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How Design Impacts Blog Readership

Posted By Guest Blogger 15th of May 2015 General 0 Comments

How Design Impacts Blog Readership / problogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Damion Wasylow.

You have things to say, ideas to spread and concepts to share. That’s why you’re a blogger.

But, if you’re like most bloggers, you’re much better with words than visuals. As a result, many bloggers’ sites are poorly designed or rely on simple templates. Your content may bring people to your blog, but poor design and usability can seriously limit your readership.

First Impressions are Everything

Studies show that new visitors develop an opinion of your website within 50 milliseconds. That’s 0.05 seconds. In that time, they make judgments about credibility, professionalism and quality of information – all without ever reading a single word you wrote. If the first impression isn’t positive, they’ll almost certainly bounce away, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever return.

It’s human nature. Picture a restaurant with a rusty door, broken sign and trash in the parking lot. The food could be incredible, but you’ll likely never venture inside to see the menu.

Get Real Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to honestly review your own site’s design. You’re biased, and so are your friends and family. After all, they don’t want to hurt your feelings and your dad probably isn’t your target audience. So, turn to a third party.

UserTesting.com is an excellent resource for gauging user experience. I often use UserTesting.com’s Peek Tests to gather initial feedback. Peek allows you to watch and listen to five-minute videos of real people encountering your site for the first time.

Testers answer three questions:

1) What is your first impression of this site?

2) What is the first thing you want to do on this site?

3) What stood out to you and what frustrated you about this site?

While this feedback isn’t comprehensive, it should at least offer some insight into whether your site’s design is on the right track or completely off-target.

Design Changes to Consider

You don’t have to be the world’s most talented web designer to create a visually impressive site that retains users. You simply have to understand the core elements of design and how they work together.

Color – Your color palette should be simple, consistent and reflect the overall tone of your content. Too many colors can be overwhelming, and the wrong colors can confuse your audience. Use standard color theory to select a palette that matches your blog’s personality.

Images – Users embrace photos and illustrations as a way to quickly get the gist of a story without investing too much effort. Effective images therefore leverage white space, contrast, color, interruption and other techniques to intrigue and draw the reader in. Images may not be worth 1000 words, but a recent study by Blog Pros showed that the 100 highest-ranking blogs on the Internet use at least 1 image for every 350 words.

Shapes – Chunky, square design elements evoke dramatically different feelings than free-flowing organic shapes. Circles are soft and inclusive, while angles can help carry a reader down the page. Partitioning content within shapes is a valuable way to help users segment information into digestible sections.

Typography – Typeface, font size, leading, kerning and placement all play significant roles in affecting user experience. Great typography conveys emotion, while also allowing users to focus on your message instead of struggling to interpret the structure of the letters before them. Note: never use Comic Sans or Papyrus.

Highlight Your Call-to-Action

You created your blog for a purpose, presumably beyond simply having individual visitors read your articles. Perhaps you want them to share your writings with others, purchase your product or service or download your e-book. Whatever the goal, design your site to highlight that call-to-action (CTA).

Use color, contrast, whitespace and size to make your CTA standout from the rest of the page. But keep it classy. Nothing undermines credibility faster than a flashing rainbow starburst. Here are some great examples of web pages with effective CTA designs.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

Mobile traffic accounts for nearly 60% of all web traffic, so you’re missing out on a lot of readers if your site isn’t designed to accommodate mobile visitors. And, really, even more if you count on social or email sources. When a mobile user lands on a site that offers a standard desktop design, they are far more likely to bounce away.

Ideally, your blog should be responsive, meaning that elements restack to match mobile screen dimensions when the site identifies a visitor on a mobile device. This makes your content easier to read and navigate on mobile screens.

Google recently announced that mobile-friendliness will be an increasingly important ranking factor. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, there’s a good chance it will dramatically drop in search engine results.

The importance of blog design cannot be overstated. Take the time now to improve your site’s aesthetics and usability. You’ll attract more visitors, keep them engaged and drive them to actions that match your goals.

Damion Wasylow writes for University of Florida’s Web Design and Online Communication master’s degree program. He has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design for publications, agencies and non-profits.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  • DNN

    Totally agree. People don’t want to be on a boring looking site.

  • First of all thanks for your detailed article.

    You describes 5 most important things to Design a Blog to increase Readership.

    After Google recent update “Mobilegeddon” will give you more traffic than before, if your blog or website is Mobile-Friendly.

