Is your blog a sight for sore eyes?
Do you cringe every time you have to login to your WordPress dashboard, knowing you need to update your blog?
But, you end up telling yourself you either don’t have the time or it’s just too overwhelming?
You end up putting “blog makeover” at the bottom of your to-do list and hope what little traffic you do have doesn’t suddenly take a hiatus.
Let me just reach over and give you the ol’ friendly slap in the face – because if you want to stellar blog growth, you need a user-friendly and visually appealing blog.
Note: Want to start a blog but not sure how? Check out our step-by-step tutorial on starting a blog.
Could your blog be doing more for you?
Go on. Admit it.
You love your blog, but you don’t want to admit it needs an overhaul, so, you let the feeling that your blog’s missing something consume you.
You conclude it has to be your content so you work harder than ever before to provide the best tips, stories and advice your readers have ever seen.
But, if your blog is hard to navigate, slow to load and doesn’t make it easy to share, what good is your blog anyways?
At this point in the game, people are leaving your blog before they’ve even had a chance to invest in your content.
If this is happening to you, maybe it’s time to give your blog the makeover it needs. Don’t leave it to the last “to-do” item on your list; pick today to change your blog for the better.
Here are five things you can do on your blog to make a better experience for your readers – getting you more engagement.
Clean up your look with a modern WordPress theme
Are you still rolling with the default WordPress theme that came pre-installed on your blog?
Maybe you’re using a different theme, but it’s five years old and has the telltale signs that it’s dated:
- Web 2.0 Gloss – shiny buttons with a beveled look
- Comic Sans font – that favorite, crazy font from back in the day
- Drop shadows – a dead giveaway your blog is stuck in the early 2000s
- Scrolling or blinking text – Your blog isn’t a news network
To give your blog a facelift, opt for a modern WP theme with a minimalist design.
Try browsing the WordPress theme directory for some modern and fresh – and totally free – themes.
If nothing suits your fancy, then you might want to look into a paid theme. You can purchase high-quality, well-supported themes at various theme shops such as: ThemeForest, Elegant Themes or StudioPress.
A minimalistic theme is typically free of clutter and free of poor design elements.
And with the recent change to having a mobile responsive design, now is a great time to find an up-to-date theme for your blog. This post by Christine is a great place to start your WordPress theme search.
So, how can you give your readers – browsing with anything from an outdated smartphone to the latest Retina iMac – the best user experience on your blog?
Here are some web design trends that are making headway in 2015.
Just take a look at Blogging Wizard and you will see Adam is incorporating one of the hottest trends websites are using today – flat designs.
Designers are retiring the shadow look and leaning towards more flat-looking designs.
Many businesses like Microsoft – who many feel are responsible for starting the current flat-design trend – use flat images in their overall web design layouts.
Flat designs are seen in illustrations, icons, social sharing buttons, images and more.
Here’s a little tip: You may not be ready to fully commit to a flat redesign, but to add a little “modern flatness” to your site, take a look at FontAwesome, Genericons or IcoMoon where you can download sets of flat icon fonts for free.
Ever been to a web page where the menu followed you as you scrolled? That’s a sticky navigation menu.
Many WordPress themes contain this design element making navigating a site quicker and easier for the user.
While having a sticky menu is good for ease of usability, it does not fare well for mobile users. Having some 40-odd pixels devoted to a static menu isn’t the best use of space on an already-tiny viewport.
As a compromise, there are WordPress themes available that – when you scroll – either shrink the navigation bar or have the menu disappear with a hamburger icon in its place.
Source: The Daily Beast
Parallax scrolling causes a neat visual effect when you scroll – the site’s background moves slower than the foreground.
And with the pressing need to go mobile-friendly, parallax scrolling is much easier to maneuver on a smartphone than clicking.
It creates a fun and memorable user experience and is a sure-fire way to tweak your blog for 2015. Be sure to check out these 6 Genesis Child Themes With Parallax Scrolling for your blog.
Update your social sharing buttons
Do you like your social sharing buttons or do they cause more headaches than they are worth?
While there are many social sharing button plugins available out there – both free and paid – not all are created equal.
Many social sharing plugins:
- Lack customization options and have poor hard-coded values
- Lack common features and aren’t mobile-friendly
- Are not supported or maintained – this raises security concerns
- Are dated and aren’t up to date with the latest social media networks
To get the most out of your social sharing buttons, consider a paid version such as Social Snap. It’s a comprehensive plugin that has addressed many issues bloggers face with other plugins.
When deciding where to place your buttons, try these tips for maximum engagement:
- Place your buttons on the top and bottom of your post. There is no general consensus on whether you should place your buttons on the top or bottom. You can capture headline readers with social sharing buttons on top; having social buttons on the bottom attracts people who read the post.
