Most blogger aspire for their blogs to be more than just a diary of random thoughts and information for only friends or family to read or whomever. At some point many bloggers may start out this way but then start finding an audience and only after they decide they may want to monetize or try to bring in a part time or full time income from doing online blogging, affiliate marketing do they then realize that they have to consider web design among many other factors for their blog.
Web design affects readers in so many ways, from the moment they first see your website loading to the interactions they take on your website, so here are the many factors to consider when dealing with a web design for your blog. Now most blogs used themes which are pre-build web design templates, but most allow for some customization and finding the right theme or flexible theme framework gives you more flexibility.
The Visitor Arrives
So the visitor first will arrive to your site, you need to consider two points of view from the visitor. Did they arrive on your home page, and what should it look like?
Should you do a tile layout of articles/news like a magazine as I do with Dragon Blogger?
Or should you do a more traditional full blog post layout which has fewer but full articles on the homepage so they can stay on the homepage to read them instead of having to click on an article to read it.
There is not a right or wrong answer, there is only what experience and flow do you want visitors to your homepage to follow. There are advantages to letting them stay on the homepage to read your latest 4 or 5 articles, it can reduce homepage bounce times for example. When you do a magazine that features many more articles 10,12,15…etc it instead shotguns headlines with brief summaries in the hopes that the reader may find one or more articles of interest and click on them. This can lead to more internal click flow and higher # of pages per visit, at the expense of increasing your homepage bounce rate.
Finally this is just the homepage, what about when a user hits one of your individual posts coming in from a Google search result page link. What will be the first things that they will see, will it be the content without having to scroll, or banners, advertisements that force them to scroll to the content which is below the fold. The generally rule is to reduce clicking and scrolling for reader to get access to the content or you could lose a reader and have a high bounce rate. So carefully leverage banner ads on posts if you could, thin horizontal banners tend to work better than large banner boxes at the top of a post, but again it is all up to you in how you present to the reader and what works best.
Where Does The Visitor Go Next?
After the visitor has arrived and read part of or most of the content that they were looking for, what are you offering for them to do next? Do they click on a link to purchase or get more info about a product or service you were showcasing, do you want them to leave a comment or see an option of related articles that may interest them? Do you try to entice them to join your newsletter or follow you on social media, share your article cross various social networks…etc.
Knowing what you want your readers to do, will help you decide what to implement and where to place these things. If you want a reader to be able to leave comments quickly and simply then remember to make sure your commenting system is easy to use and causes a little resistance as possible (though this comes at the risk of increased spam). Social sharing buttons help encourage a reader to share your articles, but this can reduce your site pageload times hurting your SERP placement if not leveraged properly as well.
Social sharing buttons should be as simple to find and right in front of the reader when they are finished with the article. For very short articles they could be at the top of the article, for long articles you may want them at the bottom, or both in some cases as I do here but I wouldn’t ever do both unless you were using static share buttons, the floating share widgets which display the # of shares can really hurt pageload time and have to make all those external calls to load the scripts.
If you want them to click on a product or link, you need to make it enticing or attractive, there are plugins that formalize review posts into something to grab attention, something like this below.
Or you can use Amazon Affiliate info boxes, banners as well. Bottom line is knowing the flow you hope and want a reader to take can help influence what web design elements you place into your blog and always look at your blog from a readers eyes, is it easy to follow, easy to read, easy to navigate and does the reader clearly know what I want them to do next?
One other thing not considered often is font colors, background colors and such. If you are a blogger, recognize that the Americans with Disabilities Act has guidelines for websites and businesses with online properties to help design them to be as compatible and possible for those who may have vision disabilities including color blindness which is more common than you think. Refrain from doing massive color backgrounds that are harsh and keep it as simplistic as possible if you are running a business oriented website, many online businesses have to comply with ADA requirements on websites though blogs in most cases would not I still take them into consideration to make my site as easy to view and navigate as possible.
Lastly, don’t ignore the mobile users, more and more people are using tablets, cell phones and phablets to access and read content from mobile devices. If you don’t have a theme that is mobile compatible, you need to make sure to implement this sooner rather than later. Test your web site and design layout on various mobile devices, there are many online simulators that will preview your website on mobile device screens so you can kind of see how it would look on a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an iPhone, iPad…etc.
Web design can’t be ignored by bloggers who just want to write content, like it or not to be a blogger eventually means you likely will be doing some web design, coding, affiliate marketing, research and analytics, and more. The skill sets you get as a blogger are diverse and can grow in so many areas! And you thought you were just writing content for people to read.
Leave me a comment, let me know what you think about anything including the web design choices made in this site.