When you were little, your parents told you to never judge a book by it’s cover. In most cases, they were right. But, when it comes to a blog, visitor do just that! They arrive in your personal space, and take a look around, quickly decided to stay, subscribe, or leave.
I could go on and on about what not to do and what to do, but in the end, your blog is you and must represent you! However, you do have to think about your readers and make your website an enjoyable and easy experience for them.
When it comes to design and navigation of your site, there are a few things that will drive away or attract your readers.
Here’s my top do’s and don’ts. Keep in mind, it is just my opinion and your site may have different needs!
Blogging Faux Pas
- Music and Sounds. Like many, if I arrive at a page that has music playing in the background, I won’t stay long. Many surf while watching television, listening to music, or multitasking, so noises distract and bother them. It help, if they can turn if off quickly, but the better solution is to skip it all together! You want your readers to stay for a while and explore your site, so don’t make it hard for them.
- Pop-Up & Expanding Ads. I know, in this day and age, they are everywhere and advertisers love them, because they get seen, obviously. However, annoying your readers and potential customers isn’t the way to turn them into loyal customers. I hate when I’m visiting and try to click on something, when suddenly an ad expands or pop-up and I click on it instead.
- Long Load Time. Modern readers want instant gratification, so if your website takes long to load, they’ll be gone before it finishes. If you’re using FireFox or Google Chrome, check out the Google Page Speed add-on to see how fast your page loads. Keep in mind, that blogs often load slowly by default. Most blogs get a score of 65-75 out of 100, but the faster the better!
- Design for All Browsers. Remember, you aren’t the only one looking at your page (hopefully), so make sure to check it out on other computers, browsers, and media platforms, like your phone! Sometimes what looks good to you, doesn’t work with other browsers.
- Grammar Issues & Misspellings. I’m guilty. I know I am. I’m in a hurry. I get typing fast. I’m the worlds worst speller. Whatever my excuse may be, it doesn’t matter. Readers don’t want to attempt to decipher your misspelling and grammar mistakes. We all make mistakes, of course. We’re only human. But, use spell check and good grammar!
- Always Open in a New Browser. When doing coupon matchups, I know you want to be able to print coupons and open other pages, while making your shopping list, so I often add the “Open in another browser” tag (target=”_blank”) to keep the deals up. However, if you set every page to open in another browser, windows will be popping up all over your readers screens and they’ll have a lot of unnecessary extra work to close them all. Rule of thumb: Open your own pages in the same window/browser and open external links to other websites in a new window. That keeps readers on your page without opening a billion windows while they explorer!
- Hoops. Did you realize that each hoop your readers have to jump through, a percent leave? Hoops can be anything, but common ones include clicks to find something or get somewhere and fields in a form. For example, if your blog directs to a “Website Page” and readers have to click to get to content, you just lost some. Can’t find what they’re looking for? You just lost more. They have to register to see content or comment? You just lost more. And, don’t even get me started on Captchas! Hoops may be good from your perspective as a blog owner, but readers want instant gratification. Every second that delays that, is a second that they consider leaving and many actually do leave.
- Easy Navigation. You want your readers to stay and explore your site, so make it easy for them. Have a navigation menu, quick links to favorite articles/sections, and deep link text in articles to other relevant articles to encourage readers to check out more. If readers can’t find what they are looking for within one or two clicks, they’ll leave.
- Easy to Read AND Easy to Scan. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. Take the time to make your articles easy to read and easy to skim! Keep in mind that less than 20% of readers read full articles. The others skim, scan, and skip through them. With that in mind, can the majority of your audience still get your message? Use headers, subheaders, bold, bullets, clean well-sized fonts, and definitely include graphics, since many readers are visually stimulated. And while we’re at it, skip those fancy font that are unreadable. They don’t even load on many browsers and the default font that takes it’s place, may not be what you had in mind.
- About YOU Page. The endless debate by bloggers is do we show ourselves or hide to protect our families? Well, readers visit to know you, connect with you, and find community. In fact, recent studies have shown that readers trust bloggers, more than advertisements, commercials, and other media. But, for them to trust you and connect with you, they have to know you! Make sure you have a page that tells them all about you!
- Contact Link. You readers need to be able to contact you! I’ve wanted to e-mail blogger to ask if they’d like to write a guest article, ask a question, or share some information, but couldn’t find their name, let alone their e-mail address. Plus, you want potential advertisers and partners to be able to e-mail you! Also, keep in mind, if you have a contact form, that it might not always load for whatever reason. Put an e-mail address somewhere as an alternative.
- Easy to Search. I can’t tell you how many times I visit a site and can’t figure out how to search for something. To be able to search your site, readers shouldn’t have to search the page for the search field first! Make it easy to find, please!!! And set it to search your entire website.
- 43 Web Design Mistakes to Avoid
- Top 5 Blog Design Mistakes
- Weblog Usability: Top 10 Design Mistakes
- Optimizing your Blog for your Readers
Want to know more about blogging? Check out tips to get you started!