In case you are planning a redesign of your blog in 2014 as part of your New Year resolutions, and you are interested in what you can do to improve the look of your site and your readers’ experience, please continue reading.
There are tons of blogs on the Internet and hundreds are created by day on platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Tumblr, etc. But not all consider the main ingredients of a good blog design. Here are the elements to implement on your new blog:
Impressive header and a logo
When visitors land on your blog the first thing they notice is your header and its design. Include your logo to help imprint your brand into their memory and make a memorable first impression. Also, don’t forget to link your logo to the homepage to make the design more user-friendly since most blog readers are expecting that.
Remember, we don’t want it to just look good, but we also need the design to be functional, practical and easy to use. Our blog was not created for us but for our readers, to solve their needs. Keep that in mind while making the redesign.
A search box in the upper right corner
You may be just starting with blogging, but if you are serious and determined about it, eventually there will be lots of content on it, – your blog will become an archive of information that your readers may find very useful. To enable your visitors to search your blog in an efficient manner a search box is essential. Try Google Custom Search Engine, use plugins like Better Search or Search Everything, or check this article with guidelines for designing a search box.
Add social buttons to your blog posts
You want your posts to get shared on social media – it will expand your reach, bring in new visitors, promote your blog and help your rankings (click for more SEO tips). Make sure to include social buttons right below or aside the post content so sharing will be easier for your readers. Try plugins like Digg Digg, ShareThis or GetSocial, and keep the buttons to Facebook’s Like, Twitter’s Tweet, Google’s +1, or just add Pinterest, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, depending on the site where most of your blog readers hang out.
Related blog posts
Related posts are meant to encourage readers to read further, stay longer on your blog and become more engaged with your content. Even if they don’t like the post they landed on, they can still check the interesting suggestions instead of leaving your site immediately. To implement related posts try Related Posts for WordPress or Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP).
Calls to action
At the bottom of your blog’s content area include a specific call to action. Show your readers what next they should do to solve whatever problem they search through – ask for subscriptions, invite them to your sales page for purchase, or just encourage them to comment and share your posts.
Email Signup Form
This call to action deserves a separate place in the sidebar too, somewhere near the top, as your readers’ emails let you provide them with free updates and additional information on their interests to further deepen the communication. There are different subscription widgets you can use like the AWeber Web Form Plugin, Feedburner Email Subscription or even Jetpack.
Feature popular blog posts
In the sidebar next to your post you can also link to the most popular, commented and shared content that way introducing your new visitors to the best on your blog. Popular posts help reducing the bounce rate too.
Connect on social media
Readers can now follow you on social sites right from your blog pages. Just don’t forget to include the links to your top favorite accounts – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+… Here’s a plugin to create a Facebook Like Box, or you can get creative and make your own social buttons on dryicons.
Promote your products/services or ads
I’m sure there’s enough free space left to also promote your products and the services your offer in your niche as a blogger, or if you still haven’t started monetizing you can at least add few advertisements on the side and potentially earn some cash.
Categories or navigation menu
The design of blog footers is lately becoming more minimalistic and in most cases features either a list of categories or other links like an additional navigation menu area. Think of your blog readers and install what would be most useful for them.
Am I missing something? What other design elements do you think are necessary on a blog? Tell us in the comments.