How Do You Design A Good Blog?

In a previous post, I looked at Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaign websites, comparing their homepage layout and content selection. Four months later, both candidates have completely redesigned their sites, for the better in both cases. But this election isn’t about web design, it isn’t even about the economy. It’s the blog, stupid. Best blog wins the election, or at least some affection from our blog to theirs. So, which campaign does it best?

To score this little competition, I looked for carefully crafted calls to action, easy navigation and exciting visual content. These elements enhance the written content and lead visitors to spend more time onsite, opening up more opportunities for conversion. Every design should complement a strong visual content strategy, have sweet CTAs and make information easy to find.

But there’s more than one way to do a blog right. The way you organize the essential design elements depends on the way you want people to experience your marketing messages. America’s 2012 presidential campaign blogs are good examples of two classic approaches to web design for blogs.

Romney – The Newsroom

Romney and Obama’s months long battle for our attention is coming to its end and the apex of their campaigns’ marketing efforts. America is awash in attack ads and competing information. It’s important for each candidate to establish their side of the story. For Romney, the campaign blog is actually a compilation of 50 other blog pages, one for each state. The main blog page collects all of those posts in one place and features a neat module at the top to direct your attention to specific items.

Fifty blogs sounds like a lot to handle, maybe even overkill. I actually think it’s smart. You can localize the information to just see what’s relevant to each state. For those who want to scroll through everything, there’s a primary blog page. The Romney campaign blog is like a newsroom where stories from every category comes together. The featured post module picks out a few front-page items to make selecting a story easier.

Obama – The Stream

Obama’s blog runs the most common set-up. Every post is collected in one spot, in descending order by date. Like Romney, blog post authors can assign their post categories. One difference is that the Romney posts follow a standard format, while Obama’s blog shares a variety of content. Short notes, slideshows, videos, articles and photos mix together.

The strong variety of content already makes this blog cooler than Mitt’s. But what sets it apart to me is the presence of dead simple CTAs at the bottom of each post. A good call to action can direct the forward motion of a visitor to take action on what they just read. Isn’t “take action” the point of any political blog, or any business blog for that matter? Obama’s smart web buttons don’t sell you on the action, that’s what the content is for. They just present the option. And with a variety of cool visual content to browse, I don’t mind that most of the web buttons say “Donate”.

Final Score – Mitt: Six, Obama: Eight

Mitt’s got it going on with smart categories and easy to find, localized information. But Obama’s blog wins for a better overall design, stellar CTAs and a variety of interesting content choices.

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Facebook photo credits: jurvetson and gageskidmore via photo pin cc