Contrary to popular belief, how your blog looks has little to do with a great blog design.
Yes, a sweet blog design gives you an edge, but that’s the last thing you should worry about.
So, what makes a great blog design?
Answer this question:
Why Do People Visit Your Blog?
There are three types of blogs. There are blogs that focus on text content, audio content, or video content.
Which one do you have?
You likely have a blog that focuses on text content, and that’s perfect.
So, what’s the most important thing on your website?
It’s not your design… It’s not your opt-in forms… It’s your text.
The most important thing on a text-based blog is the text.
Go figure 🙂
But the question remains…
What Makes A Great WordPress Blog Design?
If text is the most important thing on your page, then the first thing you need to worry about is how your text looks, or your typography.
Luckily, with Focus, many of your typography settings are already handled out-of-the-box. And if you don’t use Focus, you can use Chris Pearson’s golden ratio typography calculator and wrestle with CSS.
But after those typography settings, what else should you worry about?
How People Interact With Your Content Visually—And Why It’s Important
Each blog has what’s called a visual hierarchy, which is fancy for the information your text conveys without people reading it.
Blog posts have structure. There are headlines, sub-headlines, regular text, links, and block quotes.
(In rare cases, you also have captions, call-outs, block quotes, and other forms of text-differentiation, but that’s for another day)
Each piece of this structure has a different goal… and more importantly… looks different than the other pieces.
So, let me break this down for you:
The Headline – The point of your headline is to grab attention, and that’s why it’s often the largest piece of text in your blog post.
The Sub-Headline – Your sub-headlines also grab attention, and their main purpose is to turn scanners into readers. So, they must be as compelling as your main headline, and thus, larger than other text on your page (aside from your headline).
The Links – Your links are often a different color than the rest of your text, and that’s the way it should be. Links beckon clicks.
(Warning: I’ve seen some people who make headlines and sub-headlines the same color as their links. That’s a mistake. There is text you read and there’s text you click. Don’t confuse the two)
The Lists – Lists break up large blocks of text, and since people have short attention spans, this helps you turn scanners into readers, and it also helps you keep readers reading.
The Regular Text – This is self-explanatory. This is the text that people read on your site, and it should be no smaller than 14 pixels.
Now why is this important?
If your blog doesn’t have structure, you’ll confuse your readers. They won’t know what they can click and what they can’t click.
They won’t know how to figure out what your article is about without reading it.
All-in-all, no structure is bad news.
But after your visual hierarchy and typography, what else should you worry about?
What’s The Main Goal Of Your Blog?
Look—when you run a blog, you’re doing it for a reason. You’re doing it for readers, revenue, and in some cases, reflection (but let’s be serious, if you did it to reflect, you wouldn’t make it public :-D).
You’re likely doing it for some financial reason, and that’s perfectly okay. Serious blogs take a ton of work, and you should be compensated.
So, given that, you’ve got to decide, what’s the main goal of your site? If it’s revenue, what’s the best way to grow that revenue?
In some cases, you may need to add ads on your blog, and that’s fine. However, if you’re selling products and services, or creating paid membership sites, I recommend email marketing for bloggers. It’s the best way to capture prospects that buy and continue to buy.
Given my focus on building an email list, the next part of a great blog design is all about how people subscribe to your email list.
You can start with the 4 high-converting email sign up forms (note how easy they are to add into Thesis).
Then, after that, you can work a Feature box into your design for the best conversions.
But now that you have your goals straight, what’s the next important thing? Is now the time to focus on the blog design?
Can People Find The Information They Want?
When people visit your blog, yes your blog design matters, and yes it’s vital for building trust, but if people can’t find what they want, your design is pointless.
How can you help people find what they want?
Create resource pages. A few of them. For example, we’ve got one about email marketing and WordPress SEO on DIYthemes, and that helps. We also have Thesis Tutorials and WordPress tutorials in the Thesis User’s Guide.
You need to create resource pages too, and you need to make them easy to find. I personally believe they should be featured prominently in your navigation or in your sidebar.
Most bloggers only feature navigation items like “Home, About, and Contact.” However, that’s a mistake. That’s not descriptive. That doesn’t help people find the information that your blog provides.
Resource pages, on the other hand, help them find exactly what they want… in just a few clicks.
Now what else do you need in your WordPress design?
Finally, you can focus on your WordPress Blog Design…
…But it’s not about being fancy.
It’s about having a cohesive blog design.
I write about that ‘how to create a WordPress blog design,’ but here’s the rundown:
- Pick a nice font for your logo.
- Pick another nice font for your sidebar headings.
- Pick a color for your links, and then another color if you want it for anything else.