Monday, November 22, 2004

Content And Chrome (Add Ons)

The distinction between blog content and blog chrome is an important one. Unfortunately many bloggers fail to recognize it.

I define blog content as the engine or heart of a blog. It is the actual writing and how well the blogger presents it. A plain blog that is intelligible but not grammatically correct is better than a nice looking blog full of slang or acronyms. The content must make sense to readers to make them stay around. The content must also appeal to what the reader is interested in.

Example: I read a number of blogs written by parents. I have no children myself but I have nephews and nieces and hear the stories. I have worked around teenagers and remember my teen years. Therefore a blog that mixes in some parenting stories won't alienate me.

I haven't babysat for years and don't have much to do with babies or toddlers. I came across a blog written by a new mother. Some of the material was funny and the pictures were cute. The trouble was that ninety percent of the text and pictures were about the baby. I got bored quickly.

Example: There was a very popular blog at Diaryland that someone suggested I read. I tried to read it, but the lapses into crying rants about lovers and the constant design changes were frustrating to put up with. When my computer crashed because of a website linked to by the blogger I abandoned the blog.

The content will define the whole blog. If you write about things you like you will be more honest and write better. What you write about is up to you. Your content will attract readers and it combined with your style will keep them coming back. The key is to write for yourself first and the reader second.

Blog chrome is what can be added to a blog to make it more appealing to the reader or useful to the blogger. An appealing site will attract readers and will make it easier for bloggers because they have to interact with their sites so much. Useful add ons help bloggers manage
their sites better.

Hacker stickers, Blog pets, and custom templates are examples of chrome that make a blog more appealing.

Sitemeters and Referers are examples of useful chrome because they provide important information to bloggers.

The distinction between content and chrome can be defined by the effects of their absence. Remove the chrome and you have a plain blog. Remove or mess with the content and you'll end up with nonsense or nothing at all.

Sometimes bloggers get their priorities mixed up. They play with fun toys like html and the latest sidebar addition and forget about learning to write. If they do survive it is because they realized the importance of writing. There is a saying among bloggers that goes: "you don't have to be a good writer to be a blogger, but you must like to write. Eventually you will become a good writer."

I have read blogs by people who didn't edit their work and used slang when they first started writing. Over time they learned to express themselves better and edited their work.

There are many abandoned blogs in cyberspace. Just visit any directory such as Blogarama and click on some of the listings. There are plain blogs, ugly blogs, and well designed blogs - all abandoned. Sometimes I think these directories should be called mortuaries. For some reason bloggers gave up and stopped writing.

Instead of worrying about stats and sidebar gadgets and other bits of blog chrome bloggers should work on developing their writing skills and learning to express their ideas.

Mechanics could teach bloggers about the distinction between chrome and content (ie - the engine). What part of a car is optional?

Notes – this will have to be touched up but I think it gets my point across. We can talk about the fun things to add to our blogs but we will concentrate on the important stuff.

I am not saying design isn't important. It is a big part of feeling good about a blog. I am just trying to give someone an idea about priorities. We'll have lots to discuss about design later.


Blogger Leon said...

So everyone is right about blogexplosion and other add ons.

6:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home