The craft of designing and developing blogs is constantly evolving and the variety of ways in which people are using blogging tools never ceases to amaze me.
Aside from the regular updates that WordPress and other blogging software rolls out, there’s an unfathomable amount of plugin code being written for almost every conceivable feature you may desire. There’s always a new button to be added to blogs: over time this has changed from the dozens of RSS subscribe buttons to all the various sharing options and “find me on” buttons competing for space.
What I enjoy when designing blogs is not the latest shiny new button, but thinking about the crux of blogging: content. What are people blogging – or intending to blog – about? What makes it unique? What are they adding to the world each time they publish? How might new visitors want to explore their archives? (I’m not just talking about having archives by date, tag, category, author etc.)
Design without specific content style in mind is really missing the mark and I think that’s why I really struggle with generic themes that are out there. I’ve often toyed with the idea of releasing a generic theme (and haven’t ruled it out) but keep hitting the same problems: generic by its very definition means losing touch with specificity. Generic blog themes look gorgeous with the content they’ve provided in the previews, but the real test is how it will look – and work – with your content.
When content gets lost in the design and buttons and widgets – either in the theme or in the mind of the blogger, it’s a real shame. For at the end of the day, blogging is about content.
I’ve had enquiries from potential clients who haven’t ever blogged and aren’t able to provide draft content for me but expect to be able to maintain a magazine-style design all by themselves. I wonder if they have ever stopped to consider how much work it is to maintain a print magazine? How many people are involved with the content creation? Their print schedule is usually weekly or monthly, but a blog’s readership often expects it to be maintained daily. A magazine theme style has become super popular in the blogging world, but it demands even more from the blogger than ever before: gorgeous big photos for their content and high turnover of content for the homepage to stay fresh.
Blogging is ultimately about content. (Yes, I am repeating myself.) Finding a design for your blog really needs to reflect what you’re writing about – and more than in a pretty design sort of way. Think about your writing frequency, your post style length, your post content, your post meta-data, your reader’s desires…. think less about design and buttons and more about content.
The mantra “content is king” has become so over-used it has almost lost its meaning but if possible, when you’re next thinking about redesigning your blog, think about the design as organizing your unique content.
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