Blog Sites vs. Web Sites

An Expert Interview About Blog Sites:

A lot of businesses are adding blogs into their websites. As the technology is constantly advancing, a variety of effective marketing tools are becoming available for any business that has one. Many companies are also installing blog site templates from WordPress and TypePad as websites. As you know, I am a professional web designer, but I will often order templates to build on from a site that offers some of the best templates. (I love their templates because they use clean code, and the pages load quickly!) I interviewed:

Revka

Leading Web Template Design Expert, Revka Stearns. 

Since there are so many features becoming available, I decided to call in a WordPress Specialist to clear up a few questions we have about business blogging and help you decide which solution will work for you!

 

Amber: Hello Revka, thank you for taking the time to do this interview today. I would love to ask you some specific questions about your blog design business!

Revka:  Hi, Amber!  I’m honored that you asked to interview me, and I’m happy to be able to answer your questions.  I hope that you and your readers find my answers helpful.

Amber: First, I think that a lot of people know what a web log or blog is, but we would like to know: “Why does a business web site need a blog?”

 Revka:  That’s a great question that I believe all businesses should be asking.  It is important for a business website to have a blog for the following reasons:

  • Connecting with customers – Blogging is all about building relationships.  Business blogs can and should be used to build relationships with potential and/or existing customers.  Tip: Don’t make your blog strictly business-like.  Be yourself, allowing your visitors to see your personality.  This helps visitors feel like there is a real person behind the business, which creates a stronger connection and often makes people more ready to do business with your company.
  • Communication – A blog offers you a fast and easy way to advertise sales, promote new products, and make other announcements intended for public dissemination.  I highly recommend offering a way for visitors to subscribe to receive blog updates both through a feed reader and through e-mail.  These subscribers are a goldmine for you business, and your blog will help you capture and keep these valuable leads.
  • Authority – Businesses can write how-to and commentary blog posts.  If well-written and informative, these posts will help position your business as being an expert authority in your niche, which can translate into more sales.
  • Accessibility – Because readers can leave comments, a blog creates the illusion of instant accessibility.  Even if you don’t respond to the comment quickly (which you should), the commenter feels as though they are interacting with you as soon as they have left their comment.
  • Branding – Consistently updating your blog with interesting and/or informative information leads to repeat visitors.  Each time a visitor stops by your blog, your brand is stamped in their mind yet another time.  The more times people see your company name and branding, the more likely they are to think of your business when they need the product or service you provide.

Amber:  Is a web site that is built on a blog service like WordPress better than an ordinary HTML website?

Revka:  Before I answer that question, let me explain that I do not work solely with blog sites (sites built on a blogging platform).  I have set up and design standard HTML websites as well.

Having said that, my experience has shown that building a website on a blogging platform (like self-hosted WordPress) often leads to more desirable outcomes than would have been achieved using a standard HTML website:

  • Ease of management – once a WordPress blogsite is set up, posts and pages can easily be added, edited, and deleted without the user having to have any HTML knowledge.
  • Flexibility – WordPress alone is a powerful platform, but there are also numerous WordPress plug-ins (small programs that can be added to customize the functions of the site).  In contrast to HTML websites where adding functions can mean hours of programming and coding, adding functions to WordPress is nearly always a simple task of installing a plug-in, activating it, and possibly customizing a few settings.
  • SEO – search engines love fresh content, and regular blogging will keep the spiders coming back to crawl your site.  Additionally, you can easily incorporate keywords into your blog posts, which can make search engines consider your site more relevant for searches for which you wish to rank.  There are also SEO plug-ins, which will allow you to easily customize the title, description, and keywords for every single page and post on your site.

Amber: Which blog services do Berries and Cream Blog Design create templates for?

Revka:  Berries and Cream Blog Design can work with any blogging platform that allows you to customize your design’s code.  We have already worked with many blogging services, including Blogger, Typepad (Pro or Plus), WebNode.com, SquareSpace, WordPress.com, and self-hosted WordPress.

Amber: Can you design a website to enable visitors to post messages, pictures or even video?

Revka:  Yes, we can design a site that lets visitors of the site post their own content.  In fact, I just set up and designed a website that allows visitors to add their own blog posts, recipes, and videos.  The site is built on WordPress, and these functions are possible because of the plug-ins that I added to the basic platform.

Amber: Can your clients really post to their blogs from their cell phones?

