Do I need a "website," or a "blog," and what's the difference? is a question I hear a lot. It's a good question. Due to advances in software development, there no longer very much difference from the technical standpoint between a website and a weblog (a.k.a. "blog"). Most of the website or blogging software availble now can be used to create either, and many sites have features of both a website and a blog. The primary difference is in how the terms are generally used - to describe two very different functions.
As we discussed yesterday, in Questions to Ask Before Taking Your Project Online, websites are often glorious and glorified yellow-pages type advertisements for a person, place or business. They are usually relatively "static," meaning that they are only updated occasionally. A website may be used as a "home" for links to everything else a person has going on online - a blog, social networks, press releases, contact information, photos, videos, resume/portfolio, discussion forum, etc. In general, websites tend to be more formal and professional in appearance. Usually, they are designed, hosted and managed by professional webmasters (like WebRevelation), and the cost for a website is typically more than that of a blog. Websites are more similar in nature to "old media" (i.e. print media, or broadcast media). they are one-way, and the communication is mostly one-way (from website owner to the general public). There may be a place on the website for visitors to contact the website owner, but that communication is usually private, in the form of e-mail.
Blogs are a much more "casual" option to a website. They are updated frequently, in the form of "posts," which may be formal articles, press releases, embedded videos/podcasts, photos, cartoons, etc.. Blogs are considered "new media," and are a type of social-networking, in that they are for (two-way) information sharing. Most blogs allow readers to publically comment on posts (as long as certain guidelines and protocols are followed), and to discuss the information or share links of their own. Websites may have a link to a blog. If someone has both a website and a blog, the "main" domain is usually the website, with a link to the blog - not the other way around. Blogs can also link to the blog owner's other online profiles, such as social networking sites and photo/video sharing sites.
So, which do you think you need...A website or a blog? Are you still confused? Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below. This is a blog, afterall, and we would love to hear from you! :-)
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.