Keeping it simple not only applies to your content and writing style, it applies to your blog design, as well.
When that first-time visitor arrives on your blog you want his attention to be riveted on your amazing content, not your sexy header or your neon sidebars.
It’s your content that keeps visitors on your blog and keeps them coming back for more, so keep your blog design simple and and let your remarkable content do the talking.
Why It’s Important To Simplify Your Blog Design
It’s important to remember that first-time visitors generally arrive on your blog after clicking on one of your links in a search engine index. That means two things:
- They’re looking for specific information
- There are plenty of other blogs they can turn to
It’s also important to remember that most online readers have the attention span of a gnat. If they don’t immediately see what they’re looking for they’re not going to hunt for it, they’re going to leave your blog and click on the next link in the index.
And finally, it’s important to understand that you can’t change online reader habits. You can’t force a reader to stay on your blog any longer than he wants to. So using a huge, sexy header, distracting fonts and bright colors, and banners all over your sidebars won’t keep that first-time visitor on your blog longer. Those elements will only distract him and make it difficult for him to find what he’s looking for. And if it’s too distracting or difficult, you just lost a visitor.
Keep Your Header Simple
New bloggers often surf the Web for free themes, and that’s understandable. But they often choose themes with massive header graphics. That huge header causes two problems:
It pushes your content further down the page – When a new visitor comes to your blog the first thing you want him to see is your killer content – not your sexy header. And if he has to scroll to get to your first post? Euhgeddaboudit
It’s distracting – If so much detail and little… things… to look at it distracts the reader from your content. That reader is only going to spend a few seconds on your page. Don’t force him to waste it looking at your header.
Keep headers as short and simple as possible. In fact, many blogs have no header at all or it’s only a few pixels high – just enough for a small logo. This allows your content to come up to the top of the page where the visitor will immediately see it and gives you space in your sidebar to put your opt-in form at the top of the page where it’ll get more attention.
Keep Your Sidebars Simple
It’s fine to use a different background color to set your sidebars apart from your main content, but don’t use a bold or a dark color that gives your sidebar the same visual weight as your content area. It’s distracting. As the reader’s eyes move back and forth across your post they keep bumping into that strong background color. Your sidebars should have secondary weight compared to your content area.
Completely eliminate awards, blog rolls and tag links from your sidebars. If you want to show off your awards, how about showcasing them on your About page? If you have a lot of blogs you promote, set up a special page. Tag links? Set up a nice Archives page.
Eliminate ad banners that aren’t performing and neaten up the banners you keep, even if it means creating your own so they line up better in your sidebars.
Keep Your Navigation Simple
Again, don’t use dark, rich colors for your navigation menu because it’s visually distracting. You don’t want the reader to go looking for your menu until after he’s read the content he came looking for.