STEP Inside Be A Design Group
Adrian and I were interviewed for the Sept/Oct issue of STEP Inside Design magazine's article on blogging, Oz Speaks. It was a great honor to be included with the likes of Design Observer and Speak Up, and to have some of our site design featured as well. Adrian and I were asked a few questions by the author, Jude Stewart, and we gave her far more information than could be included in a cohesive article. We thought we would share the answers to Jude's questions (unedited). We will let you decide if Jude's selection made us sound smarter than we actually are.
J: What makes a great design blog?
A: I think it is the same thing that makes a great designer. Good designers are good communicators. Graphic designers have many unique passions that they draw from, but they also have and have the ability to communicate creatively. When you make a post on a blog, you have to care about what you are writing and be able to filter through the complexities to get to the core of an issue. That part of blogging is very similar to the design process.
B: Honesty. This is something I picked up from listening to Marshall Arisman's session at the HOW Conference. He emphasized writing what you know about. If you know and care about what you are writing, it is going to be obvious to the reader. Everyone was blogging about Cristo's gates a while back and it would have been phony if I would have done the same. I don't live in New York, so I have to write about what I see.
Of course you have to have the obvious elements: Good content, regular updates and it does not hurt to ruffle some feathers every once in a while. Adrian is better at that than I am.
J: What do you get out of blogging--personally, creatively or career-wise?
A: The addicting thing about blogs is that it gives you a place where your voice is heard. Whether you are writing your own blog or just commenting, you are connecting with people. Being part of a community like that is empowering. Personally, it allows me to build relationships. Creatively, it inspires and challenges me to be a better designer. Professionally, it makes me a better communicator and writer.
B: Personally: I keep in touch with designer friends that I have either moved away from, or have moved away from me. I also gain new friends that join in the discussion.
Creatively: It has forced me to be more observant. I start to see things that would be interesting to blog about and I take notice, or photograph it. This gives me a much broader visual base to design from as well. Writing about different design topics also gives me an opportunity to really solidify my thoughts and ideals about design.
Career-wise: Living in a small town in the mid-west I don't have much of a community of designers to bounce ideas off of. Through our blog I get to share ideas with people around the world, some of whom just happen to be fairly well know in the design community. What is good personally and creatively cannot hurt career-wise either.
J: In your view, where is this pocket of blogging going next?
A: Design blogs are going to continue to gain in popularity and importance. To be honest, I am surprised designers aren't more active in the blogosphere than they are. Designer's just have such a unique perspective and the ability to express their ideas creatively. In terms of technology, I expect to see graphic designers pushing blog designs beyond the standard templates that most people use. My guess is that we will see more blogs powered by Flash interfaces in the future..
B: I know Be A Design Group just keeps growing every month. Part of that is that more and more people are learning about the addictive joys of blogging. I would say that blogging will grow to a large influence in the design community. Of course at some point, there will be a backlash by a certain segment of our community. There is a little bit of this already.
I would like to be able to say that eventually there will be a critical mass of design blogs and then they will taper off to a few good ones. I can't. That is the beauty of blogs. The independence of blogs is one of their greatest aspects. Anyone can have a voice. As creating a blog becomes easier, I think more and more designers will create and write for their own blogs.
Graphic design blogs will segment into very different categories. They may not be able to perfectly fit within a category, but each blog will know what its place is in the "blogoshpere". There are some out there that are equal to professional journalism while some are more of a personal journal. Several different categories are becoming evident: Critical/Theoretical, Practical Design, Journal, Portal (links to other sites) and corporate. With that said, I think we could say that Be A Design Group covers several of these categories.
The future is very bright for design and blogging. Never before have designers been able to interact and discuss on such a wide scale. Designers can share ideas, inspiration and knowledge with other like minded individuals as never before. The young student can learn from the seasoned veteran while sharing his/her own unbridled energy. As one voice in the dialog that is graphic design, blogs will help unify the designer's message.