When it comes to blog design, there’s a fine line between functional and frivolous. There are features you can add to your site that are effective, that truly help the reader experience, and then, there is overkill.
When you first start blogging, it’s easy to get super excited about all the plugins and widgets that are available for your blog. You can easily make the mistake of adding so many things that your design is confusing to your readers, and doesn’t accomplish what you want. In fact, you can have so many “bells and whistles” on your blog that it ends up chasing readers away because they have no clue what they’re supposed to do next.
So how do you know what’s effective and what’s overkill?
I know it seems really boring to say this when there are so many FUN things you can add to your blog – but every single thing on the page needs to be there for a reason. If it’s not helping you achieve your blogging goals, you’re better off without it – and here’s a few reasons why:
- A lot of the plugins, widgets and graphics that you add to your blog slooooooow iiiiiit doooowwwwn. Seriously, you don’t need that. Every plugin, every fancy schmancy graphic, has the potential to increase the load time for your reader. When you go to a web page and it doesn’t load after a few seconds, don’t you start getting a little frustrated? Your readers don’t like slow load times either – if it takes 4 seconds, as many as 25% of them will hit the back button. And they might never come back.
- All the bells and whistles distract your reader from doing the thing you want them to do. If you want your readers to sign up for your email list, then the loudest thing on the page should be an opt-in form. If you want them to buy something, then you want a “Click here to purchase” button to attract their attention. If you have a cool Pinterest widget in the sidebar that pulls them away instead, don’t be surprised when you aren’t getting sign ups or sales.
- All that fancy stuff doesn’t offer any value to your reader. If a fancy graphic or plug-in doesn’t add any kind of benefit to your reader – then you probably don’t need it.
Something else to keep in mind – what works well for one blog might not for another. You might notice that I don’t have a bunch of buttons on my blog asking people to follow me on social media. That’s because I would much rather have someone sign up to my email list than follow me on Facebook. So I don’t clutter my blog with a bunch of social media distractions – instead, I make it very clear to people how they can sign up to my list. Getting people to join my email list is the ultimate goal of my blog. (I do ask people to follow me on social media AFTER they join my list!)
Your blog may be different – your goal may be to get people to click on ads, or to get Facebook followers, or to sell a product. Whatever it is, you need to be certain that your design isn’t distracting readers from it. I hate to break it to you – but those “SuperBlogger of the Week” award badges on your sidebar don’t really impress very many people, and they’re just distractions from the important stuff. LIke they say in this post from ProBlogger, cut the clutter for better results.
So – it’s time to be ruthless (Sorry, Ruth!) – it’s time to cut all the superfluous stuff from your blog. But how can you be sure whether to keep or cut something? Well, just ask yourself…
- Does it slow down your blog?
- Does it help you with one of your business goals?
- Does it add value for your reader?
- Is it distracting from the goals you’ve set for your business?
If you’re unsure about a certain feature, test it! Do people interact with it? Does it get them to spend more time on your page? Does their interaction with the feature lead them to one of your business goals (sign ups or sales or ad clicks)? You can use Google Analytics to find out what people do after they click on something – do they leave your site or do they continue reading?
Some of your bells and whistles are good – they offer value and help grow your blog, and your business. Like I’ve said many times – know thy niche! Know what your readers are looking for, learn what they’re doing when they’re on your page. Some of the stuff on your sidebar can help your business grow, but you have to know how your readers interact with them. And if there’s no interaction – what’s the point? Delete it.
Keep your blog design simple and make it clear what you want your readers to do – and then watch your business grow.