As our communication means shifting from paper base to web base, social media – to be more specific, blogging – has gained its importance as a means to disseminate news, information, and messages across the globe. In order to effectively share information – one of the most important responsibilities as public health practitioners – with the rest of the world through blogging, constructing a “pretty face” to attract attention is perhaps the first step to take. True, information is power, but creating a great first impression for potential visitors of your blog (e.g., public health audience) is part of the package to disseminate your content, your thoughts, your message, your view of the world…
Here are the 9 elements suggested by Heather Mansfield in her book, A How-to Guide for Nonprofits Social Media for Social Good, to provide you with some ideas on the best practices for blog designing, constructing the best face to show your content. To better illustrate Mansfield’s suggestions, a health blog, created by Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publication (http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/), is incorporated into this post.
- Use a Simple Design That Allow a Custom Header
- A two-column layout is suggested with a blog post column and a promotional column. The color scheme is a white background with black text, plus one color from nonprofit’s branding for links. Including a header across the top that matches the organization’s overall branding is important. The Harvard Health Publications (HHP) blog page contains all of the suggestions with the links in burgundy (which is Harvard’s school color).
- Feature the Ability to Subscribe to Your E-newsletter and Text Campaign and to Join Your Social Networking Communities
- Including a subscription feature at the upper right-hand corner of promotional column (the most valuable section) is essential. HHP page contains this feature at the upper right-hand corner.
- Limit Your Use of Third-Party Widgets
- No third-party widgets are included on HHP page.
- Invest Time and Effort in Crafting Your Pages
- Take time to create content. Every page should have at least one photo. Each secondary page contains a a photo. HHP has photos on every secondary page.
- Allow Comments, but Moderate Them
- HHP allows comments, but not sure if the comments are being moderated.
- Add share Functionality
- Although HHP blog page does not contain the “share-it” feature, this page is very easy to be located via a search engine. Getting publicity is not a problem.
- Add search Functionality
- There is indeed a Search Box on the very top of the HHP blog page.
- Feature Recent Posts and Recent Comments
- Under the subscription feature on the right-hand column, there are two sections: Recent Posts and Most Commented. These are the highlights for the week so that visitors can easily identify what is new and what is popular on this blog page.
- Use Photos and/or Video in All Blog Posts
- Photos and/or video enhances the posts in terms of looking more professional, which then in turn might urge visitors to take the posts more seriously.
Blogs like Harvard Health Publications are all over the web, disseminating health information to those who seek the help. As Heather Manfield states in her book, “Your blog can have excellent content, but if the first impression that it gives is poor, most people won’t bother reading it” (Manfield, 2012). Blogs are new means to spreading information, thus designing a face to attraction visitors’ attention to their blog is what each social justice organization be thinking about…
- Mansfield, H. (2012). Social Media for Social Good. A How-To Guide For Nonprofits. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.
- Harvard Univeristy Publications. Trusted advice for a healthier life. Harvard Medical School. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/.