Blogs for Website Design in General

More often than not I am recommending to clients that they use blogs rather then custom designed websites for their new or even existing Web projects. Here is my Top Ten Reasons for using or switching to a blog or CMS software for developing large business to small organization websites.

1)Much blog software is very, very good, very fast, and freeOpenSourceCMS currently has a rated list of over 240 varieties of free blogs and CMS tools. At OpenSourceCMS one can read the ratings and tryout the software before you “buy”. Let me assure you the software on view is good, better, and best [this  review underlines some of the best]. But if you feel value is only achieved by spending money, there are ads all over OpenSourceCMS and available by Googling. And the price for commercial blogs/CMS run in the $250-1000 range per website. Finally, the cost of installation of a CMS/blog can be reduced to near- zero [no domain name charge, no hosting fee]with free blogs available at Blogger, LiveJournal, Ning, WordPress, etc.
2)Beside being free, blog software has a community of supporting users – Finding answers to how-to or how-can-I-fix questions are more likely with opensource blogs. Some blogs like Drupal, Gallery, Joomla, WordPress are so popular that you will likely be able to find developers and programmers even in small towns that know the software and can support it to varying degrees. In contrast custom designed websites put clients at the mercy of the software design company or even individual that produced the software. If they disappear or go belly up, administering or upgrading the website may be at risk depending on the generality of the methods and software used.
3)Blogs allow users to update and change large portions of the website content relatively easily – WYSWYG editors allow users to change pages or posts with the same ease as using Microsoft Word or other full page editor. This means significant portions of content remains within rapid user control and change as required. It also makes routine maintenance chores easier for whomever is responsible.
4)Blogs allow the user to update and change the style of the website relatively easily – Most good blog software these days are built on themes or templates that the user can change or buy and install themselves. So the look and feel or styling of a website is also under substantial user direct control if they so choose. A caution – styling and layout can get complicated quickly requiring expert/developer help and assistance.
5)Blogs allow adding new, well tested and often free features to a website – Plugins, extensions or modules are like Apps for the iPhone. Many are free or available at nominal cost from 3rd parties. The range of extensions available depends on the blog software used. For example, Drupal has hundreds of plugins. User can change their Drupal blog into an eCommerce site, Image Gallery, Bulletin Board/wiki, Project-management Tool, etc. Again, users can participate but developer implementation is often the best approach to added website functionality.
6)Blogs feature WYSIWYG GUI interfaces throughout the blog – This makes for easier use, faster and more flexible editing of content, and easier administration.
7)Administering blogs has been made much more approachable – Some aspects of administration such as back up, security and spam control, SEO-Serach Engine Optimization, and others can be done by end users once the appropriate extensions and plugins are installed by the developers. Again, like in the case of templates and plugins, developer assistance is still essential – because some admin modules can collide or precise tuning can be required.
8)Blogs address security and reliability questions/problems quickly – Blog software has to be secure and reliable for its community of users. So hacks and bugs get squashed a lot faster when many users are dependent on a blog to work quickly and effectively for them. Just follow the stream of bug and security fixes at WordPress. The result is that the update procedure for the whole WordPress blog software is one of the easiest, fastest, and safest in the blog world.
9)Blogs are pretty fast, even for thousands of users – The NYTimes uses dozens of WordPress blogs on its website and they offer fast service throughout the site. Try the Bits Blog on Technology or the Dealbook Blog about all the “good things” going on Wall Street for examples of good response time.
10)Blogs have been quick to incorporate social media – Links to Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn etc are not uncommon among the big blogs either directly or through extensions/plugins. Joomla and WordPress have apps that make iPads and/or iPhones and/or other popular smartphones able to read and navigate their blogs more expeditiously.

I could easily add a half a dozen more reasons for using blogs as the base for a clients website – more people know how to run popular blogs, blogs accept more direct HTML and JavaScript coding, wonderful new Web 2.0 widgets are popping up on all the blogs, many blogs supply important version control built right in, etc. But the bottom line is that using a blog as a base for a website allows fast delivery, great features with expandability,  and low costs to be offered to your clients. Using a blog as a website base is a distinct win-win as clients gain more operational and content control while you have opportunities to do many effective, desirable and profitable refinements.