The Contradiction of Blogging

// Quick Beans //

“Blogs finally free corporations to speak directly to consumers, rather than having to always go through the media.” (Blogging Brands pg. 129)

“’By using ads, I’m making my livelihood my problem and no one else’s.’” (Blogging Brands pg. 137)

“Honest conversation and the human voice are at the heart of successful blogging.” (Blogging Brands pg. 154)

“We are all constantly interpreting what we see on the screen in light of our own experiences.” (People! People! People! pg. 11)

“There’s value to your site visitors in finding a consistency in personality and style across subsites within a larger site.” (Starting Well: Home Pages pg. 33)

“Build your site from the bottom up as well as from the top down.” (Starting Well: Home Pages pg. 51)

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People can be judgmental; people can be caring. They can be harsh; they can be kind. It all depends on the person the situation they are in.

Blogging presents an interesting contradiction when it comes to audiences. Most bloggers blog because they want to and they are blogging about something they are passionate about, but bloggers also want to please their audiences so their blogs are read and enjoyed by many. There is also the added complication of blogging as a business and the ethics that go along with that.

Recognizing who your audience is and catering to that audience is crucial to the success of any website, but especially to blogs. In “People! People! People!” Redish points out that “all of us interpret what we read in light of our own knowledge and experiences” (pg. 11). Bloggers can’t control the experiences readers bring, but there are ways that bloggers and website creators can do to cater to their audiences as effectively as possible.

Certain advice Redish offers such as considering resolutions of screens and layout tips seem somewhat obvious but still important to consider. My favorite tip she offered was that of creating personas of potential website users to test that your website is user friendly for many different people. Personas allow website creators to see how actual people would access and use their website. I also never realized how much background research goes into determining the layout and content on a website. Audience is the key.

Upon further research, I found an interesting video by Kyrie Robinson, a Partner at Silicon Valley Product Group who is the principal user experience person at the group. Her focus in this video was on really delving into your audience. She noted that it’s not enough to know your audience is admins for executives at businesses, but rather you have to know what motivates different admins and what would make their lives easier and more efficient.

Robinson’s ideas elaborated some (at least for me) on what Reddish was talking about with creating personas. Personas need to be specific and real people, not just people you think you want to use your website. They need to be rugged, not idealized.

Knowing you audience and designing your website through personas guides your development of content. Part of the content, as “Blogging Brands” by Jill Walker Rettberg points out is the presence or absence of advertisements. Certain blogs have no ads because they have no need for them but other blogs can really capitalize from the use of ads on their blogs. Again, all depends on the audience.

This is a controversial subject because ads are not always welcomed by readers and can sometimes cause readers to question the integrity of the blogs. I think as long as bloggers are upfront about their purpose in putting ads on their site, it is perfectly acceptable. One blogger cited in the reading said “’By using ads, I’m making my livelihood my problem and no one else’s.’” (Blogging Brands pg. 137). Blogs, for some people, are a business and support people’s livelihood.

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Advertisements are ethical as long as they have no influence on the blogger. The Wal-Mart example was clearly unethical because readers were not informed of the nature of the blog. Readers need to know if endorsements or incentives are being given so they understand the viewpoint of the author. If this information is not disclosed, then the blog could be seen as withholding information for personal gain.

When it comes to ads, ethics are definitely a relevant topic. Ads are typically matched to websites based on content, but the problem comes into play when advertisers give incentives or rewards to bloggers for favoring their products in order to draw more attention to them.

I think, as with all relationships in life, that with bloggers/website creators and readers/website users have to be honest and transparent. Both ought to be clear in expectations and be realistic about what each can offer. Blogs are a way of communicating directly with audiences rather than going through traditional media outlets, so it is important to be sure that the connections created between bloggers and readers are authentic.

If webpages are not easily navigated or users are questioning the authenticity of the content, bloggers will lose readers. Blogs and websites must remain a place that focuses on their audience otherwise those users will find other places to get their information.

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