Is your blog adding value?

Design

A few of my previous posts draw attention to the importance of producing sites which are fit for purpose, ensuring a balance between functionality and design. It is essential for gimmicks such as blogs and forums to be incorporated into websites, which actually have a requirement for such facilities, and are not simply added onto sites for the sake of it.

The problem when sites such as these, incorporate functions which are not necessary, is that they aren’t able to post anything of real worth, resulting in a poor user experience. As a result of this, such sites will inevitably undermine the concept of a blog, creating a wholly negative image associated with the principle of blogging. I have had a look over a couple of sites recently, and have found some examples of blogs, which vary in purpose, function and design. The real question is, do the blogs provide a good balance between purpose, function and design, and remain focused enough on what they are there to do? The first of the sites is Blogussion. This is a site, which is run by a group of people who are passionate about blogging. I understand that the site layout will soon be reconfigured, yet, despite this, I feel that the current layout is extremely functional and avoids the all too frequent ‘cluttered’ appearance of many other blogs.

The content is of good quality also. It is relevant and insightful, and conveys the points, which the authors wish to communicate, rather effectively. Like each of the sites reviewed, Blogussion is driven by the content providers and as a result, the user experience is that of a good quality debate, where everyone is entitled to an opinion and input is greatly received. Despite being in it’s infancy, the blog is frequently visited and provides useful advice and comments for readers to absorb, digest and employ within their own blogs. It is a simply designed site, with very limited space dedicated to advertisements – something which I like because I hate being bombarded with irrelevant ads whilst catching up with the various topics discussed on the site! Clearly, this site adds value to the web. It is a blog in it’s own right, comprehensively discussing the many aspects of blogging. It is not a site, which is irrelevant in it’s function.

The Crazy Leaf Design blog is the second of my reviews. It operates rather differently to Blogussion. Whilst the principle purpose of the Blogussion site rests in the fact that it is a blog, Crazy Leaf Design is a web and graphic design company site with a blogging facility attached. I do feel that Crazy Leaf Design is justified in their use of a blog within their site. Just as we have done at Zulu, Crazy Leaf Design have recognised that they have plenty of opportunity to post stories about their experiences within the design industry, enhancing the content held within the web. Despite this, I feel that there are aspects of the site which I feel may not be working as well as they could be. Firstly, whilst operating on the same domain (ie., not on a sub domain or alternate TLD), Crazy Leaf Design has chosen to employ a very different page layout to the blog when compared to the principle site. I advocate the use of design continuity within sitemaps, and so, fail to see the benefit of such a design separation. The colour schemes, the layout and even the logo change between the main site and the blog. The long page scrolls, a feature which I am not a fan of, are accentuated by the number of horizontal rule breaks throughout the document. When browsing down over the content, readers become disillusioned as to where each article ends and the next begins. This, coupled with the sheer number of advertisements seen down the right hand side of the page and embed within the content, detract from the value of the content itself.

Thankfully, Blogussion and, to a lesser extent, Crazy Leaf Design, have resisted the temptation of adding irrelevant gimmicks to their sites, which would ultimately, devalue the sites and lessen the overall experience. I feel that whilst both sites offer a lot to the web, Blogussion may just snatch my vote. The content it offers is always relevant and extremely valuable. As ever, we are keen to hear your views on the topics we have discussed – everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion! Why not have a look at the sites we have critiqued and let us know what you think? Alternatively, let us know what you think about our site and blog!  

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