Having a blog could be dangerous because, for many of us, the entire process of administering and maintaining can turn into an addictive task, one not being happy until a new post is published; moreover, the addiction may be acute and one will wait for the first reaction of the readers impatiently. Certainly, it’s not too difficult to become a blogging addict and, surprisingly, personally I do not consider it to be very negative (of course, it isn’t that good to have this “quality” but, compared to other problems, it is not the worst thing in the world). In fact, there are two sides of the same problem: if someone is skeptical, that person will have the tendency to say that spending too much time on a blog is a disaster and this “illness” needs to be corrected, but an optimistic person would say that the addictiveness is only a big passion and that is all.
Being objective takes a lot of effort but, my humble opinion, cumulated with the thoughts of other great bloggers, related to the problem of blogging, concludes to the fact that this is a time-consuming activity so the problem isn’t the addictiveness, it is mostly about how to be more competitive. Being a good blogger or taking care of a successful blog is a difficult job and the competition is terrible; users have so many possibilities that almost these can almost be mentioned as countless.
In the field of web design and web development there are numerous quality blogs, the competition is harsh but the positive aspect is that everybody has the possibility to gain visitors, recognition and new clients. Simply put, an outstanding blog attracts readers which are equivalent to a good income and potential bloggers come here to publish their works in order to receive the recognition and obviously, clients and money. This situation somehow forces to competitiveness and the winners are the readers who can discover good posts, interesting and useful tips and sometimes answers to their problems.
Being competitive means that the quality of post is high (easy to say, difficult to put into practice) but there are a lot of aspects which need to be taken into account in order to obtain more and more traffic. The posting scheme is simple: the most important web design blogs have daily posts to keep the readers informed and of course, on the blog. This sounds pretty ordinary but it means a fabulous work and few can resists to this rhythm because every detail matters.
Apparently, it can’t be too important but even the succession of the posts on a web design blog needs to be studied and improved in order to receive more visitors. Here, we have a short analysis of the types of posts and some guides about how to blend them in a successful format. Unfortunately, blending these carefully isn’t a guarantee for success, it is only a necessary condition in order to transform into a professional and appreciated web design blog.
These types of posts are highly appreciated by a lot of people and posting a useful one could bring a good amount of visitors to the blog. Usually, a quality tutorial is a complex and difficult project and it should be posted online, taking into consideration the targeted segment of the market. A tutorial that is too long is addressed more to the intermediate and advanced users; beginners can’t finish it to the end. On a web design blog, which is mostly for amateurs and beginners, it is for the best not to publish complicated tutorials even if they are of the highest possible quality, the readers won’t like it because they won’t understand it or couldn’t follow it to the end. In this case, for example, it is better to publish a tutorial about making a cool footer than a tutorial about making a full website, because the length and the level of complexity of the first is surely less than the last.
Following are some example of Tutorials post:
- Create a Sleek, High-End Web Design from Scratch
- Design A Print-Ready Promotional Ad
- Abduzeedo 2011 Poster in Illustrator and Photoshop
The main idea that stays behind a good tutorial is to offer all the details and complete explanations at the sequences where are needed and neglect these at the steps where every actions are too easy to describe. This concept is so simple but in reality it is uncontrollable; some readers know some tactics better, other people don’t understand or fail to read it carefully, missing certain details. A solution may be to offer all the details but this tutorial is mostly a long reading experience, with many boring aspects for the majority of people so I don’t recommend it at all.
The viable solution is to publish the tutorials according to the specificity of the blog or/and asking for feedback the readers.
Following are few examples of how to ask for the feedback of the readers.
- Innovative Uses of WordPress Post Types and Taxonomies
- Create a Simple Music Streaming App with Ruby on Rails
Tutplus embraced a good scheme which contributes to its success: at the beginning of each tutorial, the author offers few details about it, as the topic, the difficulty, even the estimation time to finish it (do you know, is there any other blog on the Internet which offers a better system of presenting a tutorial?). The readers can offer feedback and these options, which are indistinguishable contributed immensely to the transformation from the strict writer-readers relationship to a real and functional community. As I previously said, any blog needs traffic and, a strong community around, is the entity which can offer a good and constant number of readers.