- Use a floating option or scrolling option on the left. An eye-tracking study by the Nielson Norman Group indicates users read in an F-shaped pattern, making the top-left part of the screen the most viewed part of the page.
- Consider branding your social buttons to match your overall image. Rebekah Radice’s social sharing buttons reflect her signature brand color, making them part of her overall brand message.
To help you find the social sharing plugin to suit your blog’s overall theme, check out Adam’s post on the best social sharing plugins for WordPress.
Create a call-to-action below your blog post
If you don’t already have one, a call-to-action (CTA) is a great way to build your email list, grow your traffic and promote your products.
As a blogger, you want to capture your readers with your engaging content and if they enjoy it, they are more likely to subscribe to your email list. You can do this effectively with a CTA at the bottom of each blog post.
All the big bloggers do this, including Adam.
When deciding how to customize your CTA box:
- Make it obvious. If your CTA blends in with your blog, no one will notice it. Instead, make it contrasting so it stands out.
- Make your button copy sell. According to Neil Patel of QuickSprout, generic phrases such as, “click here,” “buy now” or “sign up” have a weaker impact on conversion. Test different copy to see which one performs better – you might have success using an emotional CTA like Dre Beltrami from The Branded Solopreneur.
- Place your CTA on other pages. Place a CTA on your home page, “about page” and resources page to maximize your conversion rate as well as make it easy for your readers to subscribe.
If you need help deciding which mailing list plugin to use, here’s a post on the 8 Best WordPress Mailing List Plugins for List Building Magic.
You may also want to check out our post on CTA plugins for WordPress.
Optimize your site’s loading time
Do you find that even though you surf the web on your super fast cable connection, when it comes time to load up your blog, it feels like you’re on dial-up all over again?
If you find your page takes a while to load, you could be affecting your bottom line. According to a Kissmetrics infographic:
- 47% of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less
- 40% of users abandon a page if it takes 3 seconds or longer to load
- A 1% delay in page loading time can result in a 7% reduction in your conversions
Since load time is also a factor in helping your blog rank better on the SERPs, why not test your load time to see if it needs improvement?
Google has a free page speed analyzer. It looks at both mobile and laptop load speed using a score out of 100. It reports what items you should fix or consider fixing and tells you how to repair them.
If you end up having a slow load time on your blog, a WordPress caching plugin can help alleviate some of your problems.
A popular choice is the W3 Total Cache plugin.
One downfall of this plugin is the complexity in the configuration process. To help you out, Tuts+ has user-friendly learning guides on Configuring W3 Total Cache.
For more options on different caching plugins, this post on the 8 Top Plugins to Speed Up WordPress (Caching Plugins And More) provides a comprehensive list.
Include a pin-worthy image
Pinterest is growing in popularity and is one of the top referrals for many bloggers – especially ones in the food, hobby and DIY niche.
Now is the time to jump on the “Pin” bandwagon and tap into a new demographic of users.
This particular online audience gobbles up striking images – and with a little tweaking – you can have a pin-worthy image too. Here are 3 tips to get you started:
Make your images tall rather than wider
Pinterest uses a vertically shaped image rather than the traditional horizontal shaped image other social media sites prefer.
While there isn’t a general consensus on the optimal image size to use, a good rule of thumb is having an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5.
Don’t forget your image alt text
Pinterest pulls from the HTML IMG tag’s “alt attribute” for the pin caption.
If you are displaying a pinnable image on your blog as either a featured image or an image in your post, make sure to fill out your image’s “Alt Text” field in WordPress.
You can use the title of your blog post or add a helpful, interesting and detailed description to stand out on the Pinterest feed.
Boost your repins with these tweaks
To make your image shine on Pinterest and grab the interest of readers, try these tweaks:
- Use vibrant colors that take up most of the picture. Images with less than 30% whitespace received more repins than those that had fewer colors and more white space.
- Use light images. Using light images rather than dark ones account for 20x more repins.
- Support your image with text. Online image tools like Venngage make it easy to customize your image with text. This makes it much easier for pinners to see immediately what your pin is about – making your pin visually eye-catching on Pinterest’s feed.
- Brand your image with your blog’s URL. By placing your logo or just a text box with your URL on your image, you’re expanding your brand’s reach while protecting yourself from other people “borrowing” your content.
Over to you
Blogging isn’t easy.
It’s an enormous commitment for you and a lot of work has to go into your blog to make it a success. What you do on your blog and how you design it is ultimately your choice.
These tips, though, can help you create a user-friendly blog. Readers will want to stick around, engage with your site, and most importantly – come back in anticipation of your next post.
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