Do you have a bunch of useless stuff cluttering your post pages? Are there things there that should not be? Are there things that could be implemented better?
Don’t put it off any longer, it’s time to clean-up your post pages (the single.php template in WordPress).
First of all, get rid of that “DiggIt” widget. If someone’s going to digg your post, then they’ll find a plain text link sufficient. Also, you save yourself the embarrassment of having “0 Diggs” stamped on all of your posts. Get rid of it, and save yourself an HTTP request to Digg’s servers.
While you’re removing the DiggIt widget, kill some of those social bookmarking icons. Keep them down to five or less. You can use the wonderful Share This plugin to sweep them under a virtual rug, gaining you a cool “Share By Email” form as well. If you want, you can keep some of the more commonly used bookmarking links if you want, but Share This can replace the rest.
“This entry was posted by Bob on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 10:15 am and is filed under Stuff, Rubbish, Cool. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.”
That’s kind of a waste of space, isn’t it? If you’re creative, you can shorten that line a bit, and maybe apply some styling to it. You definitely want to keep the date/time and post author together, though you could move them up the page, so they’re under the post title. The trackback URL and comments feed are useful, though they don’t have to be crammed in with the categories (and tags). This is one of the hardest parts of your template to declutter. You can probably work it out. Freelance Switch certainly did.
The postmeta paragraph is styled into a horizontal bar, showing the post date and comments RSS, along with their social bookmarking links and a “print article” function. The trackback URL link is moved to the spot where the trackbacks are displayed (separate from the comments), and the author name is moved to a spot under the post title.
Similar Posts is a great WordPress plugin that shows links to posts that are related to the one being displayed. If someone lands on a post page from a search engine or social bookmarking site, this plugin may keep them on your site, reading your content. Even for regular users, it can help unearth old posts that may be still be useful to someone.
Yes, you want to keep this plugin (or install it if you don’t have it). However, don’t just paste the template tag in and forget about it. You need to find a place to put the list of posts where it won’t clutter things too much. ProBlogger, and several other blogs (like Freelance Switch) have found an interesting solution. Look at this image:
See? The related posts are combined with some other useful links. I’ve been doing a similar thing here on Webmaster-Source lately, and it has made things look a bit tidier.
RSS Subscription Links
After reading a good post, people are likely to subscribe if they’re presented with an RSS button. Normally you put your RSS button up above the fold. If someone has just finished reading your post, are they going to scroll up and look for your button? Nope. That’s why you add a second subscription link at the end of your post. It works well, and has affected my subscriber count significantly.
That said, don’t just throw an RSS icon down after your post. Place it carefully so it fits in with some other elements (see previous section, “Related Posts”). Make sure it’s noticeable, and out of the way at the same time. Confused yet?
There are plenty of things you can put on your post pages, but not all of it is useful. Before putting anything in your post template, carefully evaluate whether there’s a good reason too (the same goes for your sidebar!). Also, be sure to find a good spot to put it, where it won’t get in the way, but will still serve it’s purpose.