If you read a lot of blogs, you will notice that virtually all posts follow the same basic format: a picture at the top to catch the viewer's eye, paragraphs separated by section headings and the occasional extra image thrown in for extra oomph.
Unfortunately, the oomph has fallen flat. This traditional format has been used so frequently that it’s become a boring, uninspired default. And that’s not even the whole problem: The format has a number of limitations that affect its ability to draw in readers.
Disadvantages of the old style
There are thousands, if not millions, of blog posts available online. Wading through these traditionally formatted blog posts to find the one that provides the information you’re after has become a chore no one wants and leads to piles of posts that go unread. A few additional problems:
- Old style is bland and unappealing.
The traditional format constitutes nothing but large blocks of text set against a typically white background, which can instantly send readers into snooze-mode. There’s nothing of interest to grab the reader’s attention.
- Images are irrelevant.
Any images used in the post are included only to add a splash of color, rather than to add to the content. For the most part, these stock images convey no additional information.
- Skimming is difficult.
Subheads do break up paragraphs of text, but that’s all they do. There is no way for someone to quickly gather information if everything is hidden in paragraphs.
The advantages of a new style
There is a new way to format blog posts to make them more attractive and more helpful to readers, and it’s fairly simple to follow.
- New style breaks down the question being address.
A blog post normally addresses a problem that many readers have, offering solutions to solve those problems. Instead of just going through the problem all at once, separate each aspect of the question into small sections.
Take these two articles from Wine Spectator and Wine Folly, for example. They both seek to answer the question, “What’s the difference between Cabernet and Merlot?” The Wine Spectator article simply answers the question in one long paragraph, while the Wine Folly article breaks down the question into sections: sweetness, boldness, styles, history and examples.
The former makes the question boring; the latter creates interest, allowing you to compartmentalize the information. Dissecting a question this way makes it easy for readers to find relevant portions without having to read through the whole paragraph.
- Creates relevant, helpful images.
Instead of using stock photos, you can create your own graphics. Infographics that present additional knowledge are an added value to blog posts, and are a relatively simple way to make information that much easier to find.
In the Wine Spectator vs. Wine Folly example, Wine Folly has included simple infographics that reference information included in the text. These graphics aren’t anything flashy, either. Infographics can just contain shapes and nicely formatted text, but their visual appeal carries more weight than straight text.
- Makes it “skimmable.”
Blog posts don’t have to run strictly from top to bottom -- try left to right. For example, place your infographics side-by-side to present information in a way that’s easy to compare, instead of stacking images on top of each other. This way, readers don’t have to scroll up or down and memorize the information they want to compare. You’ve done that for them!
Use this style to your benefit.
SEO experts always say that "content is king," and while that is true, presentation counts a lot, too. If your posts are visually unappealing and difficult to navigate, no one will stick around to discover what the content is. Break out of the traditional blog format rut and use a different style to spice up your posts using a different format and more informative images.