The purpose of your blog design is not just to have something nice to look at or show off your style. Your blog design is one of the biggest keys to keeping people on your website. And the longer they stay on your site, the more likely they are to share your post, opt-in to your email list, make a purchase, hire you, or join a course. AND the more likely they are to come back for more!
As you can see, the changes I’ve made to my blog design throughout 2015 have had a pretty good effect on how long people stay on my site and how many blog posts they read.
So here are the three changes I made in order to make this happen . . .
Adding a landing page
After launching a bunch of new items to my shop last year, I was feeling like all of my products, services, and promotions were hidden too far within my navigation and blog posts. I needed a page that put everything I offer front and center, something that gave first-time visitors a quick introduction to me and my site. Not only did this help tell my visitors what I was all about, it forced me to get really clear on my blogging purpose too.
Another important part of a badass blog design is giving your readers a clear direction for what they should do and how to move through your site. Now I’ve got a feature spot for three products and my three most recent blog posts (which are updated automatically), which makes it super simple for readers to choose a direction when entering my site.
Adding a start here page
But if new readers don’t come in through the homepage (most of them won’t since the majority of my traffic comes from Pinterest) they can click on the “Start Here” page in my navigation to easily choose a direction learn more about what I do.
Because I’ve been blogging for years and years a lot of my best posts were buried deep in my category archives, so this also gives me a page to send to readers asking questions on social media and looking for my best content.
To do this I went back through my archives to find not only the most popular post in each category, but also those that would be a good place to begin for readers just starting out in blogging or business OR looking to boost what they already have going on. I didn’t include every category I write about because I didn’t want to overwhelm new readers with options, so I went with just those that really got to the heart of what I do.
Removing my sidebar
The sidebar has been a blogging staple since I started learning web design almost 20 years ago, so finally kicking it to the curb was akin to going for that super short pixie cut. As soon as it happens you equally love it and panic that you made the wrong decision. I think most people avoid going for a content-only design because they aren’t sure what to do with all the info currently hanging out in their sidebar. But I stuck with it and it turns out, people were still able to find my about page, my opt-in, my social media icons, the search box, and all my categories.
Most of this info, along with a few related posts, are now sitting in my blog post footer.
The purpose for removing my sidebar was one simple strategy – force my audience to focus on the blog post in front of them and follow any direction within. Generally this was to join my list, make a purchase, click an affiliate link, or download a content upgrade (and join my list there as well). Skipping the distraction of the sidebar keeps people reading longer. AND the only thing next to my posts now is a set of bright green share buttons, which means the re-posts to Pinterest and Twitter went up too!