I am by no means a web designer. Without my sister this blog would still be on Tumblr and would look like complete garbage (love you sis!). That being said, when we came up with my blog’s initial website design, I definitely had a vision. I wanted it to encapsulate my personality and be a nice, friendly home for my readers. What I didn’t realize at the time was how important things like navigation and interactivity were to my site’s design. Having finished my first digital marketing, and having done a whole project on the subject of web design, I now have a pretty good handle on the dos and don’ts of layout, which I can now in turn share with all of you.
I talked about how to write content last week, but this week when I mention content I’m talking solely in terms of website design. For instance, did you know that visitors will leave a web page after 10-20 seconds if they don’t see a clear value proposition when they arrive? That’s why having content that is clear, concise, upfront, and delivers on your promise (IE. don’t have misleading blog post titles) is so important.
What you need to always keep in the back of your mind is the fact that people scan when it comes to reading content online. People are in a hurry and so they skim big chunks of content for a list, keyword, or hyperlink to answer their question or help them complete their task.
On top of that, when readers are scanning, they are predominantly looking at the top left of their screen. If they don’t find what they are looking for right away, you guessed it, they’ll skim down a bit and then leave. Make sure to put your most important points at the top, then elaborate on your way down.
What are visitors looking for when it comes to a website’s usability? It’s simple. All they want is a site that is easy to figure out, quick to download, and frequently updated. To make sure your blog ticks all of those boxes you need to ensure that your site can be easily downloaded on multiple platforms and browsers. How do you do that? With this handy and free program called Screenfly.
When you visit a website, you expect things to be in certain places. That’s how you should design your blog, around reader’s expectations. Here’s a quick breakdown of how things should be layed out for optimal consistency and ease of use:
- Your logo should be a the top left corner (along with an optional tagline) hyperlinked to the homepage.
- Your search box (and you really should have a search box), should be at the top right section of the page.
- Your main navigation should be on the top horizontal area, and the sub-navigation should be near the top left or bottom left of the page (never to the right).
- All colors, fonts, overall page layout, imagery, and whitespace should be consistent across the entire website.
There’s nothing worse than a website that won’t load quickly (meaning within 1-2 seconds). Most of the time people will just give up and hit the back button to try another website to visit. To find out how fast your blog is, test it with this free web page analyzer.
Good navigation means your site is clear and intuitive to use. Visitors will want to find what they want in 1 to 2 clicks, otherwise they will leave. That means that you should have a consistent use of internal links, an easy to find sitemap, a search box, and breadcrumbing so visitors can see where they are within your website. I’d also like to add that having social media icons right upfront is very important. Sometimes visitors just want to find out what your Twitter handle is, and if they can’t find it right away, they’ll just leave and probably never follow you on Twitter.
Speaking about social media icons, if your blog isn’t interactive, it’s pretty much useless. People want to interact with your blog, so make it easy for them. Have clearly visible social media icons right near the top right corner of your website. Have a comments section that doesn’t require that many steps for someone to leave a comment. Run a contest, offer a free ebook or podcast download, invite readers to send you emails! And make sure to connect back, because there’s nothing worse than someone trying to reach you and them receiving nothing but radio silence from you.
7. Visual Design
Whitespace, whitespace, whitespace! Did I mention the importance of whitespace? Since visitors are scanning, not reading every little thing on your website, you need to make sure your site isn’t cluttered or difficult for people to find what they are looking for. And whitespace doesn’t have to be white just so you know. It just means having empty space to avoid information overload.
Choosing the right colours for your site is super important too. You want the colours on your site to be easy on the eyes. I had the help of my graphic designer dad when it came to that, but if you need some suggestions check out colourlovers.com for some palette ideas.
For fonts, you will want to choose an easy to read font, and also limit the number of fonts and sizes you use (otherwise it will make your website look inconsistent and busy). Graphics and images should also be nice to look at however it’s important to keep those file sizes small to keep your site’s loading time fast.
Alright people, that’s it. That concludes my blog marketing series. It’s been super fun, and I sure hope I get a frickin’ A on my exam because these blog posts definitely help me study everything. My next digital marketing course is all about social media strategy, so expect some more blog posts about all that in a couple of months.
Make sure to check out these other posts in my blog marketing series: