Post #72

King Blog

11th December 2003, mid-afternoon | Comments (22)

If you looked through my browser history you could be forgiven for thinking that little else exists on the Web except blogs: personal blogs, group blogs, photo blogs, audio blogs, poetry blogs, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

Bearing in mind their prolific and influential nature, I find it interesting that blogs seem to be spared the criticism the rest of the Web comes in for — in the wider world we seem to highlight flaws and failures in sites, whilst in the blogging world we only highlight success and innovation.

If a corporate or services site looked awful and was hard to navigate, we’d leave in a moment, but with blogs we seem content to see past the (often awful) designs, and to struggle with (often very) un-intuitive controls, just to get to the words of the author.

Hundreds of thousands of blogs break the ‘rules’ of web design all the time, and yet we don’t seem to care. Us. The people that shout about those design ideals on a daily basis. Admittedly I sometimes come across a site that tries my patience too far and I click away, but on the whole I’m willing to put up with a lot when on the trail of a good read.

I find that interesting, and I guess it goes to re-enforce that old adage, that content really is King.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Scrivs:

    I myself have been contemplating this scenario. I think the issue is though that corporate sites are supposedly done by professionals who are experienced in web design, while a lot of time with blogs you are not sure if the person is aware of design at all. I admit that most of the "programmer's" blogs out there could use a little tidy up.

    With my recent redesign I began to see some critical flaws in both my layout and structure and that is why the redesign was needed. Most designers seem to forget that their site is also a website, yet since it is "personal" they can do whatever they want...yet they still want people to come and read what they have to say. Odd.

    Posted 16 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  2. Dunstan:

    "Most designers seem to forget that their site is also a website, yet since it is "personal" they can do whatever they want...yet they still want people to come and read what they have to say. Odd."

    That does seem to be a paradox of sorts doesn't it (doesn't it?).

    And I'm not claiming my blog is wonderful or anything, but this all came home to me today when I was reading a site I like and I thought: no permalinks, no meaningful titles to the posts, no comments, no design, no easy way for me to find past posts... yet I always go back and read the content. I'd _never_ do this with anything else :o)

    Posted 22 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Scrivs
  3. Scrivs:

    Hmmm, care to share the site.

    Posted 1 hour, 8 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  4. Dunstan:

    It's a secret ;o)

    Posted 1 hour, 13 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Scrivs
  5. Zelnox:

    Nah, this blog is very nice. However, the image header usually loads last. >_<

    There are many _popular_ blogs that I find unpleasing to the eye, or even ugly. Yet the content must be exceptionally good for visitors to return. (I force myself to go there, but, it is awkward every time. Perhaps this is blogcism? Hehe. There is some definite prejudice -_-;;;;; )

    Posted 1 hour, 13 minutes after the fact
  6. Keith:

    I think blogs in general warrant a different design approach than many "corporate or services site" do. The focus is much more on the content and many blogs don't need what would be considered traditional persistent navigation.

    I'm not sure what would constitute the "right way" to design a blog -- but my guess is that is still being worked out. I do know that what makes a blog usable is much different than what makes a site like Amazon usable. Oh and I'm a firm believer in the fact that there are no rules when it comes to Web design, blogs or otherwise. Guidelines (sometimes) yes, rules no.

    I realize this statement is fairly obvious but different audience, different goals and all the rest warrant a different "type" of design. I know when I talk about Web design on my site (all the time) I'm not usually talking about "blogs".

    I'd be very interested to see how a user interacts with my site, and other blogs. All I have to go on to base design decisions on is my own use of other blogs and user feedback. For the most part I think I know what makes a usable blog -- and it's not the same thing as what makes most Web sites usable. Also -- like you said -- if the content is good enough, I'll deal with a hard to use blog.

    Posted 3 hours, 11 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  7. Dunstan:

    Keith, I agree with you that designing a blog/personal site and a corporate site are two different things, but I still think that unless you're trying to be deliberately oddball, there are certain underlying principals which you should (or would be best to) stick to: clear navigation, logcial structure and so on.

    I guess maybe what I'm trying to get at is not that I'm suprised many personal sites are badly built (that's not at all suprising, not everyone's a web designer) but that blogs, generally, just don't get critiqued the same as other sites.

    It may, or may not be true, it's just something that wandered in to my head today :o)

    Ah, and I see you've been talking about blog design on your site too:

    Posted 5 hours, 16 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Keith
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  8. Tom:

    Well my take on it is this. Did you notice that the word "blog" sounds funny? I mean think about it ... blog ... blog ... blog ... it's a funny word!

    Posted 5 hours, 38 minutes after the fact
  9. Keith:

    Dunstan - We're basically on the same page here. Although I'm not sure blogs don't get critiqued as much, maybe it's just not out in public. I know I get all kinds of feedback about my site, much of it criticism. Then again, it's kind of hard to critique a personal site in lots of ways for obvious reasons. It's almost like a personal attack at times, so maybe that has something to do with it. But you're right. Good content can overcome quite a bit.

    For some reasons "blog" = personal site a lot of the time, which brings me to my next point.

    Tom - I hate the word "blog". It's often confusing and doesn't always make sense. I mean there is a "weblog", there is the ACT of "blogging" and then there is "blog" technology which can be used in many, many ways aside from "blogs" or "blogging".

    All by itself "blog" is a fine term, but it seems to carry a meaning and a connotation that more often than not isn't really correct. Not that it matters -- we're stuck with it! ;)

    Posted 5 hours, 52 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan, ↓ Dunstan
  10. Dunstan:

    Keith, you're right about the personal attack thing, maybe that explains it all. And as for the language use, I am _terrible_ at using the correct terms - when I did Sport Science at university this used to happen a lot:

    "So, the muscle connects to the leg and-"

    "The what!?"

