It is not likely that searchers who land on your blog are actually there to read the whole thing. These people are looking for a specific piece of content that answers their question. The blog needs to be easily skimmable so readers can sift through content and dive into what they’re looking for.
Because of this, you need to create a visual hierarchy, tactfully using headers, graphics, icons, and videos, to make content engaging and easily accessible. Here are some general guidelines for designing your blog:
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The Sidebar: Keep it Clean
The current trend in blogging is making the content smooth without any distractions. People don’t want a lot of interactive material surrounding the blog content, distracting them from what they’re trying to find. To quote Donald Miller, “If you confuse, you lose.”
When incorporating sidebar content, keep it incredibly minimal and on the right side of the screen. This is done for two reasons:
1.) People read from left to right. If sidebar content is on the left side it gets in the way of the reader’s natural digestion of content.
2.) On mobile devices, sidebar content on the left side of the screen gets moved to the top of your blog, while sidebars on the right get moved to the bottom.
Keeping your sidebar on the right ensures mobile readers don’t have to scroll through your sidebar before accessing content.
Depending on the content, you want to tactfully choose your images. If you’re looking to break up content within your blog, it’s best to choose a simple image with a pop of color for a natural break in the content. Don’t be arbitrary though.
The image you choose needs to be relevant. As a rule of thumb, lifestyle shots are the most effective images. These tap into the human psyche and give the reader an emotional connection to the content. This is especially true if your images include people who are smiling. Avoid images that look like they are too obviously stock photos. The modern blog reader has evolved to tune these images out and this will lessen the authority of your content.
Images can also be used to communicate authority and make complex data easier to digest. One of the best types of images that do this is infographics. These not only serve to break up content and aid readability, but also increase understanding by simplifying and reinforcing your written content with visual backing. When you utilize an infographic effectively, your blog is more likely to be shared by those reading it, thereby boosting your reach.
How you break up your content is nearly as important as what your content actually says. The way you order, size, and manipulate content feeds into your blog’s ability to be skimmed and read while retaining reader attention. As you do this, remember to be consistent and minimalistic.
The headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are the first thing readers see (and also what search engines prioritize). These ought to be interesting and engaging, catching the readers’ attention as they scroll while summarizing the copy just beneath them. As a rule, avoid manipulating the text immediately following a header. Since the reader’s attention is already drawn to the header, bolding or underlining content just underneath it only makes your header and manipulated content less impactful.
Blog paragraphs should be kept fairly short, only around 3-5 lines of content usually. This will make your blog longer and force readers to scroll, but that is something that is expected out of blogs and is okay.
Bolding, italicizing, and underlining content is a great way to draw attention to something specifically important in a given paragraph. While you may intend something unique with each of these, your reader likely won’t. It’s a good idea to only choose one or two of these methods of text manipulation when trying to bring attention to something specific.
Bolding is a good way to draw attention to a term or sentence that is specific and valuable to your skimming reader.
Italicizing helps readers hear your voice.
Underlining is essentially a less intense form of bolding. When you use all three of these and use them too often, you simply confuse the reader.
Remember: The less you use textual manipulation, the more powerful it is when you use it.
White Space refers to the area in-between content that has nothing in it. In fact, white space will actually make up the majority of the page when your blog design is properly simple and clean. The more white space you have around something, the more you draw the reader’s attention to it.
Call to Action (CTA)
Each blog will have at least one call to action, i.e., some way for the reader to interact with the material. You do not have to wait until the end of the blog to put this in your design (they may not make it that far). Remember to put the interactive CTA (e.g. subscribing to the blog) front and center to where everyone who lands on the page will see it. The CTA is so pivotal because it enables the reader to continue their journey with your company or product while exploring your great content.
People visiting your blogs are looking to find the information they are looking for and move on. By grouping blogs into topic clusters, you make it easier for them to find whatever it is they are looking for. When you write a blog, you will always put searchable tags that group similar blogs together. Keep this narrow. When a visitor looks at your categories, they don’t want to be overwhelmed by options. Try not to have more than 7 categories of blogs users can navigate through.
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Based on the tips we’ve outlined here, how does your blog perform? If you need a little help making your blog look as good as your content suggests it is, Open Path is here to help. Blog writing and optimization are our bread and butter here, and we will gladly take a look at your content and see how we can use it as a source to provide leads for your business.