About two months ago, I wrote about the usability of WordPress featured images.
Though nothing has changed in the last few months, there has been one use case that I find leans in the direction of supporting featured images despite their potential improvement for usability. Specifically, it deals with using the Related Posts feature of Jetpack.
For those who are new to WordPress or this specific feature of Jetpack, Related Posts makes it really easy to add links to similar posts at the end of each post:
The Related Posts feature scans all of your posts, analyzes them, and lets you show contextual posts your visitors might be interested in reading after they’re done with whatever post they’re on.
WordPress Related Posts Featured Images, Revisited
Though I don’t have any hard data to back up the claim that it increases page views (though it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to pull the data and analyze it), I do find that I personally use the feature when I see it on other people’s sites.
I know, I know: At best, that’s anecdotal and at worst it’s a generalization. Because of that, perhaps what I’m about to share loses any weight, but I figure it’s worth sharing and discussing anyway:
Featured Images make Related Posts more attractive, more likely to catch someone’s eye, and thus more likely to create interest in reading more posts.
Again, I’ve very little hard evidence to go on when it comes to something like this (and this is coming from someone who likes to have evidence to backup claims so it’s a little weird to write this). Furthermore, I know that this is even subjective especially as it relates to to aesthetics and UI of Related Posts because we all have different tastes.
With that said, I find that Related Posts that have featured images associated with them catch my eye and are more likely to get me to click on them than those without.
And this brings me back to the original discussion on the usability of featured images: Although I think the usability of the featured images could be improved, I also think that including features images with the posts for the sake of improving the appearance of Related Posts is something that shouldn’t be understated especially given the idea the idea that:
Most sites who activate this see an increase in traffic.
For those who blog regularly, I’d bet that you’ve heard of others who have commented on the images you’ve opted to use in a post. For those who don’t use images, my guess is that you’ve been urged to use images or no one has said anything (since there’s not much to say about, y’know, nothing :).
Anyway, the more I debate on whether or not I want the projects I work on to support featured images, the more I find myself considering all aspects and implications that come with them. So although the usability may not be as strong as it could be, other benefits that come with them may be stronger than not.