Extreme Website Makeover (Part 2)

This is the second in a two part series. Part 1 is here.

In Part 1 I talked about redesigning Newsome.Org and shared some things I learned in the process.

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Here, also in no particular order, are some other things I have learned.

5) While a nice, functional design is important (for example, I love to read John Dvorak’s blog, but I find the layout and design, particularly the middle part where the primary content is, to be distracting), content is king. Content can be many things: new or helpful information, humor, or just your thoughts on the latest episode of Lost. In fact, several of the blogs I read regularly are primarily online diaries where the blogger discusses whatever happened that day. I used to have a friend (where are you Steve Garner?) who could tell a story about taking out the trash and keep the whole room enrapt. If you provide useful and interesting content, you will eventually get readers. Granted, it’s hard to think of something useful to say every day (much less several times a day), and post shrinkage is a common traffic killer. The saving grace is that every post does not have to be a full length article. People like to connect and maintain a connection. Even a short comment or interesting link will keep me coming back to the blogs I read.

6) Make it a 2-way street. I learned when developing ACCBoards.Com that you can get a click or two pretty easily. The trick is to create and encourage conversations. Once people start conversing, a community begins to form and people will spend more than a few seconds on the site. The so called “A-List” bloggers understand this, and they often carry on discussions about common topics spread over their sites. Once you get used to “talking” via trackbacks, comments and common topics, other people will join in. People turn into a group which turns into a crowd, etc.

7) Use media to enhance what you’re saying and doing. Castpost is an excellent site that will host video, currently for free. I have posted one old and one new video project here via Castpost and will post more shortly. Radio Blog is a free program that allows you to post audio files on your site.

8) Get indexed by Technorati even if its hard to get set up. If you keep trying, it will happen. Other sites like del.icio.us , PubSub and Bloglines can help add features and spread the word about your site.

9) Give love to get love. I always link back to sites that inspire me to write about a topic. I always link in my post to a site that I trackback to. If people comment on my posts, I try to comment on their site when I have something to add. Over time, other bloggers will come to recognize your name and be more likely to give you a link or two in return.

10) Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. Nothing turns me off more than someone who feels the need to tell me how smart or clever they are. Just be yourself and write about something you find interesting- if you’re smart and clever people will figure that out on their own. Few of us get paid for writing these blogs, so it needs to be fun or it’s a misuse of our precious free time.

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