Blogging as Web Writing

I have been blogging for about two years (ever since Weblogs & Wikis). I've changed the theme of my blog multiple times -- from makeup, to photography, to poetry, to crime writing. Currently, my blog is a hodge-podge of things, mainly a portfolio for my photography and writing which also contains a bit of crime-writing. I've also spent lots of time browsing other's blogs, which can be a toss-up, because of the sheer amount of blogs and the variety of creators. Blogging is relevant to digital reading, hypertext, and Krug's teachings because anyone can create a blog -- including people such as teenagers, bored moms, people who might not know much about writing/design, etc. These people can put their blog online for all to see and read, which is why it's important for the information and design to be highly readable and usable to any audience.

Krug in Application to Blogging

In Krug's "Don't Make Me Think", he discusses aspects of web writing and website format. A lot of his teachings actually apply accordingly to personal blogs of any nature. However, they also pose some challenges in blogging. For example, in chapter 1, Krug discusses readability testing; website creators pay regular citizens to see how readable their websites are. But when it comes to personal blogging, amateur bloggers likely don't have the funds for this, therefore they might not know if their content is readable, so they will just assume it is, and hope for the best. In Chapter 9, Krug discusses compiling a group of people to do this usability testing. He then explains the cheaper, easier concept of "DIY testing". For this option, at least one person should be tested, the tests can occur sooner rather than later in the project, and the cost is much smaller than regular usability testing.

There are also several of Krug's teachings that fit well into the blogging perspective of web writing.

Readability and Blogging

Krug explains the importance of creating content that allows users to find information quickly, without thought. However, with blogs, this is not often the goal of the reader. Upon opening a blog, users are more likely to casually browse, as opposed to rapidly searching for an answer to a question. Although, there are some times when information is desired by users and blogs can be a distracting format in which to find it. For example, recipes. When searching for a recipe online, it is primarily cooking blogs that will have the recipe you desire. But to find the actual recipe, you will likely have to scroll through a lengthy blog posting about the author making the food, as well as a plethora of aesthetic photos of the food posed in different ways.

Another form of blog-post that should generally be straight to the point is posts that contain lists. For example, "8 Things To Pack for a Tropical Vacation" or "5 Healthiest Cereals". In a blog post, the listed points will be in a bold font, with a small description or paragraph below the main point. This allows viewers to skim if they want, or read more in-depth if they want.

However, in many instances, blog posts are for reading, not glancing and skimming. For example, opinion posts, poetry, personal "diary entry" type of posts, etc. These posts are not meant to be skimmed through quickly, searching for specific information and answers.

Hypertext in Blogging
Michelle Rafter, a freelance writer who runs the blog "Word Count", which contains advice about web writing and blogging, posted this opinion piece about entitled "8 Essential Reasons to put Links in Blog Posts". She argues that adding links to blog posts can add credibility to your content, save time defining and explaining, and create traffic on your blog by linking your past posts.

This article, published by The Economist, discusses both sides of adding hyperlinks on web writing pieces. The question posed by the author being "do articles on the internet contain too many distracting links?" The article discusses Nicholas Carr, writer of The Shallows, and his thoughts on the subject of hypertext which he shares in a blog post, in which he writes "links are wonderful conveniences...but they are also distractions." Would Krug agree that hypertext links are too distracting for readers to find what they are looking for quickly and conveniently? Does it affect the readability of the piece? Carr favors the format of adding links in the article, but instead of adding them into the fabric of the article itself, instead putting the links at the end in a chunk, almost like ending citations.

Design Elements in Blogging

Content is king. Although it might be tempting to add whimsical fonts, bright colors and unconventional layouts, by far the most vital part of any blog is the content. Krug explains basic web writing layout "rules" in chapter 3, where he describes the importance of using conventional layouts as opposed to untraditional layouts that users will have to think about. Several conventions are not to be broken. For example, the logo, or in this case, the title of the blog, should be on top in center or in the top left corner. Creativity is good, but the original web design conventions are vital because people are familiar with them and understand them. Krug also writes in chapter 7 that the homepage is the first impression for viewers. It's important for users to see this as a non-cluttered, timely, non-confusing space where they can begin their search for content. On the homepage, viewers should be able to see the name of the blog and what type of blog it is (travel, food, etc.) The homepage should have a traditional layout.Here is an example of an unconventional blog layout, Ted Goranson's personal blog. Strange characters, aka buttons that are unclear, force viewers to read a paragraph about where each specific button leads to. This blog in general is a bit of a thinker.

This blog post discusses design elements and branding mistakes that can distract your readers. Although design and layout is important to the blog, content is the first priority. As Amber Simmons writes in Reviving Anorexic Web Writing, "The content is the heart of the website. I can’t build you a body until you give me a heart."
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