When someone walks into your office or shop, you have a few minutes to grab their attention and make them feel welcome. But when you’re working on the Internet you literally have less than 10 seconds to make them stop and look around. When you’re working online you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Follow these 5 essential rules for a better blog design and make sure new visitors stay on your site.
Create visual interest
What visitors see when they first arrive at your blog helps them determine what your blog is all about and there’s a lot of psychology that goes into killer blog design. For example, the colors you choose will have an effect on everyone who visits and believe it or not, people can actually be put off by the fonts that you use.
Designing a blog is like designing a logo. You want it to attract attention and be easily identifiable and you also want to create a sense of your mission statement. So before you create that design you’re going to need to know who you want to attract and what type of message you want to convey. Don’t worry though. The cool thing about blog design is that if your design isn’t working, it’s easy enough to change.
Reduce load time
The average visitor is not going to wait around for your blog to load, especially if they’re a first time visitor. Images and videos are two of the best things you can use to engage your readers but they also take a hugs toll on load time. Reduce image sizes before you upload them to your blog and host your videos on YouTube or similar sites to help reduce the load on your own blog. To see how your blog rates you can use the Google Page Speed tool.
Get rid of clutter
Make it easy for your visitors to see what your blog is about by eliminating unnecessary clutter. Of course, this means you should get rid of all of those unrelated banners and widgets you have in your sidebar but there are other things that clutter up your blog.
Even if your sidebars are completely empty they can be distracting if they’re in a highly contrasting color and that’s just another form of visual clutter. A header that’s takes up half the page or has a lot of colors or images can also ‘clutter’ your page.
We usually think of clutter as being something that’s in our way or blocking our path. That’s how you need to look at your blog design. Any visual element that makes it difficult for you reader to focus on your content is clutter. Get it out of their way.
Lead your readers by the hand
Most people will tell you that you need to focus on ‘Navigation’ when you’re designing your blog and that leads to visions of buttons and categories and page tabs. I think you should plan your design on an even broader concept – take your readers by the hand and lead them everywhere you want them to go. It’s not enough to tell your visitor to go over to the sidebar and join your newsletter mailing list. You need to put that form right there in front of them, point to it, and tell them to click.
With that thought in mind, it’s important to have at least a basic idea of the calls to action you might be using on your blog. Of course, you can’t anticipate everything, but there are a few basics that every blog should have:
Your RSS Link: Everyone has a button for their RSS link somewhere in the sidebar and the more prominent it is the better. But again, take your reader by the hand – Include an invitation at the end of every blog post that invites your reader to subscribe. That way, it’s the last thing they see before they leave your page and they don’t have to go searching for the button.
Your Contact Form: You need to have a contact form on your blog somewhere, anyway. But if you’re asking your readers to contact you about something – maybe you want their opinion or you want to let them ask questions about your product or service – then put a contact form right there in that blog post.
Your Opt-In Form: Everybody has an opt-in form over in the sidebar but it’s much more effective if you put it in there in the middle of your post. Tell your readers about the really cool gift you’re going to give them and what it can do and then plant that form right there under their nose.
Your Social Contact Buttons: There’s nothing wrong with actually telling your readers to click the Tweet or Share button. Point to it with an arrow, put the link right in the middle of your post, use a huge blue bird, etc. But make sure those buttons are easy to see.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!