Over at problogger.net, Darren asks “Does blog design matter in an age of feed readers?”. This question has come up a number of times over the past couple of years, and it’s very interesting to track the results. It wasn’t so long ago that there was a loud and vociferous contingent of bloggers who felt that design was unnecessary. Content was all that mattered, they believed. Any time I would pop up to outline the benefits of good design, I’d be told that in a world of news readers, design just didn’t matter. It appears that belief has disappeared from the ranks of serious bloggers. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the percentage of people using news readers has remained quite low. I know quite a few web-savvy people who just can’t get their heads around the concept (seems odd, I know). Second, for many avid blog readers, news readers act more like a daily index of what’s new. They scan their news feeds to see what interests them, and click on the articles to read them in their browser. Third, even when reading posts in the news reader, there are inevitably links to discover new sites. Discovering great new sites is part of my own daily ritual. If I were just to live in my news reader, I’d be missing out on so much great content. Fourth, news readers do nothing for new visitors. I have to find your site before I can subscribe to it, right? And before I subscribe to it, I need to decide if the content is valuable and trustworthy. Like it or not, design plays a huge impact on this. The disappearance of the “blog design doesn’t matter” argument shows a maturing of the blogosphere. Serious bloggers are realizing that good design matters. Design is the art and science of directing outcomes. A lot of bloggers are finally realizing that design isn’t how something looks, it’s how something works.