The elements that make up an efficient blog design are numerous, and many of them are only optional. However, there are a few elements to consider that are in my opinion “must haves” if you want your blog performing at the level of some of the other blogs you read on a daily basis. Here are a few great strategies and simple tweaks to implement on your blog that will boost your RSS readers, the blogs readability, and rate of viral sharing.
#1 Consider Minimalism
I don’t mean by stripping down your blog to nothing but white space and words (though it’s already been done and proven to be successful). What I mean is avoid common blogger pitfalls of
- Clutter looking backgrounds
- Congested sidebar widgets
- More menu options than is needed
- Color schemes of more than 3 primary choices
I see too many blogs (even some that talk about blog designs) that don’t follow these rules. I find myself being distracted by my peripheral vision from all the chaos that surrounds the most important part of the blog: the content.
If you practice including only what’s necessary in your sidebar, determine a way to efficiently combine your menu options, and keep your colors from clashing all over, you’ll find your time on site increasing as well as share rates and reader subscriptions.
#2 Plug your social sharing in the right places
There are a few rule of thumbs I tend to go by (and notice a lot of professional bloggers doing so as well) that make social sharing easy, quick, and much more sensible than what a lot of people try to pull off.
One element that’s successful for sharing is having the floating share widget that decides to tag along as you scroll down the page. If it’s done in a way that’s inconspicuous but still prominent, people will start to use it. I’ll be coming out with a post here soon detailing how to add that to your site, but for now the most important thing to consider for social media is how to incorporate it at the end of your blog posts.
#3 Show related posts at the end of every post
This strategy is used in the above example, but I didn’t explain the concept behind why it’s important. It’s pretty obvious: you want readers to stay longer and be more engaged! What’s the best way to keep them on your site? Simply by making it impossible to not read the related posts below, that’s how.
Your posts should deliver great content, but should also spark there interest for more on the topic. The final solution for tying it all together is to plug in the quick access to more information where it’s most crucial to see: at the end of each post.
#4 Easy accessibility throughout your blog
Nothing in your blog should be more than a click away. MAXIMUM two clicks, but even that’s avoidable. Your home page should be available through a link on the menu and by clicking the logo. Post access should be through choice of categories, in related posts sections, in a recent post section, in the sidebar, or in the footer.
You need to have content available on every page for instant access to keep people flowing through your site’s content.
The same goes for RSS subscription and social sharing. You want each post to be sharable, and you want to bait them for subscription in the sidebar as high up on your site as possible (also called above the fold, which is what’s first displayed when your site is loaded). These are the things that get your blog read, subscribed to, and shared more effectively.
#5 Try keeping your image usage clean
Don’t have a thousand pictures on your blog, but rather use them sparingly and with reason. For example, pictures as thumbnails for excerpts are fine as long as they entice a visitor to click and read the post. Any other reason to have a picture there should be better thought out.
The best way to determine what image to use is by incorporating relevant images into your blog posts. This has a positive stimulus on the reader by breaking up post text and adding a bit of personality to your writing. Use the same picture for you excerpts on the front page.
One more thing to note is that you should keep your image policy consistent. If you don’t use images in your excerpts, keep them all that way. If you do use images in your excerpts but happen to not have one in a blog post, just take a thumbnail version of your logo and plug it in to make it fit in with the rest of your posts that have thumbnails in the excerpts.
#6 Keep your logo relevant, precise, and professional
Your blog logo is important for a few reasons. It is connected to your brand image, it is connected to your blog’s persona, and it delivers a first impression of what to expect from the rest of the blog.
For design purposes though, you want to keep the logo relevant to your blog’s message, for obvious reasons. You want to have it occupy little space on the page rather than pull too much attention towards it, and you want it to appear professional. If you can make a good logo yourself do so, but if you’re not much of a graphic designer you may have to shop around. I suggest looking at Fiverr first if your on a budget.
If you have Photoshop but lack design talent, consider searching for logo tutorials and applying the steps towards your own “vision” for your site’s appearance.
#7 Color scheme and blog size make up your readability
Almost every theme allows for color customization. If not, you should probably find a better theme to work with! With that said, you want to make sure your color choices are kept to a minimum and do not overly clash to a point that readers will be distracted.
Also, with your blog you want to make it’s visibility best as possible. For this I suggest increasing the size of your blog due to the fact that resolutions are always increasing and if your blog stays with the stone age screen sizes it will begin to appear smaller and smaller on these ever growing screens! This also gives to the ability to increase the font size which is shown to lower your blog’s bounce rate.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and please share them if you did! Feel free to share your own experiences with designing your blog that have helped out in a comment below!