It doesn’t matter whether you design your blog yourself or outsource it, the task can be a daunting one. You have to take into consideration your likes and goals, and your readers’ likes and needs. Even if you pay someone else to do the design for you, you need to make sure you have enough input that the final product meets your vision.
That being said, there are a few things that your blog must have in order to meet your readers’ expectations. Here are seven simple design tips that will make your blog more reader friendly:
Tip #1 – Choose the right color palette
The very first impression that a visitor has of your blog is visual, and a dynamic presence online should start with a nice, comforting blend of colors. You should maintain a balance, so do not go for the extremes, too light or too dark. Select a color palette that well represents your niche.
If you don’t know what colors to choose you can get some great ideas from your own photos, or even from stock photos. Choose a photo that you like, and plug it in to a tool like pictaculous and it will give you a palette to go with. Or you can use my secret weapon – follow @cristinapril on Instagram. She’s been posting some really beautiful color palettes made from stock photos lately.
Tip #2 – Make your navigation easy to use
Web visitors do not like to, nor will they stick around long to search too long for what they are looking for on your site. Navigation should be simple and easy to find, this includes the use of sidebar menus, top navigation menus, and even bottom of page menus. Simple to use site category widgets are always a good idea.
Also, besides listing a Recent Posts widget on your blog, consider adding an archives page that allows visitors to reach all your posts and see the evolution of your blog. If you tend to write in series, then you can also add custom pages with links to all the posts in that series so readers can easily find the relevant posts. All of this works to keep readers on your site longer, reducing your bounce rates.
Tip #3 – Have clear calls to action
Another thing that causes frustration for your readers is the lack of clear calls to action. People need to know what to do when they land on your site. Each piece of content you create should have a clear purpose and it’s your job (or your designer’s job) to make sure your readers know where the calls to action are and what they’re supposed to do with them.
For example, if you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, there should be multiple subscribe points throughout the site. Or if you want them to buy something, present them with multiple opportunities to click on a buy button.
Tip #4 – Offer related content suggestions
Have an easy way to offer related content once someone is finished with your blog post. You can reduce your bounce rate this way, and provide value by making it easy for them to learn more about a topic.
This is one of my favorite parts of visiting other people’s blogs. You can find some great content just by clicking through the related links at the end of a blog post.
You can easily add this function to your blog with a plug-in like the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. It’s easy to install and set up and gives you the option of having either a text list of posts or thumbnail images for each one.
Tip #5 – Use threaded comments to encourage discussions
When comments are threaded and each comment has a separate reply button, visitors are often more inclined to join the discussions or share a viewpoint. It gives your blog a more community-like feeling and makes it easier to keep the conversation going.
Tip #6 – Use a responsive design
In this day and age, with over 60 percent of web users accessing the internet from a mobile device [source], that using a responsive design would be a no-brainer. Yet, I can’t tell you how many sites I visit daily on my smartphone, that are not mobile responsive.
Choosing a blog theme that’s optimized for mobile use is much easier now that it was even a year or two ago. They look great, load fast, and give your readers a much more satisfying experience that having to resize the screen several times just to read something.
Tip #7 – Make your links stand out
If you want visitors to click on your links, they have to know they’re there. A lot of new themes have the links blend in so much that you only find them almost by accident. Consider using a contrasting color for your links to make them stand out from the text, and use anchor text that will encourage your readers to click them.
There are many different ways to access the internet now, and your site should be open and accessible by as wide an audience as possible. Designing a reader friendly site takes work, but these tips should help get you started.
Don’t be afraid to test different styles, colors, calls to action, etc. in order to find out what works best for your audience and converts readers into subscribers and buyers. After all, you are in business to make money and your blog is really just a tool to help you do that.
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