Blog Home: Summaries Beat Full Articles

According to the latest research from Jakob Nielsen, on corporate blogs post summaries are usually superior to full articles because they let you expose users to a broad selection of topics.

Offering more topics increases the likelihood that users will find something that really interests them and thus will click through to read more. (As opposed to leaving.)

With full-text articles, the initial topic might not interest many users, and few will scroll down to see subsequent topics that might actually clinch a sale.

A blog home page typically has one of two designs:

  • Each posting’s full content is presented on the first page so users can read it all without having to click.
  • Article summaries appear on the first page, with the primary content on secondary pages (one per posting).

One benefit of the summary design is that it can offer a wider selection of postings within any given length.

Nielsen recently conducted an eyetracking study of how people read the “official” weblogs of companies, government agencies, and major non-profit organizations. On blogs with full articles on the front page, users scanned the first article but didn’t look any further. The conclusion: if your first article doesn’t interest users, you lose them by “using up” all their interest as they wade through that first topic.

For the example blogs that offered summaries on the home page, the user scanned multiple summaries.