Seems like blog redesign is a “hip thing” these days … Problogger.net and JohnChow.com change their look drastically and Yaro Starak talk about future changes to his blog in last video post.

Am I the only one seeing a very obvious trend in these redesigns? Is my background of a webmaster clouds my judgment or am I spotting something that simply isn’t there. Well, let me point out few things and you be the judge …

What makes a good website:

  • Clearly defined sections
  • Easy to navigate and find content in its relevant sections
  • Front page as a “face” that presents main sections and perhaps latest news
  • Clear path that webmaster defines in attempt to guide visitor to the “most desired action”, whatever it might be.

Now, don’t get me wrong … not only do I see the model above as a flaw, I actually believe it to be very effective when properly implemented. But it is also what separates a traditional website from blog.

Blogs are more informal and less defined …. they were created to be the media of NOW. Media where post of the day is The News and follows format of a personal journal where blogger shares his thoughts, opinion and experience. And as any journal blogs follow chronological order for organization of information, which served its purpose …

That Is Until Blogs Became Profitable!

Search engines love blogs and drive traffic to it by picking up information in blogs faster then traditional sites. Link love shared by bloggers provides for better ranking and informal writing style draws people to reading them. And as the traffic flow increases – monetization opportunities increase proportionally. Blogs become business and for some profitable enough to become primary source of income.

But blogs also bring a problem that is actually built into its core design – information becomes hard to find as blog becomes older. Unless a reader was following your blog for a while they have no idea of the value you might provide and chronological organization, instead of sectional split makes this problem more obvious. Just imagine that reader has arrived to your blog through link to one of the posts that you had written to share your one time opinion and doesn’t necessary follows the general topic of your blog – that reader forms their opinion about your blog based solely on that information …

Attempts to draw reader deeper into blog are many and include splitting posts into categories, adding a tag cloud and many others. And perhaps one of the best posts on this topic can be found on problogger.net “Create a Sneeze Page and Propel Readers Deep Within Your Blog”. But all of the aforementioned are tactics to draw reader and not strategy used by regular sites to address this shortcoming.

Good websites are designed from day one to guide reader to a specific action or set of actions that webmater has in his mind. Framework is decided upon even before the content is added unlike blog, where content IS The Structure

Why am I telling you all this?

Simple. What I see now in new redesigns is another attempt to address shortcomings of the blog while keeping all the benefits.

  • Quite frankly I was disappointed to see what was done to JohnChow.com. For someone with an experience of a webmaster since before Dot Com Bust his new layout does nothing but annoys me. Where before it was a nice, clean cut blog that perhaps needed some sparkle – now that sparkle overtaken the blog and it looks so busy that after first minute of my visit I actually started looking for “scrolling marquee” and “blinking text”. Thank god it wasn’t there …
  • Darren Rowse did a great job with his redesign in my opinion and looks a lot more like a professional site then blog but also a bit busy with all the headlines that reminds me more of a news site then blog. But I guess it falls in line with his overall strategy, which is well executed I have to admit.

But hey … who am I to critique the “big guys” right? Wrong! I’m a blogger and you are reading my opinion 🙂 That is the beauty of the blogs! It is my domain and I can say whatever I want! Your opinion can be added in form of comments …

To summarize my post – what I see is a move of professional bloggers to the roots of webmastering. Presenting content in an easy to find format and highlighting the path they want visitor to follow. A great concept that will need to be worked into my own blog somehow … and when I have the time 🙂 I guess it will be a test for doing actual work and not critiquing others … as old saying goes “most rigorous critics are writers that couldn’t make it”