The Best Page Navigation: Older Entries, Previous/Next & Page Numbers

As you discover your new favorite blog, you probably start with the newest blog post and work your way back chronologically until you reach the bottom of the page. At least that’s how I tend to explore a newly found, super-awesome blog.

Once at the bottom of the page you are likely to see a link to either Older Entries, Next, Page Numbers or Something Else Entirely.

Which of these design options you choose will at least to some degree, dictate the “stickiness” of your blog, it can dictate how much time a first-time visitor spends on your blog. Here I want to talk about the efficiency of these three options;

What’s The Best Page Navigation: Older Entries, Previous/Next & Page Numbers

Older Entries: I think Older Entries is the worst of the three options available.

Taken from http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/

My natural response to this option (in other words, the way my mind registers the word “older”) is as “old,” outdated, obsolete and Irrelevant even. Before I have time to react, my mind is wondering; Why would I want to read obsolete and irrelevant entries?

Whenever I encounter the “Older Entries” option, I experience a significant amount of psychological friction as I try to override that natural response. Would you agree that ‘older entries’ is the worst option of the three available?

Next: Is an actionable command.

I believe this is a better option in comparison to older entries (discussed in the previous point,) when we hear “NEXT” while waiting in line at the bank, we naturally start moving forward. It gives the impression over moving onwards, moving towards the next part of the subject/part of a task.

I would argue that we are conditioned to take action when we hear the word “NEXT.” We are immediate in our response that next is an option from which we should take action and move forward in a task.

Page Numbers: These would be my recommended option out of the three.

Taken from http://www.ruhanirabin.com/

Although I think I’ve made a compelling argument for “Next,” I would still prefer this option of the three. These numbers provoke an inbuilt response to our psyche. With a continuing number of pages available we get the sense that the site has been around for a long time, the author has plenty to say and it’s not a fly-by-night type of operation.

We as humans are conditioned to follow the sequential order of numbers, and we know our way around with better navigation of times through numbered pages. Allowing you to skip through any unwanted pages or skip directly to a certain page. When we were 5 years old, we’ve learned that counting in proper sequence is a good thing for which we win our parent’s and teacher’s affections.

By extension, when we encounter an orderly sequence of numbers on a web page it is only natural for us to follow it to its logical conclusion thereby going through all the available pages and staying on the given blog for an extended amount of time.

In conclusion:

I would recommend you change your blog design from “Older Entries” to remove psychological friction introduced by the word “Older” to something that encourages exploration of your blog.

Which option does your blog use? Is there another option that I’ve overlooked?

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