It’s common sense to put the publication date of the article somewhere at the top of the page and make it easy to spot straight off. Users want to see the relevant information immediately. The same principle applies for newspapers, for instance, and the web medium is not different in that aspect.
A clever little trick web authors sometimes use is to put the publication date at the very bottom of the article. This doesn’t make a lot of sense from the usability standpoint, does it? The reason for this is that people tend to stay longer on the page if they don’t see the date right away. It is often the case that users will dismiss the content if they see an old publication date. If that date is a page scroll away, they might not leave so soon. They just might stick around a bit more.
Tricks like this are wasting our time. In a medium where everything should be made for the benefit of the user, I consider this bad practice. I do not want to scroll and search for the publication date, I want to be able to see it instantly.
I’ll share some good practice as well, but Twitter related. Twitter is an awesome way of communicating, sharing and getting information. What I like about it is that the messages are short and sweet. Sometimes, though, they are too short or provide low value. They make us click on a link before we know what the link is really about.
Maratz usually tweets in English. To let his followers know his tweet is in Croatian, he uses the twitter tag [lang=hr] so the users not interested in those kind of tweets can skip them right away (example).
These examples are also clever, but a good sort of clever.
In the picture, you can see the clear difference between the information the two tweets provide. The left one, the original, provides additional information to the user and makes it easier to scan. The right one, the one I tampered with, does not do as good a job.
As far as I know, these kind of tags are not standard in Twitter, but seem a very good idea. Maybe Twitter users will make this into a trend, a then help make it a standard, like they did with hashtags. Twitter users would benefit from tags like [Photos], [iTunes], [Pics], [Music] and so on.
Let’s make our online life easier and save us valuable time.