Lately I’ve noticed many magazines struggling with differentiating between the role of their main sites and their blogs. It’s a blurry line between the two and I’m not sure any platform has the answer. Before critiquing NYLON‘s blog it’s important to breakdown my perspective of the relationship of the two in general.
Why have a blog if you already have a website?
Since redesigning a website is a long, expensive and tedious process, many magazines choose to implement a blog. This allows the platform a more visually appealing site without the costs of a redesign. Also, according to SEO research, blogging original content pushes you higher in Google search results. Woo hoo!
More importantly, the major CMS for blogging has a very user friendly interface. Staff that might have trouble working in Joomla!, Drupal or Django can easily post content in WordPress. Admins can set a certain level of control for each user, thus limiting the likelihood of a backend “oopsie” from staff.
The blog serves as a way to connect each day with readers and start conversation.
The blog serves as a way to connect each day with readers and start conversation with them. It feeds the reader little tidbits and is just enough to wet their appetites. Say that a platform was working on an in-depth feature and wanted to let their reader know that they planned on covering it. They could write a short preview so readers could anticipate the story.
Content also works well as a follow-up for previously published stories or live coverage of events. For instance, if you wanted to give an account of a film festival that was occurring, the blog is the perfect platform (in addition to Twitter) for quick reporting. Since blogging CMS, such as WordPress and Tumblr, have a mobile apps, you can even whip up an article on-the-go. These tools provide journalists a way to connect unlike ever before with their audiences.
Problems with blogging:
The instantaneous nature of this medium makes it a lot easier to make mistakes and produce sloppy journalism. In print, an article might have four drafts before an editor decides it’s ready to publish. The editing process with blogs tends to be reverse: publish first, make revisions/corrections later. Journalists need to remember that accuracy and fairness trumps immediacy. Just because you can revise articles later, doesn’t mean you should make sloppy mistakes.
Abiding by these ground rules is obviously easier said than done. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it. I’m sure if you search this blog, you’ll find comma splices and disagreements with AP Style rules.
However, it’s important to maintain a balance between “writing for the web” and journalistic writing style. Blog content should be easier to read than a print article.
So, how effective is NYLON’s blog?
Kudos, NYLON. You’re doing a great job of engaging with readers and consistently producing content. For the past week, there’s been a minimum of 7 posts/day. It’s easy to subscribe to the blog and connect via social media. The content length is just enough to keep readers informed and coming back for more.
One thing that I don’t agree with is the use of “NYLON” on the top navigation of the blog. At first, I thought it was a CSS style telling me that that was the current page. Then I realized I was in a subsite. I can see how this could easily confuse the user and make them feel lost in the site.
A simple solution would be to include breadcrumbs indicating where the user was in relation to the main site. It would also be helpful if the “NYLON BLOG” link was styled larger/had a hover state different from the main “NYLON” link. I understand they want to direct traffic to the main site, but it confuses the user.
It’d be interesting to compare the blog’s analytics to the main site’s analytics. I’m willing to bet that returning traffic on the blog is increasing while Nylonmag.com is declining.