So you’re working on your blog design and want to make sure you use the best practices to ensure success.
You’re ready for a change and you want your website to stand out from the crowd.
When people land on your website you envision them being taken back a little, thinking “wow this is an awesome website” – without being too distracted to absorb your content.
It’s all possible!
You want your visitors to think “I need to come back to this website” because what you offer is so insanely good. You need to make sure your branding is strong, the site is easy to use and, naturally, you set things up so it’s easy for them to come back when they want more – since they may forget to without being prompted!
You need to understand the best practices of blog design.
What are the best practices of Blog Design?
But there are a few ingredients that go into the design recipe that you may not expect.
The outcome sure isn’t going to be exactly what you think it is! It’s not just about the look, a lot of it has to do with technical factors, functionality, and transparency.
“Yes, A little “wow factor” eye candy / imagery is good for your blog, but too much is distracting. – Tweet this.
There’s a balance to everything, so below I’ve listed below the main elements your website needs to become its ultimate self. We’ll look at what it needs to be able to do so that people land on your website they feel welcome and get a little excited because they’re left with that outstanding first impression. They follow through with the actions you want them to take because of the flow and functionality is spot on.
No more foreplay, let’s get to it.
You can absorb this information in the video below, or keep scrolling for the written version!
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Make your content effortless to find.
Forget the bells and whistles, give the people what they want.
Remove the clutter and all of the mess. Keep your content above the fold. People are searching for entertainment, motivation or some kind of solution to a problem. So offer them what they want by putting your content right in front of their eyes. Visitors shouldn’t be searching and scrolling to find the information they were promised.
If a visitor lands and can’t easily identify your content, they’ll think your website is too difficult to use and leave.
Look for the useless elements of your website and remove them. There should be almost nothing above your post except for your logo and navigation – with the exception of maybe some small advertisements or call to actions that don’t push the content too far down (if required).
Then you can you pump out content that is designed to convert and generate traffic without the obstacle of a bad website or blog design standing between your visitor and effective conversion. This is one of the best practices you can implement in your blog design.
Remember: good design delivers content, it doesn’t just surround it. Transparency is key.
Give it purpose, make it convert.
You need some kind of Call to Action on your posts and pages, here’s a good example from one of Robbie Richard’s Blog Posts about SEO Keyword Research Tools:
A website without purpose is just words on a loose piece of paper. You don’t know who wrote it, where you can get more, or what they offer. Sooner or later that piece of paper will get lost. – Tweet This
Why type up numerous articles and posts just to have people read them with no follow-up action?
Your website has to serve a purpose.
Of course, if your purpose is simply to communicate and nothing else then that’s fine. But for most hard-working blogs and websites they are designed to gather email subscribers or make money by selling something.
Discover that purpose and, as mention in The Secret to an Awesome Website Design, set up a few “call to action” areas to direct people to after they read.
Make sure your page loads in under 3 seconds.
Speed is important. A website that takes more than 3 seconds to load is as good as non-existent to a large chunk of people surfing the internet.
What’s the point of content if people never actually get to your website because they get sick of waiting?
You need to make things lightweight, simplify and tone down the various elements of your blog design and focus on what’s important until you get that load time right down.
There are many ways to achieve a faster loading speed, here’s a definitive list of techniques you can use in WordPress.
Make Your Brand (and Yourself) Recognizable
Do your best to stand out.
Good design is catchy and unique, it gives you an image that identifies and separates you from your competition whilst giving people an idea of what you do.
There are many aspects to a good brand, but it all starts with a good logo. You can create a basic text logo yourself, or get one designed for you or you can try getting a professional Graphic Designer to do it for you.
But don’t stop at the logo, create a consistent brand to carry throughout your whole website, social media, and marketing in general.
For best practice, you should carry over certain styles, fonts, and colors over to your entire blog design for consistency.
I highly recommend making good use of colors for psychology and also to help convert visitors, I wrote a post covering that here. Combine these colors with the use of appropriate textures and images and you can create a sharp look that also sends a message about who you are.
Perhaps the most recognizable feature you can use is your face.
Put a photo of yourself or your website’s team up on your website. Try to consistently put more in your content (in a relevant way) so people will then get to know who you are and recognize you – that’s powerful.
Add a few ‘trust’ elements
Nerd Fitness has excellent branding, showcasing both the brand design and the owner himself, Steve Kamb.
