Web design is always tricky. There are some best practices to keep in mind, but for the most part, web design is subjective; what works well for one business may not work for another, and you’ll have to go through a process of learning, revising, and optimization if you want to be successful.
However, there’s one area of design where best practices are standard, and making even one key mistake can compromise your effectiveness significantly: your blog design.
The Importance of the Blog
Your blog is one of the most important sections of your site. It houses your content, serves as a primary conduit to attracting more leads, and is where most people look when they want more information about your brand and expertise. If your blog fails to impress, you could turn away otherwise interested visitors. It’s also one of the more straightforward sections of your website (from a design perspective), so following the rules can help almost any site become more effective.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid
When designing your blog, these are some of the biggest mistakes newcomers make-and some of the most important ones to avoid:
- Not showing off your niche. Successful bloggers, like Tim Sykes, often credit much of their success to being able to provide niche expertise to a niche audience. Hopefully, you already have a niche in mind. One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to the blogging world make is failing to make this niche obvious to incoming readers. How will visitors know if your blog is tailored to them? How will they determine whether you’re a good fit? Make strategic design choices, such as significant coloration, headlines, or imagery that makes it clear what your area of expertise is.
- Making the blog difficult to find. Your blog is one of the most important pages of your site, so why would you hide it from your users? Most blogs are featured as an item in the top navigation bar, or as a prominent item in the footer, not to mention the number of blogs that exist immediately on the home page. Any average visitor should be able to find your blog and access it within a few seconds of landing on your site; any longer than that, and you’ll suffer from a lack of engagement.
- Failing to include social share icons. Even though they might look complicated, social media share icons are painfully simple to include in a blog. When it comes to template sites like WordPress, they’re generally included by default-or are available by checking a box. These share icons add a level of legitimacy to your blog, but more importantly, they encourage more engagement from your readers. If you don’t include them, you’ll miss out on a lot of potential.
- Overcrowding your pages. Your company has a lot to show off—we get it—but there’s a time and a place to show these things off. Generally, your blog pages should be as minimalistic as possible. Your content is the star of the show here, so if you overcrowd your pages with other links and features, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
- Annoying users with ads. Even big-name blogs like Hubspot have ads from time to time, usually in the sidebar, as a popup, or in the body of a post. Ads themselves aren’t inherently a problem. However, if you’re bombarding your users with advertisements, or if they pop up in a particularly annoying or obstructive way, you could be turning users away.
- Having a lack of readability. Your blog needs to be readable on any device-otherwise, why would people stick around? Your design contributes a great deal to the readability of your blog, so pay careful attention here. What fonts are you using? What coloration are you using? Is your site optimized to be mobile-friendly and accessible to people on any device or browser combination?
- Forgetting to make your blogs skimmable. Your individual blog posts need to be well-designed, too, as readers will be popping in and out of these articles as they learn more about your brand. A big part of successful blog content design is making your articles skimmable-meaning they’re easily readable for people who only scan the article at a high level. You can increase skimmability by including more headlines and subheaders, breaking complex sections down into bulleted and numbered lists, and making clear divisions between your paragraphs.
These mistakes are some basic best practices you’ll need to be aware of when building the foundation of your blog. There are far more variables to consider here, such as how to craft your voice and design to fit the image of your brand, but these will at least help you avoid some of the early pitfalls of blog design.