Effective blog design includes the design of a blog itself, its navigation elements, and its communication tools. Blogs have a lot of standard elements, articles, comments, categories, and archives; all of which need to be presented well within the blog template design.
Those elements put a lot of constraint on what is possible with a blog design. You should be focusing on making sure your blog is easy to navigate to find the content and easy for visitors to connect with the blogger.
- Blog creative look – Some people do not put a lot of effort into the look and feel of their blogs. This might be because they did not have the resources to create a highly designed look for their blog, but there is some thinking in the blogosphere that a highly designed blog might cause some blog readers to question its credibility. The choice of design really must depend upon your audience and the impression you wish to present.A plain, simple, and creative look makes sense for a highly technical audience that is very interested in any technical details you wish to provide. For other bloggers, a more complex and compelling blog design might be important. Consider your audience when it comes to building a design that is right for your blog. How blog readers find articles within a blog is very important to the success of your blog—make the navigation very intuitive and easy to use for blog readers.
- Categories – Consider what are the most important topics you write about, and include them in your categories. Blog readers can click on an individual category and review all related materials. Each category also creates a separate page. If you develop a lot of categories, having a long list gets confusing after awhile. Consider installing a category cloud widget for your category navigation; Your readers will be able to pinpoint the main themes of your blog with a quick glance. The cloud navigation may also give you a reminder to write more articles on themes you want to concentrate upon.
- Blog roll – There is a strategy in Internet marketing that if you make your website really useful, more people will visit and link to it. Providing a blog roll of your industry will encourage more people to bookmark your website. In addition, blogging is about reciprocity; linking to other people in your community will help you establish relationships with other bloggers in your community, who may think to return the link.
- Recent comments – Blogs allow people visiting your site to comment on your articles. People are interested in what other readers have to say about your work. Consider installing a recent comments widget to display and encourage comments on your blog. This will demonstrate to readers you have an active community and also entice readers deeper into your blog.
- Blog search box – Some people click on links to navigate a blog, whereas others use the search box; thus, make sure you have a search service on your blog; otherwise, many blog readers will not search any deeper into your site than the home page.
- Search engines – Make sure your website is fully optimized for the keywords your audiences use and your brand keywords. Include the keywords in your categories, tags, title articles, and the body of your content. Also include those keywords in your meta-tags, description, keyword lists, and the title of your blog. Targeting your keywords will help blog readers to find you through search engines if you manage to get highly ranked on your keywords. Be careful to Avoid Keyword Stuffing though. You don’t want your site penalized and mistaken for this spamming tactic.
- Comments – If commenting is turned on and/or comments are moderated, make sure that it is functioning properly, and always answer comments you receive, as this is one of the most important things a blogger can do to encourage conversation and dialogue on their blog. This will give your readers the impression you care about what they have to say, and it increases your comment count which will help demonstrate to new users you have an active community.
- Email subscription – RSS feeds are standard on blogs. However, not every reader uses them, so id definitely recommend you provide an email subscription box for people who prefer to receive email updates of your latest posts.
- Using trackbacks – The best way for a blogger to alert another blogger that he has mentioned his work in a blog post is to use a trackback. Trackbacks send a notification to a blog that another blogger has written a post citing a blog article. Most blogging software automatically sends a trackback when you post your work, but in some cases, the blogger has to copy and paste a trackback URL from a blogger’s article into the ping field of a blog content management system.
These suggestions are but a few to get you started. The secret to making it work from the beginning is to do a bit of planning up front. If you visit other blogs, I’m sure you will see some nice blog designs that catch your eyes. You could go down the route of free blog templates, which will set you up with a nice design, however, very often, the good templates have tens of thousands of downloads, which means that you will just blend in. I personally recommend you commission a custom design to distinguish yourself from the crowd. I know that when i moved from free templates to a custom design, my traffic and subscriber count increased tenfold.
What are your ideas on the topic? Free templates or custom design? Let me know by leaving us a comment.