Here at Cardwell Beach, we love user experience design. There’s a lot you can learn simply from reading the insights that UX designers gather, whether or not you’re designing a website or a mobile interface. (For example, good UX design emphasizes the essential business principle of putting the customer first.)
But we’ve also noticed something recently as we browse our favorite UX blogs: more and more articles are showing up on company blogs, not individual’s.
Over the past few years, as Fabricio Texeira from uxdesign notes:
“Gradually, names as Peter Morville, Jeff Sauro and Don Norman start being replaced by other names that are as familiar: InVision, UXPin, Adobe.
In 2015, the most shared pieces of content about UX have been created by a company and published on a corporate blog.”
In many ways, this is a really positive trend. For one, the attention and traction that UX design receives from these companies is a huge boost to the discipline and the people who practice it. And helping regular web users to understand and appreciate good user experiences online makes us all better consumers of digital content.
It’s also a real benefit for individual UX designers from a business standpoint by showing that their skills are not only valuable but essential to the way the web functions.
But, as with anything, there’s a catch. There’s a reason that companies blog and publicize such a specific topic. Though there’s no doubt that the majority of UX and web design-affiliated companies are fully committed to the industry, their blogs also serve their bottom line. A well-designed blog full of well-written and engaging content drives traffic and eyeballs to their site, builds up their SEO, and positions their companies as thought leaders in the industry.
And it’s not just UX design where corporate blogging is growing. 88 percent of B2B marketers surveyed by the Content Marketing Institute in 2015 reported they used content as a key part of their marketing strategy—81 percent of whom reported using blogs.
It can also be a slippery slope. Without careful quality control, corporate blogs can become dead-ends for buzzwords, endless search engine keywords, overwhelming links to free e-books, and click-bait headlines designed to simply drive traffic to landing pages.
When creating content like that, companies have forgotten who they should be serving in the first place: their readers.
As Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute puts it, “You can’t reach [a] business goal without first serving the needs of the audience.”
Web readers are increasingly savvy, and have no compunction about abandoning your blog for a better-written or more relevant option if your blogging presence is a jumble of keywords, download links, and pushy sales copy.
So what’s the sweet spot for corporate blogging? For one, if you’re going to commit resources to blogging, make sure your blog is providing value. Here are a few pointers we recommend:
- Be honest: Individual bloggers earn their followings by being transparent and approachable. Even though your blog might be representing a brand, you should try to do the same. Staying honest and sincere will ultimately do far more for your brand than staying on-message and insincere.
- Be useful: No reader on the web today is going to willingly visit your blog if it’s jammed with corporate jargon and is a blatant sales pitch for your product or service. Instead, readers are increasingly visiting company blogs for the same reason they seek out any other blog: to be entertained and informed. So make sure your content is serving your readers first, not your business interests.
- Be bigger than brand: It’s easy to keep a company blog narrowly focused on the company’s core functions, audience, or business. But doing so is missing a big opportunity. As content marketer Kirk Cheyfitz notes, “Like a decent human being, brands need to be about more than themselves.”
And yes, we know you’re reading this on a company blog. We try to make sure our content is useful, practical, and insightful, and not jam-packed with keywords and SEO gimmicks. We also don’t spam our readers with endless promotions or giveaways. We’re not perfect, but we’re also readers ourselves, so we appreciate how important it is to strike the appropriate balance.