Another major fact which has its role in the overall rating of a tutorial is represented by the images that are added to it. A good picture speaks more than a hundred words but here it can be even more valuable. A tutorial is more difficult to read that any other type of posts and all the attention of the user is required in order to finish it; think of an image as a substitute for a lot of boring text which fatigues any reader. An image or a screenshot is a possibility to check if, along the following a tutorial, the reader applied the techniques correctly.
Writing and posting a tutorial doesn’t mean that the job of the author is finished, it is almost impossible that all the readers fully understand it and usually they use the comment form to present their uncertainties. A good sign of the professionalism of both the blog and the bloggers is the quick and detailed answer to all the problems.
Following are the examples of how the authors interact with the readers to finish the tutorial.
A tutorial is very hard to write also due to the skills required, the author should be a very good user of an application but at the same time he or she needs to have a good ability to share the techniques in such a way that the post are comprehensible for everyone. Personally, I consider it the most difficult-to-write kind of post.
A tutorial is a very complex article which presents many technical aspects but usually it says nothing about the creation process or why the respective project looks in this particular way and not different. The type of articles which highlight the process of creating a design, a web layout or any other tasks is called project overview; these articles are very important for all the readers, being essential for any beginner. The presentation of the way of working is one of the most attractive types of posts because anyone can learn a lot of tricks. Unfortunately, these aren’t numerous because the author should be a talented and experienced person; otherwise, it is a loss of time if an amateur presents his or her creation schedule.
Few examples of project overview type tutorial post.
- Logo Design Process for Just Creative Design’s Logo
- Davidairey Personal Logo Design Sketches
- Logo Design Process and Walkthrough for Vivid Ways
I repeat that project overview is very important because it presents the working manner of a specialist and any beginner should pay attention to it in order to turn into a professional; if someone wants to be a web designer, he or she must act as a web designer. The good news about writing such a post, which must be written with responsibility and attention, is that the majority of them aren’t only enjoyed for some minutes; they are studied, learned and applied in practice. The length of a project overview isn’t very important but there is a plus when all the details are presented in a logical and complete manner.
2. In-Depth Articles
These articles are very important and any respectable web design blog should have few in-depth articles for each topic. The purpose of these is to offer a sustained point of view over a problem, it should make the reader understand why something is important or impart knowledge on how to do something.
Few Examples of in-depth article.
The main problem of these kinds of posts is the making of the structure; everything should be done in such a way that the reader enjoys the lecture but also not to lose focus. On the other hand, an in depth article can’t be short, nobody can express a complex problem in a few paragraphs and this is a harsh exercise for attention. The majority of the bloggers try to solve this dilemma by using small tricks, the most common being:
- The use of “aggressive headlines” with a clear and attractive message, but related to the content or else the reaction of the search engines spiders and of the public won’t be too positive;
- A very good segmentation of the text with many but well defined subtitles and paragraphs; think about the fact that your readers need only some parts of the post and not all of it;
- Put the essence of the post in the first lines, the visitors, in the huge majority of cases just scan and rarely read plus the spiders considers the beginnings of the posts more relevant than the rest of the article;
- Insert cool images in the article in order to assure an equitable balance between improving the concentration of the readers and helping them relax (take the example from here, this paragraph is pretty concentrated but the nice picture from bellow makes you to smile, relax but I hope that won’t make you lose the attention. (Picture 1 or Picture 2);
- Try to establish a dialogue with the readers, in this manner you can keep them engaged;
- Even if it sounds dangerous, be carefully and experiment new ideas- this means that any blogger should be courageous and original.
The problem of being understood by the readers isn’t as complicated as in the matter of the tutorials but there are enough points to make the authors worry. Here, comes in the language problem: writing a tutorial means many commands, specific words and few generalities while an in depth article needs a nice workflow of the words and a vocabulary that should be easily comprehended by the readers but rich enough not to repeat expressions and words.
