Your content might be the best on the web. It’s stacked to the ceiling with handy tips on how to find the best airline credit card rewards, the best deals in your local supermarkets, and how to budget for a family of four.
However, no one will ever know your content if you don’t observe simple design basics that increase the readability and accessibility of your content.
The blogosphere benefits from great ideas and words, but ultimately the internet is still a visually driven medium. Ignoring basic design principles is like forgetting to brush your teeth, press your clothes, and comb your hair–before giving a big presentation to thousand of people.
Take care to groom your sight for public display. No matter how good content is, bad design is as big of a turn off as spinach in the teeth or a stained tie. Putting your best face forward on the web allows users to trust you and your content more readily ensuring you develop a devoted readership in no time.
1. Brand Your Header
The header of your blog should contain a strong graphic image, either an illustration, photo, portrait, or logo. The header is the first place you effectively establish the brand of your blog. It’s the first thing people see when they hit your blog, and it is the only true constant of a page where content gets updated frequently.
Implement a strong header with a detailed illustration, photo, or other images that you want to represent your blog in perpetuity. Readers will come to identify you by the imagery you choose.
2. Keep it Simple
While sidebars and menu navigation bars help your visitors navigate archives, drill down through subcategories, and discover affiliated blogs, too many navigational tools, whirlygigs, and whozits on the periphery of your page distract from core content and make your site nearly illegible.
Limit your use of sidebars, menus, and other add ons. Take the Coco Chanel approach to design. Once you finish your layout, evaluate and remove one accessory. Though that embedded Twitter feed or social media badge might seem necessary, removing it will crystalize focus on your content.
3. Start With an Image
Always place a relevant image at the top of posts. This breaks up heavy text and gives users and instant point of interest to grab onto before sinking into text. Little kids like books with pictures because those pictures help illustrate concepts more easily than large walls of text (by zinser at tforge inc). Similarly, internet users respond to visual information. Integrate one if not more photos or images with every post.
4. Reduce Ads
While generating income from a blog via ads is attractive, piling your design high with them will suffocate your design and drive potential click-throughs away anyway. Choose one ad or one affiliate program for your site and look for other ways to leverage your blog to make money like guest posts, sponsored posts, and others.
5. Clean-up Your Fonts
Instead of trying to cram as much information on one page like you’re creating an authorized cheat sheet for a college course. Make your college education valuable and play it like you did with term papers instead. Ratchet up fonts size and choose clear and crisp typography. Legibility is key, don’t make your readers squint.
All design decisions should aim to draw readers in with bold images, clear text, and simple layout. Focus your design to highlight the value of your content and encourage readers to return again and again.
Images via ShutterStock