May 16th, 2007 - by Chris Garrett

Ah… the blogs versus website debate, where would we be without it?

The problem is, unlike other “this versus that” issues, this isn’t an apples and oranges debate at all, it is more like a Granny Smith’s versus … some other variety of apple. Um, red apples versus green apples? …

A website can have the attributes of a blog and a blog can do anything a website can. Why? Because they are both websites.

I use WordPress as a content management system; I have also added RSS to a traditional website before. It’s not always easy that way round, but doable.

Blogs do not even have to look like blogs, they can work however you want them to. Many people object to blogs because of “that front page with all the articles on it” or “I don’t like the archive based navigation” yada yada.

People who say “blogs must”, or “blogs can’t” or “blogs always” are probably overwhelmed with information and don’t want you to take their security blanket away.

Blogs can look or work however you want them to. It’s just a content management system and if you choose the right software, for example WordPress, then the only limitation is tweaking time.

If you think this is really about whether you should have a traditional website or a blog, that would be like asking “should my marketing only use one tactic” and my answer will always be a big fat sweaty NO.

I worked in the past with huge companies who only wanted to use one tactic. “Direct marketing will damage our brand”, “we are a premium brand, we don’t do radio *spit*”, “websites? websites? are you MAD, didn’t you know these products ONLY sell via point of sale/sales promotion/sampling/yada”. And yet every single time they allowed us to test an integrated multi-tactic strategy, sales improved.

You have to choose the tactics you believe you can make work and use them in unison.

Use both: use a blog for attraction and stickiness and use a traditional website for conversion.

… or put another way, articles and sales pages

OK, blogs can have community – how about forums versus blogs?

Again they are both websites, it is possible to hack up a blog so it works like a forum (I wouldn’t, but you can). They are two different types of venue really.

In a blog it is “I think this, what do you think?”, where as in forums it is question/answer. You generally have little control over the direction the conversations take (which is a good thing) in a forum.

So again, why not have both? When you need to control the agenda, you direct the conversation more in blogs. If you want spontaneous conversation go with forums. Think of a forum as friends talking whereas with a blog it can be more like a friendly salesman directing the conversation towards purchase.

Next time someone asks you “blogs versus websites”, just say “no, articles AND sales pages” and tell them Chris told you to say it. 😉

Chris Garrett is a professional blogger and online media consultant. His eBook, “Killer Flagship Content” should be required reading for all bloggers.

19 Responses to “An End to the Website Versus Blogs Debate”

1 Kathy

I agree whole heartedly with: “People who say “blogs must”, or “blogs can’t” or “blogs always” are probably overwhelmed with information and don’t want you to take their security blanket away.”

Most of the “pushback” I get from clients on the “blog vs web site” issue deals with FEAR of technology. They fear they won’t be able to use Word Press… or they fear that it will take HOURS out of each day to blog.

For most solo entrepreneurs, a blog is a GREAT Content Management System, giving the overworked business owner a way to easily communicate with potential customers/clients.

2 Chris Garrett

Absolutely I love WordPress as a CMS, even though some tools might have a slight edge technologically, WordPress just works 🙂

3 Golgotha

It seems corporations are always slow to adopt to new technologies out of fear of the unknown or because they are ‘set’ in their ways. And the bigger the corporation the slower they are to adopt.

Here is one of my replies in a forum to the “blog vs website” debate that rages on –

Why is there such a dichotomy between blogs and websites? A blog IS a website! Blogs are content management systems, that is they allow for the creation, modification, archiving and removal of information resources from an organized repository. Include tools for publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search and retrieval.

A blog is a website built with a powerful content management system, nothing more, nothing less.

4 Chris Garrett

Exactly 🙂

5 Golgotha

AND WordPress writes nice clean code, many other CMS do not…

6 John

AND WordPress writes nice clean code, many other CMS do not

WordPress will write whatever you put into it so it’ll depend on the author how clean or otherwise it is. But I take your point that not all CSMs give you that option.

I must say the subject of this article’s not a dichotomy I’ve encountered much myself. Most of the business people I’ve suggested adding articles to their site aren’t even aware of what blogs are and don’t have any preconceived notions about what they should or should not do.

