How we browse the web


The FT have started using a good implementation of a tag cloud on some of their blogs. E.g., if you go to the FT Alphaville blog, look on the right hand side under ‘Tags’ – and the most commonly used tags appear larger than other text. It’s quite useful for browsing and looks quite nice. The FT uses WP-Cumulus to do the tag cloud, which is a free plugin.

However the nicest implementation (which admittedly, is of comments not tags) I’ve seen is on The Economist. Go to their ‘Comments Homepage’ and you can see how all the comments posted on to the website relate to each other. Very nice, and pretty guaranteed to find something in there of interest.

Navigation such as tag clouds, or The Enonomist’s ‘comment cloud’, or the BBC’s Most Read (again, look on the right hand column of most BBC News articles) lists are an excellent method to promote a longer visit on a website and more pages per visit.

The web started with a browsing navigation style. There wasn’t a huge amount of content, so users meandered around the web looking for interesting content. Next came searchable navigation style. Google recognised the explosive amount of content on the web, and we started using Google to search for our data nuggets – deep diving into sites for our specific information, and then moving to the next site. We’ve now moved back to browsing. We use Facebook Activity feeds to burn five spare minutes, or our Twitter feeds to spend 15 minutes looking for recommendations from those that we’re following.

Groupon have capitalised on this – sending out broadcasts to say “Hey, this product is 80% cheaper – why not buy one?” Within two years we’ll be back to a search based browsing experience, which will be fine because Google or Bing (Microsoft) will own Twitter by then.

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