Media Perspective: Blogs can provide a behind-the-scenes look at businesses

The thing I loved about my advertising life was the opportunity to see behind the scenes of various different industries and organisations. To see what made them tick, how they thought differently, how they approached different problems.

There was almost always something you could steal, some lesson you could learn, something you could apply to your own life. And the great joy of the world's outpouring of bloggery is that you now get that "behind-the-scenes-ness" wherever you look. Whatever business or industry you might be interested in, there'll be someone informed and interesting telling you all about how it works.

This is, of course, even more useful if those businesses are slightly adjacent to yours. So, over the next few weeks, I wanted to point you at a couple of blogs that do just that. They share useful thoughts from trades we'd do well to know more about.

The first is a blog you can find at test.org.uk: written by Matt Locke, a commissioning editor at Channel 4 Education (which is particularly interesting right now because, since its mission is to reach 14- to 19-year-olds, it has moved rapidly towards using the internet as its primary communications vehicle, overturning all sorts of TV assumptions in the process).

There's a load of excellent stuff on there, but there's a series of posts he's written, called Commissioning For Attention, which are particularly worth a read. Here's an extract to give you a flavour: "Design For Streams, Not For Sites. Most people using the web, especially in younger age groups, now experience the web as streams, not sites. It might be the stream of updates in Facebook, or their contact's Flickr photostream, or a string of results on Google, or in an RSS reader. The average number of sites people regularly visit is generally reckoned to be five or six, and most of these are services that organise and stream information to you."

Locke continues: "Every now and then a new site emerges that takes its place in this hallowed pantheon, but I wouldn't bet on your project being one of them. Much better to design content that plays nicely with streams - content that can be interesting and enticing as a one-line text result in a search query, and that doesn't mind being broken up into small pieces."

Isn't that excellent? The idea of designing for streams rather than sites is a lovely way of encapsulating a thought that's been banging around for ages, but which has never really gelled. Locke also offers excellent thoughts on the benefits of making it easy for your users to leave their footprints on a project, on the value of having a clear, vernacular voice and on the necessity of good signposts.

Test.org.uk - go and have a look.

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