How to write a great design blog

Starting your own great design blog? It's a tough market where you'll have to stand out to succeed. Follow our tips for rising above the noise and carving out a name for yourself in the blogging world.

Rob Alderson is online editor of the hugely popular It's Nice That blog, which exists to champion creativity across a whole host of disciplines.

Here he takes time out of his busy schedule to share the benefit of experience and give you a few tips on creating your own design blog...

Find an angle

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There's a value to getting things up quickly, posting loads of images and putting things out there: it provides a service. But it's much more interesting to be able to read about things with an angle. Having an actual take on what we post is a crucial part of what we do at It's Nice That.

Post frequently

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Regular updates are crucial for any blog. We try to post at least nine times a day, with hourly updates in the afternoon. There's nothing more disheartening than going onto a blog and finding they're away on holiday and it isn't being updated. That really has an effect on you buying into it.

Mission statement

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The diversity of our site is what marks us out - a second-year student could sit alongside Saatchi & Saatchi - and the key line we always use is that we champion creativity in any context. It helps to have that mission statement in mind, especially if we're split on something.

Hone your tone

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People talk to us with the same tone we've used - they really buy into it. Clients, artists and PR people all remark on the tone of the website. There's such an overload of information out there, both generally and within art and design. You need to stand out from the crowd somehow.

Voice and visuals

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Visual identity and personality need to be linked. Some blogs have visual personality, but the tone jars: you might read something in a different format, find your way back to the site and be confused. If you separate the two, in an RSS feed, say, you still need a sense of what you're about.

Social enterprise

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We don't have comments enabled so we're reliant on social media for discussion. Whether to enable comments or not is a discussion we have periodically, but we can facilitate discussion far more easily on Twitter. People who leave comments won't necessarily return after they've posted on your site.

Fact check

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We try to add context and insight by making calls and checking the facts. There are qualities from journalism that are sometimes lost online. If you don't know something, don't try to paper over the cracks. Do things in the right way and more people will want to work with you.

Don’t pander

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We have an idea of who's reading, but we don't pander to what we think people might want. Blogging isn't just about chasing the numbers. It's good to have an idea of who your readers are, but don't be slavishly led by them. If you start chasing one type of reader, you might alienate other people and you certainly don't want that.

Smart SEO

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Be aware of SEO. If you know something has a real potential to go massive, it's worth making sure keywords are in the headline. But don't be a slave to it, like the clumsy examples you sometimes see. We've just made a joke in our 'Weekender' feature about mentioning Justin Bieber.

That’s nice, this

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We choose to cover things that perhaps aren't the same as what you find in other places. If someone is scrolling through their RSS feeds, they might see 19 posts about the same subject. We don't shy away from covering mainstream things, but we filter them through the prism of our website, It's Nice That.

This feature was originally published in Computer Arts issue 197. You can buy the latest issue from their website. The icons were created by Tom Pearson.

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