Few people would ever visit a blog for how great it looks if they don’t find the content interesting. But ever fewer will bother with the content if the design is dysfunctional or tacky.
Of course, the design of your blog should represent your personal style. If you’re a bit quirky, by all means, let that shine through your page. But experimentation should never come at the cost of usability.
To help you achieve a better design, we’ve outlined some best practices and summarized them in nine easy steps.
1. Simplify Navigation and Layout
Planning the experience of your blog’s visitors comes before anything else. What should they see first? What should they do next? Your blog navigation has to be flawless.
- Left-to-right content alignment has proven to be easiest to read.
- The sidebar and CTAs should be on the right, according to experts.
- Limit visitor choices. Don’t overwhelm your readers. It is best to limit clickable options on each page to 2-3 (‘read latest post’ and ‘sign up for updates’, for example).
- Add a search bar.
2. Declutter Your Home Page
Your home page serves as a showcase to your articles. It has to engage visitors with attractive content that is easy to scan through.
- Include post excerpts (1-2 sentences) with images.
- Limit article extracts to 5-20 per page.
- Keep the most valuable content “above the fold” (displayed without scrolling).
3. Highlight Important Points
Of course, you want visitors to spend as much time on your page as possible. But you would also want them to keep returning. To achieve this, focus on providing more value in less time.
- Accentuate your USP. You have a few seconds to make it clear to newcomers what they stand to gain from your blog. Make the best bits clear and easy to spot.
- Use snippets for more visibility and to avoid duplicating content.
- Make use of white space around graphics, text fields, and content to present your materials more effectively.
4. Become Mobile Friendly
Mobile use is on the rise — the need for responsive blog design doesn’t really need explaining today. Make your content accessible for any device.
It is better to optimize your code and make it mobile-friendly, rather than redirecting mobile users to a separate URL.
- Use CSS media queries to make layout and navigation adjustments according to screen size.
- Consider drop-down menus.
- Minimize the need to scroll.
5. Incorporate Model Layout Dimensions
If you still prefer a fixed (pixel-based) design layout, there are certain dimensions that have proven to be most effective amongst successful blogs.
- Page width between 951 to 1000 px is used by 56% of most popular blogs.
- Use about 60% of the layout for main content.
- Increase page margins to improve readability.
6. Make Smart Use of Colors
Your blog’s color scheme not only make your page look prettier and more consistent, but it can also affect visitors’ moods and emotions.
We are hardwired to respond to colors in similar ways. For example, warm colors (yellow, red, orange) communicate energy, while the cool ones (blue, green, purple) are calming.
- Use no more than 2-3 colors.
- Use contrast to guide attention.
- Light background and dark body text make reading easier and are preferred by the majority of blog designers.
7. Optimize Your Typography
The fonts you use on your blog can complement your content or create a total mess. Use fonts intelligently to prioritize content and to make it more legible.
- Use a font size of at least 11pt for body copy. Larger (up to 16px) is better.
- Headline sizes of 17px and 25px seem to work best.
- Serif fonts are preferred by 90% of the most popular blogs.
8. Use Social Buttons With Care
If you want to reach a wider audience for your blog, social media is a must. Be careful not to overdo it, however. Tying your blog to social platforms should be manageable both for you and for your readers.
- Add links to your social media accounts.
- Limit content sharing options to 2 or 3 to increase clicks.
- Floating social media buttons next to posts have proven to work best.
9. Boost Blog Subscriptions
The most important call-to-action on any blog is the one about subscriptions. To make it more effective, use the following proven tactics:
- Use special offers to encourage more email subscriptions for your blog.
- Limit details you ask for. You only need emails to get subscribers, asking for nothing more increases opt-ins by 10%.
- Use pop-ups on exit. According to experts, sites that use exit-intent pop-ups have 70% more opt-ins.
Blog design best practices prioritize user experience from start to finish. That is why the flawless design has more to do with functionality, than with aesthetics.
It doesn’t matter if you are just starting a blog, or are in the process of redesigning, following the steps above can enhance the value of your page. The rest, of course, is up to the quality of your content.
This is a guest contribution by Nicole Stansley, writer and digital marketing strategist for a paper writing service College-paper.org. She admires IT people and things they do, loves design, and enjoys evening runs.