It’s time to get down to business because your blog design can definitely make or break your reader’s experience.
It can be as simple as making your site difficult to navigate or as serious as affecting your credibility as an expert in your niche. But either way, making even a couple of these changes will make it easier for readers to find more blog content, join your email list, browse your services, or buy your products.
But before we get started I want you to take a minute to write down 3 specific things readers are looking for when they come to your website. Because this will be the deciding factor in what you add to your design and what you take away. Don’t make changes just based on my suggestions, make them to help your ideal reader find what they need and find it fast!
Clean up your navigation
First up, you don’t need as many links in your navigation as you think. Your navigation should include items like your about page, services, blog, and contact, but links like disclosures, terms, or other legal information should only be displayed in your site footer. Google uses your navigation to understand and move through your site so if it’s loaded with links to every single page, category, and feature that can actually lower your site’s ranking.
Plus including too many links can make it difficult for new readers to decide what to click on. Imagine you’re looking for a new lipstick and I put three brands in front of you, you’d probably pick the one that looks the best and make a purchase. But what if I drop 50 lipsticks in your lap? Your decision to purchase becomes a lot more daunting, right? Giving your readers a handful of options makes it easier for them to make a decision too.
Feature the ONE thing that is most important for readers to find
We also want to make it easy for readers to understand what you’re all about and what you offer, so select the ONE most important thing readers should do before they leave your website (like following you on social media, checking out your services, joining your email list) and make sure it’s apparent on every single page. It should be in your site header, on your homepage, in your sidebar, at the bottom of blog posts. Don’t let a single reader leave without knowing the exact action they need to take to connect with you.
Add a description to your email list opt-in
Wondering why your list is growing at a snail’s pace? It’s probably because people don’t know what they’re signing up for or why it would be beneficial to hand over their email address. If your opt-in says “Subscribe to my newsletter” then you have my permission to stop reading this post and go change that immediately. You don’t even have to come back and finish reading – you can kick back and relax for the rest of the day because that one change will make a HUGE difference. Your opt-in MUST tell people what you’ll be sending them, how often, and how they’ll benefit. Bonus points for giving your newsletter a fancy name!
Remove post meta/info
Post meta and info are the links at the top/bottom of your post that have things like the date and time, author, categories or tags. Depending on your ideal reader and what they’re looking for some or all of these things might be adding clutter instead of providing necessary information. You might notice on this little blog post that I don’t display either! My giant face is at the top of the site and in the author bio at the bottom so you know who wrote it. All my content is fairly evergreen so you don’t need to know when it was posted. And related posts at the bottom keep readers moving through my site without needing to click categories.
Remove post archives
If you’re looking to get more clicks on your blog that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to add more things to click and that monthly list of posts sitting in your sidebar is one of the items that is most ignored. Unless the content of your website is directly related to the date it was posted, readers are unlikely using it to find more content. And leaving things that don’t get clicked on your site (just because they’ve always been there, just because everyone else has them) takes the attention away from the things you REALLY want readers to find.
Add more white space
One of the biggest issues that makes a website look DIY-ed and difficult to navigate is whitespace. That’s the space between columns, graphics, even lines of text. The more whitespace you have the easier it will be for people to view and navigate your website and the more you’ll look like a design pro!
Add LESS fonts to images
My rule for all the students in all my courses (unless they are designers themselves) is – TWO fonts MAX. One main font for your post title and a secondary font for a tagline or any extra information. Adding extra fonts to your images might seem like it’s making them stand out, but it’s probably just making them messy and difficult to read.
Remove that third column
As you can see I opt-ed out of sidebars altogether, but if you’re still a fan then at least move everything into one single sidebar. You want to help guide your reader through the page and make sure they’re focused on the most important stuff (the blog post or page content, duh). So if your sidebars are full of information, links, ads, or moving graphics they’re not going to get through an entire post before one of those distractions has them clicking away.
Yep! Unless those ads have you rolling in cash like Scrooge McDuck they’re just adding clutter to your website. Ads are taking people AWAY from your site when the point is to keep them around long enough that they join your email list, fill out a form to hire you, follow you on social media, or make a purchase. If you’re hellbent on making money online with some form of advertising then get ye some affiliate links so you can integrate them right into your content.
Remove post excerpts
And lastly – are those post excerpts really necessary? Since so many of us are putting our blog titles right on the image for Pinterest purposes, you might not need an excerpt or even a title in your blog archives. If the post image and/or title are enough to get users to click you might opt for a gallery-style page (like this) to help readers find more great content and give them more incentive to follow, subscribe, hire you or make a purchase.
So your challenge for today – make a handful of these changes and see how your readers respond! (And don’t forget to enter that epic giveaway!)