7 Keys to Websites and Blogs that Engage (Why Blogging is not dead - but Alive and Well)

7 Keys to Websites and Blogs that Engage  (Why Blogging is not dead - but Alive and Well)

Finding the Sweet Spot in today's Blogging world.

Before I share how websites and blogs succeed in engaging today's crowd, in today’s economy, it’s important to set the record straight. Note: While I’m not an “experienced” blogger — I am sharing from my personal experience as a novice blogger — and my experience flies in the face of what many experts are saying. I am, however, very experienced in business, marketing and consulting, and there are things that, well... I just know.

Palms in the Sun - Leslie Brown

With that understanding… here is my commentary on my experience as a blogger, for all of 4 months. The experts say not to expect any real traffic for about a year. I’m seeing far better than I (or they) expected. I'll review this at 6 months in and report on my progress. 

My decades in business serve me well — giving me clues as to why this is happening. Not just a few - but a ton - of new and recent blogger beginners are getting amazing traction in this so-called dying communication platform.

For me, being a recent newcomer to the blogosphere universe, has brought its share of dismal discoveries. Yet, surprisingly, the dismal predictions have far underperformed up against the actual reality I’ve experienced, thus far.

Let’s explore, shall we?

Imagine you’ve just invested in a Blockbuster (DVD rental) franchise, to be in business for yourself (not that they ever offered franchises, but work with me) only to discover a few weeks into the opening of your store, that Netflix (online streaming) is predicted to make Blockbuster extinct. Well, it did. And we can surmise how it would feel to see the path ahead look bleak, and go totally dark.

That's how I felt about 2 months into this adventure. Daunting, to be sure. 

While product innovation is most certainly dependent upon research and development - in today’s world - it must also be attractive, have good design and deliver a memorable experience. Of course, beauty and design are in the eyes of the beholder, but in general, the world declares in a unified voice what it deems to be attractive.

AS THEY SAY… DRESS TO IMPRESS

Lido Sea Oats - Leslie Brown

Think Apple - and what happened to our experience with “mobile phones” when the iPhone first came on the scene. Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer at Apple, has been one of the greatest influencers in this movement. His vision gave people a great experience with something that (before) was just a functional gadget, and reinvented it into something of beauty. When we watched Jony Ive explain his vision for the design, we felt his sincerity, and his passion. And it attracted the world-at-large like a magnet. It completely reinvented what the former experience looked and felt like - along with what it would do for us. People have been attracted to this in epic fashion. So far, the attraction is growing. While everyone is not an Apple fan or user, those who are - know why they are - and the affinity continues to spread.

BLOGGING IS ALIVE AND WELL.

There is a trend in the resurgence and reinvention of blogging (which is not dead, but experiencing revival). It’s not (just) about the quality of the content - which is certainly the buzz phrase, today. It’s also about the attraction to the design, and the experience while you’re there (on the blog site).

Saturday Fun Town - Leslie Brown

Yes... as the experts say - the content must be focused and of quality that delivers value. But when the “design & experience” resonate with the message of the content — magic happens. Not overnight, miraculous magic, but the feeling of the experience keeps people coming back for more. 

The Look. The Feel.

Think of the times, (for me they are countless) that we’ve encounter a message from a blog or website that completely resonates, but the experience does not. The look, the feel, the whole vibe of the blog or site just doesn’t “connect”. The site is usually busy, convoluted, stale-looking; it’s overwhelming as far as what to focus on — and difficult to navigate. The moment we found a similar message combined with an experience (due to great design) - we are hooked, often without even realizing it. We become a fan, a client, a customer or a follower - because we enjoy the experience of reading, viewing or listening to what they had to say, as much as the content of the message.

I’ve landed on countless “old school” blogger sites through the years that blogging has been with us - and honestly, just didn’t see or feel the attraction. I realize many today still feel that way. But what I’m witnessing now is a resurgence of blogging with millennials who have been raised in the “design and experience” era. The iPhone was first released in June 2007. A 25 year old blogger was 17 at the time iPhone came on the scene. They are now accustomed to the attraction of excellence in design, and how it transcends marketing or advertising, along with homes, cars and landscaping. Our most personal products and services we use daily (usually) have an attraction (or experience) factor that adds to their value. 

Kansas Field Scenery - Leslie Brown

We see the "design & experience” evident in communication mediums through blogging, websites, education, conferences - online and offline. It means that we are creating, and delivering, to our audience with their experience in mind. 

The personal experience of the audience is paramount, and becoming just as critical as part of the value equation. 

With this experience in consideration — here are:

7 KEYS TO WEBSITES OR BLOGS THAT ENGAGE:

  1. Be "easy-on-the-eye". (simple and clean design and flow — on all devices)

  2. Use quality imagery. Photos and videos must be high quality - attractive, unique and cohesive. Sidenote: Videos done on smart phones that look like it’s someone who is in the “witness protection program” can ruin a well done site. Photos need to be consistent high-quality images. It’s not a good idea to skimp on this.

  3. Use a color palette that “works together”. (Get input on this if it's not your forte).

  4. Keep the branding consistent with the design experience.

  5. Exude authenticity and sincerity with content. Deliver a personable - and consistent - experience.

  6. Deliver value to the reader, or audience. (It’s speaking to and connecting with their core needs or interests).

  7. Stop the "ads madness". One, maybe two ads on a page is tolerable, but if a page has more than that - we are outta there.

THINK (ALWAYS) DESIGN AND EXPERIENCE.

Use discretion, to that end.

Chairs in Waiting - Leslie Brown

In the event a blog or website does not deliver all of the above, it will get visitors, and yes, it will attract an audience - just at a slower pace. But those sites that do deliver on the above, will see remarkable growth — and they are the ones that have found the "sweet spot" in the convergence of content, design and experience. 

Another case in point. Medium. Have you seen it? How is it different, and why are many attracted to it over other news or curated content sites?

It’s the content, yes — but the content combined with the quality of the design, and the experience.

Is it attractive to the eye? Is it a great experience while you’re reading?

Docks Bathed in Gold - Leslie Brown

It’s no accident that many of the reinvented or redesigned blogs (that are making headway) have similar elements as to “what works” relating to the success of "Medium". 

There will be many opportunities to update this experience, as I’m only 4 months old in this world. In fact, it will be fun to look back, while moving forward, and share the results — 
from a novice.

Old dogs really can learn new tricks, y’all.
Just making a few sparks fly… that’s all.

Surely… you want to share this with someone who is trying to do something new, and wants a great web presence, right?

Thank you - ‘cause I thought so.

Until next time…