June 1st, 2006
Joe at the Working at Home on the Internet blog just blog-tipped me, so I thought I'd pass on the Link Love. The idea of Blog Tipping is that on the first of the month, you pick three blogs you read and offer 3 compliments and 1 tip. So here goes.
- I love that you've gone back to drawing cartoons full force. It's great to see people doing what they love.
- Your Microbrand concept is an inspiration to people everywhere who are trying to understand and find their place in this Internet-based economy.
- I'm really impressed with your work for Stormhoek. Even though you're alone on the frontier of marketing you're doing a great job.
tip: Perhaps it's a result of your busy schedule, but I'd like to see more longer posts with more of your thoughts and less links now and then.
- While no other web dev blogs seem to be discussing real, tangible web development concepts, yours just keeps on sticking to the point. That's a real inspiration for me.
- Your topics always give me something I can use right away, change the way I look at something, or give me something I know I'll be able to use in the future.
- I love how simple and straightforward your design is, with just a few categories and comments along the side.
tip: This is hard. I'd love it if you posted more often, but not if this degrades the quality of your post. Otherwise, just keep doin' what you're doin'.
- Your topics are always very interesting, often addressing a topic in a new way that just isn't done often enough.
- You always have a great sense of humour (even if some of your readers don't understand it).
- Your design is really great, just barely bordering on Web 2.0 without crossing over. :)
tip: Start posting again! Two in the past three months?! You used to be almost daily!
Okay, now you all have to pass the link love on.
April 25th, 2006
I was worried at first when I started my personal blog. I knew that all my friends and family would be reading it. How would I write a blog post so that it would be suitable for both my grandmother and my long time friends?
I was even more worried when I started this blog. I was going to have some kind of professional persona on top of my personal persona. Now my friends and family could read this site, and strangers and colleagues could read my personal site. How could I possibly express myself consistently to such a wide range of people?!
Well, it turned out to be not a big deal at all. It forced me to do something pretty great: it forced me to be myself. It forced me to be honest and transparent. I can't pretend to be something I'm not, because anybody can call me on it. Not on this site, nor on my personal site.
It took some time to get used to it, I suppose. I shared some things on my personal site I wouldn't normally share with everyone, but afterwards it was totally normal. I've also expressed ideas on here I wouldn't normally talk about with friends and family and I'm glad I've done it.
So when people tell you to "find your voice" when writing, they're not suggesting you try to create a brand new voice. Instead, you need to find your voice, the one true voice inside you, and share it with the world.
January 14th, 2006
Blogs are here to stay. However, I don't believe every web site needs to have a blog to benefit from the way blogs have changed the Internet. Here are five things blogs have taught us that we can use to improve all web sites:
Many web pages have some kind of "News" or "What's New" section. Most of them never seem to change. Blogs essentially took this section and made it the centre of the entire web site. Things are always changing and events are happening. The best part of the web is how up-to-date it can be. If something important is happening, and there is nothing about it on your web site, your visitors won't trust your web site as a source of information.
Let visitors subscribe
Blogs didn't invent subscriptions, but they've certainly proven they work. Long outdated are the phrases "Bookmark this site", "Under Construction" and "Check back soon". Every web site is changing and being updated. Visitors don't have the time to check back. You need to offer a way for them to subscribe. RSS feeds are certainly the new standard for subscriptions, though E-mail updates are still relevant for those who don't use RSS.
Speak with a human voice
Blogs aren't written in buzzword-filled meaningless marketing speak. They're written in the same language people use to talk to each other. The kind of language that people actually want to read. By changing the language of web sites, you not only make your web site more friendly, you make it easier to understand. If you really have something worth saying, be direct and clear about it. If not, why would you bother writing anything at all?
Blogs don't hide the people behind the web site. In fact, that may be their strongest attraction. The Internet is changing the voice of companies whether they embrace it or not. For example, Robert Scoble's blog has become the voice of Microsoft. His blog is honest, admitting where Microsoft fails, where it needs to improve, and what its true motives are. It's time for the people behind web sites to come out and tell their stories.
Let visitors discuss
People need a chance to respond and add to things they read on the Internet. Most blogs give visitors a chance to discuss in comments and trackbacks. Where comments and trackbacks aren't appropriate, wikis and forums fill in the void. If your web site doesn't give a chance for visitors to contribute and share feedback (whether it's positive or negative), they will do this on their own blogs. Offering a place for the visitors of your site to come together and share feedback builds community, trust, and lets your site evolve in response to what people want.