Is Your Blog Design Killing Your Business?

According to a study done by Affilinet, a London-based company, bloggers are more trusted than journalists, celebrities, and politicians (of course).  The only people trusted more than bloggers are family and friends.  So, without question, your blog can set you up to be an authority in your niche, and your authority will translate into a good income.  That is, if your blog is functioning the way that it should.

If your content is worth reading and your blog design encourages guests to hang around to digest your content, you’ve got a winning combination.  Your blog design will influence whether or not people stay to read your quality content. A poor blog design can subtly send off messages about you and your business. How can we shape those subtle messages to work for you and not against you?

Content makes or breaks your blog.  However, a good blog design will either help you achieve your goals for your blog or impede your achievement.  So, how can you use blog design to your best advantage? Here are 10 tips to help you design your blog for maximum effectiveness.

    1. What is the purpose of your website?  What design features will best enable you to achieve your website’s purpose?
    2. Who is your target audience?  How can you create a blog design that will be most appealing to that audience and help you achieve your business goals?
    3. What layout gives your content the best showcase?  Do you want to use one column, two columns, or a grid layout with thumbnail images and titles below the images?  As you’ve viewed different blogs, you may have noticed different designs.  Not one design works best across all business niches.  See what others are doing in your niche as  you think about what layout to use for your blog.
    4. What widget areas will work best for your business?  You may choose a design that puts the widgets above the fold in a horizontal bar or a sidebar or footer.
    5. Are you using your blog’s sidebar area to its fullest potential?  There are elements that make your blog’s sidebar a great business asset. First, do you have a place for your readers to subscribe?  Your blog should be growing your email list, and your sidebar is one place where you can do this.A category list is another great sidebar feature.  You may notice that in my sidebar I have my posts broken down into several categories so that you can easily find them.  Whether you’re looking for posts on Advertising, Marketing, List Building, or a number of other topics, you’ll find my posts on those topics easily from the category list in the sidebar.
    6. Keep your blog design simple.  A cluttered page is not inviting and the sensory overload may send potential readers scurrying away to the safety of someone else’s simple design.  Simplicity pertains to the overall look of your website, how many buttons you have in the navigation bar, how many widgets you have in your sidebar… everything.  Less is more in blog design.
    7. Consistency is another imperative for blog design.  The first part of consistency starts with your overall design, whether it’s modular or by template.  Modular design means that your website has a set of components, or modules, that are configured so that they are easily movable – this is a feature that templates don’t offer.  The modules can be moved around to make your website most effective.If you’re creating a WordPress website and going the template route, make sure that the template you choose a theme that best highlights your business.  As you consider choosing a theme, ask the questions above your website’s purpose, your target audience, and the best layout for what you are working to achieve.A second aspect of consistency is the use of color.  Color consistency contributes to an overall look that is fresh, professional, stimulating, and one that doesn’t look like a kindergartener’s first art project.Other aspects of consistency include type fonts, background, alignment of elements, your internal link strategy, consistent navigation, and consistent structure.
    8. Watch out for duplicate functionality.  What I mean by this is choosing and activating plug-ins that do the same thing that your WordPress theme does.  This can result in two sets of social sharing icons or the theme plus an activated plug-in could display related post suggestions like a “You Might Also Like…”  This kind of duplication will not serve you well, so get rid of it by deactivating the plug-ins that cause it.
    9. Using quality images on your blog can build your brand, just as poor images can hurt your brand.  Professionalism in every aspect of your blog will build your reputation while poor quality will diminish your reputation.  Use images that are of the highest quality so that your readers know that you are worthy of their interest.
    10. Match your blog design with your approach across channels to have an integrated and cohesive brand identity.  For example, using high quality images for your blog posts also enables you to highlight your content on Pinterest. 

      Those are my 10 best tips.  What would you add?  I welcome your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.

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