Roon: The New Way to Make a Content-Focused Blog

Blogging has changed. When the first blogging services started popping around ’98, most people used them as open diaries. Over time, blogs went further, and the concept of a diary fell apart. Still, they were still personal, but instead of carrying the events of our days, we now write opinions we believe are worth sharing (and some still use them as diaries — they’re just fewer and farther between). From diaries to opinion repositories, there’s one quality of blogs that’s never vanished: they’re personal.

Not only have bloggers reshaped their content, but the platforms have followed the transformation as well. From WordPress and Blogger to Tumblr and more, customization has always been an essential part of blogging. It’s like hanging pictures in your bedroom, making your space feel yours. Then came the digital magazines, like Svbtle and Medium, and theming became passé. Personality became lodged in the content. Now comes Roon, which abdicates most of the customization to leave place to what defines our generation: content.

The Age of Content

I may sound a bit presumptuous stating this, but I like to name our moment in history as the age of content. We’ve been living through a huge metamorphosis in terms of design and how we visualize content in the past few years. Social microblogging tools like Facebook and Twitter, taught us that the right message doesn’t rely on its frame.

Roon is a free service to create your personal blog without worrying about the theme.

Roon is a free service to create your personal blog without worrying about the theme.

Let’s make it clear: we never gave up on design; that’s always entwined with content. We only realized that they should play in the same team, one in which content is the star. Both Svbtle and Medium promote content that “matters”, which directly means there is a layer of trusteeship into sharing. Roon is yours truly. Not just the content, but the freedom to share whatever you’re up to.

Content Matters

We won’t guide you through the account creation, but if you’re quick, you can still register your first name and leave the nonsense handle for Twitter. Roon sticks to the purpose of being focused on writing and the main panel states that firmly. The interface is simple, a column with your posts and drafts and quick access to your account. What is left becomes a writing environment for you to, as the label suggests, just start writing.

A distraction-free environment to write your blog posts.

A distraction-free environment to write your blog posts.

As you click in the writing field, a new, untitled post is created under your drafts, everything but the characters you type fade away. Above, you can set the header image of your article, Roon suggests that you upload 2000 px images to become responsive on every device. At the bottom, characters and words counters and the Markdown tool bar, with quick access to bold, italic, underline, mark, header and images.

Roon accepts Markdown as a whole, so be comfortable to create links, inline codes, blockquotes, code blocks, lists and separators. Even if you’re a Markdown writer by nature, one that has every part of the syntax on the tip of your tongue, you’ll no longer find working with images frustrating, either. Roon keeps your images in their own server, so no exceeding your Dropbox account anymore.

Content is King

Wrote something down? Let’s publish it and check the results. The main front page of your site will hold excerpts of every article. Click the title to read the full article or the date. At the footer, some extra details you may add sit, along with your Gravatar image. I actually dislike two things about this main page: how excerpts are created and how clicking in the date leads you to the full article instead of a daily archive. Do you expect to click a date to read a full article?

Content is king as you open an article in full view.

Content is king as you open an article in full view.

As you open your full post, if you picked a header image, it will cover most of the screen, Medium has a similar issue. Actually, if you pick a green as your accent color, your Roon article pretty much looks the same. The only trace of Roon in the page is the logo in the top left, since there’s no business plan yet, I believe they’ll offer a paid option to remove that in the future.

If you chose serif as a typeface, your article will be written using Filo Web Pro; if you’re part of the sans-serif club, you’ll get Gibson. The latter is still the regular typeface of every Roon blog and tiny bits of information, often those in smaller sizes, will be forced into the Gibson treatment. This is not actually good, since picking serif means the reader must load an additional typeface, instead of replacing the default one.

Sneak peek of all customization available on Roon.

Sneak peek of all customization available on Roon.

Just like plenty of blogs out there, there are no comments; instead, at the bottom of your article, there’s a suggestion to take the discussion out to Twitter (if you added a handle). It is also quite easy to share your articles on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. As I said earlier, reducing the friction of sharing is essential in an era focused on content.

Your Personal Magazine

Roon follows closely at most of the typography guidelines suggested in the last few years, since Oliver Reichenstein wrote his “Web Design is 95% Typography“. Recently, the boom of online magazines brought to light the necessity to focus on content. The Magazine, Medium and Svbtle have shown it. Roon takes this scenario to personal blogging. Of course, you can customize every blog out there to reduce the amount of useless elements, Roon just takes that out of the way in favor of writing.

Roon makes it easy for the person who just wants to start a blog and has an idea about how responsive design and typography are important for today’s web design. There’s an iOS app already available (quick review: it lacks a better Markdown bar) and a Mac app is coming. So if you’re still looking for a place to settle down after Posterous or just don’t trust Yahoo to hold your Tumblr, you might want to think about turning Roon into your new home.


Summary

Roon is a blogging platform which will look beautiful on all devices and every screen size. You get all of this without the need to write or customize any code.

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  • Roon seems very interesting. Thank you.

  • I would expect the date to link to the full post. A lot of systems link the date to a permalink (Twitter and Facebook comes to mind), and most blogs does not have enough posts to make a daily archive make any sense (it would mostly contain 1 post).