The barrier between a case study and an in depth article isn’t too well established but there are some differences that are very clear. The written structure is pretty much the same but the information provided is presented in another way. An in depth article is informative while a case study is an “online debate”. This kind of post supposes the existence of a dilemma or a stringent problem, the presentation of it and the possible solutions.
Examples of Case study type post:
- Web Design Case Study – Refilmagem
- Case-Study: Make Web, Not War
- Case Study: Call to Action in Web Design Usability
The huge advantages of case studies are the strong interaction between the readers and the blog, usually these articles are followed up by a lot of comments; added up with an inspirational choice of the subject and a small ounce of good luck, the post can became viral. The negative points of cases studies are the possibility of being regarded by the readers as not interesting enough and this happens when the average visitor has no connection with the subject; so, as a very general tip, any blogger who is prepared to write a case study should be very attentive to the subject and the title chosen, it should definitely be eye-catching. The segmentation of the post can be more difficult than realizing but for an experienced writer it is the perfect challenge.
Another opportunity to find out how a specialist behaves and works is the interview. This kind of post isn’t found only in the web design blogosphere; it is a usual presence on any kind of blogs and also within mass media. Usually, the best actors in a field are presented to the users, many of the being worldwide recognized as the most talented ones and they should respond to various questions, a mix of personal and professional problems. Personally, I consider these as “active breaks”, an interview can’t offer much information or a strategy of improving the work process but it can be a source of inspiration or a small recreation.
Following are few references where you can find collection of interview related posts.
- 50 Interviews of Popular Web Designers, Developers and Founders
- Web/Graphic Designer Group Interview
- 94 Interviews With 39 Designers, Developers And Bloggers
There is a pretty logical structure of these posts: from a tutorial, anyone can learn how to practically realize a task, a project overview is the basis of how to act professionally during the work process and an interview can offer extra details about the work of a good specialist but also here there are other personal considerations and thoughts. Pretty logical, isn’t it?
3. Round-Ups (Inspirational/Featured Showcase)
These kinds of posts are, in my opinion, the best remedy for people who lack both motivation and inspiration. These are a collection of items, depending on the subject of the posts, usually the best and their purpose is to reveal to the readers and even to inspire them. A lot of bloggers aren’t considering these being worthy because, in this case, their work is minimized at finding the best set of inspirational resources. Letting down all these controversies, it has been demonstrated that these posts are highly appreciated by readers, the number of retweets and the positive comments being the best proofs.
round up is a good occasion to make well known various facts as websites, logos, headers, footers, digital works and so on and from this perspective selecting the proper presences in a post is a difficult task which supposes attention and responsibility. The merit of the author in writing a good inspirational showcase is to search, find and select the best items and the writing skills fall on the second plan. My opinion about rounds-up is that there are different from previous two (tutorial and in-depth ones), having different purposes so nobody should compare these; the first two are written to inform, the second one to inspire. The length of a round up isn’t too important because it won’t require too much interaction with the readers, it is for inspiration, a stimulus for creativity, and somehow it is the best article at the end of the week. Please use the comment form to share your opinions with us about this problem.
Following are few excellent round-ups post example from instantShift itself:
- 140+ Brilliant Free WordPress Themes Around
- 88 Brilliant Examples of Forced Perspective Photography
- 80+ Excellent Cinema 4D Tutorials and Best Practices
- 88 Brilliant Examples of Bokeh Photography
Another distinct category of rounds up are the posts which present a collection of tools, software, websites, applications needed in the process of design. These can’t inspire the designers but due to the great utility they are very appreciated by the readers and every blog insert in the schedule of posting such articles.
Any respectable web design blog, at the end of the year, at Christmas or at some special moments of the year should offer a gift to the readers, more than the quality of the information provided with the passing of time. These gifts, in most cases, are free Word Press themes, free icons, gradients, hosting or collections of business card templates or even more expensive things, obviously depending on the traffic received or the financial power of the sponsors. The participation of the readers is to put some words in the comment form and with good luck this can be the “ticket” of receiving the giveaway. In the most cases, the visitors become active and the traffic received is more profitable than the investment in a giveaway.
