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Starting and running a blog is a great idea, especially if you are looking at blogging as a side gig or a money-making activity you want to do full-time in the future. One of the things you will need to pay attention to in building a successful blog is its design.
Why is blog design important?
Unfortunately, most people have very short attention spans. In fact, research shows that the average attention span among internet users is a measly eight seconds (for context, the average attention span for goldfish is nine seconds. On top of that, visitors to your website will generally take as little as half a second to form an opinion once they have entered.
With that said, many bloggers put all their focus on content creation and very little or none on design. Yet, poor blog design is one of the contributing factors to low user engagement and a high bounce rate. On the other hand, well thought out blog design can be helpful in improving conversions, as well as boosting the effect of your SEO strategy. It is, therefore, a no-brainer to give attention to the design aspect when trying to create a strong first impression that lasts. How can you do this?
First, it is important to note that the design of your blog will be heavily influenced by the blogging platform you choose.
WordPress, for instance, allows you to choose a theme you can use to build your website. These themes are pre-designed and many limit the areas you can modify. Building a website from scratch allows you to have more control over its design.
Whether you use a blogging platform or build from scratch, there are certain things to focus on when designing your blog.
1. Spend time understanding your audience
When designing your blog, it is important to remember that you are not setting it up for yourself, but for your readers. If you already have a blog and looking to re-design, you can ask your followers on social media or send an email to subscribers asking for feedback about design changes they would like to see on your blog.
If you are launching your first blog, there are certain recommended themes you can try, especially if you are using WordPress or Ghost, to simplify the blog design process for beginners. There are also ways you can connect with your ideal target readers using forums and groups to find out what design elements they look forward to in a blog.
2. Keep your homepage simple yet informative
Your homepage is usually the first place visitors land on when they enter your website. And even if they happen to land on a particular blog post or another page first, many will click on your homepage to have an idea as to what your website is really about. Your homepage should quickly inform visitors of exactly what is on offer but in a simple manner. Here are some tips when designing your homepage:
Use words and images that quickly encapsulate your core offerings
Create a short, catchy tagline
Use noticeable but non-intrusive calls-to-action (CTAs) that lets readers know where to go next. Speaking of CTAs, you want to use them on every page of your website.
Add your social buttons
3. Use responsive design
It’s been a while now since most people started accessing the web on their mobile devices. In addition, Google’s search algorithm has been prioritizing websites that are mobile friendly. Having a blog that is not optimized for mobile browsing means there is a high chance that you will be missing out on loads of traffic. You should, therefore, make your website responsive if you have not already done so. If you are using WordPress, there are mobile responsive themes you can implement, as well as plugins you can use. You can also have a web developer create a mobile version of your website.
4. Develop your own style guide
Consistency in design is important if you want to create a strong, unforgettable brand image online. This is where developing a style guide comes in. A style guide allows you to capture the main elements of your brand and provides direction for your website design. It should include:
Your brand colors and website color scheme
Your preferred fonts and typography style (font weight, size, link style, etc.)
Defined writing tone and style to match your brand
Different versions of your logo
A chosen image styling
5. Include plenty of white space
As was mentioned earlier, people tend to have short attention spans. Big blocks of text and jumbled media will be a huge turn off for visitors, as well as being tiring for the eyes. When designing your website, it is highly important to optimize your layout so there is a good amount of white space. Use bold headings and subheadings, as well as lists to layout your content so that it flows down the page. This helps your webpages to be easily scanned by readers and allows you to arrange content in a more logical way.
6. Optimize for navigation
In addition to white space, you should ensure your blog is simple to navigate and easy to read. Are your menu options easily accessible? Is your text legible and of a good size? Can people find the information they need without having to search around on your site? Here are some things to consider:
Make your main menu visible and easy to navigate at the top of each page.
Only include relevant categories/menu tabs
Consider using a sticky menu that follows readers as they go down the page
Experiment with and without a sidebar to see what works best
7. Use high-quality images
Whether it is the hero image on your homepage, your bio image on the About page or stock photos for blog posts, you want to ensure all images on your blog are of a high quality. People pay more attention to images (and find them easier to remember) than text. On top of that, great imagery helps to enhance the professional look and feel of your website.
Creating your own photography and web design is the best solution to really nail the imagery, but this can be costly and time consuming. Thankfully, there are plenty of stock photo websites offering high-quality images – some that you can use for free. There are also tools such as Canva and PicMonkey that you can use to optimize your images to enhance your content.
Blog design is surely one of the critical factor to focus on when trying to create a successful blog. Be sure to acquaint yourself with best practices to ensure you get the best results.
Until next time,