Whilst working on my update to Binary Moon I’ve been thinking about the differences between websites and blogs. One of the things I am trying to do with the updated design is steer slightly away from the stereotypical blog layout and use lessons learnt from more traditional website design.
Since blogs first came about the designs have evolved considerably but the basic structure seems to remain the same. You have article pages (the blog posts), normal pages (contact, about etc) and archive pages. It’s almost like there is a set of defined rules that you have to follow – and it’s become so formulaic that I sometimes get confused as to what site I am on. Please don’t get me wrong – there are loads of wonderfully designed blogs out there, but as a rule they are often pretty graphics on top of the same old structure.
Recently there has been a move towards magazine style layouts, which makes things considerably more interesting, but once you get past the homepage things are generally back to normal.
I don’t think that having pages of content laid out in the same way every time is always the best way to do things. A standardized article layout is fine, since they will generally follow the same format, but is it helpful to have archives that are laid out the same way as your main pages? Is it helpful to have your Projects page look the same as your About page?
Also I am focusing on blogs here but with the prevalence of WordPress and it’s flexibility there are sites being created using the software (which is more than fine) that are then designed as blogs, where a traditional website format would be much better.
I have always treated Binary Joy as more of a magazine than a blog – for example different posts have different layouts – and I intend to continue along a similar path. The differences are relatively minor but there’s no reason they couldn’t be increased. To see what I mean you could compare a normal news article with a review. Within WordPress they are both normal posts, but on the site they are laid out differently based upon their category. It’s a simple change technically but I think mixing things up based upon the content makes the pages more useful for the readers and helps make the site more interesting.
So what about content outside of the normal blogging structure. Is there any reason not to add more dynamic stuff? How about a link directory or maybe a forum? These things can help pull your visitors together and make your website more interesting and helpful.
With the Binary Moon update I am trying to pull away from preconceived notions of blog design and hope that the changes I implement will make the site easier to use, more interesting to use, and more like a website. Binary Moon will continue to be largely a blog, but hopefully it will be a bit more as well.