Designing a Blog About A Well-Designed Life

Roanoke Ruminations: Initial Design Strategy

Aesthetics – I want to create a simple, dare I say elegant, lifestyle blog. As the content of this blog will mostly be about furnishing a first house, it will be heavy on colorful pictures. Because of this, I want the site to be an art gallery of sorts. One with muted colors and clean lines to showcase and not distract from the pictures. To achieve this, I plan to use a gray color scheme, two columns and a fixed width. I must confess, I want my blog to be similar to the Smithsonian’s Collections blog. I think it does a marvelous job of weaving pictures through descriptive verbiage and is not cluttered with advertisements:

 

After perusing through many themes on WordPress.org, I have found three contenders:

Functionality – This will not be a complicated blog and therefore won’t require heavy usability testing. I plan to have a clearly-defined tabbed menu at the top, a search bar in the upper-right-hand side, a chronological series of posts in the left-side column, a word cloud of key words in the right-hand column, post categories listed underneath, and a blogroll at the bottom  (maybe). In regards to plugins, I think post editor buttons would be helpful and no self-pings. I’m a big advocate of cross-linking, whether it be to outside blogs or to my own posts, but don’t want WordPress to tell me that I have linked to myself every time. A little irritating and not very necessary. I’m still searching for a good word cloud plugin:

Audience – I think my audience will be primarily local (Seattleites), but with a few out-of-state domestic mavens and mavericks visiting from time to time. Who will they be exactly? Adults that are in their mid to late 20s onwards. That said, most 20-somethings don’t own homes so I think mostly 30-somethings will be my core audience. Of those 30-somethings, I expect them to be mostly ladies since they tend to nest more than men.  Of those 30-something ladies, I think they will be a diversified mix of singles, marrieds, mothers, professionals, childless, etc. According to Nielsen, my market segment would be the following (to name a few):

  • Travel & Antiques, Upper Mid Older Mostly w/o Kids
  • New Money, Upscale Middle Age Family Mix
  • Home Sweet Equity, Upscale Older Mostly w/o Kids
  • New Nests, Upper Mid Younger Mostly w/ Kids
  • Settling Down, Midscale Younger Family Mix

There are many market segments that would probably like my blog in Nielsen’s enormous list of market segments.

Competition – There are a ton of lifestyle blogs out there. That said, there aren’t a ton of “Seattle” lifestyle blogs. The following is a popular Seattle lifestyle blog, and the other two are nationally popular blogs:

  • Fresh Jess, “I started this blog in 2008 while I was the events director at the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. There, I produced hundreds of events and programs for the Seattle business community, and was exposed to even hundreds more. My blog was created as a means for sharing all of these great events with my friends, colleagues and people who might be interested in them.” This is a competitor because it’s Seattle-focused, although it covers local events… something that I’m not going to focus on.

 

 

  • Life of Style, “Interior designer, collector, admirer and lover of all things beautiful in life…rooms with color, pattern, traditional with a twist, a little bit of that and a little bit of this.”This is a competitor because it is house-beautiful focused. I really like the two-column layout, it definitely has the gallery feel that I’m going for.

 

  •  A Beautiful Mess, “A Beautiful Mess is a Style blog that focuses on creating a beautiful life. My goal is to promote an inspired lifestyle through fashion, handmade and pretty things.”This is a competitor because it is a hodgepodge of lifestyle musings, something I plan to do on my own blog. However, I’m not planning to cover all the same topics that this site covers. I like the vibrant pictures and nicely tabbed organization. However, the jumble of pictures is kind of a…mess. Perhaps that’s exactly what the blogger is going for. Is it beautiful? For me, not so much.

 

 

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