What’s the Difference?
Today I got a phone call from our local newspaper’s “business advocate” — the guy who writes stories about business. He was researching an article about blogging and figured that I was the most active blogger — if not the only blogger — in town, so I might be able to to provide some information about it. He wasn’t aware that I’d co-authored a book about WordPress blogging software (WordPress 2: Visual QuickStart Guide) in 2006 and he probably wasn’t aware that I wrote Putting Your Small Business on the Web back in 2000. He probably also doesn’t know that I’ve written four books about Web authoring software (various versions of PageMill, now defunct) and that I’ve been building and managing Web sites since 1994 (although I’m not crazy enough to do it for a living).
We stumbled a bit in our conversation. He referred to my Web site, wickenburg-az.com, as a blog. (The site has been around since 1999, predating the blogging phenomena by at least 3 to 4 years.) I responded that it wasn’t a blog, that it was a Web site built with blogging software. And then he asked me what the difference was.
I had to think about it. What is the difference between a Web site and a blog?
They’re very much alike.
Let’s take a look at the similarities.
- Web sites and blogs are both published on the Web and can be read with any Web browser. This gives them the same basic look and feel and similar user experiences. Web sites built with blogging software can look and feel just like a blog, even if that’s not what they are intended to be.
- They depend on good, useful content. Web site visitors and blog readers come to read content. If the content is good and meets their needs, they’ll be back for more. If the content sucks, they won’t.
But they are different.
Of course, I needed to explain how they were different — not how they were the same. The response I came up with centered around the purpose of visitors coming to to the site, but there are more differences.
- Web site visitors come to a site to look for specific information. That information does not need to be new. It just needs to be what the visitor is looking for. For example, I visit the HP Web site when I need a new driver for one of my printers. I know it’ll be there and I don’t care if it’s been there for five years. People visit wickenburg-az.com to get basic information about Wickenburg: what it’s like, what to do there, etc. But blog readers visit or subscribe to blogs to get fresh information or insight on topics that are important to them. I read ProBlogger, for example, because it has timely articles that can help me understand how to be a better blogger. People visit aneclecticmind.com to read articles like this one about blogging, or other articles about flying, or even other articles about what it’s like to live in a place like Wickenburg — all from my point of view.
- Blogs tend to be more opinion-based than Web sites. Sure, HP is going to tell you on their Web site that their printers are the best, but what would you expect? On my blog, I’ll tell you what I think about my HP printer and compare it to other printers I might own or have experience with. I’ll also tell you what I think of Apple Geniuses or local restaurants or life revolving around the Internet. (Although some locals might find this hard to believe, I keep most of my negative opinions of Wickenburg out of wickenburg-az.com. Most.) The opinion aspect makes blogs more personal than a Web site.
- Blogs rely on fresh content. It’s commonly accepted that a blogger should post at least 3 to 5 new entries a week. Web sites, on the other hand, are more static and don’t require as much updating. Their visitors don’t expect it, either.
Does it matter?
Who knows? But it’s made me think about blogging a bit more than usual lately. And I’m sure it will lead to a few more articles here about what makes a blog a blog in the near future.