One of my favorite sites to visit right now is Medium.
Medium bills itself as “A better place to read and write things that matter.” As far as I can tell, this description is spot on.
The site has mastered three things that the battered and beaten real estate blog – and content marketing in general – can learn from and hopefully mimic: great design and well-written, meaningful content that contributes to a larger discussion of an issue.
And it gets people. They publish stuff people actually want to read.
As soon as you land on Medium’s homepage, you know what this site is about – content. You get one hero image that takes up the left side of the screen, and bold headlines with 2-3 sentence teasers.
Each headline also includes the grouping the post is in and a time estimate for how long it will take to read.
No social icons. No crowded navigation bar. No overwhelming choice. Nothing that would keep me, the reader, from getting right to what I want to see – the words.
Towards the bottom of the screen, you can find your way to the Collections page, which displays groupings of posts around themes and topics.
When you click on a post, you get a story image at the top, a bit of info about the author to the left, a publish date and the content.
Again, nothing extra. Nothing crowded. Just the words and space in which to absorb them. It’s peaceful.
Quality of course is where Medium really differentiates. You could describe this site as a sort of blogging network since it’s all user-generated content that’s plugged into the same platform. But that’s not quite accurate. It’s more focused. More polite. It’s about something.
It’s deliberate and cared for. Edited by professionals.
All of these characteristics directly address first-generation blogging’s biggest problems: purposeless content, keyword-stuffed paragraphs and titles, spam comments, abandonment, and just plain old bad writing.
It’s not content for the sake of content – for SEO, for marketing, for social engines. It’s content for the sake of discussion, arguably the only reason to ever create content in the first place.
The third leg upon which Medium stands is people. It’s not a one-man or one-woman show. It’s not an intimidating staff of gatekeepers. And it’s not the Wild West where people are set free to roam about and do whatever they please.
Instead, writers, editors and readers are presented a clear path. Readers have a voice – they can create public notes on posts in line to point out which part of the content they’re commenting on. Writers have a reason to write – to contribute to a larger theme or topic that moves them.
Not too large, not too small
Blogging is not dead. In fact, Medium appears to be a beacon of light guiding a revival. A better way.
Its future will be found somewhere at the intersection of the three things Medium does so well: design, content and people. This is next-generation publishing.
A real estate blog can be this good
But to get there, it needs clean and deliberate design. White space. It needs to get rid of the circus that often shows up in the sidebar.
And it needs people who care about the topics and themes they cover. It needs writers and editors who listen and get people.
This approach is tough, for sure. But think of the lasting benefits that would come from being a large part of those discussions – the driver of those discussions. Think of how truly novel and different that could be.