Brenna French and I have created a ton of websites, and blogs for that matter. We love helping people created effective blogs and we collected our thoughts to share the ten best tips to make sure your blogging strategy is supported by your websites design and your brand identity. Without further ado, 10 things bloggers need know about branding and web design.
1. Make sure you have clear metrics for success, and sufficient reasons to accomplish them.
You always want to have a clear idea of what success looks like for you, and why you’re blogging in the first place. Slap a date on your goals and you have a recipe for success. From there it’s all about creating stuff people want.
Example – I will be successful if I have 10 e-mail subscribers a month who want more info about how to be a better interior decorator, for 6 months. The reason that this equals success is by getting these e-mails I’m in a better place to remarket to these people prepare to start selling my consultant service for interior decorators to them.
2. Most people scan before they read. Consider designing your content to help the reader gain enough interest to read the full post.
Make your content easier to scan by highlighting keywords with variations of color,typeface or background color. Writing meaningful sub-headings not “clever” ones. Creating bulleted lists for your main posts or important information, this will help to drawn the eye to what is really being said in the post. Write with the one idea per paragraph, users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in a paragraph. Cut the word count in half or less than conventional writing.
Remember, people today don’t have to read or pay attention to anything that doesn’t interest them. If you can’t gain their interest they will move on to something that does in a matter of seconds. Write something your audience is interested in and make sure the juicy attention grabbing content in used in your headlines and subheadings.
Example – Everyone is busy and because a lot of us are always on the move we use our mobile phones to consume content in the little pockets of time that we do have in a day. We know what we are interested in and we curated our media to our interests, then we see a headline and photo that catches our eye so we click on it. I don’t know about you but the first thing I do is scroll through and scan quickly through it to judge whether it is worth my time or not, well I found out a lot of people behave this way. I did my research an the be statement I found about this was written by Zoltán Kollin on uxmyths.com he states:
People only read word-by-word on the web when they are really interested in the content. They usually skim the pages looking for highlighted keywords, meaningful headings, short paragraphs and scannable list. Since they’re in a hurry to find the very piece of information they’re looking for, they’ll skip what’s irrelevant for them.
Don’t expect people to read content that seems neither easily scannable nor relevant for them, therefore long text blocks, unnecessary instructions, promotional writing and “smalltalk” should be avoided on the web.
3. Make it dead simple for people to know what it is that you do when they land on your site, and easy as hell to take the action you most want them to take – it should be front and center.
Always figure out what the most important action you want people to take on your site. Give them a large button to direct them to your contact form, or give them a strong nudge. “Don’t make me think” is the name of the game.
Example – I sell cupcakes, so I have pictures of cupcakes right away. Or I run a lifestyle blog, so I have pictures of me and my family looking cute as hell right away and indications of highly useful and popular posts I’ve written so I can attract affiliate opportunities. I have a way to subscribe to the newsletter right away with a small give-away of adorable downloadable label templates to incentivize them joining. Or I have a big button that says ‘get a free consulation,’ or ‘view this product,’ or whatever the key goal you’re driving them to is.
4. Is your blog mobile friendly?
Mobile usage has now exceeded desktop usage so chances are a lot of your readers will be reading your posts on their phone. Is your blog mobile friendly or are you creating a bad experience for your readers because you have neglected making it so. Responsive web design is a must have in order to give your user the best experience no matter what device they choose to consume your content on.
Example – How frustrated do you get when you have to pinch, move and constantly adjust a window to get to a simple page on your phone? Truth is that it is very frustrating, forget trying to read an article on a website that isn’t mobile friendly I am constantly swiping my finger from left to right and loosing my place. DO NOT allow your website to give this bad experience to your users or you will be loosing more readers than you gain.
5. Your logo should be consistent on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, and hopefully your smiling headshot too.
The key here is giving people a consistent experience across platforms and allowing them to get the vibe wherever they are at. They should know from a glance it’s you, so keeping imagery the same wherever they are will also help them not have to think too much, just interact.
