Monthly ArchivesArguably, the most important feature in your blog’s design is its usability. Can the reader get what they want? A large part of that is giving them the space to manoeuvre unhindered by clutter and superfluous gadgets.

In order to keep your blog clutter-free, you must be ruthless with your sidebar content. There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, and it is very tempting to install them all. The wise blogger knows to add only the options which will be beneficial to the user, which begs the question;

How are the monthly archive links useful?

In most cases, they aren’t. The monthly archives are a remnant from when blogs were literally online diaries. When the posts are a biography of someone’s life, then it can indeed be very interesting to look back to what they were like in the past. The monthly archives were also a lot less hassle than properly categorising posts.

However, blogs are much more than that nowadays. The information is no longer just personal, it is extremely useful! How could a reader find your best posts by picking a meaningless month name? They couldn’t, and that is why a monthly archives list is usually just an unnecessary source of clutter in your sidebar.

To delete the archives from your sidebar, open sidebar.php, and delete the following line: (NB – There may also be text between the brackets.)

<?php wp_get_archives(); ?>

How To Show The Monthly Archives in a Drop Down in WordPress

The biggest problem with monthly archives is that the size of the list grows every single month, taking up more and more room. There is however, a way of getting around this; use a drop-down list. The drop-down takes up very little space until clicked on, and is a suitable method of browsing through the months because they are all in order, making a particular date easy to find.

The code to add this drop-down has actually been put into the WordPress Codex already, but I’ll paste it below anyway.

<select name="archive-dropdown" onChange='document.location.href=this.options[this.selectedIndex].value;'>
<option value=""><?php echo attribute_escape(__('Select Month')); ?></option>
<?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly&format=option&show_post_count=1'); ?> </select>

And there you have it, a much more compact method of showing the archives. You can see this method being used well on Mike Goad’s Exit 78, where Mike has actually used the same technique on his long category list as well.

If you’re currently showing a long list of months on your blog, then the best advice is to either drop, or drop down that list. You’ll notice the different immediately.

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