IE blog is a great experience

Have you noticed how consistent the terminology, tone and style are on the IE blog? Clearly, a lot of work is going into making this blog as good as possible at promoting the work the IE team is doing on the new browser. It remains to be seen how the browser itself evolves, but I think there is a lot to learn from studying the IE blog.

First, it looks to me as though Microsoft have carefully chosen a message, purpose and style for the blog’s articles. The articles are very consistently directed at promoting the improvements in the upcoming browser. Nobody puts this type of effort into a blog unless they take it very seriously. Microsoft must believe this particular blog is important to their business. It’s directed at what are probably small audiences (I’m guessing these include web developers, the interested public, and standards geeks) within an already small audience (people who read blogs), but Microsoft probably understands these are the folks who might influence the very people who left IE for Firefox.

Next, it seems to be edited by professionals. Most of the articles are by programmers, team leaders, and other geek types. I don’t want to disparage these folks. They may be excellent writers; I’m not assuming their geek status means they’re not. But you don’t just take a bunch of excellent writers and end up with the same tone and style, no matter how good they are – and that’s exactly what I see on the IE blog. I think you need professional editors to achieve that, so I can’t believe they’re not using them. This is an excellent move, in my opinion.

Just one example: the consistent focus on how IE6 is not a “great experience” and IE7 is a “great experience.” Here are some quotes:

The IE6 experience for managing your Favorites and History is fairly disjoint and inconsistent. In IE7 we wanted to address these issues as well as make sure that we had a great experience between Tabs and Favorites.

IE7 Printing: An Experience You Won’t Want To Miss

In my previous post, I gave a glimpse of what to come in IE7 and printing. Now that the Beta 2 Preview build is publicly available I like to walk you through all the additions we added to printing and print preview. Internal studies showed that printing is the second most used feature after navigation in a browser and traditionally has not seen the respect it deserves.

To address this IE7 focuses around 3 experiences:

  • Having a great default print experience
  • Intuitive UI, putting you in control
  • Letting you select the content you are interested in and preview it for adjustments

Having a great default experience

Most users just want to quickly put the content of the screen on …

I could go on, but instead I’ll just mention another couple of things I see consistently:

  • correct grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation
  • consistently interesting, active, and engaging tone
  • universal excitement about all the great new improvements in IE

Overall, I get the sense someone may have come up with “talking points,” similar to how politicians discuss their platforms. It’s not just the IE blog, either. The RSS Team Blog is getting the same love.

None of these ideas is new. Each is a best practice in traditional media, and even in other online content, but in my opinion, relatively few people are writing blogs to traditional standards of quality – or even expecting other bloggers to do so. I think Microsoft is doing a great job with these blogs. They really stand out head and shoulders. I’d love to emulate their consistency and quality myself.

These blogs bear witness to Microsoft’s consummate marketing ability. I don’t take it for granted their IE programming team is as good, but their blog certainly plants a good impression in the reader’s mind, and if you’re in business, convincing people you’re great may be more important, in the final analysis, than actually being great. I hope, not because I’m a fan of Microsoft as a software company (I’m not!) but because so many people use their products, that they really do get IE in good shape. But whether they do or not, their blog is great.

The only gripe I have, which is shared with many other blogs, is the off-topic posts. I read the blog to learn about what’s happening in IE. I honestly, truly don’t care about the Seattle Seahawks (or any other sports team). These posts detract from the blog as far as I’m concerned; they are like spam in my inbox.

Well done Microsoft! Now if only the rest of the blogging world would sit up and take notice!

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I'm Baron Schwartz, the founder and CEO of VividCortex. I am the author of High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. I contribute to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB. More about me.