Key Considerations When Designing Your Business Blog – Business blog

As you look at creating a business blog, try not to just consider the graphics side of blog design, but instead think about all of the elements that go together to make a successful business blog. The key aspect to the design is that it should make certain that your business blog supports the business goals that you are looking to achieve with it.Use your blog’s “prime real estate”To make this happen, you need to ensure that you place the elements which are most important in achieving these goals in the most prominent places. These are areas which are going to be viewed most often by your readers – generally, these “prime real estate” areas on your blog will be in the header and at the top of the columns and, to a lesser degree, all of the area “above the fold” (ie. what you can see on screen without scrolling). Use these areas carefully when designing your blog.What should be the focus?There is no single answer as to what should be there, simply that it should support the business objectives of your blog. So if you are looking to increase subscriptions to a free download, course or newsletter, then make sure that the sign-up box sits prominently at the top of your page. Likewise if you have a special promotion or service to push or perhaps a book that you want to publicize, then make sure that there is a clear link there through to a page where you can talk more about it.Some key elements to considerHowever, in addition, these are the areas of blog design that I believe should carefully be looked at, with a brief overview of why that’s the case:

Profile and contact details
At the end of the day, the goal of 95% of Business Blogs is to encourage people to engage in dialogue with you – so make it easy for them to do so. And while you are at it, take the opportunity to let them know a bit more about you!

Navigation and usability
While you want to use the key areas for the elements that you particularly want to promote, you still need to make it easy to find all the information that it contains. As a basic, use categories and archives sensibly and let the blog software do the work for you.

Blogging software generic templates
The templates supplied with blogging software are the basic building blocks for a blog – in most cases, a common denominator which, by its very nature, needs to be all things to all people. It supplies a good basic format but can never give you the real benefits which will truly differentiate you from others and allow you to promote your key business elements properly. If you use a template, take the best from it but then make it your own.

RSS Subscriptions / Signups
Just like an ezine subscription box on a normal website (in fact, make sure you have one on your blog – they work well together), RSS subscribers are important or even key to developing your business blog. So make it easy to subscribe and give them options such as specific chicklets or subscribing by email – incentives such as a free eBook to RSS subscribers are an added bonus.

Onpage advertising
It’s so off putting having to wade through adverts to get at the posts and it’s the posts that are going to do the real work for you – if you have to include ads then keep them clearly differentiated. Ideally, unless you really need to directly monetize your blog, don’t include them. You’ll get all the benefits you need from the extra business your blog generates.

Make it easy to leave comments
You want to encourage dialogue, so don’t make it difficult for your readers to leave comments – having to log-in or fill in a CAPTCHA just puts up additional barriers. However, make sure that you don’t allow rubbish comments either which could damage your blog. Ah, so much to think about!!

Search Box
It’s important to include a Search facility on your site – by its very nature, a blog focuses on your most recent posts but is meticulous about storing everything that you write. It’s the cumulative information that is the real value – both to your business and to your readers. So it’s important that you give readers every opportunity to access it and the Search function is of course at the center of that.

Categories and Archives
Keep the names relatively short and where possible have them contain some of your keyword phrases. Like the Search function, these are key ways for readers to explore what you have written in more depth
At the end of the day, making sure that you have the basics in place is key – after all, you want it to be successful for you and fulfil your business objectives. So get the design right and make sure that it helps and not hinders what you want you blog to achieve.A blog is wonderfully flexible, despite first appearances, so incorporate different side bars on different pages where necessary and ensure that they help reinforce your business objectives. A business blog is a tool (albeit a very powerful one) so make the best use of it you can and make sure that the blog design supports the business goals … and not vice versa.

10 Key Elements to Consider When Starting a Business Blog – Business blog

Whether you are a large corporate organisation or an independent consultant or small business, as you start a Business Blog, there are a number of elements that you need to consider in order to ensure that you give it every opportunity to be a success.While the exact requirements will differ according to the goals and expectations, you should be able to answer the following questions from the start:i) What do you want to do with your Business Blog?
Make sure that you have a clear vision of what you want to do with your Business Blog – it should have focus and you need to ensure that it does not become a “jack of all trades” and “master of none” – the more focused it is, the more successful it is likely to be.ii) Who is your target audience for your Business Blog?
Avoid trying to make it be “all things to all people” – it isn’t possible. Once again focus is important, so decide on your target audience and write the blog for them with content they are looking for and a style that they will warm to. If you have lots of different audiences that you wish to appeal to then you might like to consider setting up separate blogs to cater for each area.iii) What results are you looking to achieve?
What goals do you have for your Business Blog and just as importantly, how are you going to measure them? There is going to be time and effort involved and you need to show results at the end of it – therefore, from the start, you should know what results you are looking for. So decide on the criteria you want to work with and how you wish to measure them.iv) How will it integrate with your other marketing activities?
Blogging is an excellent marketing tool, as well as having being strong in other areas. However, it is not a magic wand to cure all marketing ills, so it is necessary to decide how to best use it in conjunction with your other marketing, business development and customer service activities.v) What Blogging software to choose?
There are a number of options available each with different benefits – by deciding what you wish to do with it, what it will be integrated with (if anything) and what degree or control or customisation you require, you will be able to focus in on which would be best for your needs. The best advice is to choose one which will grow and develop with you as well as fitting with your current business and technical requirements. Free hosted software (such as Blogger) will seldom do this or give you sufficient control, so look at WordPress (full version) or Typepad as good starter points.vi) What to call your Business Blog?
Rule of Thumb: choose something which you are still going to feel comfortable with in a year’s time. Either let it reflect your company and branding, or make sure it contains your keywords … or preferably both.vii) Host it on your website or on a different domain?
As a general rule, if it sits comfortably alongside your website and complements the information on it, then integrate it into your website. If, on the other hand, you are looking to present an objective view on your industry or want a separate identity for branding purposes then choose a separate domain name.viii) What domain name or subdirectory name to use?
Try to use something descriptive – if you are using a separate domain, then choose a domain name which either reflects the branding you wish to achieve or contains your main keyword (or preferably both!). If it is a subdirectory then describe the purpose it will be serving such as “Information Centre” for example.ix) Look and Feel of the Blog
If you are using it as part of your website, then integrate the look and feel with that. There’s no need for your visitors to really know that they are on a blog – remember it’s the benefits that blogs offer that is important, not the technology. If it is on a separate domain, then design your Business Blog with the image you want to portray but don’t use the default template = zero differentiation!x) How to market your Blog?
You’ll need to look at how you intend to attract people to your blog and as you do so try to include not only online and blog specific marketing techniques, but also offline methods too. Easy start points are to put it on your business cards and email signatures – powerful but often forgotten!With all of these elements in place then you are starting off on the right track and should have the foundations in place to create a successful Business Blog. By doing so, you will find that it will save you a lot of time and inconvenience in the future and will make the blog that much more effective in what you are looking to achieve.