Design plays an integral role in the online world, it’s the difference between success and failure in a lot of scenarios.
Good design increases the perceived value of a product – compare a plain PDF with a PDF with a cover – people are attracted to the one with the cover. Your eyes are drawn to it.
Before Twitter there was Jaiku, and other microblogging sites. Sure the open API meant Twitter caught on fast, but good design and user simplicity helped speed things along.
A good user experience is essential.
It’s what keeps people on your site and keeps them reading. Not only that good design can increase trust and subscribers. Better designed blogs will get more opt-ins, more sales and more referrals.
Here are a few design tips for content based websites aka blogs.
Don’t Crowd Your Page with Ads
Yes, you want your blog to make money. However, crowding your page with advertisements really isn’t great design.
I have blogging clients that want to look like all the other marketers out there with a sidebar crammed with logos and adverts, not realising that it makes a bad user experience. These advertisements as well as looking tacky also interfere with your site’s conversion goals, unless of course your conversion goal is to look tacky. Stop comparing yourself to your peers – focus on what your reader, your ideal customer needs.
You wouldn’t enjoy a TV program that had a stream of adverts running down the side of the screen, would you?
You sidebar should be clutter free and contain only what matters to your blogging goals. If anyone tells you otherwise, then ignore their advice. Seriously, why would you want to send your readers offsite or detract from your content?
If you must display ads, then they should integrate well with your website’s overall look. Perhaps more importantly the ads should be relevant to the content you are writing. And they should placed strategically to get your user’s attention without being intrusive.
You Don’t Use Images Strategically and Professionally
Having high quality, professional photos on your posts can really add to the aesthetics of your site. However, like the adverts mentioned above, crowding your page with photos makes it look very unprofessional and a mess.
Try to have just one or two carefully chosen images per page. If your article is really long you can have one or two more and to make this look better, avoid having images too close to each other. Use the images to draw the readers eye down the post.
Make sure any photos on your website are crisp, taken with a high quality camera or smartphone. Images need to be relevant to the content, I’m the queen of the abstract image, but I can tell you from experience that the right image makes all the difference.
Try using your instagram images in blog posts to make them really stand out.
Professional Header Graphic? What’s that?
Your header graphic is one of the most important elements of what your website looks like. After all, it’ll be on the top of every page visitors go to, affecting their overall experience.
If you’re not a professional designer and you’re doing your website yourself, this is perhaps the one area where you should consider hiring someone professional to do it for you.
Your header graphic should contain just one or two graphical elements and just one or two text elements. The text elements and the graphic elements can’t both be too loud, or they’ll clash with one another or detract from the overall content.
Using a Color Scheme That Highlights Your Content
Your site will generally look better with just a few colors that are relatively similar. For your site’s color scheme, use complementary colors or ones that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.
Avoid colors schemes that clash or have one color standing out too much. The goal of your website design shouldn’t be to bring attention to your beautiful site design, but to create a positive framework for visitors to consume your content.
These are a few of the most important elements to designing content based websites that look good and make people want to stay on your site longer (and actually read the content you are creating).
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