Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.
How to Refresh the Design of Your Blog For Maximum Impact
Today’s episode is part 6 of the new ‘Today, Not Someday’ podcast series. The focus is actioning your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here. Part 2 was about why you should sell a product on your blog (and how to do it). Part 3 was about how to increase your subscriber numbers for your email list. Part 4 was about how to get readers excited to join and stay on your email list. Part 5 was about how to use auto responders to drive traffic and profit with your blog.
The focus of today’s episode is how to refresh the design of your blog to maximise your chances of making people feel what you want them to feel and doing what you want them to do.
In This Episode
You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:
- Why the design of your blog is so vital
- 4 areas of your blog design that you should review and update
- How to refresh your blog sidebar
- How to tackle your blog navigation
- How to tackle your calls to action
- How to work out if you need to upgrade your blog design completely
- 5 key principles of effective design that you should implement in your blog design
Further Reading and Resources for How to Refresh the Design of Your Blog For Maximum Impact
Where to find a new blog theme
StudioPress has a great range of options for wordpress themes. Check out what StudioPress has to offer here (ProBlogger affiliate link).
Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:
- Part 1: Introducing New ‘Today, Not Someday’ Series
- Part 2: Why You Should Create a Product to Sell On Your Blog (and Tips on How to Do It)
- Part 3: How to Increase the Subscriber Numbers to Your Email List
- Part 4: How to Get Readers Excited to Join and Stay on Your Email List
- Part 5: How to Use Autoresponders to Fast Track Engagement and Profit
Meet my new friend, Edgar (and a SPECIAL OFFER)
Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term.
You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.
The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for your free one month trial at meetedgar.com/problogger. Here’s a video of how I use Edgar:
If watching videos isn’t your thing – here’s a blog post I wrote on how I use Edgar.
Hi there and welcome to episode 71 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and today, we are going to talk about your blog’s design. This is part of our ongoing series of challenges that I’m giving you every couple of days over the month of December, to go away and do something today that you have probably got on your someday list.
Design is something that many of us, as bloggers say, “Yeah, one day I’ll redesign my blog,” or, “One day I’ll look at that navigation area,” or, “One day I’ll give my sidebar a spring-clean.” Well, I have got some news for you. Today is the day. We are using the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday” over on Twitter and a lot of you have been sharing the things that you have been doing over this month and that’s fantastic.
You can also find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/71 where I will have some further reading for you for today because there is a lot to cover on this topic. I will give you some links to some tools that you might want to use as well. You will also find on the show notes a little bit of information about our series sponsor, Edgar, a tool that I use to help me with my social media strategy.
For the last few episodes of this series we have been talking about email and I want to move away from that because we have focused the last three challenges upon email. I want to give you something completely different to go away and work on today and that is the design of your blog. Remember with this series, we are looking at things that you can do today that will pay off for the long term of your blog and I think the design really fits beautifully into this particular theme in this series.
The other way your blog looks, what it makes people feel, what it makes people do is vitally important and it has a really long-term impact upon your blogging. What if you could turn 10% more of those first-time visitors that come to your blog into long-term readers? Your design can help to do that and that has an ongoing impact.
What if you could increase the number of pages that a typical visitor views while they are on your site by say 10%? Again, that has long-term impact and design can have an impact upon that. What if you could get 10% more clicks on your affiliate links or your advertising on the site? Design can help with that. What if you could get 10% more comments? Design can help with that. What if you could get 10% more people to see your eBook sales page or your services pages? Again, design, the way your blog looks, the way you call people to action with visual elements on your blog can impact that.
All of these things can be achieved by re-optimizing your design and that is what today is all about. Really it is a bit difficult for me to tell you exactly what to do today because it is going to depend a little upon your blog and what you are trying to achieve with your blog. It really comes down to entering a simple question. What do you want people to do on your blog? That is a question that I would encourage you to ask before you do anything else today. What do you want people to do when they are on your site? Are you reflecting that in your design? In the way that your blog is laid out? In the calls to action, the visual calls to action that you have got on your site?
