Mena Trott recently said that one of the biggest challenges for blog design is keeping them uncluttered. I’ve been thinking about this for some time and have been reflecting on 37 Signal’s post entitled “It just doesn’t matter”. In the post Jason writes in response to questions about Campfire:

“Why time stamps every 5 minutes? Why not time stamp every chat line?” Answer: It just doesn’t matter. How often do you need to track a conversation by the second or even the minute? Certainly not 95% of the time. 5 minute stamps are sufficient because anything more specific just doesn’t matter.

I’ve been wondering about blog posts: Are time stamps necessary for every single post, comment, trackback and pingback?

I’ve been re-working the design here (this blog is an ongoing test bed for ideas and is often a little messy as I try different things out) and I’m experimenting with removing some of the time stamps to see if I miss them, if they’re needed.

Here’s my theory which I’m trying out here right now:

  • Individual entry archives should have a post date; they’ve been archived.
  • The home page should have freshness information – show how long it’s been since you last posted. Keep it simple by only showing one lot of units (if it’s less than an hour, display the number of minutes ago, if it’s less than a day display the number of hours ago etc).
  • Comments don’t each need timestamps on them. Optionally show the freshness of last comment – i.e. time since the last comment.

Have I lost valuable information by removing all these timestamps?