The Unknown Blogger and First Impressions
Posted by Jason Spector on June 30th, 2006.
In “Leaving An Impression“, Steven Teskey addresses some important issues regarding brand identity and your perception in the greater on-line universe. But just as important as your lasting impression is your first impression, which is the foundation of the following post.
When communicating with other bloggers through their web sites, I’m reminded how much first impressions have an impact. In the olden days of the telephone, I would unintentionally create an image of the person at the other end of the line and speak to them based on those sometimes false conclusions.
Now blogs have taken it to a whole new level by removing all vocal cues. What most readers are left with are the site design, branding, content, and writing style. And it’s that initial dependency on the design for those conversational cues - even before the other elements - which I find so intriguing.
- Is the layout rigid or fluid? Does that make you feel welcomed or defensive?
- Do the colors make the site seem aggressive (reds), intellectual (blues), energetic (yellows) or ominous (black)? Learn more about color.
- What reactions do you get from the blog’s name? Is it professional, intelligent, cute, angry, and/or immature? (By naming a blog simply, “Mike’s Blog”, the author gives even less information and allows more dependency on the design elements.)
I’ve personally made unintended assumptions about a blogger based on their design and writing style. Someone who I was convinced was an utter argumentative ass turned out to be a pretty nice guy and vice versa. I also found myself interacting with what I thought was a female blogger until I read through their comment strings. And although my reactions to these differences may by subtle, some people can have great variances in their conversations regarding gender, age, and/or race.
Why don’t I go to the author’s bio when I first enter the blog? Good question. The answer is in standard on-line behavior. Bloggers are no different than the millions on-line who read the news, check e-mail or visit retail sites. We just spend that time reading other blogs. In short blocks of time (usually at the start of the work day, lunch break, or the end of the work day), we quickly scan the headlines and continue on if we’re interested. Most of us probably don’t consider the bio until the need arises or time allows.
So what can you do to give your readers a more accurate reflection of you and a better blog conversation?
- Figure out who you want to be
Do you desire to be an expert in your field or a conduit for design issues and creative solutions? Do you want to stand out or be part of a community of peers? Make a list of your desired or actual characteristics.
- Find your audience
Are your core readers new to your subject matter, your professional/academic peers or the industry creme de la creme? Make a list of your desired readers’ characteristics.
- Design your blog
Create your visual design based on these choices, supporting color palettes/imagery and good blog usability practices. (Jakob Nielsen | David Armano)
I know that this is an oversimplified list, but it makes the necessary points. Before you design a blog or quickly grab an available template, think about whom you are and who you want your audience to be. Remember that people judge websites almost instantly upon initial viewing. In the case of blogs, that decision will influence how your readers speak to you or if they want to speak to you at all.
This article can also be found on Spectorbrain.com
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