still not quite right.
There were two types of categories that were retired. The first were categories that were just far too general, for example, I’ve had since almost the beginning a category called ‘Considering’. God knows what possessed me to create this category in the first place since everything on this blog is more or less considered. Interestingly, it’s a category that I’ve used consistently over the past 10 months of blogging… but it’s completely meaningless, so it had to go. There were others similar to this that were just too vague, so posts in this category have now been more specifically categorised and I think that most of my categories are reasonably specific now.
The other type that was retired were quite specific categories on topics that I thought I might blog more about, but that I actually didn’t. For example, I had a category specifically for typography… but that’s not turned out to be something that I write about much, so it’s gone. Similarly, right at the beginning of blogging, I’d post little reviews of books that I’d been reading on my commute to and from work. It turns out that my blog is quite focused now, and that stuff like that doesn’t really fit in… so those have moved into a ‘random’ category (I still need some freedom to blog about whatever I like!), and my ‘Bus Reading’ category is now retired.
It was an interesting exercise and I think that my categories now much better reflect what my blog is about, which for me, was a big reason for doing this (also that it was embarrassing that they were such a mess before!). But at the same time, I don’t get the feeling that people have ever really used the category navigation very much… and if they did, it was for some of the more obscure and colourfully named categories… for example, another recently retired category – ‘lusting’ (it wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as the name might suggest!)
So, although it’s been an interesting exercise to potter around my blog and put things into some kind of order…. I wonder at the end of the day if it actually makes a difference to anyone other than me!
I know, for me, that the only time I usually see a blog is the first time I visit it, or when I stop in to leave a comment. Other than that, I usually read what you’ve written in RSS format. So the only time I’d be likely to use your categories is when I first ‘meet’ your blog and am orienting myself with who you are and what you write about. From there I either subscribe or not.
Does this sound like your experience? When do you use categories on other people’s blogs? Do we actually need them? Or are they more for the benefit of the blogger than the bloggee?