If you’re venturing into the world of blogging, chances are you hope to:
- Gain readers
- Promote a product, and
- Make money
Of course, some blog for personal reasons- to tell a story, to keep family up to date with going ons – but those with a business who start a blog often want to monetize their words, thoughts and articles.
Good blog design is critical for catching – and keeping – readers.
5 ‘Dos’ for creating a blog that works
1. White space is good
Entire textbooks have been written about color theory for this simple reason: Colors can make us feel a certain way. (Imagine entering a bright orange room; now, a pale blue room. Chances are your heart beat a little more quickly on the first example!) At the same time, white space, or negative space, can do the same. (Check out these 21 examples of white space use on the web.) Too much color can overwhelm the reader, so make sure the elements you place on your site are important and let the rest go, allowing for some refreshing negative space.
2. Go easy with the ads
Ads generate income, but if they are blinking all over your page your readers will go elsewhere. Most ads are best placed above the fold, or on the part of the page accessible without scrolling. This handy graphic shows a heat map designed by Google to show clients the best placement for advertising on their website.) Here’s a visual:
Follow this three-rule equation for ads:
- Rule number one: Don’t place ads in the middle of your content.
- Rule number two: Avoid too much flashing and blinking.
- Rule number three: Target each ad so you don’t have to put so many on the page
If ads are an important part of your business model, you should also check out our list of AdSense optimized WordPress themes.
3. Choose a topic for the content – and stick to it
Many bloggers start with a great idea and then stray from the topic. Short attention spans and not a lot of time mean most readers lose interest in mere seconds (This report by Nielsen Norman Group shows you have just ten to twenty seconds to grab a reader’s attention!) This makes it important to choose a blog topic you’re passionate enough to keep writing about for an extended period of time. It’s also imperative you keep your blog topics on point, so you don’t lose the reader who is most interested in what you have to say (but aren’t saying). If you’re struggling to come up with content on a regular basis, check out our guide to creating an unlimited stream of sure-to-work blog post ideas.
4. Encourage interaction.
Today’s internet is all about engagement. Turn basic WordPress comments on or install a comment system like Disqus, encourage them at the end of every post, and reply to the people who post them. Then take the conversation beyond your website by integrating social media. There are dozens of social media plugins that can increase your engagement and reach.
5. Five second test.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your website conveys the message you want, follow Scranton University’s Writing for the Web five second test: Ask someone to glance at your website for five seconds and then turn away. Then ask them this: What is my site about? If they aren’t sure, or if their answer doesn’t match up with your goals for the site, it’s time to restructure. (If this IS the case, consider your text: Is it to the point? Do keywords stand out? Does advertising match the purpose?)
For more simple ways to make your blog more visually appealing, check out our article Three Styling Changes You Can Make to Change Your Blog’s Appearance.