Blogs have come a long way since the late nineties, but most people still don’t really know much about them. The terminology confuses them. They have absolutely no desire to leave comments, and don’t know why anyone would. All the widgets in the blog sidebar are incomprehensible.
There are millions of people online who barely know what they’re doing on the internet. Can you blog for them? Oh, YEAH. You absolutely can! How? Well, I’ll get to that in a minute, but to set the stage, let’s put ourselves in the mind of a person who isn’t tech-savvy. We’ll call him Jeff.
Portrait of a Low-Tech Surfer
Jeff knows how to use the back button of Internet Explorer (not Firefox) and uses Outlook Express for his ISP-given email address. He doesn’t know how to set the home page of his browser. He doesn’t know how to use Favorites (he’s managed to add a couple, but he doesn’t know how to open them). When Jeff wants to go to a website, he does it by “search navigation.” In other words, he types in
whatever.com in the search box at MSN (or Google, but only after doing the same thing at MSN to get to Google). Then he clicks on the most promising search result. That’s how he navigates the internet.
Jeff’s (and many others’) searches might land them on your blog. If you know what you’re doing, you can deliberately target Jeff and others like him. Being less net and tech savvy, Jeff is more likely to click on ads or affiliate links. Jeff is less likely to be skeptical of the source of the information he’s reading. Jeff is less likely to suspect he might be reading a paid review. Jeff is NOT stupid. He’s just at an earlier stage of learning the ways of of the web. We are all at some point along this path, and some of us are farther along than others. All that blog bling and weird blog terms like trackback and permalink are going to make Jeff uncomfortable, and that makes him less likely to convert (do what you want him to on your site).
Traits of a Blog for a Low-Tech Audience
If you want to create a blog for a low-tech audience, try the these tips:
- Use a blog theme or template with a left sidebar and left or horizontal navigation
- Use Feedburner to host your RSS feeds, because it has email subscription capability, and then create a prominent email subscription area on your blog
- Don’t create a prominent RSS subscription block with a big RSS icon or a feed count–you will scare off your low-tech audience
- Get rid of comment links, use a contact page instead–low-tech people are far more comfortable with email
- Don’t use the word “permalink” anywhere–they don’t know what it means
- Don’t use blog or tech jargon in your posts
- Design the blog’s hyperlinks so that they are blue and underlined
- Use a theme or design that’s compatible with Internet Explorer 6
Blogs are Tools
Remember, a blog is just a method for creating web content. Yes, it usually has certain characteristics in common with other blogs, but it’s far more important to create web content that is a good match for its intended target audience. If you want to create online content for less tech-savvy audience, a blog is a great tool. You just need to make it look a little more like a more traditional website.