Does blog design matter? Part 1

I believe with religious ferocity that design is going to become even more important in the coming years than it is today. We’re well into a world of parity products – competing items that basically all do the same thing, ie cell phones, blenders (ummm blender drinks…), cars, etc. How do you differentiate your product in this environment? Price, features, and design. Of these options, design makes the most sense from a bottom line standpoint. Obviously, lowering price only works so far. Same with adding features. Design can add value, and increase margins. One word proof? iPod.

How does that relate to the blogosphere? It’s early days, but I think the same will hold true, only more so. Let’s assume you are a business owner, and your blog, while personal, is related to your livelihood. You’re an accountant who wants to keep in touch with your clients about changes to tax law. Or a baker with a passion for special cakes, and you think your passion will help grow your business. Whatever.

Right now, I bet there aren’t that many bakery blogs (I know of at least “one”:http://www.bubbyrosesbakery.com, I built it!). But with the “blogosphere doubling in size every five months”:http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000299.html you don’t have to be a math wiz to know it won’t be long before bakery web sites are a dime a dozen (sorry, couldn’t avoid the pun). The example breaks down a bit here, as bakeries tend to be regional, but bare with me.

So how does our accountant/baker differentiate his site? Well, content of course. Content is king (say it 10 times, NOW). But content is only good if you can read it. And content will only be read if it can be found, and it engages the reader. Insert standard usability info here.

Design is important in the blogosphere now, but it is roughly 1% as important as it will be in a very short time.

What is the state of design in the greater blogosphere right now? I’m glad you asked. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be looking at the top 10 sites on “Technorati’s”:http://www.technorati.com Top 100 list, to analyze how well designed the sites are. I’ll note strong points, and where relevant point out areas that can be improved. Most importantly, I’ll note how I think the designs will change as competition increases. Stay tuned for more.