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What makes an effective blog design?

By March 1, 2017 No Comments

No matter your industry, the look of your blog has a substantial impact on its overall success. After all, a poorly designed blog can push frustrated readers away and ultimately compromise your sales goals. Discover what makes an effective blog design, and learn how to direct your readers to the content you want them to see.

Make a great first impression

Whether your clients meet you in person or online, first impressions are critical. Make a great first impression on your blog with a home page that welcomes visitors, provides basic information about your business and shows readers what to do next.

Whether your clients meet you in person or online, first impressions are critical

Rather than revealing everything about your brand all at once, opt for a streamlined approach that guides visitors toward the essentials. Feature your blog’s headline and tagline, make your logo stand out and include at least one specific call to action (CTA). Invite new readers to click on a welcome page that offers a primer on your brand and links to some of your most popular content.

No matter your home page layout, always use responsive design

No matter your home page layout, always use responsive design to ensure that you don’t exclude certain visitors. A responsive blog adjusts pages automatically, so desktop and mobile viewers enjoy a seamless experience.

Ensure a fast page-load time

One of the fastest ways to make the wrong impression is by forcing readers to wait as your website loads. A 2015 report from Aberdeen Group found that even a one-second delay results in an 11 per cent decrease in page views. Make your customers wait for an extra second, and you could also face a 7 per cent decrease in conversions and a 16 per cent drop in customer satisfaction. Over half of online users expect a page to load in no more than two seconds, and 40 per cent will leave the page if it takes three seconds or more to load.

One of the fastest ways to make the wrong impression is by forcing readers to wait as your website loads

You can take a number of steps to speed up your blog’s page-load time. Start by streamlining the components on your blog and minimising the number of scripts your site needs to function. To reduce server response time, use a monitoring app to identify performance issues. For particularly large pages or image-heavy content, enable compression so that your blog can deliver content quickly.

Make it easy to navigate

A fast page-load time encourages visitors to consume your great content, but they might not stick around for long if they can’t find their way around. Remember that just because you know where to find your content doesn’t mean visitors can navigate your site as easily.

Start by incorporating a menu that highlights the most important sections of your blog. In the menu, add links to your about and contact pages so that visitors can learn more about you or connect with you as necessary. Include a link to your blog archives, so visitors can dig in to learn more, and add a search box so that readers can find exactly what they want in a matter of seconds.

Keep your eyes on the prize

A well-designed menu helps visitors peruse your site at their own speed, but most blog owners want to draw readers to specific content. You can do this by using CTAs at every opportunity.

A well-designed menu helps visitors peruse your site at their own speed

In addition to working CTAs into the text of each blog post, you should also incorporate them into your site design. Add a CTA to your banner to prompt visitors to download your latest e-book or white paper. Include a CTA in the sidebar to invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter. Use a pop-up to encourage visitors to access exclusive content. Ensure that each CTA offers value to your readers and helps you achieve your conversion goals.

Encourage engagement

For most bloggers, social sharing is a key component of any content marketing plan. You can increase your chances of success by incorporating social elements into your blog design.

Add links that connect to your social profiles in the sidebar or header, but don’t stop there. Use a social sharing plug-in to invite readers to share your blog posts on their social channel of choice. Incorporate Facebook comments into your blog, or add click-to-tweet functionality to posts to help spread your message. Together, these methods enable you to reach a larger audience, boost brand awareness and drive even more conversions.

Get visual

Excellent writing is essential for any blog, but even top-notch narratives need images. Not only do photos and graphics add visual interest, but they also retain visitors and increase engagement rates.

Excellent writing is essential for any blog, but even top-notch narratives need images

Visitors can read and understand text-based content in a few seconds or a couple of minutes, but they process images much more quickly. In fact, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report that people can view and understand an image in just 13 milliseconds. When you want to attract attention and make an impact in the blink of an eye, use images.

Articles with images get almost 100 percent more views than blog posts with text only

Since visual content has an immediate effect, it’s no surprise that articles with images get almost 100 percent more views than blog posts with text only, according to digital marketing blogger Jeff Bullas. By incorporating high-quality visuals, you can potentially double your readership and keep your audience returning for more.

Don’t overwhelm

Many blog owners have the mistaken impression that they should make the most of every inch of available space. While it’s true that you want to keep your readers engaged and entertained, you don’t want to overwhelm them.
Blogs work best when they make use of white space. Not only does this give the site some breathing room, but it also helps readers focus where you want them to instead of causing them to scan the page frantically.

If you’re considering adding a few more widgets or an extra sidebar just to fill up space on your blog, stop right there. Unless the additional elements add essential functionality, scrap your plans in favour of extra white space.
Whether you’re launching your first blog or considering a new look for an existing site, you can put these design recommendations to work. Perfect the design, and you’ll point your readers to your best content and help your bottom line.

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