Navigation Question

As I browse through my site logs, I can't help but notice that most new readers tend to read my most recent post before reading anything else, and then click through several other pages before finding the first. I realized recently that this may be because there is only 1 direct link to the beginning of the story (which is on the main page.)


So my question is this, should I put a link to the first segment in the infoboxes for each segment? It isn't difficult to do so that's not an issue, I would simply put it about the "previous" and "next" links. But I'm not honestly sure if that's why people are clicking around so much before settling down, or if it's simply the nature of individuals


I don't think it's so much the lack of links as it is the lack of a sidebar on your site. People are used to a sidebar, maybe with archives in it, in most blooks. They might be a bit disoriented since your site lacks either. Then again, I have a fairly prominent sidebar with links to everything and the main page still gets the most clicks. That's easy to explain though; if your site logs give you number of visits by duration, you might want to check how many visits are under 30 seconds and how many under 10 seconds. If you get a fairly large number of those then you have just explained the many clicks in the main page; these are bots, search engines and the like who usually only ever check your main page.


But it wouldn't hurt to make the first page link work with the entire "Welcome... here" instead of just with "here". It will be easier to click for all us lazy people out there. Oh, and archives might help too.


I have a sidebar. It's actually just not on the side. It's more of a bottom-bar really, tucked away under the comments, which contains a link to the table of contents, which has my chapter listings.


For better or for worse, what I've done is put a "New Readers, click here for the beginning" link on the top of the sidebar. One of these days, I probably ought to just link to an archives page, but for the moment, I link to the first post.


I don't know whether or not people use it, but I'm assuming they do for the moment.



Noow, if you want to get to the first chapter of that story, you have two options that don't involve reading the latest installment.


1. click "Writings" tab -> click "Night Switch" -> click "Night Switch 01.01 (first)"

2. click "Night Switch" category -> click "Night Switch 01.01"


Thee first option is a lot of clicks, and the second, while I think it's awesome to have that functionality, isn't particularly intuitive. I plan on changing references to Night Switch 01.01 to "Read from the Beginning" in the near future but I'm not sure that fixes the main problem. I actually don't know what WOULD fix the problem (or maybe it's not even a problem?!, but I am all too aware that navigation can be a pain to figure out...


Perhaps renaming the title of the categories list to something like "Stories" instead of "Categories" might make the second option a little more intuitive. "Night Switch 01.01" would seem to be the natural start of the "Night Switch" story to my mind atleast. I don't know what all you guys have, as far as software goes, but I'm running WP on Arcana Dium and here's what I did to smooth out a few of the navigational issues.


1. Created a lovely front page (yes, PAGE), with a blurb, some other stuff, and links to both the first chapter (for new readers) and also to the reverse choronological blog style listing that the categories give, for older readers who are coming back.

2. Set this page as your front page (ie. what someone sees when they go to http://www.mysite.com/ or whatever happens to be your address). This is set in "Settings >> Reading >> Front page displays..."

3. Added a large button to the top bar labelled "Home" that linked back to the front page for people that get caught somewhere in the middle (perhaps a reference from a search engine)


For multiple stories on the same site I'd recommend renaming the "Categories" section of the sidebar to "Stories" or something similar, this can be achieved in the "Widgets" tab in the design tab.


The instructions are for WP, but really, the concepts can be applied to any software.


Iiii'm also running WP (I <3 it). The problem for me with renaming "Categories" to "Stories" is that a lot of my categories aren't stories (Site News, Art, Life, etc.). Static front pages are a possibility but they mess up some of WP's front-page-dependent functions, so it can be tricky. I might be trying to get too much out of the poor blogging software. :


Well, I'm in the middle of redesigning my site a bit (progress can be seen at http://v5.dotq.org), so I guess I'll see how things stand after that. Navigation will be pretty much the same but should be more clear.


Unfortunately DotQ is simply too big a site, with too much content, too many features, etc., for it to have a simple front page with easy access to everything.


I'm pretty happy with my layout. I'm using wp.com (not custom made so a lot more restricted that running my own site) and I use a page as a front page that also has the index permalinked. While it is easier for me 'cause I use pages and not posts for the stories themselves (thus leaving the posts only as news).


I believe I could, with manual links, separate the news from the stories using categories (if everything was post) I would just linked to each category and put all news to a 'news' category (/category/(name of the category/) is (I think) the permalink of each specific category....


The side effect is that all my links and updates have to be imported manually, but it offers greater flexibility on how to present them (i.e. my sidewidget is just a text widget with html links, not the actual archive, because that would be messy...)


Give your readers as many different ways to find content as you can. Make it easy for them to find it several different ways. People don't always think the same way.