This is a question I’ve often pondered and experimented with from time to time. Should you show 1, 5, or 10 posts? Should you show partial posts or full posts? Do people actually visit your blog’s home page?
Number of Posts
Obviously, the more posts you include on the home page the slower it will load. I’ve found 5 posts to strike a happy medium for my blogs. I thought 1 or 3 was to short and 7 and 10 seemed too long. If you have a lot of short, snappy, posts 7 to 10 might work OK but I wouldn’t recommend going over 10.
One annoying thing I see from time to time on blogs is that there is no clear cut way to navigate to a list of earlier posts. I highly recommend that you make this navigational aid present or obvious in your theme. Not having it there may cost you page views and, thus, revenue.
Full or Partial?
My preference is to see a full article on the home page. I tried using partial teasers on some blogs and it didn’t seem to help. Many people like to scan articles for bold sections before they commit to reading the whole thing. If you just show partials you might be hiding your best goods under the counter.
Also, if you use partials in WordPress you will also only have a partial RSS feed. There are plug-ins around that can change this but you should be aware that most people who use RSS readers prefer to see the whole thing. Encouraging commenting can help click-thru.
UPDATE: As you can tell, I changed my opinion on this. Partials can work if the teasers are good and the newer magazine style themes really help here. To get this to work well, you need to use the ‘optional excerpts’ field in the WordPress editor to add a tempting bit of text. Also, if you make this different from the text in the article itself, I may help with your internal SEO efforts. As for the feed, you can use the Full Text Feed plugin to give you more flexibility in this area.
Do People Visit It?
Based on what I’ve observed on my blogs via Google Analytics about 7% to 15% of visitors hit the home page. This means that it will often be on equal footing with your best Google indexed and social network bookmarked single pages. If this is the case with your blog, make sure that you have it prepared well as a landing page for your site by optimizing its load time and appearance.
What are your thoughts on this? Anything to add? Please leave a comment and let me know what your observations have been.