I want to suggest a few things that you could do today. You may want to do all of these things, or you may just want to do one of them. Some of them are bigger than others, but let us just start with the first one. The first one is something that I think many bloggers could probably benefit from and that is to give your sidebar a spring-clean. I don’t if this is true for you, but I think many bloggers (including myself) end up with sidebars. You just add one more element and then you have another element. Two years later, you’ve added 20 different elements to your sidebar and lots of different links and tools. Some of it is dated and some of it is broken.
Maybe today is the day that you just need to give it a bit of a spring-clean. What’s in your sidebar that is dated? What’s broken? How could you declutter it a little bit? What features or tools were a good idea at that time but that you just do not need them anymore? Another question to ask is how does your sidebar function? How does it look when people are viewing your site on a mobile or on a tablet? Tackle your sidebar today and let me know how you got with that with a hashtag #TodayNotSomeday on Twitter. You might want to do a before and after snapshot and share that as well. You can do that in the show notes too because our comment section there does allow you to share images.
The second thing you might want to do today—this might be in addition to looking at your sidebar or might be something else that you just might want to do—is to tackle your navigation on your site. Take a critical look at how people can navigate through your site. Your menus, particularly, are what I want you to look at. Your menu bar at the top of your site or in your sidebar is something that people do use and they do look at quite a bit. They will be clicking on those links, perhaps more than any other links on your whole site, so it is really important every now and again to do a bit of an audit of what you’ve in those navigation areas. Again, is anything broken? It is amazing how many times I go to blogs and you click on the about page and it does not actually go to the about page or it goes somewhere else, so test those links.
Are you linking to something that is no longer relevant or active? You might have a category in your navigation area that you just do not write on anymore and it is a bit embarrassing if someone goes to it, and they say that the last post written was in 2009. Do you have too many options in your navigation bar? Is your main call to action the main thing that you want people to do in that navigation area? Is there something important on your site that you have started doing since you set up the menu that you need to add to it? And again how does it work on mobile? Does it look too overwhelming? Do you need to remove some elements just for mobile? Some of the themes that you can get designed for mobile will allow you just to show some of the options.
Again this might be something that you want to do in addition to tackling your sidebar or as an alternative, but I would love to hear how you go with it. What is our exercise like? I actually just redid it on Digital Photography School and I realize there are a couple of things that were a bit confusing. We actually removed a couple of items from our menu bar just to declutter things and to really funnel people towards the important things, the things that we really wanted them to do.
The third action that you might want to take today is to really tackle the calls to action that you have on your blog. One of the best questions you can ask (and I have mentioned this before) is what do I want my readers to do on my blog. Now you can actually ask this question on different pages of your blog and have different answers to it. One of the exercises you might want to do is to actually look at some of the key pages on your blog and ask that question.
When someone arrives at your homepage, what do you want those readers to do? Are you actually calling them to do that thing? It may be to subscribe to your newsletter. It may be to read your about page. It may be to read a certain key blog post that converts really well for you. It may be to get people to look at your sales page or your hire me page. It will be different for all of us, but are you actually calling your readers to do that when they are on your homepage?
You can actually ask that question for other pages, too. When they are on your about page, what do you want them to do next that might be a bit different from what you want them to do on the homepage? What do you want people to do when they are on a blog post? Look at a typical blog post and ask, are you calling people effectively to that action? It may be on some other key page on your site like an eBook sales page. Obviously, you want people to buy that eBook on that page, but are you doing it effectively? This is another option that you might want to look at today. When you look at your design, how are you calling people to action on key pages on your site?
The last thing you might want to do today is just to do a complete overhaul of your blog design. This may actually be the one thing that you have been putting off and that has been sitting on your someday list. When I started this series, we kind of knew, we all kind of know at certain times we need to do this and maybe that is what you really need to tackle right now, between now and the end of the year is to actually give your blog a complete overhaul. Perhaps if your blog design is broken, very dated, or it just does not reflect your brand anymore, this is maybe what you want to do.
