Your blog is key to building brand credibility and online visibility. In fact, small businesses that blog get 126 percent more lead growth than those that don’t.
Content is justifiably the main focus of any blog. However, many marketers forget that the design and structure of a blog can have a big impact on readability and engagement.
Blog design will affect how visitors perceive your brand; when it’s good, it can convince people to stick around. Online, as in real life, first impressions count.
In this post, we’ll break down some of the most important factors in good blog design and look at some of the latest blog design trends.
The Most Important Design Elements of a Blog
Each of these elements will impact user behavior and how visitors engage with your blog content, so keep these crucial design elements in mind.
The header is probably the first thing visitors will see, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. You could display your blog’s logo or name, or use graphics and photos. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s memorable. Use appropriate colors and fonts, and add a short description or tagline to summarize your blog.
The navigation is the gateway to all your website content and is key to improving the user experience and driving traffic to other pages. Don’t have too many categories as this can confuse visitors. If necessary, use submenus for wider topics.
Links to consider for your blog’s menu:
- An archive of previous blog posts.
- A “Most Popular Posts” section.
- An About page.
- A Contact page.
Tip #1: Include internal links to your other blog posts in every post you write. This helps to increase visitor time on your site and boosts search rankings.
Tags and Categories
Help visitors find topics of interest by using tags and category links in every post. This improves the user experience, helps to boost the number of page views, and should decrease your blog bounce rate.
Many businesses opt to display the sidebar on the right-hand side of the page. This helps to focus attention on the actual blog content.
Tip #2: Consider not having a sidebar on the pages you are trying to improve conversions on, so that people don’t get distracted.
Elements you should consider including in your sidebar:
- A search box.
- An email subscription box.
- A search-by-tags option.
- A link to an author bio.
- A link to recent posts.
- A link to popular posts.
- Links to your social media accounts.
Tip #3: Display a search bar in the header of every page to help users find what they’re looking for.
Snippets on the Blog Homepage
Most users don’t have time to hunt for relevant content. Showing snippets of blog posts on the homepage helps visitors quickly choose content that interests them. Show a paragraph or two of each recent post with a call to action such as “Continue reading,” “Read more,” or “Click to continue.”
Email Subscription Button/Form
To boost blog readership, aim to collect email addresses. You have different options to try:
- An opt-in button at the top of your sidebar.
- A pop-up form.
- A subscription button in the page header or footer.
- An opt-in form at the end of each post.
Tip #4: Consider not asking for a user’s name. According to one study, you’ll get around 10 percent more opt-ins if you only ask for their email address.
Social Sharing Buttons
Including social sharing buttons on every page is a simple way to encourage content sharing and build brand awareness. Consider using scrolling social buttons with a tool like AddThis.
Tip #5: To avoid user hesitation, only display three social networks that are most popular with your audience.
Text size affects readability and this impacts user engagement. Although 12 pixels is typical for internet content, according to writing expert D Bnonn Tennant, anything below 16 pixels could be a mistake:
“Almost 1 in 10 of your readers has trouble with their eyes. Of the rest who don’t, most will still have to strain to read text smaller than 16 pixels.”
Tip #6: Try increasing the font size of your blog content and use analytics to measure the impact on blog engagement.
A Comments Section
Give users the option to interact with your content by including a comments section. Receiving more comments means your pages will include more relevant keywords, which improves SEO.
Possibly the best system is threaded comments, which allows for multiple responses from the author. Threaded comments can also increase the number of comments you receive per post by 16 to 33 percent.
Readers will appreciate your content more if it’s easier to read, and white space (simply the blank spaces around content) is one of the best ways to improve readability.
Tip #7: Break up chunks of text with white space, images, and bulleted lists.
Blog Design Trends for 2019
The importance of white space, or negative space, in blog design is perhaps one of the reasons why minimalist blogs remain a popular design trend. Minimalist designs help users focus on your content and aid navigation.
Help Scout, a customer service software company, uses a minimalist design on its blog, embracing white space and using less copy. It also uses bright blocks of color that catch your attention.
It might have been Apple that started the flat design trend, moving away from shadows and gradients and making design elements seem more user-friendly. An increasing number of blogs are using this style. Common elements that feature in flat design are:
- Contrasting bright colors.
- Clean, crisp edges on buttons.
- Lack of three-dimensional depth.
- Lots of white space.
- Simple geometric shapes.
- Simple typography.
This Angle WordPress theme is a good example.
Flat designs also improve page load times, which leads to another trend in blog design…
According to an Akamai study, 40 percent of users will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Your blog design has that much time to convince a user to stay. Furthermore, Google’s Speed Update now affects search engine rankings.
To address these issues, more bloggers are focusing on optimizing their blogs for speed. This is why minimalist designs have increased in popularity and why you should now do all you can to improve the speed of your blog.
In 2017, brands like Dropbox began to use personalized illustrations to convey their messages. Since then, illustrations have become increasingly popular, and will continue to grow in 2019. Why? Illustrations are more memorable, help to convey information more quickly, and strengthen a brand’s image.
It may involve hiring graphic designers or illustrators for personalized designs, but it will pay off. It’s a great way to stand out from the crowd, like this illustration shows from fundraising website Crowdrise.
The Card Layout
Card layouts, as used on Pinterest, are a great way to organize your blog posts and give users a sense of the breadth of your content without overwhelming them with information. They usually include an image, the publication date, the blog’s title, its author, and maybe an excerpt from the post.
For Web Designer Depot’s mobile blog page, they keep it simple in order to fit more content on each page, displaying an image, the category, the title, and when the post first appeared. Apple’s newsroom blog also uses the card layout.
Special Typography and Font Pairings
Some marketers forget about the importance of typography in design, but font choices, letter sizes, and line spacing are key to readability. Pairing two distinct typefaces has become a popular way to improve the visual appeal of any blog, and many WordPress themes now use special font pairings.
This example of font pairings from Anchor and Orbit is from the homepage, but they also use the font in blog content. Notice the use of an original illustration, which adds more personality to the page.
It’s important to publish quality content on your blog, but if it looks uninspiring and is hard to navigate, it can detract from the value of your content.
The solution is to place your content within an attractive framework that makes it more accessible and readable. This will naturally increase your credibility and encourage more people to return to your blog time after time. Attractive blogs are more likely to have longer life spans, so it’s worth the effort.
Use these tips as general best practice, but remember that your brand is unique, so take this information as inspiration to make your own blog better.
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