No, Post Formats haven’t gone anywhere but theme support and their use appear to be waning. Joyce Grace over at ManageWP.com has published a great article that explores some possibilities as to why the feature is not being used, why we might see the feature make a comeback, and the SEO issues surrounding them. Outside of Collections by The Theme Foundry I’ve not seen many themes where Post Formats is a selling point.
It didn’t help that the UI components for Post Formats were delayed and then dropped out of core during the development cycle of WordPress 3.6. The main purpose of Post Formats UI was to expose the feature to thousands of users who otherwise, may not have known about it. I like what Joyce said about their implementation:
Whether Post Formats stay part of core or part of a plugin doesn’t really matter. The content producers, their primary users, won’t notice a huge difference either way. The main objective should be that more people are aware of, and start using them. They will make blogging more effective, more fun, less strenuous and less intimidating.
Post Formats Are Unpredictable
Instead of the typical blog post that contains a title, category, tags, and additional meta data, formatted posts can be styled to display only the content specific to its type. For example, a post that uses the Quote format can be styled to only show the quote with an attribution link.
This is part of the reason why I’m not comfortable using them. There is no consistency between themes where I can predict what a post will look like when assigned a format. I either have to browse my archive that has a post with the format already applied or look at the theme demo page.
One of my gripes is that you can’t preview a post with a format assigned to it because the post preview shows you the single post view. This view is different from what visitors will see when browsing the front page. What usually ends up happening is I publish a post with a format assigned, load the front page and make any necessary edits. I like Post Formats but this unique problem is a huge turn off for me.
When I used Tumblr a few years ago, it was the easiest way to publish content I’ve ever encountered. It was a relief to not use tags, categories, or other forms of content organization. I would add a title, specify the type of post and hit publish. Most of my content was short with the occasional long form post. This is the hidden beauty of Post Formats. As Joyce rightfully points out, “they make blogging more effective, more fun, less strenuous and less intimidating.“
Do You Use Post Formats?
Once it’s discovered that not every post needs to be 1,000 words in length and that short pieces of content can look great, Post Formats become an addicting way to keep a blog alive. It was for me when I used them on the Tavern. It’s worth noting that instead of tweeting or publishing a video on Facebook, a Post Format supported theme on a WordPress powered site would make an excellent alternative for publishing short form content. Not only do you retain ownership of your content, you can fully customize how it looks.
Do you use Post Formats on your site? Do you know of any other WordPress themes that are built around Post Formats? If so, share them in the comments. Last but not least, what will it take to get more people to use this unique feature of WordPress?