    Last and most important thing is newbies should make user & search engine friendly navigation for good design to get quick success.

    Thanks for your great resource

    Keep Going

    Waiting for your next post :-)

  • Ya, design always plays an important role in blog. A mobile friendly, fast loading blog helps lot in conversion rate and in earning from blog too.

    thanks

  • Leo

    ” First Impressions are Everything ” I myself would be attracted to blogs that are appealing to read, visually and in the content. Some blogs are not updated and don’t even have images in them. Mobile friendly blogs will adapted by more site this year that’s my prediction.

  • By reading this I am going to make my blog’s design as more user-friendly as possible and which complete my blog goals.

    I am highly fascinated to know that new visitors develop an opinion of your website within 50 milliseconds.

    Thanks.

  • Great post Damion, almost everyone worries about getting people on their site but very few people worry about keeping them.

    I’ve personally run an experiment taking an “averagely designed” blog piece and redesigning it to make it look great. This increased the time on page by 400% and increased the traffic by 9275%.

    Since then I invest a ton in design. Thanks for the reminder!

  • reader come to blog for getting useful information and attractive images so that they understand the things easily. we need attractive blog for that,,,,

  • After redesigning my site, I noticed that traffic stayed on much longer than before. I made fonts bigger, I sectioned off my paragraphs better, and made the site more visually appealing. So yea, pretty much lots of the things you stated here :)

  • The design plays an important role to make the visitors keep visiting. The quality content and points arrangement then helps for further about the quality of blog post.

  • I have a long way to go with my blog design to get it where I want it to be.

    Love the points and Ill definitely keep them in mind in my next redesign

  • I like your article. You inspire and educate us on your blog on How Design Impacts Blog Readership. You can really help a lot. Great blogs!

  • I always focused on making the blog more user friendly rather than search engine friendly, Result – loyal visitors :)

  • Thanks for this great post! Are there any specific WordPress plugins that you might recommend to engage reader and lower bounce rates?

  • Thanks for the advice. Whilst I am forever tweeking my website design maybe it’s not as user friendly as I think. I really need to do some objective testing.

  • Design is very important. People want to easily navigate a site and feel comfortable while they are there. If it’s a blog constantly improving it should be a goal. Do what you can with what you’ve got, but never get comfortable. Always figure out ways to improve and make the user experience better.

  • Great post Damion. I agree that first impressions are often underrated. Readers want to be able to read the articles easily and quickly. I use a lot of white space in my blog, but I wonder sometimes what readers think of my design. I know a site can never be perfect, but would like to make sure my readers enjoy the experience.

    Check my website out and see what you think about it.

    Rob

  • I think usually about design on a blog keeping it as simplest as possible, but the trending world so “visual” recommends push you forward to build your blog that way.

  • Thanks for a great post. I struggle with design – I create something and love it. Then after a while, the doubts creep in…. What do my readers think? Does it work for them? I’ve just redesigned my new blog again and I’m pretty happy with it for now. Hopefully it stays that way! :)

    • Sue, I too struggle with my blog design, but then I realize that it will never be perfect. I think you should work on your design every once in a while to make little improvements along the way. What I think really helps is if you have someone, who would be objective, look at your blog, maneuver around the site, and critique it like they were one of your readers. Get feedback from them on what they think of the design and how it flows. After all, we all want are readers to have a pleasant experience with our site and hopefully, they will stay around a little longer.

  • Great post, Darren.

    And GO GATORS!

  • I agree, first impressions really count-a clear, professional, slick blog with bags of personality that’s easy to use is crucial to garner and retain interest and receiving those subscriptions and return readers. Google are penalising sites that are not mobile-friendly and with large audience chunks coming to blogs from mobiles, it’s vital all bloggers ensure theirs is set up for this. Another great post. Thanks.

  • Great article. Awhile ago I read about the services of a UX tester who would navigate your site drunk in order to determine how user friendly it was. The logic behind the service was that your website has to be simple enough for an intoxicated person (or someone of seriously comprised intelligence) to use for it to be truly effective. Needless to say, we used the service and we passed.

  • Helpful tips!

    Make it mobile friendly really works as it gives a lot of advantage to bloggers and publishers. Even a little edit can drive in a lot of quality traffic to a site and make people convert into loyal fans. Using some of these techniques and so far it’s working fab!