Over the course of the past year, my schedule has been such that I have not been able to consume social media in the same regular, obsessive way that I used to. I have become, I suspect, more like a typical information consumer, if such a thing exists. I sample information from my favorite traditional and social media web sites as time permits. Some days I may be able to devote a couple of hours, while at other times I may go a couple of days without going beyond a handful of core information sources.
Unfortunately, most blogs are not set up well to handle samplers like the “new me.” The standard blog design calls for a timeline-style layout where posts are featured chronologically, without the benefit of editorial recommendation or discretion.
The “latest news layout” works great for regular visitors who consume the entire fire hose of content. But what of occasional readers? When I visit a blog today, I’m required to skim through a long column of content to find interesting stuff. If I time it just right, I may see a sparkling piece of original content above the fold. At others, I may just be looking at mundane “me too” blogging.
Not all social media sites fall victim to the chronological convention, however. Mashable carries a “trending” story at the top of its main content well, helping to highlight something that may be of greater interest than regular regurgitated news items.
Although Politico has a print product, it really supplements its powerful new media presence. The Washington, DC news outlet adopts a much more traditional layout approach that clearly demonstrates editorial judgment above the fold. Given the volume of content that Politico produces on a daily basis, this sort of visual cuing provides great benefit to even regular readers who may not live on the site every few minutes.
New media outlets create lots of great original content. Burying it among a pile of other blog posts that offer little beyond a brief comment on top news stories does readers and the publisher a disservice. Bloggers — professional and amateur alike as long as they create frequent enough content — ought to embrace layout, headline size, and other visual cues that help ensure blogs benefit not just the addicted audience, but also the casual content consumer.
Let your best content thrive.