I don’t often post, yet this blog averages close to a thousand page-hits a day. My biggest referrer is TGComics, but a strong second is “Search Engines” (from terms like “forced womanhood” or “tg fiction”). That tells me that I’m near the top of some of the more common TG search results, and that a lot of people are clicking my link. (Thanks!) It also suggests that this blog is becoming a portal to the TG world, where people arrive here and then click through on an outbound link.
Why does this matter? Simple: portals are important.
Here’s how I surf. My first port of call is TGComics.com (only partly because the name is easy to remember). I check out the Forum to see what’s up, then pop over to TGcaps to see what’s new. Then I hit the links page. Sometimes I check out Rachel’s Haven, but I always end up at the two big link collections: TG Central and World of TG. This probably sounds familiar, which is exactly my point; these websites are all portals to the TG world.
Let’s face it, we all surf for new TG stuff on a regular basis, but there are way too many blogs and captions out there to just hunt around for it. That’s why a date-sorted list (on time of last update) is essential to finding what’s new in a reasonable amount of time. (The link collections list blogs, while the Haven has a “Last Uploads” command in its Gallery.) I know, a lot of blogs have date-sorted link lists, but most of them are short. Most of us don’t want to clutter up their blog with dozens or hundreds of links, or put in the work to keep them up to date. That’s why the big link collections are important: they’re just links, and keeping the links up-to-date is the whole point.
Case in point: One blogger lost interest in captioning because her blog wasn’t “picked up” by World of TG. But how could it have been? No one told Viola that the blog even existed! And it shouldn’t be up to her to find it; the blogger, or someone else, should have brought it to Viola’s attention.
I’ve corresponded with Viola on the changing design of World of TG. My big concern is that the site be easy for her to maintain. She’s tried to categorize and comment on the links, but that’s a big job. It shouldn’t be up to her to research the content of all these websites. We should be telling her whether our blog is a caption or story blog (or like mine, both), a shemale blog, an art blog, and so on (maybe via an on-site form). All she should have to do is ensure that the link is correct and safe (i.e., not a pay site, or illegal, etc).
The simple design of TG Central is fine for two lists, but World of TG is trying to be much more comprehensive. Multiple categories are necessary because of the sheer number of links. This is where the design can contribute to ease of maintenance. Adding a new link should mean changing only one list and not having to move it again.
I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not a website designer by trade. I hope many of you will help Viola by telling her how you use her website and what sort of design would work best for you.
Here’s my two cents. Splitting the site into tabbed pages is good, but having the same links on different tabs isn’t. There should be one location for caption blogs, one for story blogs, and so on. (Some blogs, like mine, can appear in more than one list.) Caption blogs are a problem because there are more of them than the maximum size of a link list. Splitting it into two or more lists is a must, but on what basis? A random split, or alphabetic, or older to newer? The point is to avoid having to move links around. Also, I don’t think a “What’s New” (or “shout-out”) list is too useful, because what’s important isn’t that a link is new to the website, but whether or not it’s new to the reader.