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Have you ever thought about what makes a blog site a place you like to visit? More importantly, on a regular basis? Aside from their content of course because this can vary from person to person depending on what topics appeal to them most. With that said, let’s discuss website design, layout, and what widgets and/or design aspects make a site user friendly, easy to navigate, visually stimulating, and engaging. I have a few in mind and I’d like to share them with you today.
LET’S FACE IT, WHEN IT COMES TO BLOGS, LOOKS PLAY A HUGE PART
1. A well designed blog header. It doesn’t have to contain the best graphics and/or illustrations but it should definitely contain clear and properly lit images. It should be neat, contain easy to read fonts and include your blog name.
2. A tasteful background. Although a background is not mandatory if you are going to use one, go with the less is more theory here. Busy is not an option! Anything distracting, flashing, animated, etc. should have no place on your site. Research shows dark print on light backgrounds are easier and more inviting to readers.
3. A consistent color scheme. It is more visually appealing to people!
Check out my Inspiring Blog Headers post for some exceptional examples of blog designs!
LET’S TALK LAYOUT
An example of my own blog:
4. A profile (usually located in the sidebar). This should consist of a picture of the blogger and a short 3 – 5 sentence introduction to your website. By all means feel free to write more but I highly recommend creating a link to another page instead of having your entire life story jammed into a tiny space that may only be 300 px wide or, even more frightening, smaller!
5. Pages and Categories. These are tabs, icons, image/thumbnail links that allow users to navigate to other relative content on or about your site. For example, if you blog for a living about motherhood, your pages may consist of:
– Buttons (A thumbnail image that represents your blog). It usually contains html code underneath for others to post on their websites.
– Link Ups that you Host, Co-Host, or participate in.
– Sponsor Information including blog statistics, ad space sizes, prices, and inclusions.
– Contact Information like an email address.
– Contributions, awards, appearances, etc. (This may include a collection of blog networks you are a member of, additional blogs/websites you write for, magazines you’ve appeared in, etc.).
– Terms and Conditions to protect your images and content from being misrepresented or used without permissions.
*Most importantly, you should always include a Home page! This will allow users to get back to your main page no matter where they are on your website.
Your category icons may consist of:
– Product Recommendations (like toys, books, baby gear, food, etc.)
– Children’s Crafts/DIY
– Homeschooling Tips/Advice
– Educational Resources
– Must Reads (like product recalls)
6. Social Media links that OPEN IN NEW WINDOWS. These will allow users to connect and follow you via your social networks. Yes, they NEED to open in new windows. This is one of the things that makes a website user friendly! If they don’t open in a new window and a user would like to follow you via multiple social networks, how will they get back to your page? I wouldn’t assume they will remember your url and the back button doesn’t always work!
Not sure how to make your links open in new windows? No problem. Feel free to read Blogging Resources, Tools, Widgets, HTML, etc. you should check out!
LET’S TALK WIDGETS & TOOLS
7. A list of related posts. Want to keep your readers on your page longer? This is one way to do it! If they like your current post, they will be more apt to read something similar if there is a thumbnail image jumping off the page just waiting to be clicked on. The best place for related posts to be displayed is directly under your posting area.
8. A list of popular posts. These are your most viewed and clicked on content. Apparently, they were viewed most for a reason so why not display them proudly? I know, as a blog reader myself, I love reading the most popular content. Most of the time, I have to say, it IS the most interesting. At the very least, I would click on these posts just to see what all the fuss is about! Let people’s curiosity work to your advantage!
Widgets for Blogger can be accessed from your dashboard. Go to layout and click on add a gadget to scroll through options. On WordPress? You can find a Popular Post Widget for WordPress here.
9. A list of archives. Preferably by month. This gives the user the option to search all content and not just the posts you’ve chosen to categorize. In Blogger, this is a widget and can be accessed through your layout screen when you click on add a gadget. Support for WordPress folks here!
Is your head spinning yet? No? Good, ’cause that’s all I have for you today! You made it through! On a serious note, I hope you find this post helpful and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment!
Interested in similar content? Feel free to visit me at Cropped Stories for more tips and tutorials!