One thing apart from content that differentiates a normal blog from a successful blog is its design. Designing a blog is quite different from designing a website. Not only you need your blog posts to be easily readable, you also need to promote revenue stream source ( Advertisements, Services or products ) efficiently.
I’ve been blogging for three years. During this time, I have analyzed thousands of blog designs. There are several factors that combine to make a successful blog design. In this post, I’ll discuss these factors. These post will help you re-design your blog into a more reader friendly blog.
Why pay attention to your blog design ?
I Agree that “Content is the king” and it is responsible for a blog’s success far more than design is. However the design of a blog plays a key role in success of the blog.
You should note that regardless the quality of content, if you have a poor design, readers won’t be returning back too often. Readers need content on your blog to be easily readable and blog design to be easy to navigate.
One doesn’t need to worry if he/she thinks his/her blog design is poor. Changing design of a blog is far more easy than re-designing a complete website. So, even if you have a poor design, you can easily re-design it to be more reader friendly.
The Anatomy of an Ideal Blog Design
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Below mentioned are some key elements that contribute to make the design of a blog awesome.
Color Scheme of Your Blog
This is something that plays a salient role in the success of your blog design. For example, the color scheme of this blog is mainly green with a touch of blue here and there.
Just to attain this color scheme, I had to add several extra lines of CSS in my theme files. However, the end result was pretty convincing.
One needs to be very careful while choosing the color scheme of his blog. You surely don’t want end up in choosing a color that is least favorite among your audience as your prime color.
When it comes to color, Kissmetrics published a very informative infographic about popularity of colors. According to studies, Blue is the most popular color in the world, followed by green in men and purple in women. Maybe that is why most of the technology blogs you’ve seen are blue.
You can also try the color scheme generator at palatton.com. It helps in choosing color schemes for website or blog.
But, you shouldn’t care too much about popularity of colors while choosing your blog theme. Sometimes there is need of uniqueness in the blog design. Your blog’s design can get popular among your reader if its unique.
Blog readers relate your blog design with your blog, that’s why you need a unique and creative color scheme.
The very first thing a reader catches most of the time when he/she visits your blog is its logo. It is the logo that makes you stand out from the crowd in the blogosphere.
I’ve also noticed that most of the bloggers don’t pay attention to logo. There are several options if you wish to get a logo. You can either try free logo generators online or hire a freelancer to make a custom logo for your blog.
Your logo should convey some meaning. Great website’s logos always have a meaning behind them. It is the logo that represents your business in one icon.
Logo can also be used up as favicon. If you aren’t sure about where to get your logo from, you can check out fiverr, a place where you can get yourself a logo for as little as $5 !
Make sure your logo represents what you do, more importantly, it should convey a meaning. A stylish logo with no meaning is almost a waste.
Which font family you use also has a great impact on your blog design. After all, the aim of your blog design is to make content easily readable and accessible.
Typography includes few options like font family, font size, inter font spacing, line height and font weight. There are lot of system fonts you can use such as Arial, Helvetica, Georgia, Verdana etc.
These fonts are available on majority of systems. However, these aren’t available on Linux based systems, hence making your blog look weird on their systems.
Nowadays, more and more blogs are starting to use Google fonts. The major advantage of using these fonts is that they are rendered online and hence you don’t have to worry about everyone having the font installed in their computer.
Some blogs still stick with the conventional fonts as Google fonts can sometimes take a few moments to load ; hence increasing your load time. While choosing google fonts, make sure you see how much time it takes to load. Google fonts displays the time needed when you choose to use a font.
This blog uses “Open Sans” in 15px, which takes up 15 milliseconds to load. Font size is quite important aspect as well. Your font should be big enough to read. Your reader should be able to read your content without your blog hurting his eyes.
Also, avoid using multiple fonts on your blog ; it will definitely slow down your blog.
Did you know majority of readers will quit your blog it doesn’t load within 3-4 seconds ?
Further more, readers don’t like waiting. No one likes waiting !
