Full posts or excerpts? That is the question…
I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking and reading on the topic of displaying full posts or excerpts on a blogs landing page as well as its RSS feed. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a consensus of which approach to take. It seems like “it depends” is the way most people see it and I tend to agree. For the Resort Marketing blog, I’ve decided that I was the content to be freely distributed and easily browsed and scrolled through, so I’ve chosen to display full posts on both the landing page as well as in the Resort Marketing RSS feed. I do use a nifty WordPress plugin called RSS Footer which allows me to easily add links to the bottom of each post in the Resort Marketing blog feed which will link directly to my blog and posts like this:
This all said, I do think there are circumstances in which excerpts makes sense as well. If your blog is a publishing center, which you have to drive traffic to, then it definitely makes sense to post strategically crafted excerpts that will drive click-throughs to your blog. If you do the same thing on your blog’s homepage that will certainly allow for more content to be displayed on the landing page. This is very important for blogs that have frequent posts and multiple authors, because if they didn’t post excerpts, content would make for a tremendously long scroll, as well as the inability to find content readily on repeat visits, great examples of this are Huffington Post and Mashable.
There is one other factor that I don’t know that people are currently paying enough attention to, and that is that more and more blog readers are looking to read via mobile devices. This means that first off, you should ensure that your blog will display well on mobile devices, and secondly that if those people are reading the RSS feed on a mobile device, they probably want to read the full post and not have to click through to the full posts. This is similar to the situation of giving people the option to subscribe to your blog via email, but then only providing the excerpts to email subscribers, I would doubt that you will find many subscribers will remain for long, and unless you have the geekiest blog in existence, there will always be people that will want to use email to subscribe over other methods and if you’re not looking out for them, you’ll lose them.
So, to sum up, my answer to my question in the title of this post is the lame, “It depends.” What to you think, is there a clear cut best practice for blogging and full posts or excerpts?Photo credit: Flickr user Dawn Huczek