    "The leg?"

    "We don't call that bone, the 'leg bone', Dunstan."

    "Yeah, alright, the thingy, wassit called? Lemur? No, that's a monkey... Femur! The the muscle connects to the femur, and-"

    "_Which_ muscle connects to the femur?"

    "... The... the leg muscle?"

    I'm usless :o)

    Posted 6 hours, 34 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Keith
  11. Sian:

    So ... I can expect an email as a non professional web type person (who has paid for hosting services, a domain name, a donation to my blogging software and spent a considerable amount of time updating, uploading and fretting) telling me that I'm breaking the 'rules'?

    Posted 8 hours, 10 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan, ↓ Scrivs
  12. Dunstan:

    Dunstan: "Hundreds of thousands of blogs break the 'rules' of web design all the time"

    Sian: "...telling me that I'm breaking the 'rules'?"

    No Sian, and as you'll see in one of my later comments, I didn't mean rules-rules, but rather self-evident rules like "Don't use yellow writing on a purple background for your whole site" (though that's a bit of an extreme example). No-one's gonna throw you in jail, but as a common sense design rule, it's one you should really follow (providing you want other people to easily view your site of course).

    I think it's like Keith says, people do still critique personal sites, but maybe they don't do it so publically since it's a comment on an actual person as opposed to a faceless company or someone like Bill Gates who won't ever really hear about it.

    I could go visit your site now and point out things I think are wrong, just as you could do here, but I guess we don't because we're being polite about it.

    Oh well, I don't have anyone to talk these thoughts through with here you see, so sometimes they come out in posts :o)

    Posted 8 hours, 25 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan, ↑ Keith, ↑ Sian
  13. Scrivs:

    I guess it depends on what the "rules" are.

    Posted 8 hours, 26 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Sian
  14. Sian:

    "No-one's gonna throw you in jail"

    Thank god for small mercies *cough*

    Posted 9 hours, 35 minutes after the fact
  15. Scott Johnson:

    "content really is King."

    I totally agree here. Corporate sites are there only to provide a service to customers of a corporation. As a business that depends on customers in order to survive, a corporation has a responsibility to provide the consumer what he needs via the web. This means a usable site with links for support, contacts, etc.

    But with a blog or other personal site, there is no such obligation. The site creator is not obligated to provide anything to the reader. He's merely writing because he wants to have his voice heard. And we're reading because we like what he has to say. So naturally we can look past poor designs.

    There are definitely a few poor designs on my blogroll, but typically I don't even notice. RSS feeds and aggregators make all sites equal.

    And nobody is going to comment on the bad design because it really doesn't matter. Blog design is often in one of two categories: a default template or an expression of personal taste. Either way, you can't fault the site creator.

    Posted 12 hours, 16 minutes after the fact
  16. Zelnox:

    Maybe people are being polite and do not want to hurt the blog owner's feelings by saying "it's oogleeeeeeeeeee".

    But if the blog is not getting any "wow, great job" type of comment, it is implied that "the blog sux".

    Posted 15 hours, 15 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Jack
  17. Patricia:

    I think it sort of depends on the vent of the blog writing and the audience. I've read some pretty critical comments about a blog's design, but it's always been on blogs that tend towards the technical end of things. I've actually been taken aback a few times by how blunt people are about expressing their dislike of a redesign.

    If it's clear that a person hasn't taken the time (for whatever reasons) to work on the blog's design, is there really any point in commenting on it? I don't think so. You either like the writing enough to put up with the wackiness or you move on.

    Posted 16 hours, 45 minutes after the fact
  18. Jack:

    "Maybe people are being polite and do not want to hurt the blog owner's feelings"

    That's the way I see it too. People will design with their content in mind and when the content is their own thoughts then the design will get sorta personal as well. It's almost like telling someone they dress badly or the new clothes they spent hours picking out actually suck.

    Posted 3 days, 18 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Zelnox
  19. Matt:

    The only thing I care about when designing my personal blog is if I like it. At times in the past it has been something few people like, right now it seems to be something more people agree with me in liking. I think this is not because my goals in designing it have change, I think it's more that my tastes have become more discerning and my knowledge a bit more extensive. People who are slaves to their audience tend to have pretty boring blogs. Write, design, create for yourself and the audience will follow.

    Posted 4 days, 3 hours after the fact
  20. Tara:

    Some people don't create blogs entirely for other people to read. Some people are just expressing themselves in the same way they would with a private journal, but know that it's a bit different because there's a chance that someone else might read it. Just because *someone* *might* read it doesn't mean that the blog's main purpose is to be read by others.

    Corporate Web sites are more likely to be criticised because they actually spend time and money on the site and expect a ROI etc. etc., whereas people who do blogs are doing it in their spare time and may not have the time/money to fix it up constantly (on top of posting all the time). Bloggers don't necessarily have the same expectations of their blog as a company does of their Web site.

    Posted 5 days, 1 hour after the fact
  21. Owen:

    blogs are mostly a web user expirence. almost like mm flash when it got popular (I mean "meaningfully popular" not "overly popular"). that's all I have to say.

    Posted 5 days, 6 hours after the fact
  22. Scottbp:

    I work long hours in web design, and I have to admit that when it comes to my blog I often can't be bothered. Sometimes I just wanna write, and not have to worry about it...

    Is this common? Who knows? I keep feeling that I should actually do something interesting with it but then I work until 8pm and by the time I have schlepped all the way home... not a whole lot happens.

    Posted 1 week after the fact

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