That is why you need your blog to load quickly. There are various measures you can use to speed up the loading time of your blog. Few measures include – using optimized images, decreasing extra CSS, compressing CSS and JS files and using a CDN ( Content delivery network ).
Heavy themes or using a lot of plugins can surely increase your loading time, making it slow over time. Further more if you are a WordPress user, it is essential to optimize your database over time.
I am not asking to compromise on design, but you should keep your eyes wide open on your loading time. You can use the free tool at pingdom.com to check your blog’s loading time and then start tweaking it.
There are various places where you can place your sidebar. Some most used placements are – Left , right, or both , or may be no sidebar at all.
Onextrapixel did a research and found a common thing in the reading pattern of all readers. Readers tend to read in “F” pattern. The illustration below will make the statement more clear.
Since readers focus more on the left side, it can serve as the ideal place for your content. Hence the best content and sidebar placement is Content on left and sidebar on right.
However this may not be one fit for all. You can experiment with your own placements. But you should always note one thing, just because your sidebar is easy to fill, don’t mess it up or make it over crowded.
I personally adore simple and clean designs. For a blog, things should not be very crowded. There should be some ample space where readers can rest their eye.
What this basically there should not be too much things on your blog, or else those extra clutter will act up as distraction for your readers.
Most of the time, Bloggers end up filling up any available space with advertisements, thinking that this will increase their profits. To increase your profits, you don’t need more advertisements, you need to fill the right space.
If you have a boxed layout, you should have ample white space, however if you have a full width layout, make sure you clear some space to make the website look tidy.
If you are a blogger who aims to generate profits from your blog, you should include an optin at optimal places on your blog.
All the marketers and bloggers always recommend that you should always be collecting emails from your blog. Even if you are not planning to sell any product or service. Collecting emails would help you generate traffic.
To increase subscribers, it is ideal to have an lead magnet. This means if you offer a freebie such as a free E-book, readers will subscribe more than if you just ask them their emails. Ideal places of including optins are in sidebar in above fold, or below your posts. Adding pop-ups on your website will also increase your subscribers over time.
Your sidebar should have more inbound elements rather than elements that make readers leave your blog. Elements that make readers leave your blog can include advertisements, sponsored or affiliate banners etc.
Placing advertisements or banners isn’t bad, but you should also have some elements that make readers surf your blog further.
These can include widgets such as “Popular Posts” , “Recent Posts” Etc. You can notice two such widgets in my sidebar as well. This is because I am working to increase traffic on this blog.
Having more inbound elements not only increase traffic, but also decreases your blog’s bounce rate.
Call to Action
CTA ( Call to action ) are important if you wish to increase sales and profits. While it is no doubt that CTAs increase revenue, but they only do so when they are effective.
Effectiveness of CTAs is greatly determined by its position and placement in the blog. Size also effects how effective can your optin be.
Ideal placements for adding optins are sidebar, before post, in the post itself, in the above fold or through the pop-ups. Like any other thing, you shouldn’t over do adding CTAs on your blog.
“One image is word thousand words” , this quote is certainly true.
Graphic are an important part of your blog and blog posts. Majority of the bloggers just go to google images and add those in their blog.
You must note that doing this isn’t suggested, nor it is ethical. I’ve also published an article on “How to get royalty free images for your blog?“.
If you aren’t that much of a graphic designer, you can hire one to help you with graphics. There are several tools that can help you easily create graphic for your blog. I suggest using photoscape or canva.
Conclusion – I am very selective when it comes to design. I’ve been blogging for quite long and have used over hundred themes and designs on my blog.
Apart from this, I also develop and re-design blogs for clients. One major aspect I take care in the design is the interests of target audience.
For example if you have a fashion blog, having pink color in your color scheme would be ideal as a lot of woman love the color pink. In this way, one should also take care of target audience while designing a blog.
What else do you find important in design of a blog ?
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If you have a blog and are in doubt of what to tweak in your design, let me know in the comments below. Leave your blog URL in the comments below and I will recommend several tweaks that you can make in your design.
This won’t cost you anything ! So, don’t hesitate to tell me your blog URL in the comments section.