5 Useful Tips for designing your awesome blog.
I like useful, don’t you? What has influenced me the most being a blogger is website design because I used to “Wing it”. Meaning – I’d create blogs and without any thought, just threw things on it (Because I liked it) without thinking if my content had any continuity for my potential viewers..
Why is continuity important? It’s important for a few reasons:
- It shows consistency
- Viewers can trust what they’re viewing
- less visual confusion
- Clarity of content
- Better visitor/user experience
Keep the above in mind as I discuss more below …
When I started to blog, the very first platform I used was Homestead, now owned by Quick Books I believe. It was a “do-it-yourself”, drag and drop program – I loved it! It wasn’t free. I used them for 10 years.
I did try platforms such as eBlogger but found them to be very “set” in their theme styles, meaning you were limited in changing things around/
When web 2.0 came to light – the introduction of Social Media. I changed to owning my blog instead of using a free platform , because I had more design options and wasn’t limited to what I could present on it – that was 2005. The investment was/ is well worth it.
Alright, so I chose to own my blog, now what! Right? I KNOW this is a thought that pops into every bloggers mind, especially if just starting out with one …
So I start “Winging it”, having NO direction at all. I just started doing something (Just get some stuff up there)!
Lucky for me though I had kept a journal of my life since the age of 16. So picking up a pen wasn’t a big deal. The issue became WHAT was I going to write about – content.
Remember, I had NO direction. I’m flying by the “seat of my pants” to blog!
So I started writing about me *boring) and (Who CARES). Then I started writing about Social Media (boring and a waste of brain cells because EVERYONE ELSE was writing about it).
Then I created a blog called the “Calm RN” writing about health and some inspiration. That one had potential. But like most bloggers starting out, I’d write a post then nothing for weeks. Sound familiar? I couldn’t keep up with the topic. AND there were MANY health related websites.
I had a radio show blog, a childbirth education blog, and more.
Whew! Let’s see, I counted five blogs! Did you? I now believe in the power of one.
The thing is, when you start out with blogging, you go through a learning process. It’s like being in a candy store – eating different candies to find that sweet, perfect, Ah … yummy one.
I think new bloggers starting out have to go through the “Candy ” store. It’s good because without this experience, you don’t discover who you are and what you really want to focus on for billions of viewers to see …
Once I went trough all of this too, I was able to fall back on a strong interest of mine. It took really looking at what I like, don’t like, how to be different, and what SKILLS I could bring to my readers.
And this is another important aspect of blogging – creating usable content for your viewers.
We ALL have skills, things that are special about us and usually never cultivate. My skills were/are teaching, painting, and organizing and website design. So I created “The Artistic Affiliate” . There is an ART to being online involving marketing, social engagement, advertising, presenting visual content and lots, lots, lots. more The Internet is a vast sea of cultivating skills and information for blogging.
My best educator, and still is are other blogs – the “professional” ones – the likes of Eban Pagan, Frank Kern, Jeff Bullas, Robin Sharma, Content Institute, Copyblogger, Web Designer Magazine, And ezines too – Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and so on. There are so many to learn from – how they present their content, how its organized, and the layout including the fonts and colors used.
Nowadays, we shouldn’t be blogging for ourselves.
We really blog for others hoping a visitor will find us and read our content. So it’s true about first impressions and your blog is your “house” online. Therefore how do you want to present your home to a billion+ visitors.
Are you “Winging it” as a blogger? Or are you exploring who you are and what you want to achieve with your blog? Are you thinking it through with a clear direction and plan…
Many bloggers starting out choose a blog theme they think is “cool”, or “pretty”, with stylized fonts and other interesting elements to use – I know, I did this too! But I find what’s overlooked, or never made aware of – are the visual layouts, or presentation of content that may NOT be “cool” to you viewers. We usually design for ourselves first BUT we should really be designing our blog for our visitors.
Here’s 5 tips for blog design to plan for and implement:
- Avoid content clutter, especially on the side bar. This can actually turn someone off because they don’t know what to focus on – too much to look at. A confused visitor never buys and quickly leaves your blog. It’s a distraction. There is also something called “Sidebar Blindness“- meaning the content on the sidebar will be ignored.
- Use the SPACE on your pages smartly. Allow your articles to “breathe”, avoid cluttering it up with Ads, and other distracting visuals. LESS IS MORE.
- Have a MENU where visitors can find topics of interest easily. Have each category on the menu RELATE to he category. For example – the menu title is “cats” so you have all the articles relating to cats listed, but don’t throw in an article about “hamsters”… you’ll leave your visitor thinking … what? Also avoid repetition. It’s irritating – my opinion, to have a menu that goes something like this: Work with X, X’s Classes, Find X on Facebook. There’s no need to do this because it’s obvious your on X’s website.
- Make your titles and content EASY to read. Avoid using script fonts – some are okay, but some are really difficult to read. Avoid using gray colored text. The best is black on a white background.
- Your posts and page design should be congruent – meaning the same style and feel throughout your blog/website
I have started to do blog reviews and if you’d like yours looked at to help make it better – if you think that’s needed, contact me.
In the meantime, keep exploring, keep learning, and above all, enjoy it .. blogging online is a good thing and can be a profitable one as well. Blogging is always a work in progress, it changes as you change.
I think, if you do some soul searching first before executing your blog, you’ll save yourself from many headaches. There’s magic in planning and direction.