From time to time, we reblog fantastic content from the Typepad community. Today, we're featuring a great step-by-step post from our friends at NewPath Consulting. Have you ever wanted to create a Popular Posts feature for your blog? With the Post Carousel and a bit of tweaking, you can! Read on to find out how to put this fantastic feature to use on your blog, and check out the original post, right here.
Post carousels (aka "sliders") are attractive and interactive website features that bring attention to new, popular or valuable content. TypePad recently announced an easy way to create post carousels, without one line of code. So how do you put a post carousel together and how do you decide what posts or pages get displayed in a post carousel?
Why post carousels?
When someone visits a website they usually are either looking for something specific or just browsing. Most visitors start on the home page of a website and this is where most designers place a carousel. The top 10 pages usually make up 90% or more of the traffic on a website, even websites that have thousands of pages. In order to attract visitors to the most popular content or to bring attention to the most recent or to timely posts or pages, a slider is a terrific way to call out certain content an attractive way.
Content is usually somewhat hidden behind navigation menus on the top, left, right or even bottom of website. On a mobile device such a smartphone or a tablet a carousel also encourages visits to continue after the home page. A slider or carousel is an alternative way to navigate 3-5 pieces of content. It's not only visually attractive but also takes up a good chunk of prime real estate on a website. If you want people to visit pages other than the home page, carousels encourage visits to continue.
Statistics on carousel use are sparse but available. You must include compelling content on a carousel that entices visitors to click and get attention in the first place. We suggest keeping the number of post carousel features to a maximum of five, but ideally 3 or 4, as it appears that as the number of features increases, the click-through rates on everything but the first featured post decreases dramatically.
And the subject of the post can make a big difference -- breaking news, announcements or brand new content deserves a feature. This is why it is critical to mine Google Analytics to identify which posts or pages should be featured. We go over how to do this below in the step-by-step solution.
How to make an effective post carousel?
There are lots of best practices when it comes to post carousels. Having a post carousel with 44 features is probably not a great idea -- they are meant as a way to feature just a few pieces of content. Switching out content and introducing new posts into the carousel is an effective way to manage the carousel.
I'm from Missouri. Show me an example!
The home page of www.resaspieces.org features a TypePad post carousel. It was implemented based on the most popular pages over the past year, collected from Google Analytics. When the organization announces their gala concert ticket and sponsorship sales, that page gets first billing on the post carousel.
And here's the step-by-step solution
Check out the solution below by clicking through the jump. We have screen shots describing designing a post carousel in TypePad with Google Analytics as guidance for which posts to use. The estimated time to completion is about 45-90 minutes once you have developed the content you wish to feature.
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Mining Google Analytics to Populate the Post Carousel
The below is a snapshot of Resa's Pieces page analytics over most of 2014. The #1 and #4 pages are the home page and the gala concert ticket and sponsorship page, respectively. The #2 and #3 pages are available for Resa's Pieces member's only and are not publicly available on the website, so we don't feature them in the post carousel. The #5 and #6 pages describe the musician biographies and the organization's concert schedule -- obvious pages that garner lots of traffic.
Please use analytics and data to identify what visitors want to see. There may be some new content you may wish to feature as well, but as a standard what you should do is give visitors what they want -- they find the most interesting pieces of content so use a post carousel to serve them this content.
Post carousels only display posts in most systems including TypePad. We will discuss a nice little hack to have post carousels display pages as well. Read on below.