I thought I was going to like this piece. But it sits wrong with me, because it's almost right and then swerves.
Yes, people put a bunch of dumb stuff on their webpages. Why? Because, well, that's what someone else had on their Wordpress install. They don't consider carefully the needs of their particular visitors, and they don't consider carefully about the overall impression they're trying to give.
But instead of pointing people to think about these things, Babauta offers a different prescription. You thought you wanted your blog to look like a cluttered Wordpress blog because that's what you thought blogs should look like--well, instead your blog should look like his blog. His preferences are your readers' preferences.
It doesn't take too many examples to point out the cases where this breaks down.
[leave out] related posts
That's not optimizing for a minimal website, that's optimizing for the presentation of a single document. Those "related posts" dingamerbobbers are how I get a feel for a person's blog--is their post about their dog training struggles a temporary aside from their normal OCaml content, or are there more cute pictures of the puppy? As a reader, I'm not necessarily considering navigating around just because I've read one thing; it isn't a dark pattern to suggest I do! Maybe your beautifully crafted article isn't quite addressing my point of interest, and I'd see you have a more relevant one.
the numbers don’t matter that much. What matters is helping your readers, delighting them, changing their lives.
I don't mean to be glib, but: do you not care about helping more people? It obviously doesn't make sense for, e.g., a fiction writer to be A/B testing protagonists, but plenty of people incorporate analytics into the methods through which they're trying to create content that will be useful to people. Yes, really. (a really good piece on someone's particular writing process)
short urls (without .php, .asp, .aspx, .html, dates, categories or other items in the url) — see the url of the posts on this site as an example
What a specific personal preference to present as a best practice! Non-technical folks are typically just as comfortable/uncomfortable with basename.example/thoughtful-title-painfully-made-unique as with basename.example/2020/07/21/title-keyword as with basename.example/7887c899-fee8-430a-b6e3-ca0841197497 -- no matter which feels most hygienic to a developer -- with or without
.html appended. If you're not able to create tiny titles for your content (and if you write on similar topics frequently, good luck with that) it's all going to be a non-semantic blob to your user.
Good discussion of the post can be continued elsewhere, such as on Twitter or Facebook or other people’s blogs, if they find the post worth talking about.
Oh, that's user-friendly -- "yes, people have made thoughtful points about this piece of writing that add to it; have fun finding them!"
Sponsored content is bad? Even this, not always! I love the sponsored content this preserves-blogger does with Ball and different fruit associations. It fits in well and it's just as useful as it'd be unsponsored.
My point here isn't that you need three similar posts linked at the bottom, or a particular analytics script, or a specific taxonomy of URLs, or that comments sections and sponcon are great. It's that if you're actually trying to focus on the experience you're giving visitors to your website, you can't rely on anyone's sense of "well this is what works well for websites in general," whether minimalist or maximalist. You have to know what you're trying to do, and you have to consider carefully how the pieces come together to do it.
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