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New bloggers have to focus on the design and usability of their blog. This article will help in this aspect of blogging
Designing your blog does not have to be expensive. In fact, you can do it for free, especially if you’re using WordPress. WordPress has a lot of free and excellent themes that you can use. Just go to the Themes Directory and you’ll find a wide range of choices in there.
These themes can be customized. If you want to add personality to your blog, just tweak your chosen theme a little and you’ll get a unique blog design.
To increase readers’ awareness of your blog, you need an identifying logo. Invest in one to increase the uniqueness of your blog and promote your brand further.
You can try websites like 99designs.com to find great logos for your blog. It allows you to hold a contest as to who can design the best logo for you. You can talk to the designers, wait for a week, then choose from several entries. This might even save you money since you can find great logos as cheap as $150.
Designing Based On What You Want Your Visitors To Do
There are many things that you might ask of your readers when they visit your blog, such as the following:
- Read at least one article
- Read the most read posts
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- Subscribe to your RSS feed
- Click on ads
- Share your post to a social bookmarking site
- Leave comments
- Buy from you
- Click on the link to your social networks
- Share your posts on the social networks
- Share your post to friends through email
- Check as many articles as they can
- Download your eBook
However, you cannot design your blog to motivate your readers to do all of these things. That is, if you don’t want to make a mess out of your blog.
What you can do is to choose your priorities among the actions that you want your readers to do. Then, create a design to trigger those actions among your readers. The bottom line is that the fewer actions you want your readers to do, the more likely it is that they will get your message and execute those actions.
One of the critical actions that you should ask of your readers is to subscribe to your blog. The more subscribers you have, the bigger your guaranteed audience will be. Moreover, it is easier to forge relationships with subscribers, who might turn into regular readers.
Aside from asking people to subscribe to your RSS feed, you can also use Twitter and email to notify subscribers of new posts to your blog.
In designing your blog, make way for your subscription calls. Put one above the fold, either on the sidebar or in the header. You can also put one at the bottom of each post, with a call-to-action for a subscription.
Showcasing The Best Content
Aside from getting readers to do what you need them to do and to get more subscribers, you also need to think about how to hold onto your readers.
First, you can create an exclusive section for your “Most Read Posts” in the blog layout. This is usually delegated in the sidebar, although some blogs also put this section in the footer or header, depending on what works for the blogger. You can choose the most popular articles manually or automate the selection using tools such as the WordPress Popular Posts plugin.
Second, you can start an internal page that will automatically list the most visited posts. You can prepare them by month or any other category. To avoid disrupting your layout, you can link to this internal page from the main menu. Instead of a text link, you can use an image to get the readers’ attention and lead them to the best content of your blog.
Common Usability Blunders To Avoid
There are several blunders committed when it comes to the usability of a blog, such as the following:
- Not putting a search box. The search box is useful when readers want to find specific posts on your blog. It might frustrate them and discourage them from using your blog if you miss this important usability feature.
- No contact page. It is important for readers to be able to contact you if they want to talk about or ask you about something. Treat the contact box as your connection to your readers, who might have some helpful feedback for you.
- Lack of archives. Your blog should have a page compiling all your posts. It does not only improve user experience, but it also serves as a sitemap that search engines value in ranking websites.
- Bad font. Your readers must not only love your content, but your posts’ typography as well. Use the right font, font size, and line spacing that make for comfortable reading.
- Complex navigation. You can simplify your website navigation by putting a link to your home page on all your internal pages, having a navigation bar, and not using drop-down menus, among others.
- Using invisible links. Make sure to identify your hyperlinks by underlining them or using a different font color for the anchor keywords. You can also use them to simplify navigation.
- Overloading blog with ads. Although you make money from ads, don’t overdo it if you don’t want to turn off readers. Start small and expand your ads, but always prioritize user experience.
- Using too many widgets, buttons, and badges. These might look crowded in the sidebar, making your blog look cluttered. Choose only the buttons and widgets that you really need.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s post! We will be learning how to forge relationships with our audience.
When we work together, we succeed together.
Dream It. Believe It. Achieve It.
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