Blog and website design can be a tricky animal for bloggers that do not come from the design or marketing world. Your blog design is your digital business card that creates a snap judgment, first impression on new and existing readers, but…more importantly (and the most overlooked)…your blog design is your medium to convert readers into affiliate income, newsletter subscribers, rss subscribers and viral content spreaders. Is your blog design doing everything it can to insure that the function of your site is performing the necessary tasks? Or is it just what you like to look at on a daily basis?
What Is Your Blog Design Doing For You?
As you look into your own design to make tweaks or redesign it completely, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my blog design doing for me well now?
- What isn’t working in my design now?
- What do I want my design to do?
While these are simplistic questions with more complicated answers, they get you to the meat and potatoes of any design tweak or rework. There are plenty more questions you need to be asking, but this will get you started on the right track.
1. What Is My Blog Design Doing For Me Well Now?
What aspects of your blog seem to be performing well now? Are you getting a lot of comments? Are you seeing people retweet your articles? Maybe your newsletter and rss numbers are climbing. You need to take an objective look at your existing metrics to see what your readers are interacting well with now and what can be tweaked to increase those conversions.
Many times, simple changes in placement, wording or color can make drastic increases in conversions, so testing out different methods can prove to build upon already positive results. This essential testing through the use of monitoring your statistics and metrics can mean the difference between a successful blog design and one that is leaving things on the table.
2. What Isn’t Working In My Design Now
Do you have elements that are not converting well? Are there items within your design that are not doing anything at all?! If your design is not performing in certain areas, they either need to be reworked to trashed completely. Your screen real-estate is extremely valuable and limited. The last thing you want is a low converting element distracting your readers from more important high converting, business building elements in your design.
One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is adding in too many low converting, non-business building functions into their blog designs.
If that new, super cool widget does not build your business, it needs to go. Do not clutter up your blog design by adding in the latest and greatest of everything. Your design needs to be based off a foundation of function…not what you think is cool that week.
3. What Do I Want My Design To Do?
This is the #1 most important question you need to ask yourself when you are looking at adding design elements or redesigning your blog. It is also the #1 question that 99.9% of bloggers fail to look at as they go through designing processes.
What are the major functions in your blog that need to convert for you to be successful?
- Do you need to feature your newsletter sign up and free gift?
- Do you need to have your articles spread through specific social media outlets?
- Do you need your readers to dive deeper into your content?
- Do you need to sell more eBooks?
Ask yourself the questions that need answers. Once you have those answers, you can tailor the elements of your design and blog experience around what is going to make you successful in the long run. If you need more newsletter sign-ups, then you probably need to feature that sign-up predominantly on the homepage and in an action section of your post pages (single.php). If you need to get your articles in front of the Reddit audience, you will need to have a share button for that specific social media site at the bottom of your posts.
How Can I Make The Blog Design Process Easier?
While this may seem like a lot to digest at once, you can make life much easier on yourself by following a couple of tips.
1. Use The Tools Available
With free analytics like Google Analytics and paid versions that create heat maps like Crazy Egg, you can find out what your readers are currently clicking on when they visit your blog. Crazy Egg takes it one step further to show you were their mouses are hovering as…statistically…the mouse pointer follows the eyes of most readers.
Tools like these will give you insight into what is working and what is not. They will also give you the ability to test out new placement and other ideas to see what converts better over time.
2. Start Off On The Right Foot
By starting off with a premium theme like the ones from WooThemes, you can cut out 70% of the work. There are plenty of free themes on the market, but the coding is typically subpar and it takes a TON of time to find one that fits the needs of your site. By ponying up and purchasing a premium theme, you can almost get away with doing nothing for awhile as many of the core features that are needed in blogging are built in.
3. Don’t Panic
Go into the design process with the mindset that you are there to make things better. Find excitement in the process and try to to get too overwhelmed as you dive into all that is blog design. Remember…you do not need thousands of dollars to create a quality, high converting blog design, you just need to ask the right questions…