Writing and design need to work together. It can be easy to choose a single side in the verbal vs. visual debate, but they both serve a crucial role on the web.
Blogs are a publishing tool. So is Twitter. That's why it’s called a “micro-blogging" platform. They are both ways to transmit written content from a writer to a potential audience. There are some great picture and video blogs out there, but originally and primarily they are for writers.
Some of the best blogs in the world have perfectly acceptable designs (you can even say quirky and inspiring) but not a distracting amount. It has to be professional and meaningful in order to keep the visitor's attention in those first crucial moments. Lazy design will turn visitors off immediately and nobody will take your content seriously.
But it cannot do the work of growing an audience or delivering value the way written content can.
You can't rush through a book. You have to take the time to engage with the ideas, consider them internally, and actively try to learn something from them. An audience takes that bit of effort very seriously and, in an increasingly impatient culture, it can be harder and harder to hold their attention.
We need to appreciate the length of time readers, instead of viewers, will need to invest.
But we can't turn to dolled up banners when the challenge of growing an audience seems impossible, just because it’s easier than turning that attention inward and learning to write better. That honesty doesn’t come easy and pictures and colors are simpler to work with. They reflect something back at you with a satisfying directness: that’s a McDonald's, that’s a cat, and that’s a stick.
And what’s the writing? Is it a hard earned reflection on your life and personality? Or is it a well branded series of paragraphs that makes no bold statement and flirts only occasionally with empathy?
The thing is, the saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover" goes both ways: good visuals can't disguise sloppy writing, and poor design will diminish even the strongest blog post or book.
In the best scenario, they're crafted alongside each other to create a single, harmonious experience. They work together to engage both those vital needs for the visitor.
And they both appreciate our time.