When considering your blog design, the most important element – and the one too few people consider – is the personality, or the atmosphere of the blog. This is the key factor that determines the success of your blog; it is the also the first impression your blog will have on your new visitor.
If you’ve ever been on a guided tour, you’ll know that much of your experience, be it good or bad, is based on the guide. Some guides are boring, others are entertaining; some offer interesting and pertinent details, others offer such exhaustive information that your head starts spinning; others still, bore you to tears.
Much like a tour guide, when it comes to your business blog, you are the one that must set the mood and the character of your blog. You are the tour guide, and if you want to be considered a great guide, you must address the needs of your audience.
Fortunately, successful business blogs all begin with similar foundations:
Successful Business Blogs Meet Audience Expectation
Making your design appeal to your target audience is critical. Are you writing to a young, hip, techno-nut? Are you writing to a mom? Are you writing to a CEO?
While you don’t want your blog to be the same as all the others out there, being too different from your industry (imagine an engineering firm dressing up their blog to look like webkinz), will just confuse your audience.
I wish I could give you a template for every industry of the ‘right’ look, but there really is no such thing. You need to do the research to ensure you meet your audience’s expectations. Take a look at our recent post about using Alltop to give you design inspiration ideas.
Successful Business Blogs Are Reliable
A business blog, regardless of how aesthetically pleasing, or well coded it is, if it is not seen to be reliable, it will become useless as a tool.
A reliable business blog is one that is written by a reliable source. As a business owner, you are that reliable source. You’ve had industry experience, you keep up to date with industry news, and you can offer advice – not only about your product/service, but also industry trends. The caveat here is you must write in plain English. Your website can be filled with jargon and industry terminology, but your blog is where you need to use your voice in a way that is understood by everyone.
Another factor that affects reliability is how regularly you post. If you want your blog to be successful; to be represented in search engine results, and to build a community of visitors, you must have continuously updated and relevant content.
Visiting your blog and updating once a month is not enough, try and post at least twice a week; daily if time allows, especially if you want your blog to be used as a reference.
Successful Business Blogs Represent Your Brand Appropriately
When it comes to business blogs, it is not enough to focus on your name or logo as your brand; here, your entire site is your brand.
Everything you put on your blog, words, titles, images, logos, as well as the structure, arrangement, navigation and presentation, all make up the essence of your blog; they give your blog personality.
And the personality of your blog will tell potential clients and customers a lot about who you are, how you work, how credible you are, and what you are capable of. In what light do you want your future customers to see you? Are you a strange, disorganized, angry at the world unprofessional, or, a succinct, reliable, organized, and tuned in expert?
Successful Business Blogs Are Intuitively Usable
Your blog will only be successful if you ensure your target audience can intuitively navigate your site – it must be easy to use.
Visitors, especially first time visitors, don’t want to waste their time trying to work out who you are, what you do, and why you do it. You are the guide of this tour, and you need to guide well. Take their hand and gently lead them in the direction you want them to go, or show them the way to get to where they want to go. The easiest way to accomplish this is to forget using witty or clever words for your pages, categories, and titles; again, plain English is a must.
Successful Business Blogs Don’t Look Spammy
How many times have you visited a blog, only to be met by animated images, smiley faces, pop ups/unders, and loads of advertisements? What was your first impression?
A business blog will be successful if the elements listed above are only used when they fit in with the mission and the vision of the blog. In most instances, there is no good reason to use pop-ups, or flashy, animated, smiley things on a business blog.
I visit lots of sites every day, and each time I visit a site that flashes at me, my immediate reaction is “Where am I, and, is this site doing something horrid to my computer?” I usually leave pretty quickly. This is not the message you want to send to potential customers.
While there are various reasons businesses set up blogs, the majority don’t do it to make money. Mostly, it’s about creating a space for like minded folk to visit, or establishing authority in a specific field, or passing along knowledge. If you are starting a blog for any of these reasons, try to avoid putting advertising on your site.
However, if you do decide to use advertisements, try to keep them discreet and in line with your industry.
These blogs provide good examples of fitting advertising to subject, take a look:
On a final note, your business blog should offer different content from your website.
Leave all the sales talk and product pages on your website. Link to them of course, but use your blog to let people get to know you – the person – not your product/brand. Business blogs are all about putting a human face to your company.
If you can think of any fundamentals of great business blogs that I’ve missed here, I’d love to hear about them. I’d also love to hear your thoughts. Please consider leaving a comment below.
Next week in the BlogWell Files, we’ll tackle: Designing the perfect business blog and talk about layout, pages, categories and sidebars – the do’s and don’ts.
This is the fifth in a series of posts about how to blog well.
If you’ve missed the first four, you can find them here:
- Blog Well Files – Part 1: Should Small Businesses blog? Hell Yes!
- Blog Well Files – Part 2: The Blog Plan
- Blog Well Files – Part 3: Choosing a Blogging Platform
- Blog Well Files – Part 4: Creating a blog Strategy
If you like this post, consider subscribing to our feed so you don’t miss out on the rest of the BlogWell series over the next few weeks:
Part 6: Designing the perfect business blog
Part 7: Developing an editorial calendar
Part 8: Creating unique content
Part 9: Optimizing for search engines
Part 10: Submitting your blog to blog directories
Part 11: Participating in social media
Part 12: Codifying your blogging guidelines