Following are the giveaway post examples:
The giveaways should be used mostly at the launch of the blog in order to bring instant traffic and to become well known but these should be used in a decent manner, or else the readers will compare you with a “free online shop”. Offering giveaways isn’t the same thing as lowering off the profit but it needs a serious investment of time to find eventual sponsors ready to offer their services for a small presentation. The most important blogs faces a contrary situation: the sponsors come with proposals of affairs and giveaways.
A clear understanding of the types of posts is another further step in establishing a good structure of posting. The most important factor in the equation of posting is, without any doubt, the audience; any administrator of any blog must study the reaction of the public and, when they react positively, the new posts should come to bring more about the subject. These generalities are important because they present the basis of a better system of posting but, once again, the reactions of the visitors are the imperatives of the future articles.
News & announcements
These posts aren’t worthy to be studied but they are important in the administering of a blog. A post which presents new information about the blog or the web design blogosphere should be classified in this category. Announcements are the posts which present new apparitions or novelties which can have influence in the field, being important for the readers. Definitely, this category is neglected by the readers because, apparently, it isn’t important but it has its role in the entire evolution of the blog.
Few examples of news or announcement type posts:
- Noupe Has A New Owner: Smashing Magazine
- Why The InstantShift Website Has Been Down for The Last Three Days
We are living in a perpetual and fast changing world and web design is also suffering this movement, even at a faster rate than the rest of the domains. Every day, new products or auxiliary tools are created and marketed for the designers and developers that nobody can know which is the best or suitable for a respective task. Web design blogs offer sometimes pieces of advice about a product and this is a real help in choosing the best solutions. A product review is invaluable when it is made by a specialist because it is an exercise mostly for the experienced people, the readers being the beneficiaries. No one should go to the other extremity, to abstain from any opinion but the happy situation is when a good professional writes a product review and the readers, no matter of the experience, debate its advantages/disadvantages by using the comment form.
Example of Product review posts:
- Review: Photoshop CS6 Beta
- Especially for MAC users: Google Chrome Review
- CNN’s New Website Design Deconstructed
The era of YouTube can’t be neglected and it has its own influences on the web design blogs. A video post can be any other type from above but due to the different format I should present in this list as a distinct category. Anyone is aware that the readers, when they see a web page/website/post for the first time they scan and if they find something worthy then start the “classical” reading. A video format has the benefit that it breaks this impediment and the user can focus his or her full energy towards the essence of the post and not by reading, which quickly fatigues the eyes.
Few example of video type posts.
- Social Coding with GitHub’s Tom Preston-Werner
- Scaling WordPress for High-Traffic
- 7 Must-See Web Design Videos and Presentations
- Explaining Creativity To Clients
Is Type of Posts Effected by Blog Design?
How should the perfect web design blog look like…?
First of all, if I or someone else would know the perfect recipe, we wouldn’t make it public and start applying it, a strategy must be created for each blog and it should be enough flexible to respond to the preferences of the readers. The idea of community is the binder which can be the most important factor in attracting heavy traffic; a reader which feels that he is welcomed and is part of a huge family will visit often the website than when he is only an ordinary reader from the thousands which come every day. Never neglect any of them as their requirements are orders for the bloggers.
Secondly, a schedule of posting must have a systematic approach, for a long time, to make the readers familiar with it. At the end of the week or at the beginning, it is better to publish something “light”, for example an inspirational showcase to relax and inspire any visitors. The mid week is perfect to post articles which are more difficult (tutorials or in depth articles) or contain more information because the users reach their superior productivity.
It is only a model which is inspired from the most important web design presences from blogosphere so there is no obligation to follow it. I am very afraid that these are considered a merely expression in vain but the readers can accept any errors of strategy or even other problems but the quality of the post remains the main attraction of any blog. Every interested user of a web design blog can ignore a bad positioning of the logo or the difficulties in finding the search box if the posts are useful but will try another source immediately in case that that he isn’t contented with it.
In a nutshell, it is unfair to consider that maintaining a web design blog is an easy task, a lot of observations and studies are needed because the competition is stringent and each post should be considered as another try to persuade the fans that your blog is the best of the Internet.