Rethinking Blog Design: Magazine vs Diary

The traditional blog design is ripe for change.

More so if you blog professionally or for a business.

Why?

Because the blogs are not what they were in the beginning.

Blogs started as online diaries before they became the space to publish ‘content’ and take a brand’s business forward.

How the posts appeared and still appear in the default blog design structure served the online diarists. The posts are displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the page. This served the blog owners because the readers were friends and family for individuals and they cared more about the present than the past.

But in the current times, blogs have evolved as tools for business growth. And this structure does not serve the goal of growing a business.

Then the goal of business is served when the new readers who are potential customers see the content the business wants them to see and the newest piece of content may not be the right for new readers to start their relationship with that business.

New goals need new blog structure and design.

New Better Structure For Your Business Blog

Start with what your major goals are with blogging.

They can be establishing credibility., promoting the content you want them to discover and also pleasing the search gods (aka search engines).

To meet these goals you need to think a magazine instead of a diary. A magazine that has a new issue every month or every quarter.

With this design, your blog landing page should change every month or every quarter. This new design should showcase your best content up front. Doing this will win you the trust of fly by visitors and motivate them to come back and engage.

A blog structure like this also helps you plan your content calendar better. Even if your posting frequency is low, you can surface good content and keep it in front of new users for long.

Search engines these days favor definitive posts over posts that are short. Because when users come across shallow posts that do not cover a topic well they tend to look elsewhere. Search engines notice this and place your site lower than the sites where users stay longer.

With this new design, you don’t need to worry too much about the posting frequency. Instead of posting 100 mediocre posts in a quarter, publish 10-15 definite long-form posts. Then serve them to readers in a way so that they are able to go through them one by one, in any order you want.

For example, if you have a major event or a webinar coming up, or if you are launching a new book or product you can use your blog to introduce people to it.

Forward-thinking brands understand this and their blogs showcase this thinking.

Two brands that do this well are Intercom and ConvertKit. Intercom is a billion-dollar SaaS business that serves enterprise customers. ConvertKit is an email marketing software startup with $18 million in annual revenues.

If you go to the Intercom blog, you’ll notice that they put their podcasts upfront even before the blog posts. There are no dates on most of the content showcased there.

ConvertKit has taken magazine advice to heart. They have fashioned their blog as a magazine called Tradecraft.

At first look, it will look very different than a usual blog design. Along with audio content, it also features the books they have. They also showcase feature writers to win customer trust, by showing that there are blog posts are written by their company leaders.

Every issue focuses on one angle that serves its customers. It features stories (blog posts) related to that theme. The recent one focused on email marketing for online creators. All the posts in this issue are long-form with the shortest having a reading time of 12 minutes. But most have a reading time upwards of 18 minutes.

If a reader wants to learn about a different theme, they can go back to old issues. Because the advice is evergreen these posts will still be relevant years after they are first published. Every few years, Comvertkit can update posts to make sure that all links work and information is timely and on point.

Why This Is More Important Today

We are living in times when the content marketing landscape has changed. It has become costly and competitive to make your content stand out.

I have paid up to $1000 for a 1000 word content piece. Big brands invest even more in the content they put out. The bar for what is good content is really high so along with money a lot more effort and expertise goes into creating a blog post that can stand the test of time. 

If you invest all the money and effort into putting out a mega blog post, and only 10 people see it because of the default blog design, does it help?

There Is More To It Than Design But Design Is Where It Starts.

Design cannot do it all for you. You need to invest time and effort in promoting what you write. There is work you need to do on the search optimization front but once a user comes to the site design will guide them and help them discover the content you want them to.

So, the design is at the core of helping users discover your content.

If you blogging and content marketing part of your business strategy then hope you’ll take time to rethink the structure of your blog.

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