I recently spent a good deal of time creating a presentation for a lunch and learn about what goes into creating a great business blog. In doing so, I looked at dozens, if not hundreds of blogs. From small businesses to huge enterprises to spunky non-profits, I came across a lot of really fantastic inspiration – and a lot of disappointment.
Did you know that companies with 101-200 pages generate 2.5x more leads than those with 50 or fewer pages?
I don’t think blogs get the design time nor consideration they’re due. Blog articles are usually top landing pages on websites (an article on this very blog that I wrote in 2011 is the second highest landing page for our site, for instance). They’re entry portals into the site, introductions to the organization and to the company’s voice. Take the time to get them right.
In my browsing, I came across some really strong elements of content and design that seemed to really set the great blogs apart from the mediocre or the you-didn’t-even-try blogs. Those blogs had generally higher reader engagement by way of commenting and sharing, and created a strong and consistent user experience that helps solidify brand identity and shore up credibility.
So, what makes a great business blog?
- They’re visual. The best blogs I visited used huge, impressive imagery, impeccable typography, and considerable (and considered) whitespace.
- They focus on content. Yes, our goal is to get people to sign up for something or to click a call-to-action, but the best blogs moved all of those extraneous goals out of the main viewport of the user.
- They are concise. Great blogs and great writers don’t waste words. If it’s not telling a story, it’s getting in the way.
- They are written for the web. Short paragraphs, bullet points, headers and subheaders to break up content.
- They encourage discovery. Easy to find search bars, related articles and lists of popular or recent articles help users dive into the archives and keep older content bubbling up.
- They’re updated frequently. The best blogs have articles published at least weekly and the best performing blogs publish at least daily.
- They’re personal. They encourage and support authorship from a variety of their employees and feature them with photos. They show Flickr or Instagram or other social feeds that help personalize and put a face on the company.
- They’re shareable. They make it easy and awesome for you to share their content, with properly formatted OpenGraph tags and images sized according to best practices.
- They’re responsive. The articles read as well on a phone as they do on your iPad in bed. That means that there’s plenty of padding, line-height is ample, and font size is big enough to be viewed at an arm’s length – not just that it shrinks to 320 pixels in width.
- They’re engaging. The best business blog posts get comments, and the best business blog authors respond to those comments and engage in two-way (gasp!) communication with their visitors.
So, what’s next?
It might be time to rethink your organization’s blog design and approach. Make sure that the pages that bring in the traffic are as aesthetically engaging and focused as your homepage. Spend the time to get it right.
Need some help? You’re in luck. It’s what we do.