I wouldn’t consider myself a seasoned blogger by any means. I have only been “actively” blogging for about a year and some odd months. Over the past year I found myself going from 1 blog post a week down to 1 post a month. Have I run out of things to blog about? This seems impossible as I wake up to my RSS reader being populated by at least 50 different posts a day. If all of these other designers are able to find things to write about why can’t I?
It comes down to quality. This blog has seen it’s share of useless round-ups and showcases beginning with a number (15 white websites….5 things a designer…). I have come to a point within the online design community where I want to read less round-ups and showcases and more about industry knowledge. If I am craving real design knowledge surely other designers who read blogs regularly do as well. (Right?)
I haven’t run out of things to blog about I just haven’t invested enough time into thinking up quality posts.
What do readers and subscribers REALLY want to gain from reading design blogs?
Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to this question. To help us better understand the purpose of a design blog we have to first understand the authors. Design bloggers can be classified into four common categories:
#1 Statistical bloggers
#2 Educational bloggers
#3 Inspiration bloggers
#4 Industry bloggers
A statistical blogger may have many goals and ideas of what they would like to accomplish from the articles they write, but one of their main goals is to increase stats. These types of design bloggers are mostly interested in seeing a huge influx in their page views, retweets, clicks per minute, pingbacks, a spike in subscribers and many other analytics that they are able to generate from a single blog post. What is wrong with generating massive leads from blog articles? Nothing. The issue arises when design bloggers sacrifice quality for metrics.
Quality can be defined as useful information that is relative to the design industry. This information should be something that a reader can benefit from and bookmark for future reference. Statistical bloggers tend to overlook quality which is a key element in writing successful articles.
Statistical bloggers are good at what they do. They are able to take information irrelevant to our industry and make people look at it. This type of blogger has the potential of become very successful, but are they successful for all the wrong reasons? I think many designers who blog have fallen victim to a statistical post here and there. (I know I have!) These types of design articles are a surefire way to guarantee traffic to a design blog.
Educational bloggers are a must in the industry. These types of bloggers really give their readers a reason to read their articles and apply the information received to our professional life. Educational bloggers generally specialize in writing tutorial-based articles and/or usability tips.
Quality of an online design tutorial can be measured by:
Content – Is the tutorial easy to follow and well-written? Does it contain step-by-step images or video to support it’s copy?
Relativity – Is the tutorial relevant? Is it a tutorial that a decent portion of the online design community will benefit from? I can confidently say that I have seen too many irrelevant design tutorials. What portion of the design community wanted to know “How to draw a cartoon dragon in Photoshop” or “How to make a vector cat with a green mohawk in Illustrator”?
Originality – Has this tutorial been done before? If so, is your approach different? Is your approach better?
Educational bloggers provide a completely different source of online information for designers. Educational blogging is a real niche and if done correctly it can truly make it’s readers become better designers.
Designers who blog about inspiration get it right 70% the time and wrong 40% of the time. Inspiration on the internet can be delivered in different forms. Whether the articles about inspiration are setup as round-ups, showcases or interviews they are all intended to inspire ones creativity.
The 70%: Authors who blog about inspiration do get it right the majority of the time. This 70% success rate doesn’t necessarily apply directly to the author who found 50 links on the internet and dumped them into a post. The success is indirectly awarded to the 50 authors who took the time to create the inspiration that has been shared.
The 40%: Inspirational posts fail 40% of the time for two reasons.
They simply aren’t very inspirational. I come across “inspirational” posts weekly that aren’t inspirational at all. “20 inspirational dark websites” Are the websites actually inspirational or did the author simply visit CSSMania, search for black websites, pick the first 20 websites that popped up and slap the word “inspirational” into the title to give the post meaning?
The delivery lacks an explanation. I find myself looking through many “Friday Fixs” and “Weekly Roundups” at the end of my week and the majority of the time I am trying to really figure out why each feature in the roundup was featured. Sometimes a title and a link isn’t enough. If an author truly finds something inspirational I want to know why in hopes that it will inspire me as well.
One would think that knowledge of the design industry is something that is spread evenly throughout the previous three types of bloggers and it is! However, when I say “industry bloggers” I mean the industry stand-outs. The design bloggers whose blogs ooze with creativity and knowledge. The bloggers who are industry professionals and are humble enough to share their experience and knowledge for free via an open online forum. An author who falls under this category frequently posts articles outlining their design process on chosen projects, critiques, analyzes and shares current design trends and news and is always provoking conversation amongst their readers.
A true industry blogger really puts the quality back into online design blogs.
To the fellow design bloggers: What traits from all four of these categories do you posses?
To my readers who do not blog: wWhat makes a design blog worth subscribing to?