You’ve got something to share and your blog is a means of doing that. For those who use it well, a blog can introduce you and your interests to others, build your credibility as a writer and (if you’ve designed well for search engines) attract readers too. However, if you mess it up, it can send a message to readers that you may have wished you never sent.
Updated October 6, 2013
While it’s true that your blog is a unique expression of who you are and what you have to say, like actors on the stage, successful bloggers cultivate audiences. The most broad appeal possible is where to start designing your blog from so be careful to avoid the pitfalls that narrow the field of potential readers from the outset.
Clarity and simplicity go hand in hand so the KISS principle and the “less is more” motto are applicable.
- Structure your blog with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
- Keep the links on any given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100). Yes, sidebar links are included in that count.
- Offer a site map and/or index pages to your users with links that point to the important sections of your blog. If the site map is larger than 100 or so links, then break the site map into separate pages.
If a reader does not have a specific font installed on his / her computer, the browser will determine which font is displayed. There are a very limited number of fonts (in English/Western languages) which are common for most operating systems/computers/browsers.
Though font styles for web pages are limited some bloggers want their site to have fonts they can use in word processing packages. So how do you do that? You can make it in Adobe PhotoShop or another graphic package and save out your text as images. This works well as far as appearance goes, but because images are naturally larger than text and the result is low page loading time. However, the major drawback is not size, it’s that you have your text, which tells what your site is about now locked up in images. It’s not accessible to search engines that crawl web sites.
What does that mean? It means that if you’re relying on traffic to your site from search engines, you want real text, not images of text that only humans can read. It also means the slower load time for the image laden pages.
If you have an inclination to cutesy up your site title, post titles and tags with special characters then know that although a special character may draw the scanning eye of the reader, using special characters may attract the kind of attention you don’t want.
A blog page should load in a reasonable amount of time and that means clean and fast should be the goal. If you post to many posts on the front page or use too many images and embeds, or if your images are not scaled and compressed for the web then your pages will take longer to load. And, impatient users and dial-up users will click out.
Don’t risk turning readers away just because they have trouble focusing on and reading material on your site. Be keenly aware that Just because a color scheme looks cool to you doesn’t mean everyone will find it easy to appreciate. Colors evoke emotions that range from calm and relaxing to vibrant and stress inducing. There are colors for backgrounds and text that are pleasing and create the right mood for any blog so do your research first. Try out your color choices on a mix of people before you get too far into your design.
One thing you should avoid is setting up a static front because most returning readers will find it annoying to click through to locate your most recent published posts.
If you insist on having a static front page and do want your blog content to be front and center then don’t add autoplay music or videos that start playing automatically. Aim to provide only navigation links that send the readers deeper than the front page as quickly as possible.
Make sure your site is easy to navigate. Have someone who’s not familiar with it give it a whirl while you watch. Ask them to find posts by categories or titles and watch them as they work. Listen to what they have to say and fix your site to make it work better for readers. Thereafter, check your blog site’s navigation and all the links frequently to ensure they are in working order. Also remember to keep the contact information on your blog current and complete by editing your About page and Contact Information as soon as anything changes.
Adopt a regular writing schedule and keep your blog updated knowing that readers lose interest in blogs that are infrequently or sporadically updated.
Blog Review Checklist Adapted from Liz Strauss