Blogs: inter-page navigation

23 Feb 2012 - 8:32pm
4 years ago
1 reply
2200 reads
Anne de Ridder

I've noticed that on many blogs (especially those built with WordPress theme 2010) that within a specific blog post page there is navigation at the top of the post page that allows the user to navigate to the previous or following post.

The links are placed so that the link to the older (previous) post is on the left with an arrow pointing to the left and the link to the newer (following) post is on the right with an arrow pointing to the right.  So the user is essentially navigating post to post along a timeline, with the earliest time far left and the most recent post far right.

On the initial landing page for these sites, however, before a user drills into a post, users navigate vertically, moving from top (newest) to bottom (oldest). For blogs with pagination, users also navigate horizontally (to an extent) in that they may only see say 5 blog posts at once before navigating to the next page; however, to navigate they click on the page number or arrow pointing right to view the older set of posts or on the number/arrow to the left to see newer posts (should they be viewing a page other than the home page). The opposite of what is happening on the post page itself.

To me, when I am on the home page viewing the list of posts and then click into a post my mental model is that clicking right should "move me down" the page (therefore older) like the pagination on the landing page and clicking left should essentially "move me up" the page (therefore newer).  What I find most jarring with the WordPress example is that when I click into a post I'm being asked to re-orient myself to a different navigation paradigm.

(There are also many blogs that get around this issue by simply not including the ability to navigate from post to post without first navigating back up a level to the blog list.)

My questions are:
Have you come across any references/articles/research related to this?
What do you think about this?

Thank you!



24 Feb 2012 - 1:12pm
John Gersh

I wonder if this clash of mental models derives from the original Web site page metaphor.

For the moment, assume a locale with left to right text. The previous page in a book is on the left; the next page is on the right. That generalizes to a view of already-read to the left and unread to the right, which is simply the direction of reading text. Timelines are analagous: older stuff ("already read") to the left, newer stuff ("unread") to the right. The model collision comes when, as in some blog comment areas,  the reading order of the material is present-to-past. Which direction points to the unread but older material? This dilemma seems to me inherent in presenting any sequence of texts ordered present-to-past.

Scrolling instead of paging would mitigate this to the degree that top-down is conceptually orthogonal to left-right, in addition to being geometrically so.

It would be interesting to examine this question across locales with different writing directions. I haven't yet found any research on it.


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