You may have heard that content is king when it comes to a successful blog. While this is true, it’s important to not overlook the blog design. The goal is to get readers coming back. If they cannot navigate through the site and find what they want, they may be too frustrated to return.
Design For The User Experience
When designing your blog, put yourself in the readers shoes. Chances are, a first time reader has found your blog because of a great post you have written. Their next step will be to find out more about what the blog is all about.
Blog Name and Tagline
If your blog name is descriptive of what you write about then you may not need to include a tagline as a descriptor. However, if you blog about DIY projects and your blog name is your personal name, you will need a tagline for explanation. This is especially true for a new blog.
Readers will be looking for clues as to what your blog is about by first looking at your header. This is typically where you would put your blog name or logo. If the blog name doesn’t really describe what you write about, make sure your tagline is also in the header.
Here is an example of the logo and tagline that I designed for a wedding DIY blog.
Although the name ‘Something Borrowed’ can make you think of a wedding blog, the title could also pertain to something like a library. The simple tagline of wedding diy makes the blog theme very clear.
In lieu of a tagline, you could also write a short description of what the blog is about in the sidebar. Just keep it to the top of the page for the most visibility.
Keep Your Blog Layout Familiar
It may be tempting to design a super original blog that doesn’t look like any other blog out there. This creativity could keep a reader from coming back due to confusion. Normal things that readers look for above the fold should be easy to find in your blog design. Things like navigation, search bar, and social media icons should be in common places. For instance, if readers are used to seeing navigation along the top of the page, don’t move it to the bottom. A change like that will only frustrate the user. Use your creativity for things like logo design, font styles and colors.
There are many different ways to layout the body of your blog home page. The key is keeping the flow clean and uncluttered. What you have displayed should be clear and descriptive. A well organized blog will make readers happy and want to return.
A good exercise is to visit some of your favorite blogs and try to navigate through them. Is it easy to find what you want? What do you like or dislike? Make a list of things you like and things you would do to improve the experience. Then, incorporate these ideas into your own blog design.
Create Descriptive Navigation or Menu Labels
Start by making a list of up to seven key topics that you will be writing about. Then, come up with a one to two word title that best describes these topics. For instance, with a blog about DIY projects, the menu labels could be names of the home areas where projects are done. If you know that the blog is about DIY projects and see that the menu labels are kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and outdoors, it’s pretty obvious what the labels mean. Click on kitchen and you will find projects for the kitchen. More ambiguous labels like best projects or fun projects make it more difficult if a reader is searching for bathroom ideas.
Choose Fonts That Are Easy To Read
Script fonts may be okay for titles but never use a script font for your body text. It will be extremely difficult to read. Choosing a simple easy to read font will keep your blog looking cleaner. I like to use a sans-serif font on blogs because of the clean look and flow.
It’s also a good idea to have a back up web safe font, that you like, in the event that your favorite font doesn’t work on all operating systems. You do this by specifying a font family instead of just a single font. If you chose Open Sans as your font, you could simply choose another sans serif and list it like this: font-family: “Open Sans”, sans-serif;. Or, you could choose a specific web safe font that you like. This gives you a little more control over what readers see.
Try not to use more than two font styles in your entire blog. More than that and the text will start appearing too cluttered and distracting. Colored text can be used to help distinguish areas such as headings but should also be kept to a minimum.
The size of your text is also important for readability. Typically, a base font size of 16px and a line height of 1.2em is a good rule of measure.
Use White Space For Better Readability
Most of us like to quickly scan a document or blog for what we are really interested in reading. We like to be able to move quickly to get to what we want. Separating text with headlines and images allows readers to scan easily. Just make sure that all of the text and images aren’t scrunched together. This would defeat the purpose of separating out content.
Once you have a good blog design, the next step will be working to boost your blog traffic.