Bloggers: dig deeper

FormFiftyFive’s Glenn Garriock needs his daily feed of excitement – and he’s not getting it from his RSS reader

I’ve lost count of the number of new design blogs I’ve come across this year. Once a week I’ll find one that shows great work and interesting articles, or perhaps presents its content in an interesting way, and add it to the (ever-growing and rather unmanageable) list of my RSS reader, which these days seems like one long dj vu. Blogs – and design blogs in particular – have gained a reputation for lazily regurgitating the same images and information that you’ll find on an abundance of other sites.

In many cases, I don’t have a problem with that. Tumblr, for instance, is practically made for this sort of blogging and re-blogging. But speaking from personal experience, I think re-sharing often happens because it’s the easy way of maintaining a steady flow of content. Getting in touch with the designer or studio involved and digging a little deeper takes time and effort. Grabbing images of someone’s work and writing a personal comment on it is easily done. Bloggers have become a bit lazy and I have to admit that I’ve sometimes found myself falling into the same trap.

Five years ago, when Jack Daly and myself had just started our first jobs, we launched design blog FormFiftyFive with the simple rule of publishing one article a day about work that made us green with envy. At the time I regularly visited design community sites and forums, such as Design is Kinky, K10K, Computerlove and designerstalk, which seemed to then consist mainly of a text-feed with links to semi-interesting work. Design magazines, on the other hand, had beautifully presented images and editorial content, but lacked the speed that the internet offered.

Two years later, we merged with The Serif – the site that inspired us to start a blog in the first place – and Alex Nelson joined our core team to develop a new FormFiftyFive. By this point, we had already started looking for new contributors to keep up the steady demand we’d created. After the merge, we were a sizeable team of designers, illustrators and photographers, and these days we’ve grown to over 30 contributors from around the globe.

I don’t think I realised this when we started FormFiftyFive, but running a blog becomes a bit of an obsession. You develop a taste for finding something great and sharing it with people you don’t know. As you get your first comments of approval and see your visitors increase, you can’t help but feel excited.

Maintaining that enthusiasm and excitement for new content is the key ingredient for any good blog. Another very important activity is to connect with people about featuring their work on your site. Gathering information directly from the people involved will make your blog a trustworthy source of information. People you contact directly about their work are also more likely to tell their friends and followers about their work being featured on your site, and might also come back to you with news about upcoming projects, before others hear about it. So not only do you make contacts with important people in your industry, you also make your site more reliable and popular.

Curating and creating editorial content of a high standard is what will set your website apart from other blogs, and is something that we’re going to focus on with the new FFF site, which will present our exclusive content (such as our video interviews, book reviews, guest playlists, studio visits and so on) in a much better light. We also want to build on what made the site popular in the first place: the daily feed of excellent, current work with more in-depth knowledge from the source. There are quite a few great design blogs and sites that are already moving in the direction, and I hope that more will follow to create things of interest and inspiration. As FFF grows to cover more corners of the globe, we’ll also manage to be on the ground more often, reporting directly from events for those who can’t make it themselves. We’re an official media partner of OFFF 2012 in Barcelona and we’ll also be reporting from events like the Graphic Design Festival in Breda, the Offset Festival in Dublin and Illustrative in Berlin. The next project is launching Gifted, a space where we can collaborate with the talented people who we meet through FFF to make creative product ideas happen. Next year promises to be very interesting.

Check out the 40 best Tumblr blogs for designers at our sister site Creative Bloq.