When I first began using WordPress, tagging wasn’t available, so I never got into the habit of using tags. And despite the rise of websites like Technorati, I’m still not sure on their value overall. I have recently feared that I am becoming stuck in my old ways, but as I began this site redesign, a light bulb clicked on for me.
As I’ve mentioned before, I hate long sidebars, and one of the contributors to this is having a long list of categories. Previously, I put everything into very specific categories, and sometimes into two or more categories, to make finding entries easier for those who prefer to use a hierarchical navigation bar rather than the search feature. Using the categories is how I often navigated my site, but it cluttered my page and annoyed me. Tags address this issue quite succinctly.
First, we must acknowledge the power of search. Hierarchical navigation bars, while best suited for displaying the breadth of everything you have to offer, can become quite cumbersome. If you categorize and tag items accordingly, you need not have such a large navigation bar. In my case, I have opted to use categories but broadly, and to leave the specifics to tags.
What this translates to is that every poem I post on my writing blog will be categorized as Poetry. Forms, such as sonnet or villanelle, will be left to the tags, as will the content of the poem. I do not need a category for dreams just like I don’t need a category for fantasy fiction. Rather, I can have Dream and Fantasy be tags, and create the broader category of Fiction.
You need to consider your organization before ever beginning or it will quickly become too late to do anything about the matter. If you decide you have erroneously left tags off the last three hundred blog entries you wrote, going back and adding those tags will be immensely time consuming and frustrating. For the aspiring blogger, it is far better to not make the mistakes I did and leap in blindly, but to spend some time considering your goals and organization, then putting those into place from the word “go.”