First Impressions Matter in Hospital Blogs

Earlier this week I wrote about some of my favorite blogs as a source of inspiration and a cure for writer’s block.  So today I thought I’d go into detail as to why I think these blogs are so outstanding.

At Hive Strategies, we talk a lot about content and how important it is, which is true. If your blog isn’t informative, narrative, interesting or well-written, chances are nobody will want to read it.

But what we don’t talk a lot about is design. Design is just as important because it provides a first impression of your blog. I’ve come across many blogs that probably have great content, but their design isn’t user-friendly, and so therefore I’m not as interested in sticking around and reading it.

In this way, blogging is a two-pronged approach; you have to have good design and good content. Because of this, I’m going to share a few design elements you should consider when implementing a blog for your hospital.

1.    Layout/Navigation
Layout and navigation are important for a website, so why not a blog? Aside from the most obvious content, your blog posts and your blog name, the most important information for your blog must be displayed prominently. It’s up to you to decide what these elements are, but should include the at least the following items below. CEO Anna Roth’s Doing Common Things Uncommonly Well features all of the following elements and is a great example of making the information easy to find.

  • Blog description. Readers want to know whose blog they’re reading! This identifier should include things like your name, location, job title and employer. I also recommend a photo of yourself so readers can put a face to your name.
  • Blog archive. Sort your posts by category, key words, date and if you have more than one contributor, by author.
  • Sharing button. You should have one of these displayed prominently in your blog navigation so there isn’t a reason for your reader to not share it. There are many ways you can arrange your share buttons, and you can check out a few options here.

2.    Identity
Marketing is all about branding and identity, and your blog is no different. If your blog lives within your hospital’s web site, your blog should reflect your hospital’s branding. Using your hospital’s logo, colors and general feel is important to make your blog an integrated part of the site. The blog Seattle Mama Doc from Seattle Children’s Hospital is a perfect example of making your blog an integrated part of your hospital’s website.

3.    Formatting
A blog should be easy to read, and that’s where something designers call “white space” comes into play. Having white space in your blog means that you have enough spacing between each of the elements on your blog, giving it a wide open feel, and therefore making it easier to read. The blog 33 charts by Dr. Brian Vartabedian is a great example of using white space. The elements of his blog are nicely spaced, making it easy to read.

On a side note: avoid reversed text. We always recommend that your blog text be black, and the background white or another, very light color. Never put white text on a black or similarly dark background. It makes it difficult to read.

Whether you are in the planning phase of a blog for your hospital or already have a blog and want to give it a face lift, I hope these suggestions are valuable to you.

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