The benefits of a well-designed blog
You know the refrain—content is king. Well, I say that if content is king, design is queen. After all, it is really the queen who tells the king what to do (right, ladies)? Having spent my morning and afternoon commutes for the past few weeks listening to a podcast on Eastern Roman Emperors, history certainly proves this to be the case (much like I’ve just proven myself to be a huge nerd).
The reason that design trumps content is that first impressions are everything. Take a job interview: your potential boss has already decided whether or not he/she wants to hire you 30 seconds after meeting you. In this situation, you at least have 20 minutes to an hour to persuade him/her otherwise. With the Internet, shoddy design is just one click to the “back” arrow away from yet another unemployment check.
Granted, without solid content, readers aren’t going to stick around very long. So that’s important too. However, good design implies professionalism, and professionalism implies trustworthiness. I don’t really care about the design of, say, beer blogs or food blogs, because those aren’t professional and don’t aim to be; my career is not going to be made or broken based on what my favorite food blogger writes.
However, I do read social media blogs for professional development. Social media isn’t medicine or law– anyone can promote themselves as a social media “expert.” A well-designed blog implies a certain degree of seriousness in the topic, as templates, hosts and domain names cost time and money to set up. I don’t trust advice and information I receive from most blogs that don’t own a domain name for this reason.
Sure, there are exceptions. Seth Godin’s blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) is hosted on typepad. Typepad. However, other social media thought leaders argue against free. Chris Brogan “promotes the hell out of Thesis” for a reason: sure, it helps with SEO and they pay him, but his site just looks nice. A post by Ben Spark on BloggingTips.com, the post which inspired this post, visually shows what a difference a little design can make.
So, I’m going to continue my search for a well-designed (but free) theme for my current blog and all subsequent blogs.