Comments Aren’t the Only Way to Interact

Community

That frame is from The Oatmeal’s latest work. And regardless of what you think of it, you cannot leave a comment on his website to tell him.

A lot of people who give advice about how to run a website will tell you that everything is about the fan/follower/customer. And to an extent they are right. Your business will not last very long without customers.

But you should do something for a reason, not for the sake of doing it. Eliminating comments does not eliminate your community. So The Oatmeal makes a great point. If someone tells you to do this or that, or never do that or this, make sure you understand why. Because if you look around, chances are someone is being successful by doing the exact opposite of the advice you are often given.

I have been reading a lot of blogs about minimalism lately and their design often mirrors their subject. Some contain little more than black text on a white background. Some do not have comment sections. And guess what? They are awesome. I enjoy reading them just as much as blogs with sidebars, author photos, and lots of comments.

I can see the former category being criticized because of their Spartan looks, but they have not ceased interacting with their readers. They still have Twitter accounts, e-mail addresses, and plenty of other ways to communicate. They just link them in different places—like the bottom of their posts or on the about page.

I have received very few comments on my other blog, The Ytse Times. We are talking like ten comments in two years (unless you count spam, then I get a ton of comments). But on Facebook and Twitter, I have lots of interaction with my readers. There are likes, comments, and discussion galore when I link a new article on Facebook. It is just that all the discussion takes place on Facebook, not my blog.

The goal is not always getting as many website hits as possible, it is engaging with the follower/fan/customer. Facebook and Twitter provide great platforms to do this. So as long as my community is happy, who cares where the discussion is taking place?

Know what you want to accomplish. Know how you define success for your site/blog/project. Go after that, not hits or the fanciest design (unless, of course, that is the goal).

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