Let’s talk blog design. The first thing readers will notice when they get to your blog is the design. Is it easy on the eyes? Easy to navigate? Or is it hard to read or too busy? If the latter, readers won’t stick around. I know I have left blogs without reading any content if I have a hard time reading the font or if there are ads screaming at my everywhere I look.
Encourage readers to stick around just by tweaking a few design features on your blog. Altering your blog’s design can be simple and there are things you can do yourself, without hiring outside help. It’s often a matter of simplifying and toning down, rather than adding anything complex or fancy. Less is more, people! 😉 Follow these 5 Tips for a smarter blog design.
Your website should have easy navigation that makes sense to anyone who visits it. You don’t need to link to every page from your nav bar. I like to include links to my Home page, Blog, Contact, and About Pages, and to my Shop.
You should have a main home page with links to your blog, shop, contact, and about pages. Everything should be just a link or two away from that main page. It makes it easy for the visitor if you have links for navigation on each page. Don’t do anything fancy. Put yourself in your least web-savvy visitor’s shoes.
Declutter Your Sidebar
When it comes to your sidebar, less is more. Flashy ads can take away from your killer content and cause readers to leave your site. Keep the ads and affiliate banners to a minimum.
Move network and blog buttons and awards to your About page, unless they’re from a large publication.
I like to keep my sidebar pretty simple; A search bar, opt-in, social media icons, a list of popular posts, and an ad or two. That’s it.
If you really want to include your Pinterest profile widget or Insta feed, more ads, etc. don’t forget about your footer widgets (if your theme allows them)! Keeping each widget area simple is my best advice. There’s no need to throw everything you’ve got all in one place.
Easy on the Eyes
Color choice can make a tremendous difference in how a blog performs. Colors that are too loud or that contrast too sharply can make your blog hard to read.
Never put a light colored text on a dark background. White text on black is a great way to kill your readership and raise your bounce rate.
Spend time testing it yourself by reading your blog entries. After a few minutes of reading, you’ll really get a sense of how easy it is on the eyes.
Large and Clear Fonts
You may have a quirky font that you love to death, but refrain from using it, or only use it for headlines or graphics. Plain fonts that are large and easy to read work best. Sample a few fonts and choose the one that’s simplest. To be on the safe side, and this may sound silly, but choose a font with your grandparents in mind. If they can read it, all of your readers should be able to.
At the same time, think about the nature of your blog’s content and who your readers are. If they are professional business people, look for fonts that are more traditional (like Arial or Times New Roman). If your readers are young hipsters, you’ll probably want a font that’s a little trendier and interesting. However, it still has to be easy to read!
The Call to Action
The ‘call to action’ or CTA is a part of every blog that’s often misunderstood. It doesn’t have to be something such as ‘Buy Now’ (yuck!). Calls to action can be very subtle, simply telling the reader what they need to do in order to receive the benefits you’re offering, whether it’s a place to get more information (your email list!), a resource that’s helpful (your killer freebie!), or a product you’re selling.
Your call to action needs to stand out and be clearly understood, but it shouldn’t sound like sales hype. One good place for a call to action is on the sidebar where you’re making your offer or requesting their email addresses. Another location is the very end of each post, often in a P.S. section.
Try to avoid mixing your calls to action into your main content unless you can manage to do it with great subtlety. Remember that you want your readers to see you as helpful, throwing in a few offers and recommendations here and there, not a pushy salesperson.
The Magic of Split Testing
The best way to discover what truly works and doesn’t is to split test your blog design. Create two versions of a page or post with only the design features changed. Then, check your analytics, whether it’s through Google Analytics or any other program that allows you to do split testing. The analytics will tell you which design features your readers prefer, and you can then implement them on your blog.
Have questions about blog design? Let’s chat in the comments below!