Friday, September 17, 2010

Techically Speaking

Creating compelling content is only one part of managing a successful blog. Brilliant writing is useless unless it finds an audience, and a wise blogger will employ a number tools to attract readers.

After your guests have arrived, it is critical that you engage them in a way that ensures a future visit. A blog should be easy to navigate and match the tone of the content. You don’t want to make it hard to use your site. This can negatively impact the quality of the work and increase the chance that a reader bails. The tools and technology used to design a blog may change over time, but human nature remains the same… we will always be less likely to use something that is difficult to navigate.

I discovered
The Daily Beast a year ago. It’s a site that I visit often and have grown to love, but initially the tools employed by the site had a negative impact on the work, and my first visit only lasted thirty seconds. The homepage prominently displays pictures and captions of their lead stories. The pictures change automatically every few seconds from one story to the next in a slideshow. I wasn’t able to stop the slide from changing and this annoyed me. I’m sure there’s a way to stop these, but I couldn’t figure it out, and that's all that mattered.

I managed to get by my initial frustration and eventually jumped back to the site. I’m glad I did.
The Beast uses a lot of tools that also positively impact the work. The first I noticed, and used, was the ability to increase and decrease the font size. The biography link next to the author’s name, which displays as a small pop up, makes it a more intimate experience.The Facebook widget and engaging comment sections makes it dynamic. It feels alive and communal.

It’s not necessary to use a ton of tools to produce a site that “does” what you want and positively impact the work. The
Bookslut blog is simple in design and only uses an RSS feed widget, inconspicuously placed on the left hand side of the page. The design of the site is subtle, as it should be. It felt relaxed, content is king.

It's not the amount of tools used that makes the technological side positvely impact a blog. The tools just need to be used in away that make the site most effectivley communicate with the reader.

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