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luckykind says
If the user hasn’t added any authors you could display a message in the follow block explaining the benefits and how to do it. This would encourage the use of that functionality.

True… you could do that… but to play devils advocate, if they still don’t use it, what then? It will still be a big blank space there… :)

1036 posts Best-dressed man at PressNomics 2013
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Parallelus says
If the user hasn’t added any authors you could display a message in the follow block explaining the benefits and how to do it. This would encourage the use of that functionality.
True… you could do that… but to play devils advocate, if they still don’t use it, what then? It will still be a big blank space there… :)

I think you’re right, it’s beneficial to stop wasting the space. Show something, especially if it’s empty. It could pull “random items” or “popular files” just don’t leave it blank. If it needs text to explain “the benefits of following authors” that can be a single line. You could still be getting a lot of extra use from this prime real estate on the home page for new users not following any authors.

Although I agree with this suggestion, I don’t think the home page is the real problem. The “search” and “browse” features are the main issue for me. The home page may need some changes to encourage better browsing, or something, but once you do enter a category I think a side bar to help refine you criteria or organize the themes by subject instead of date is important. People don’t use features that are not staring them in the face most of the time and the drop down menu for sorting is the kind of thing most people overlook or don’t use. If there were a side bar with options for toggling on/off search criteria, keywords, styles (1,2,3 column), format (blog, cms ecommerce), even categories, they use it to target their browsing.

Like I said before, I don’t think sorting by date should be the default in category page lists. I don’t have a suggestion for what the default sort method should be, yet. It’s not an easy question to answer. I wish the search was the default. It could be that we need to modify the site layout to encourage searching over selecting a category. Then the results will be based on relevance not date. You could even make the categories bring up a search and have a small link for “show all in this category”. That would certainly encourage users to search first.

Now, we start creating the “battle for search ranking” among authors. What keywords should I use? Do I need to make my title more specific? That’s a whole other mess!

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Volt_Design says

Maybe the follow area should be one of those things that only shows up if you’re following someone. For new users you’ll display the area as it is now but with an “x” at the top right to remove it if they choose to. So the user will be aware of the follow functionality but it will only show up if they choose to use it.

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