I remember when I was first starting out as a blogger I used to spend many hours just browsing top blogs looking for things I could include in my own. I used to just sit and observe all of the little things these blogs did that most people don’t detect consciously. I use to focus on blog layout, typography and color schemes among many more things. Luckily for me this time spent observing and mirroring these blogs turned out to be quiet valuable and very helpful even up to today. I learned so many essential things about blog design that I can honestly say that I can by simply looking at a blog tell you if it will be successful and marketable or not. I hope to share a few of those secrets I learned in a condensed form with you today.
Here 5 Blog Design Secrets That All Successful Blogs Use:
1. Target Eye Hotspots
Research has found that:
- Internet users spend 69% of their time viewing the left side of the page and only 30% of their time viewing the right side. (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/horizontal-attention-leans-left/)
- Internet users often read in an F-shaped pattern where they first read horizontally at the top moving left to right, then move down and then across again left to right and then down vertically again. (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/)
Keeping these statistics in mind you get quite a vivid example of what the general layout for a good looking blog should be. Keep your most important content to the left and less important content to the right. So, for example, your main menu with your major site links and logo on the top left with your main page content more southward. Then on the right, you could have your secondary menus and accessory content. This way of designing your layout can be very beneficial for increasing follow through or click rate on an AdSense ad or newsletter sign-up form.
2. Chunk Content Together to Improve User Readability and Absorption
Just like how we can’t take in large fruits in one bite, we can’t take in large sections of information in one go, unless we break them down into smaller more manageable pieces. So when a blog or website offers you an infinite supply of information straight into your face without separation you are instantly turned off and go looking for a more manageable source. This is why every good looking blog makes it easy for its users to absorb the information by dividing its website into particular chunks that can be easily spotted and organized. This organization makes the user more inclined to use your website and eventually bring a return. Just like how you are more inclined to eat fruit cut into pieces over whole fruit.
3. Typography Is King
I think the worst website I ever visited had an orange font and a murky yellow background. The author must have worked hard on the article as it was quite lengthy and detailed but unfortunately it was hardly readable. I pressed the back button after only two lines. The one thing I have learned after all these years is that the first and most important thing you should worry about is the readability of your writing. No matter how good you make your content, if it’s not readable it’s dispensable. Unfortunately, typography is its own complex topic and I don’t have the time in this article to do it justice, however, I can refer you to ilovetypography, who have created a great guide. I also recommend you test the readability of your website here.
4. Conform To Users – Format For “Scanability”
In this fast-paced world, who really has the time to read through a 2000 word article? It’s time to hear the music and listen to what users want:
- Users want to get through the content fast
- Users don’t want to search for information after they click a link on Google
- Users want to be able to easily scan the content
There was a time I used to think that the only way you could succeed in the online world was if you wrote and essays and essays of content. That viewpoint has changed a lot now, my content is now always written in a way that a user can come in and immediately find what they need in a matter of seconds. This is what you and all other future pro bloggers should implement in their blogs. Try to go for content types that are scannable like numbered lists or chunked together under many headings.
5. Simplicity, Whitespace & Less Code
Leo Babauta’s blog ZenHabits is a really good example of a good looking blog that has fully embraced whitespace. I hate blogs that try to do just too much. They have a flashy banner on top, animated videos, strong vibrant colors, sound, different cursors, just the whole shebang. Whitespace or as some call it negative space has many benefits not just to users but to you as well because it keeps search engine robots happy.
- Whitespace allows users to quickly find and use different parts of the blog design
- Whitespace gives breathing room and makes the user feel more comfortable
- Whitespace makes the text more readable
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Benefits:
- Less code meaning a higher ratio of target keywords in your page source
- A slightly faster speed due to fewer images or styles