Revka: With our ever-increasing dependence on mobile devices, it’s nice to know that you can, indeed, update your blog directly from your cell phone.  There are several ways to do this.

  • Using your cell phone, you can browse to your blog, login, and post using the normal posting interface.
  • The WPhone plug-in (or a similar plug-in) can be added to a WordPress installation to offer an admin interface designed to be used through a cell phone.  This allows site administrators to write blog posts directly from a cell phone.
  • You can also setup a private e-mail address solely for blogging purposes.  After adjusting some WordPress settings, you can send an email from your phone to that address and have it automatically post to your blog.
  • If your phone takes videos, you can upload the video to a third-party service, like Qik.com, and adjust the settings to have the video automatically post to your blog.

Amber: Why should a company invest in a professional blog design and installation?

Revka: The set up and design of a business blog is especially important because your blog is a reflection of your business, and its look and functionality (or lack of) will create a lasting impression on your visitors.  You want to make sure that impression is a positive one and that your design effectively communicates the personality of your business.

While many people can install and design for blogs, a professional designer is an invaluable asset for a business.  A professional will be able to work more quickly than someone who has less experience.  A professional will also be able to draw upon their experience to offer suggestions and make recommendations pertaining to your blog’s functions and appearance.  And a professional will be able to create a high-quality design that doesn’t make your business appear to be amateur operation.

While it is important to invest in a professional blog design, I believe selecting a designer is even more critical.  You need a designer who understands your needs and can create a design to will satisfy those needs.  Do your homework before choosing to work with a designer.  Get recommendations.  Browse through designer portfolios.  Contact the designers you are considering and ask them about their design process, their satisfaction guarantee, and any other questions that pertain to your needs.

At Berries and Cream Blog Design, customer satisfaction is our #1 priority.  We back up our commitment with the following policies:

  • No-limit revision policy – request as many changes as are needed for you to love your design and pay no extra money.
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee – if we cannot create a design that you love, we will refund your money, minus the cost of anything purchased specifically for your design.
  • Free customer care for life with every order – if you have questions or need advice, just ask us; it won’t cost you one cent.

Amber: Do you design custom logos for the website headers?

Revka:  While most clients provide us with logos, illustrations or other images to incorporate into their designs, we have created completely custom logos as well.  We are hoping to be able to offer custom illustrations in the very near future.

Amber: What are some features of your blog designs that most people don’t know a blog is capable of?

Revka: I’ve had the opportunity to work on several exciting projects, and I have found that self-hosted WordPress can function in surprising ways.  Here are a few functions many people of which people are not aware:

  • Improved search engine rankings – we talked about this earlier, but many people don’t realize how much search engines like blogs.  Blogs are often indexed by Google and other search engines in days rather than in weeks, the frequently-updated content means the spiders crawl the site more often, and the blog’s structure is also natively search-engine-friendly.
  • Drop down navigation – this is becoming more common-place, but I think many people don’t know that WordPress allows you to have child and parent pages.  Using that format, then navigation can then be coded to only show the child pages when the parent page is clicked or hovered over.  This makes the navigation much cleaner and more user-friendly.
  • Pages in addition to post – pages are static (they stay in the same place and don’t change unless you go in and edit them); posts are dynamic (readers can comment on posts, and the posts pile up on top of each other, eventually disappearing from the front page as new content pushes older content down).  WordPress allows you to create both pages and posts, meaning you can create a complete and easy-to-maintain website from your WordPress dashboard.

I am always intrigued by the many ways that a WordPress blogsite can be used:

  • Social network – a plug-in suite is available that can turn a WordPress installation into a social networking platform similar to Facebook.
  • Photography website and portfolio – WordPress makes an excellent website for professional photographers.
  • E-commerce – another plug-in turns a WordPress installation into a fantastic, easy-to-manage e-commerce store.  You can accept payment through Google Checkout, PayPal, and several payment gateways, such as Authorize.net.  You can also create coupon codes, feature specific products, and put individual items on sale.
  • Squeeze pages and sales pages – you can have multiple page templates using multiple designs.  Every page could have a different design if you wanted to do that.  You can have different sidebar configurations on different pages or could eliminate navigation altogether.  The possibilities are virtually limitless.

Conclusion:
There you have it! You now know the value that a well-designed website and blog can bring to your business! Remember technology changes all the time, stay on top of it! Berries and Cream Blog Designs offer terrific templates and services!


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