People can smell your bullshit…
…even if you’re not full of it!
A bad design that doesn’t follow certain trust guidelines gives people a bad feeling and they get away from your website. So you need to follow the best trust practices in order to show them they can trust you!
First of all, make sure your design is crisp, clean and professional.
Hire a good designer or find a good WordPress theme that does the job, here are a few places you can get entire bundles or beautiful WordPress themes. That clean design combined with Brand recognition above is the bulk of what you need.
As mentioned in the last point, a photo of yourself or your team is powerful and is a terrific way to gain someone’s trust. You’re saying to your visitors “this is my website, here I am and I have nothing to hide” when your face and name is beside your work.
Don’t hide behind your work, stand next to it. – Tweet this
The next thing is to avoid looking amateurish, once again a good theme or design is imperative, but also avoid text that is difficult to read (try 16pt or above), low-resolution images stretched to a size way to large that they become furry or pixelated, let alone stretched out of proportion.
Keep everything high quality and people will expect high quality!
Get some testimonials, positive comments and evidence of people enjoying what you offer. It’s all about credibility, so if you’ve been featured on any major brands, pop their logo on your page also above it a line saying “as featured in”. If you have an article in the Huffington Post, use their logo!
Proper use of text formatting
The first major thing – make sure your text is easy to read, clean-cut and not too small. No fancy over-complicated fonts should be the focus of your page, as they are just an obstacle most users don’t want to jump over.
This also means your posts need to be broken up and scannable.
This means short 2 or 3 sentence paragraphs, clearly identifiable subheadings so people can scroll through and find exactly what they need fast!
A clear and easy to find navigation
Backlinko is another example of effective blog design, and the Navigation is hard to miss whilst also focusing on 3 simple pages he wants to drive traffic to:
People will be looking to see what else they can explore on your website after they finish reading your content. Quite often the ‘Home’ or ‘About’ pages are likely targets so you want a Navigation bar that is very easy to find and includes those pages.
‘Home’ and ‘About’ are where people look for a summary of what you offer, to see if they’re interested in exploring further.
Typically Navigation bars are above, below or beside the logo on your blog, above your content. People expect to find these things there, so put it’s best practice for your blog to put them there. and that’s one less disappointing surprise for your visitors.
Social Media Sharing Buttons
Well, you want your stuff shared right? You can’t really expect some people to go off and do it if it isn’t convenient.
Obviously, the more shares you get the more people will see your content! With more shares comes more SEO traffic that you can expect to see as Google and other search engines will be paying close attention to your Social Media signals.
For this reason, I highly recommend installing something like SumoMe, it creates a nice app that allows you to install a simple but effective sharebar which pops up on the side of the browser, or elsewhere if the display is small (responsive, for use on a phone or tablet).
The other option is to create clickable share links (which I’ve come to prefer). Here’s a top tool to create a number of links all at one!
Email Opt-in Forms
If you aren’t Email marketing, you are missing out!
Seriously, it’s the best way to deliver targeted repeat traffic, here’s why and here’s how you can start an email list / newsletter with ConvertKit.
You can be super aggressive. Add a form in your sidebar, under your content, in a pop-up, and a feature box on your homepage – which is all guns blazing, so it’s up to you.
You can also be less aggressive and choose one or two of those options, as you may turn people away if you get too aggressive with this practice.
I also recommend having some kind of enticement to get people to subscribe. People don’t want spammy emails landing in their inbox so the chances of them signing up “just ‘cos” is very slim.
Offer something for free you’re confident they’ll want in return for their email address.
People will be viewing your website from different sized monitors, phones, tablets and in the future, who knows.
So you need a website that is flexible and will adapt to any screen size or shape. This also means a fast loading time as different devices have different levels of internet speed.
Most themes these days come with responsive design, like many of these Theme Bundles. Alternatively, you can design your own easily using a customizable, responsive theme. Check out Divi if you’d like to take control over your blog design
Above all: Function.
This is really the combination of everything above, and a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link!
If your website doesn’t have good functionality, then it’s a sub-standard website that will be forgotten and entice many pushes of the dreaded back button.
This is why good design is very important, follow these blog design practices and get people to ‘test drive’ your website. Otherwise, you could be wasting a LOT of time.
So go over this list and see where you may be falling short, then if let me know how you go! Leave a comment below.