Example – You pay a pro freelancer 500 to 2,000 dollars to get a logo and get a high quality version on to your blog, thus giving it a professional look that elevates the appeal of your site to visitors or sponsors of the site. Get solid headshots taken of you smiling *today* to make you relatable and establish you as a high-end in the minds of people you might work with, and apply both of these elements everywhere on your web presence.
You find 3 colors or less to make your signature colors and stand by those colors like you’re mating for life, unless you paid your cousin to do your branding, then pay a professional, but stick with it when you have it professionally done.
6. Give your post custom imagery.
We are bombarded with a lot of images every single day on the internet so why would you want to add to the noise by placing another image along with your blog post? Well, titles or headings can gain a persons interests however people are visual creatures and are more attracted when it is used appropriately. By creating custom imagery that directly relates to the subject your talking about it gives your post a visual story and life. People are more likely to absorb the content along with an image than without, when you pair that with an interesting title your more likely to gain new readers.
Example – The strongest social network right now is instagram in terms of engagement. Instagram is engaging because it is focused and visual. When you put in the extra effort to give your audience that custom image along with your content your posts will be more engaging as well because they give a face to your story.
Tools to make featured images:
Pic Monkey | Our savvy blogger friend Morgan swears by this, it’s free, and the less than 5 dollar version has everything she needs to create featured images for her blog posts.
Blogstomp | Picture collages for Bloggers.
Canva | Create featured images and images for social, with this dead simple editor.
7. Branding goes deeper than a logo. Your key value proposition is your brand story.
Example – If you’re a realtor the story of little Alex and his dog Fido finding their new room with a view of the lake is your brand story.
Your blog should exude this brand story throughout if you’re using your blog to sell other products or services. I suggest continually pumping out posts that surround your product or service, but making those posts as valuable as you can to your core demographic and the people in your industry. If you are blogging for affiliate marketing, or just as a lifestyle blog etc., you find what you love talking about of course, and why people identify with that; riffing on a narrowed down niche is the best way to build an audience.
8. The more simple the better.
This is the age of experience. People can customize the experience they receive when they walk into their house. Smart objects have made this possible by communicating with each other from room to room. Your website should do the same think for your readers only you are customizing the experience you want them to have. Their experience should be so easy they don’t have to take time to think about how to do something, they should just know how. People will not stay on your website if they become frustrated and can’t get where they want to go.
Example – I use usertesting.com to capture the reactions users have towards my clients websites. This particular client sold tools and other home improvement products and didn’t have the easiest navigation functionality in place. Out of three user tests all three of them stated that they would rather buy from their competitors sites because they couldn’t find the product they were looking for.
9. If your website doesn’t have the right content, design can’t save you.
It’s so disheartening, watching people launch websites that don’t get enough traffic. So I’ve determined I want to help people get more traffic to existing websites and really help them promote sites if they are decent enough. Yes, websites sometimes are bad and need to be re-designed, but driving traffic to sites is extremely important too and needs to be invested in – it’s a balance between these two all important aspects where effective web marketing can take root. Mobile is important though, as if a site is not mobile friendly, a site will be penalized. Also it’s frustrating to try and read a blog posts on a phone, if the site is not optimized for mobile.
Example – Install Google Analytics on your site, set up Google search console and listen closely and watch interaction on social. By doing this you can see what content you are putting out on your blog is doing the best and create more of it.
10. To gain new readers you must first gain their trust.
The best way to encourage this is by utilizing high quality design and branding elements. When the design of your website looks professional it immediately creates a brand perception that speaks to quality. Your audience is more likely to see you as an expert when they decide the content your writing is of higher quality. Like Tim stated you have to have the right content on your website to make the full connection of quality the design of the website will just support it, however the design does give off the first impression to a new reader.
Example – We have a client who specializes in dry cleaning and they ask us how they could help with their conversions. We started helping them by doing a user test to see what independent web users honestly thought of their site. What we found was interesting, amongst the three they all shared one thing in common, they loved the look of the site. The all proceed to say in their own words that they felt the site was very trustworthy and that they would love to try out the services. The main thing I took away from that test was that good design displays trust and quality.