There are a few options that you can take here. You might want to hire a designer to give you a completely new customized design that is going to take some cash though. You may want to do it yourself and actually tackle that if you have got some technological know-how or perhaps you want to use a premium theme and find yourself a new theme. Check out what Studio Press has to offer, they are our friends. I’ve got a link (which is an affiliate link) in our show notes today. I like a lot of the designs that they do, but there are plenty of other options out there as well, and I will link to a few in the show notes today.
It is how to give you tips for redesigning your blog and giving your blog a complete overhaul in a podcast. That is not very visual and because everyone’s blog is completely different and your blog needs to reflect your brand but a few general tips that probably apply to most blogger redesigns.
These are the things that I hear from my blog designer friends quite regularly. The first one is what space is your friend. You really do need to give the different elements of your blog room to breathe. This includes your background and not having a background that is perhaps too cluttered. It includes anything between and around your blog design elements like your logo. You want to have room to breathe around your navigation area and even between the text on your blog. You want to have space between the lines that are appropriate and that is really good advice around that. You want to keep your whole design simple and this relates to that white space. One of the mantras that I hear many blog designers use is when in doubt, subtract.
If you are wondering whether you should add something in, that the answer may probably be no. You want to make your design as simple as possible and not to confuse or overwhelm your readers. When it comes to colors, obviously trends change and that is something that you can tweak on your blog.
We are actually looking at the moment at a redesign of ProBlogger which we hope to roll out in the coming weeks. One of the things we have done with that redesign is really just taking a bit of a critical look at the colors that we use. While we have evolved our color scheme on ProBlogger, there is going to be some new element on that front. We want to keep the color scheme as simple as possible and choose maybe a couple of colors, maybe three at the most. I think most designers that I talked to say, “You know you really want to pull back and not have too many colors and particularly focus on a feature color or maybe two at the most.”
The same is true with fonts, you do not want too many different fonts on your site, one or two is probably enough, three at an absolute stretch and then you might want to use the styling of those fonts to highlight different things so rather than getting a new font in maybe just bold the font that you are using. You do not want to go too crazy with too many visual styles when it comes to fonts.
The other thing that really comes across in most of the things that I have already said is you want consistency. You want consistency across your blog so when people come to different pages on your blog they feel like they are in the same site, your logo, your styling, the fonts you use, the colors that you use. Now, I am not a blog designer and this is probably reflected in the tips that I have given you, but I am going to link to some further reading that you can do in today’s show notes that will hopefully help you and send you off to some blog designers that I really know and respect.
I have given you four different things you can do today on your blog: to tackle your sidebar, to tackle your navigation area, to tackle calls to action, and maybe to give yourself a complete overhaul. You might want to choose one of those things to do today or it might be something else that relates to blog design. If you are feeling a little bit convinced today that your blog design needs a spring-clean or an overhaul, I really want to encourage you to get it off your someday list and put it on your today list.
I really want to encourage you to tell us what you’re going to do with that #TodayNotSomeday over on Twitter or Instagram. This is really going on for Instagram. I would love to see some before and after shots of the things that you tackled or you can show us and tell us in the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/71 where I will have some further reading for you. You will also see some information there from our sponsor, Edgar, who does have an offer at the moment for you. Edgar is a tool that I use for my social media, particularly to highlight some of the evergreen content in my archives. I realized a few years ago that I was doing the same tweets over and over again to some of those key posts on my site.
I wanted to highlight those old posts that I have that are evergreen, but I just kept doing the same tweets over and over again, and I realize that I needed a tool that would do that work for me. Edgar is that tool. You can check them out at meetedgar.com/problogger for the little deal that they have got running for you at the moment to give you a free trial of their service. We will have some more information on the show notes as well.
I really look forward to seeing what you do today and to checking out the new design elements and some of the work that you do on this particular challenge today. Do let us know how you go in the comments or over on Twitter. I am @problogger on twitter and love to see feedback on the podcast today. I will chat with you in episode 72 of the ProBlogger podcast in the next couple of days.
How did you go with today’s episode?
How will you spring clean your blog design? I’d love to hear about what you decide to do to refresh your blog in the comments below (feel free to include pictures).
The hashtag I’ll be using to talk about this journey on social media is #TodayNotSomeday and I encourage you to share your journey too, using the same hashtag.
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