RSS, Hyperlinks and Underlined Text: WordPress’s Two-sided Coins

Which is better in WordPress?

WordPress has lots of different options and settings. Most of the time, it is pretty cut and dried— what we need to do when we encounter them. And if we don’t know the answer, we listen to the experts or google the question to get sound advice.

But not everything is a simple decision. Here are three settings that, well, have two sides to the coin.

Feeds

This one is a two-parter. These are found in your “reading” settings.

First,  there is this one.

How many feeds should we list when a new post goes out?

How many listings in your RSS

On one side, the regular readers probably don’t need to see more than your most recent post.  They are thinking, why am I getting these older posts I’ve already read. But maybe they missed your last email.

On the other hand, your new readers might appreciate seeing some of your previous posts. And how many is too few or too many?

Secondly, what about this setting?:

Full or summary for RSS feeds

Your choices are to either show the full text (your entire blog post), or just an excerpt, which is called the summary in your settings.

There are two ways to think about this. When you give readers the full post, they don’t have a motivation to click through to your site because they already have everything they need. While it’s true that readers who loved your blog so much that they signed up for your RSS feed may still click through, you might lose some people who don’t take that extra step. And that can have an impact on your comments.  But some readers tell us that they like getting the full post in a feed because they can quickly skim through it to decide if they want to click through or come back to your site later and read it. So, you see, it’s not a simple decision.

The second option is to go for the summary, or excerpt. It’s a lot less clutter for your reader, but as the blogger, you must pay close attention to what you put in it. It had better be a damn powerful headline. And the excerpt should stop at a point that leaves your readers so curious that they just have to click through to read the rest of your post. Otherwise, you may lose them.

Links

Whenever we create a hyperlink, we have two options: send the reader to another page within our site,  or take them to an outside source.

So the link either opens in a new window/tab or it opens in the same window:

Open links in new windows or tabs

What should we do? In the past most people have followed the rule, if linking within your site, open in the same window.  If linking outside your site, open in a new window or tab.  The reasoning behind the latter is that way you don’t lose your reader, because once they close that new window or tab, your site is still in a window or tab.

The other side of the coin is that most people are used to pushing the back browser arrow to get to where they were. And when they can’t,  they are frustrated.  And who needs more open tabs and windows?

I am finding more and more that people are arguing the point to never open a new window. In fact some can back up this argument with some pretty startling statistics. So, who is right?

Underline

Your editor window still gives you the option of underlining a word or phrase. If I had my way, I would remove it. Because, even though people are moving away from making linked text underlined, many users have been trained to click on underlined things. Sure, underlining is a way to emphasize text (were you tempted to click on that?)  but so is boldingitalicizing, or a combination of both.  Isn’t that enough?

Sure, you might be thinking, there are still important reasons to use it. Titles of lists, perhaps.  Not every reader will assume it’s a link, right?  And if they do, and it doesn’t work, they will figure it out.

(We won’t worry about the email or comment we might get about the broken link in our post.)

So there you go: some food for thought.  Is there a right or wrong way? Talk amongst yourselves and let me know which side of the coin you are on. I may even tell you what I do.

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7 Responses to “RSS, Hyperlinks and Underlined Text: WordPress’s Two-sided Coins”

  1. I’m brand new to the WordPress community and have been watching all the tutorials I can get my hands on before I setup my first test site. Ironically as the tutorials went over these exact options I had the same questions in my head, so, I will look forward to the comments you receive to compare. For example, I initially was sure I’d want a link to open up a new tab/window so they can remain on my site but now I’m not so sure. Good stuff!

    • Hey Ginger, yeah, this is a debatable subject and it appears that some are reluctant to come in and share their point of view. ;)

      I know for the links, I even had a small discussion on Twitter and we came up with the same results. Debates on both sides. I know a good friend of my, based on user accessibility is really for the open in same window. And I find myself going back and forth…

      Underlines to me are a no-brainer, but even with the RSS, again, a debate. The problem is so many who argue for one side on this, are just stubborn and don’t even give any thought to the other option. They are the kind who say “this is the way to do it”. What it basically boils down to is their own preference of how they want to receive them. Oh well, let’s see if someone comes in and stirs things up … cheers!

  2. (Gosh even the comments look so nice, I’m addicted ;-) I totally agree with underline-being-gone comment.

  3. Hey Bob!

    Yeah, I’m just sitting here with a cup of coffee and catching up on my reading. This post caught my attention because as a reader, it depends on how “busy” a site is.

    Some sites are just full of stuff – ads everywhere, social buttons everywhere (scrolling and sticky), annoying popups, you name it and they have it. So, because I have readability installed, I’ll just right-click and open the post in a new tab/window just to be able to focus on the content.

    Your site is very clean so I don’t have to use readability to focus on your content and I just click on “read more”.

    You’re right though, it is a debatable topic. That’s just my two cents.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Lizzie, thanks for chiming in and appreciate your feedback. And it’s true, with so many bells and whistles, fight to get conversions, etc, one can truly head in the direction of overkill.

      I have a good friend who is big on accessibility on sites and he will be doing a guest post here… so that will be a good read I’m sure!

      • Oh super, can’t wait to read that!

        (You know, I’ve been following you for a couple of years and that was my first comment. It just goes to show that people have it all wrong when they visit a site and attempt to justify its “credibility” based on the number of comments. I’ve unsubscribed from wpmu and wpbeginner because I get everything I need from you. You’re just a regular “down-home” kinda guy with lots of great information and AUTHORITY.)

        Thanks for the heads-up!

        • First off, thank you! You have made my day, month, possibly even my year :D

          And you are right about comments. In fact I was on another blog and commented, admitting how little I comment but how much I read and lurk.

          Cheers and here’s to a great 2014!

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