Welcome to the third part of the Blogging for Money beginners guide series. In this post I will be taking about several things that you should be aware of when choosing your blog theme or template and the things that are important to ensure that your readers are provided with the best experience when visiting your blog.
A blog theme or its design is a very personal choice. For this reason, it is difficult to recommend a standard or specific blog template and layout for you to use. While content is King, your blogs layout is the King’s castle. It should be easy to use, pleasing to the eyes and at all possible easy to navigate. When someone “lands” on your homepage or any pages of your blog, it should not be complicated for them to find what they are looking for. Remember that you only have some split seconds to convince your visitors to stay a while so you must leverage on that. I have seen many blogs with good content, but, due to the poor choice of colors, ad placements, navigation structure, download time, etc., I for one, have never returned to those blogs again. When this happens, you loose traffic, and when you are blogging for money, no traffic = no money, period.
That being said, here is a checklist of items that I recommend, to provide your readers with a waterfront view, when they visit your blog.
Do I need a GPS system here? Where am I?
An easy to use navigation structure is essential to any well designed blog! Information that are important should never be more than two or three clicks away. Consider creating a good “Menu” about your most important topics and make use of keywords for that matter.
Not only Google has hinted that pagespeed will probably be playing an important role when ranking websites, DOWNLOAD TIME is probably one of the most important factors in your design. Visitors that arrive on your blog will not wait for more than 10-15 seconds for your page to load completely before they decide it is taking too much time and move on. While images are worth a thousand words, excessive use will hamper your blogs loading time. Use images sparingly or use thumbnail images to avoid this from happening. Scripts are also one of the main reasons why a website takes too much to load. Avoid external calls from your blog to increase speed.
Too much ads
Pop ups, widgets, plug-ins, banners, flash ads, badges, running animations and other intrusive ads annoy your visitors, makes your site difficult to use and bury your messages in a sea of clutter. If you use text links, infolinks or any other similar monetizing method, ensure that you disable them to appear on your visitors comments. It is not right to use your visitors comments to “hunt” for keywords and adding links to other information. That is not wise.
Updating your blog with outdated information is like telling you now that Google is the dominant search engine as breaking news. If you stand to correct it or use it as a reference, fine, but do not blabber about something that is not fresh news.
Keep your backgrounds simple
White or light colors usually work best. Your background should not compete or disrupt with the content of the page for the users attention. Your text must be seen and easily understood by contrasting the background with the text color. If you would like to use a background image, select one that uses muted colors or format your picture as a watermark. If you do this, be sure that the text colors will contrast well with the background picture.
Like the tunes?
Unless you are promoting or selling MP3’s, your visitors probably won’t enjoy it either. Normally, it is best to skip the tunes, but if for some reason you think that it is a must to have music on your blog, be sure you provide a way for them to turn it off or better yet a way for them to turn it on, only when they decide to do so. Have you ever taught that your visitor may enjoy classic music and instead hears Poker Face when landing on your blog? What do you think they will do? Worst than not re-visiting your blog? Blacklist you:)
Check Your Spelling
While no one can be perfect, it is always recommended to run a spell check on your post before publishing it. There are many people with high tolerance for this type of problem, but then again there are those who don’t.
While Internet Explorer is still widely used, there are other browsers that are available on the Internet. Different browsers, such as , Google Chrome, Firefox, Flock, Opera, etc., may display your page very differently. Check your website in as many different browsers as possible and avoid components which only render properly in specific browsers.
Images not loading properly, broken links, hyperlinks leading to wrong pages, orphan pages, etc, are also reasons for driving your visitors away. Verify your links once in a while by using many SEO tools that are available for free. This will ensure that any links you provide your visitor can be accessible and most importantly, will not hurt your search engine rankings.
There you have it. As I mentioned, there are no specific suggestions for a perfect blog design, but avoiding certain things that I have said above, will help your blog stand out far better. If there is anything you think that we should be including in this list, please share them with us.