Don’t Hide the Date

I’ve noticed an interesting (growing?) trend over the past few years. Some bloggers (or their designers) choose to hide when a post was written. I usually see this via dates excluded from the URL and/or the page itself. Why they’re doing this, I’m not sure.

For URLs, I think dates are useful. Take this URL for example:

/2019/dont-hide-the-date

Just looking at it, you have a sense of when it was written and what it might be about. Instantly. That’s a good user experience.

(My favorite URL approach is from sites like Medium, where they opt for the questionable /title-GI83R1SH article ID at the end of their post URLs which manages to thread the needle of being both impossible to guess and devoid of any date context. I call this URL style post-modern, because what starts out understandable quickly turns convoluted.)

But I understand not wanting extra cruft in your URLs. Having a clean website.com/post-title structure is attractive to my inner minimalist. Going title-only also makes it easier to recall the URL of a once-visited post, since you’re more likely to guess the title of an article than the title and date.

Then there’s the date on the page itself. I generally see a lot of designs use the smallest type size or the faintest gray color possible—if they even include the date at all. I think that’s the wrong way to go. Whether the post is timely or timeless, dates provide a sense of place and serve as an important piece of context for your readers.

You don’t have to overemphasize the when something was written, but please don’t leave it out completely.