Cover . . . Outward Appearance . . . First Impression. How would you finish the title? Well, several times recently, I’ve found myself thinking deeply about today’s topic. And every time I do so, I become more and more upset by the abundance of attention people place on the wrong things and the lack of attention they place on the right things.
I suppose societal norms have set us up to ooooo and ahhhh over superficial stuff that doesn’t really amount to much when you put it up against the stuff with some substance. So, why is it that we are drawn to people, things, and ideas based on their shiny surfaces instead of digging deep to see that the inner workings are decaying on the inside? And sooner rather than later, the rottenness will rear its ugly head and start marring that shiny outward exterior.
But surely, we’re deeper than that, aren’t we?
If we are, then why do we place so much value on the look of blog sites rather than the meaningful content they hold? The value should be in the words, shouldn’t it, and how those words make us feel?
Well, that’s my personal perspective on what drives me to a person’s blog site — it’s his or her content and how I can relate that content to my own life experiences. Go figure!
What doesn’t draw me to a blogger’s site is . . .
- how academic or proper or technical or boring or unoriginal or unrelatable a blogger’s written language comes across as. I’ll go to the whitepapers if I want to get knee-deep in some intellectual mumbo jumbo. And that’s “real talk”. I’m more attracted to sites whose writers let their unique personalities and naturally-conversational tone — their “real” voices break through and communicate with me on a level that I can feel and receive.
- the synchronization of the blogger’s color palette in the visuals used on his or her site and similar brand awareness imagery. (Sure, it’s nice to have appealing themes and images that catch the eye, but it’s not necessary to be so anal about having all the images and text be color-coordinated and brand-correct all the time.) What’s the fun in that? Shaking things up with a smorgasbord of color options and random images is my current thing.
- whether or not the person has the site on WordPress.com or WordPress.org (self-hosted). (Seriously, this item is a pet peeve of mine and will, therefore, get its own small section of discussion below this bulleted list.)
- how many bells and whistles, also known as “fluff”, they have. I mean — a person can put up all the widgets and ads and images he or she wants. It’s just not for me and what I do on the Degrees of Maternity blog. And as a consumer of blog content, such fluffy sites tend to turn me off and to distract me from the reason I came to the site in the first place — to read the blog post content.)
Now, getting back to the WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org discussion. Who gives who the right to determine the validity of someone’s blog site based on whether or not it’s self-hosted? Really, who makes the determination of professionalism based on that? Or, on whether or not your domain name has a wordpress.com or just a .com extension? That doesn’t seem right. But, I hear it all the time.
“If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to be on a self-hosted website and you need to have your own domain name.” Now, I agree with the fact that you can do more things with your own site and you have control over the site when it’s self-hosted. Those facts are truly that . . . FACTS. But what I don’t jive with is the opinion of some that you’re somehow less “professional”, or serious, if you’re on a site that takes some flexibility of options away from you and takes care of all technical aspects of the site like the hosting and maintenance. Giving up a little control for ease of use and 24/7 customer support assistance is personally worth it for me, a non-techie, at this point in my content creation journey.
But what really irks me about this human tendency to pass judgment calls is that, while these blog critiques that form opinions based on the “surface stuff” seem more insignificant to me than the focus actually being on the content, I have to pay attention to ALL the things that matter to a reading audience and eventually make some changes based on them.
“Why do I have to pay attention to these things?” you might ask.
Well, they are those first impressionable expectations that people gravitate toward. That’s the truth and nothing but.
I’m aware that, if you want to make a favorable first impression with someone, then you have to go with what positively captures his or her attention. Unfortunately, some of the things that I don’t personally think are the most important aspects of a blog are what initially get peoples’ attention. And, I have to pay attention to that. You know what I mean?
It’s like that surface stuff is the draw that causes someone to delve a little deeper into what a blogger’s site is all about. And people are smart and know what they like. So, I guarantee that the cover (the outer appearance) may be the draw; but in all cases, it may not be enough to keep a person’s backing if the inside carries no value-added properties within it.
I guess what I’m saying is that I can’t be stubborn in my “me, myself, and I” viewpoint of what matters to people, because I’m not all people and I can’t speak for all people or pretend I know what’s best for all people. We, as human beings, are unique individuals who have our own preferences, tastes, opinions, wants, and needs. And so, I have to work within all those many factors that create a draw for people and can assist me in attracting the folks who can truly benefit from what my blog is actually about and what its intended purpose is for.
And my recognition of the “surface draw” in no way suggests that I have to compromise the meaningfulness of my blog’s content. It just means that I have to be sensitive to what the people initially want.
But sometimes, I just wish the blog from the “little guy or gal” wouldn’t get overridden so much. So what if you don’t have the fanciest or most technologically-savvy looking blog site with all the bells and whistles (mine being one of them). Does that mean that that blog is less significant because of its outer appearance?
I’m of the opinion to give the little guy and gal a chance sometimes. You just might stumble across a complete diamond in the rough. You know what I mean . . . that little “hole in the wall” diner that didn’t look so curb-appealing on the outside (compared to the most decked-out restaurant establishment you’re used to frequenting — well, you may not be frequenting it much nowadays) but that serves the best food you’ve ever tasted in your life. I’m talking about that type of place — I’m talking about that type of blog.
Okay, I’m going to abruptly stop here, because I feel a part 2 coming on. Yes, I’m on this part 2 kick these days, but I’m kind of enjoying it. Splitting up these “Blogging Truth Be Tolds” allows me to let my baby rants continue into a second week. Sometimes, bloggers just need to decompress and let out some wordy steam. This blogging series is definitely fitting that bill.
Anyway, I would love for you to come back next Friday, when I’ll continue this discussion. Who knows? I may even reveal some of the “surface stuff” that I’m intending to place some of my attention on in the last half of this year. Until then . . .