Blogging is hot right now, but is it right for your site? Six functional features of blogging software can tell you if a blog will be beneficial to your site.
During the recent Iraqi War weblogs (or blogs) heated up the Internet with real-time reports from the war zone, causing web developers to ask if this "hot" online reporting tool could jazz up their websites. Developments in software make installing and maintaining a weblog inexpensive or free and easy to implement, even for a beginner. But is a blog the right choice for your website?
A weblog is basically a web page that can be updated instantaneously. The weblog may be open to public postings or it may be designed with a filtering process that allows only the author or selected readers to update the page. The updates can be articles, comments, or graphics and may be hyperlinked to other resources on the Internet. Weblogs are usually built around a particular interest or topic. That being said, your website could benefit by a blog if you need to:
. Constantly update a web page. Web pages used to post jobs, announce events, record ballgame scores, solicit documents and keep a diary are all good candidates for being converted to weblog formatting. Frequent updates can be done online without the fuss of ftp, page redesign or reformatting.
. Record the time that each update was made. Blogging software can place a time stamp next to the blog entry, letting anyone know when the web page change took effect.
. Sequence entries in chronological order. Let's say you need to document the development of a project or the progression of an online conversation. Keeping a chronological list of entries maintains the flow of ideas and illustrates the relationship to entries posted before and after it.
. Ensure that authors submitting material are credited with, or made accountable for their entries. Blogging software posts the username of each author along with the entry. Used internally within a company, an intranet blog can be an indicator of performance, quality control and deadline adherence.
. Search entries at a later date. Blogging software can archive entries according to date and attach a search function, permitting the viewer to peruse and retrieve earlier postings.
. Gather related material from a variety of sources. Your weblog can be the means to receive and store documents and chances are it will be a lot cheaper than most document management systems!
Even if you could benefit in some of these ways by the weblog's powerful functionality, your blog could bog down your website if you don't adhere to one important caveat: keeping the blog current. Weblogs are most viable when they are frequently updated, and like yesterday's newspaper, quickly become stale overnight. If you or an appointed blog author might fail to keep the blog fresh, then you are best off sticking to the conventional web page.
About the Author
Fran Kramer is a senior web designer working for Apex Consulting Group, Inc.