Your blog’s design is a big deal. It’s now the price of entry for content marketing and blog publishing. Think about it. What are the top blogs you visit on a daily basis? Do they look like they were designed by a kindergarten Kickstarter project? Nope, I didn’t think so.
Listen to your gut if it is telling you that something is “off” with your blog design. That same thought is cruising through your reader’s mind as well. It could be the little thing that is crippling your blog’s growth.
Here’s the good news –
You can fix your blog’s design by making a few quick tweaks. I’ve compiled 50 of the best ones in my new expert guide. Go ahead and download it. It’s free.[blogdesignguide]
When you register, I’ll give you free access to my PS Mastermind that is filled with other blog and business building resources. There’s some great stuff in there.
10 Clever Blog Design Tweaks to Get You Started
While you’re waiting for the Interwebs to send the full 50… I’ll get you going with 10 of the best blog design tweaks.
Color is powerful and tricky. You know instinctively when colors work and subconsciously cringe from colors that don’t match. Thankfully it’s easier than ever to identify a color scheme that amplifies your brand and personality.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Your top priority is to get visitors to read your blog posts. Make sure that they are not sidetracked by poor layout choices.
At a glance your reader should be able to find your primary navigation and first post headline. From there your reader should transition easily to the comments section. Anything that stands in the way of these basic actions should be removed.
The Golden Thread
Readers arrive at your blog looking for clues about your blog’s subject. Help them out by communicating the same message with your blog title, tagline and navigational labels.
I call this the Golden Thread.
For example, a promotional marketing blog’s thread starts with the blog title “Promotional Marketing Tips”, The Tagline follows with “Smart Promotional Tips that Get’s Results”, and the Primary Navigation has “Promotional Marketing News”, “Getting Started with Promotions”, and Promotional Marketing Tools.
New visitors following the golden thread know exactly what to expect.
Be Careful with Stock Photos
Stock photography is a safe choice.
They often have great white backgrounds and come in a variety of sizes. The problem is that stock photos can also look fake and robotic.
If you can manage it, look for opportunities to use photos from “everyday” photographers on Flickr.
Use a search tool like Photopin to quickly identify photos with “Creative Commons” rights. Creative Commons means that the photo creator will allow their work to be used with proper attribution.
Understand H1, H2, and H3 Style Tags
WordPress blogs use <H1>, <H2>, and <H3> styles to give different font sizes and colors to headings in your blog post.
Get into the habit of consistently using these tags to catch reader attention, interrupt their scanning, and pull them into the post. Before selecting a template, review your template design demo to see how the template presents <H#> subheadlines.
Crop Images to Focus on the Subject
When using photos, take the time to crop the image to focus on the primary subject. This means eliminating useless space.
Photos of people should be cropped to tightly focus on their faces. The same best practice applies to any image. Cropping insures that readers focus on the your subject rather than getting lost in all the background noise.
Break Your Post Text into Easily Digestible Chunks
Most people find it difficult and tedious to read long chunks of text.
Add mobile screens, poor lighting, and small text sizes, and you have a readability nightmare. Help your readers by limiting your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences. Yes, this breaks some sacred literary rules but you are striving for rapport not the Pulitzer Prize.
Along with shorter paragraphs, use subheadlines to introduce new ideas or points. These subheadlines will catch the attention of blog post scanners and entice them read your post more closely.
Limit Number of Sidebars
Many blog themes offer page layouts that include two and even three sidebar options. The multiple sidebars seem like a good way to pack more stuff onto the page. That’s the exact reason they should be avoided.
Sidebars work best when they are focus on one or two elements, the more stuff they hold the more they distract the reader and clutter up the page. Stick with one sidebar, this will force you to make good choices about what you place in them.
Smartphones and tablets are becoming the predominant tool for reading blogs.
Mobile Responsive layouts are designed to automatically shuffle the layout to present the best layout regardless of the mobile device being used. When possible, select a mobile-responsive layout.
Tell a Visual Story
Your blog’s creative should support your brand by telling your readers a visual story. Social Media Examiner is a great example of visual storytelling. Social Media Examiners tagline is “Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle”. It supports this brand promise with a safari themed header and a cartoon-mascot of a jungle explorer.
Identify the story you want to tell and use your blog’s design to tell it.
I Have 40 More…
Make sure you download the 50 Blog Design Tweaks Guide. Oh, and don’t forget to share a design rule-of-thumb that has worked well for you in the comments below.[blogdesignguide]