Tips and hints for creating a blog or website - Nigel Preston

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When it comes to creating websites and blogs Nigel Preston is an expert. Ten years ago before blogs were invented; Nigel was creating websites using HTML code. Today, websites are easy to create using content management systems and blogs are as simple as typing your opinion and posting it on a server.

Based in Melbourne, Nigel runs the youth website STIR funded by World Vision of Australia. As the web content producer, Nigel uses the internet to encourage young people to take action and promote change. STIR works in three ways: it tries to educate people on global and national issues, encourages people to take individual or group action and acts as an online forum for young people to discuss ideas.

‘Blogging and websites is a perfect fertile ground for a campaign, having a say and petitioning for governments to do things; it allows you to go straight from A to B, there are fewer barriers and you’re not restricted to the same process as print media,’ Nigel said.

‘At STIR we rewrite issues in a way that young people can understand them - in web language. We try to fuel their passion with actions and ways you can stir for example, write a letter to the government or volunteer,’ Nigel said.

STIR is both a website and a blog, the online forum called Blender allows people to interact and the website informs readers of coming events and issues. If you’re deciding on whether to publish a blog or a website Nigel favours blogs but suggests you should think about what you want to achieve.

‘Blogs are a spinoff of websites that are more interactive, they enable the user to create and sustain a conversation. This is particularly useful for people outside of the mainstream, who don’t like cricket and football, with blogging everyone can find their niche,’ Nigel said. ‘An added bonus is more people tend to commit to long term viewing with blogs than just a once off view with websites.’

‘But if your main purpose is to inform people about your event, product or service, and you don’t want your site to be interactive; than a website is your best bet.’

Nigel’s tips

  • Know your audience- will you present factual, serious or witty information news? What does your audience want?

  • It may be boring and I hate to say it, but start with a plan to ensure your idea actually gets off the ground.

  • Use content management systems like blogger and journal rather than start your own website from scratch.

  • Another idea is to find other people and contribute to their stuff and be part of their campaign for example STIR, The Oaktree Foundation, Vibewire and ActNow. That way you already have an audience and can get straight into voicing your opinion and ideas. There’s heaps of stuff out there and it’s your decision to contribute to what’s there or create your own.

  • Don’t update blogs every day. Instead regularly add content once a week. People need to be able to keep up with the conversation but not feel overwhelmed and feel pressured into a time commitment. Once a month would be too late and people would forget to check it.

The world is your oyster

When it comes to technology Australia tends to lag behind. Nigel believes there are few people in Australia making the most of blogs and websites. ‘There is huge opportunity for people to do a really good job with very low spend, if any spend at all. Young people who use new technology definitely have the opportunity to ruffle some feathers,’ Nigel said.