7 zoid

WordPress is useful and customizable with extensions.

8 Chris Garrett

It tends to not be clients/businesspeople, it’s more technical and marketing people – people who think they know 🙂

9 Sreeraman M.G

Good read friend!

10 Golgotha

@John: I have encountered the “blog vs website” debate quite a bit lately in the forums, to my surprise.

I didn’t expect there would be such strong negative feelings towards blogs. I won’t say that it’s as bad as the “I hate Flash” people, but their is still a big crowd.

11 Dan Schulz

I’ve been thinking about this lately (having a dead computer can do wonders to your mental health) and I think part of it has to do with the blogging culture itself.

You know how groups are, the crowd, the clic, the gang… They all have their own sets of rules and standards they have chosen to abide by. Over time, that set of standards either gets interpreted by a minority to mean something it doesn’t, the group decides that its way is superior to every other group’s way of doing things and tries to enforce its views upon others, or worse (as I believe the case to be with bloggers in general) both.

I’m not saying that all bloggers or all Web designers are guilty of this (only a few may lead afterall), but there are those who become self-styled authorities. While some truely know what they’re talking about (like Chris for example) others don’t. It’s these people who are harmful to the health of the community as a whole, and it’s up to those who safeguard the best interests of the community as a whole to shephard the masses from the wolves (so to speak).

So how do we go about doing this? First, we have to get rid of the security blankets and expose people to the truth. Some may not like it, others may embrace it, but I think it needs to be done, and done soon.

12 zoid

This is another discussion, someone wants to make a fresh start what would you recommend? Blogs or Forums?

13 Dan Schulz

It depends on what the needs of the site and the visitors are. If you want to control the discussion (as in what topics are discussed, meaning you start the discussion, and others reply), then a blog would be more appropriate. On the flip side if the coin, if you want your users to start their own discussions and then let others reply, then a forum would be the better choice. Just be prepared to spend some serious time moderating it if it becomes popular.

14 Golgotha

@zoid: “blog or forum?” you could do both, but as Dan points out forums can be a lot more work than you might think.

Search-This was once a forum (with over 2000 members). But it became such a pain in the butt to run, moderate, and fight spam all day that I decided to pull the plug. That and the fact we really didn’t provide any service that people couldn’t get over at SitePoint.

Just a heads up – a successful forum can be very difficult.

15 TOMAS

Hey Chris G, glad to see you on the Search-This blog! Although I consider myself a WordPress evangelist and thus very biased when it comes to a blogging platform, I would have to say that anyone looking for a CMS + Blog solution should definitely take a look at the latest release of WordPress (ver 2.2 last I checked) since it now offers a much easier process of using WordPress as a CMS.

(P.S. Killer Flagship Content is a great read!)

16 niva

you can put coke in a wine bottle if want to, but who would recognize it?
design is all about signification.

17 Dean

(coke in a wine bottle? I understand, but what’s the point?)

“Blogs do not even have to look like blogs, they can work however you want them to. Many people object to blogs because of “that front page with all the articles on it” or “I don’t like the archive based navigation” yada yada.

People who say “blogs must”, or “blogs can’t” or “blogs always” are probably overwhelmed with information and don’t want you to take their security blanket away.

Blogs can look or work however you want them to. It’s just a content management system and if you choose the right software, for example WordPress, then the only limitation is tweaking time.”

I used to be very much against Blogs — it was “cheating”. I preferred to write webpages the good, old-fashioned way: by hand in Notepad. But then reality caught up with me and I’ve realized since that with multiple obligations competing with my time, the use of a blog/cms platform like wordpress might be OK afterall. So I’ve made it that far — I’ve accepted the concept, but my personal site is still hand-coded and not updated since eons ago. One of these days I’m planning to setup wordpress and modify it for various cms-type applications, including a (gasp) weblog. One of these days. This article addresses an interesting topic.

18 Idetrorce

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
Idetrorce

19 Debate Website

I am glad you brought this debate topic forward for all to read. Great job!

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