Crane Design is a prominent product design house based in Illinois and I’m in love with their space heater.  One look at the iMac-matching brushed steel frame and I knew I needed it. Good product design is its own advertising.

However, Crane’s slick website is pretty persuasive as well. The product pages are pampered with multiple color choices, 3D animation, and beautiful photography. Everything looks like money.

However, their new company blog runs the most basic, free WordPress theme. No doubt they could afford something “more”, but they kept it simple. There’s a nugget of genius here.

The people at Crane have obviously determined that they don’t need “more”. They want only what they need to accomplish their goals. This keeps cost down and keeps everything easier to maintain. With a simple and effective header image, the blog is sufficiently branded with their look, but it’s not dependent on any head-turning animation or glitzy graphic to meet the needs identified Crane.

There are two very good reasons for companies to blog. Along with other tools, blogging can improve your web traffic and search ranking. Image-heavy and Flash animated websites like Crane’s especially need the support of a keyword rich blog. It’s also a place to announce product news and establish your company as an expert in your market. For Crane, this means posting about product design, home furnishings and modern living.

While their social media efforts could use some work, the blog is a solid foundation. With one colorful image as the website header, the default WordPress theme is stamped with their image. A smart selection of powerful widgets in the sidebar complements the blog content. All of these essential elements are available for free. With attention to detail and an understanding of the powerful publishing tools in WordPress, this free stuff can increase web traffic and generate customer engagement. The only cost is a little time and commitment.

So ask yourself, what do you want for your blog? Now, what do you need? Compare the two answers. Chances are, you just need WordPress, the great default 2011 Theme, and one correctly sized and on-brand image to use as the header. That’s not bad to start with.

Need help? Contact Roundpeg, an Indianapolis web design company.