You are a talented writer or an expert in your field with tons of quality content to share with the world. But in order to get users interested enough to read your content, you must also present your blog in a way that both captures their attention and makes them want to stay on your site. This requires attention to design. The following 3 blog design tips will help you get and keep your readers’ attention so they can listen to what you have to say.
Put User Experience First
A blog is all about the readers. The most important consideration when making any design decision is how that decision will affect the user’s experience. This means making your content easy to find, easy to search, and easy to read. It means paying careful attention to how you use sidebars and menus to direct the user to the most valuable information without distracting them or creating an unpleasant reading experience.
One great way to direct your reader toward important information is the use of featured posts. Whether than simply organizing all blog posts in chronological order, provide a space near the top to highlight particularly valuable posts. Don’t make your reader hunt for this information.
At the same time, sometimes users will want to browse for specific information. It is a good idea to provide some kind of search feature on your blog. Most modern blogging platforms already have this functionality, so you just have to decide where to place search bars and how to present results in a way that is useful for your reader.
Most importantly, you want your content to be easy to read. This is best accomplished by using large, easy to see fonts and utilizing a clean, minimal design that doesn’t distract your readers from the content while also being formatted nicely for any screen size. These last two points — using a clean, minimal design and making your blog look good on all screen sizes — are important enough to deserve sections of their very own.
Use a Clutter-free, Minimal Design
You want a blog design that puts your content front and center. This means minimizing clutter and distractions. Almost all sidebar content and widgets fall into this category. You may also want to keep metadata such as categories, tags, author info, and timestamps to a minimum. If your blog only has one author, you do not need to put the author’s name at the top of every post. A single biography page will suffice.
You also want to give some thought into navigation. You will likely want some kind of menu to direct readers to other pages on your site. It is important to make menus easy to find and navigate while staying out of the way when the user is trying to read your posts. It is very popular to place menus horizontally near the top of the page rather than on the side. This gives more screen real estate to your content while making the menu easy to find. This menu should also only contain links useful to your reader. Ideally it should be one level, not requiring any sub-menus.
The color scheme is also an important part of your design. A clean, clutter-free design that is easy on the user’s eyes will generally stick to a simple color scheme. Dark text, printed in a large, easy to read font, on a light background is the safest way to go. You may want to experiment with a bolder palette, but keep the number of colors and shades to a minimum. If your blog is unpleasant to stare for long periods, readers will go elsewhere.
Keeping the design simple, with no or few animations and scripts, will also help your site load much faster in the users browser. Fast loading time is key to user satisfaction, and is especially important on mobile devices that have fewer resources and slower network connections. This is one of the reasons it is important to design with mobile devices in mind.
Make your Blog Mobile Friendly
Mobile phones, tablets, and other small screens now account for a majority of web traffic, and Google now uses mobile accessibility as a factor in page rankings. For these reasons and more, it is important that your website look good and load fast on all screen sizes.
While it was once necessary to create completely different sites for mobile devices and larger screens, it is now possible to have one design that recognizes and adapts to the size of the screen and the type of device. This practice is known as responsive design. Responsive websites adjust fluidly to the user’s screen so they can clearly read the content and easily navigate the site.
Important considerations for mobile friendly design are screen real estate and load times. In order to deal with smaller screens, extraneous items like sidebars have to be eliminated or pushed into the footer, allowing your main content to take up the full width of the screen. To expedite load times, you will want to pay special attention to images. It is a good practice to ensure that your site serves an image with a smaller file size to mobile devices, significantly reducing load times.
Another concern is clickability. It is more difficult to click on a link with a finger than a mouse. For this reason you want links and menus (and probably most text) to use a larger font on mobile devices.
If you keep these few blog design tips in mind, you will find that your can create an experience that users will enjoy, leading them to visit your blog again and again. While you may want to simply focus on creating the best possible content for your users, it is just as important to make sure that content is presented in the best possible way.