Blogs are a “dime a dozen” today. Your favorite retailer has one, your colleague runs one and so does your neighbor’s kids. Every day, on WordPress.com alone, some 76.3 million blog posts get published every month and 409 million people browse 22.3 billion blogs every month.
For some, blogging has become a legit, full-time career, netting six-figures and above per year. For others, like Emily Weiss, a blog has become a launchpad for a $1 billion cosmetics business.
But let’s face it – there’s a long way between a hobby blog and a professional one that actually generates tangible income in one way or another. In most cases, you can spot the difference momentarily – it’s in design.
Most beginner’s blogs look absolutely hodge-podge design-wise. There’s no clear navigation, weird formatting, and awkward color choices. The good news is that all of these issues can be fixed quickly and without the help of a professional web designer.
So if you feel like your blog screams amateur, here are three design fixes that can help you move into the ‘pro’ territory.
1. The Basics: Use a Visual Hierarchy
Most things look bad when they don’t have an attractive clear form. No reader likes to be greeted by a wall of text and a lack of clear ‘reading path’. So they just bounce off somewhere else.
Visual hierarchy is a concept that explains how people process information on a web page. Its goal is to create a pleasant and delightful experience for understanding the presented info with ease.
Source: Digital Synopsis
To accomplish that, designers assign various visual characteristics to bits of information (e.g. bolder bigger fonts for headings) to create a hierarchy.
Here are a few quick tips you can use:
- Use larger fonts to divide the content into subheadings. Bigger fonts = more attention.
- Use bright colors to attract attention to key points/elements; muted ones for less important content.
- Put more whitespace around the items/elements you want to stand out.
- An element that breaks away from the alignment will command more attention.
- Use repetition to show that certain elements are related/should be grouped.
2. Use an Appealing and Meaningful Color Scheme
Source: Design Stack
Brands use color to communicate who they are. Just a quick look at the websites of a few very different businesses will show you this.
- Rolex, for example, is all in black, gold, and silver – typifying luxury.
- Kids’ toys websites will have lots of bright primary colors.
- Environmental sites will typically use green and other muted earth tones.
The reason is that colors conjure up certain thoughts or feelings. What is the purpose of your website and/or blog? What color matches that purpose? Choose a color scheme of just a few colors, and use it throughout your content.
3. Visuals are Highly Important
Think for a minute about the last time you had to follow instructions to assemble or install something. Did you spend more time reading the text or looking at the pictures/drawings? The answer is always the visuals.
If you can say it with pictures, graphs, charts, videos – any type of media – do it. The reasons are clear:
- The brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text. And it remembers about 80% of what it has seen as opposed to 20% of what it has read.
- People are on small screens these days. They are also busy and hurried. Reading a lot of text is just not what they do unless it is somehow involved with their work.
What type of visuals works best? It depends upon your message, but here are your options and typical uses.
Pictures of people are powerful. In fact, a study by Basecamp showed that when photos of people were combined with their testimonials on sales pages, the increase in results was big. Plus, it’s always good for your site and blog to have a human element, and people photos do this. One word of caution: avoid standard stock photos if at all possible. They “scream” laziness and lack of personalization.
Graphs, Charts, Infographics
If they are easy and simple to “read,” they can impart a lot of information quickly – a good thing! When you want to give facts and figures, always choose a visual. You can create simple visualizations for free using Canva, Infogram or Venngage.
These can be fun and even add some humor. Here’s one that might be used in a blog that addresses issues in education. Tim Urban’s blog is a great example of how simple visuals can make a huge impact and even get you a call from Elon Musk.
Source: Wait But Why
These are perfect for explanations and “how-to’s.” And they can draw a target audience if the unique style, tone, and language are a match. Consider the original explainer video used by Dollar Shave Club – appealing to a millennial audience. It’s hysterical but gets the point across that the company solves a problem through its offering.
Are You Ready?
The blog world is highly competitive. Getting an edge here means drawing in visitors – visitors who love what they see and want to come back; visitors who are so impressed that they will share your blog with others.
And that just won’t happen if you are publishing the ‘world’s best blog post’, but it’s wrapped in a lackluster design. Most people will merely skim through and don’t bother to read it. Take these three tips right now and see how you can use them to turn your blog into a more appealing corner of the Internet.