If you’re a dedicated blogger, you probably have a lot on your plate. You have to generate content, grow your followers and email list, form valuable partnerships, promote your blog, and so much more – all before breakfast. There’s no rest for the weary when it comes to blogging, so crucial components of your blog can easily fall by the wayside.
One of these crucial components, perhaps the most crucial of them all, is design. Sure, you probably know that your blog should look good, but have you thought beyond simple aesthetics? Design is an important aspect of so many parts of our lives – mobile, eCommerce, and more – yet we often forget about the importance of implementing quality UX design in blogs.
But failing to consider UX design can mean huge headaches for your valued readers. No one who runs an eCommerce website would dream of letting UX design fall by the wayside, so why do so many bloggers ignore this critical piece of the blog success puzzle? Perhaps, they are unaware of the problem or the mistakes that result from poor UX design. So in the name of improving the internet for readers and bloggers everywhere, here are eight mistakes that too many bloggers are making, due to a lack of focus on UX design:
1. Ignoring the importance of white space
Many bloggers feel a strong pressure to fill the page with endless information and entertainment to keep their readers amused and on their site. However, this often results in a cluttered blog that leaves little room for the reader to breath. Instead, identify your most important elements and surround them with appropriate white space so you don’t overwhelm your readers.
2. Poor navigation
Navigation can be one of the hardest parts of web design, for designers of any level. To achieve great navigation, you have to think about how the pages flow together, what should be included on the same page or separated, and how everything should be labeled. Depending on your blog, you probably have a number of different areas or specializations that need to fit together seamlessly, so don’t ignore the importance of good navigation. Spend some time browsing UX portfolios from experienced designers to see what you might be able to implement in your blog to make navigation easier for your readers.
3. Overloaded and cluttered sidebars
Again, you don’t want too much on your site to distract readers from the reason they are there, which is reading your content. When your sidebars are overloaded and cluttered, it can result in poor navigation, as discussed above, and just general confusion. Visual clutter, whether it’s in sidebars or other areas of your website, negatively affects your readers focus by increasing their cognitive load. It’s science: keep your sidebars simple.
4. Your links don’t look like links
If your readers can’t tell which text contains a link, then they’re going to miss out on the relevant background and additional reading that your links provide. Simply adding CTA color is one of the easiest ways to fix this mistake and alert readers on the location of links.
5. Poor readability and legibility
Successful blogging can only come if your readers understand your content, so readability and legibility are huge factors to consider. This means a lot more than simply using a legible font, however. In order to ensure readability, bloggers should also stay away from using too many different fonts and colors throughout their site. Instead, focus on giving readers a uniform and coordinated experience. Establish your blog’s color pallette, pick no more than three fonts to use throughout the entire site, and don’t stray from these elements. Finally, make sure the sizing of all the elements on your site works across platforms. In a mobile first era, you don’t want to have content that is easily legible on a desktop but not a mobile device or vice versa.
6. Unorganized content layout
Don’t worry, we’re not trying to get you to forget about content completely, since that’s obviously what drives traffic to your blog. But while you should definitely be focused on providing readers with quality content, you should also focus on structuring that content accordingly. Many readers just scan the page without really taking in its substance before deciding whether or not to read, so make sure to use headings, sub-headings, bullets, keywords, paragraphs, blockquotes, and more to guide your reader to the most important parts of your posts, and don’t forget to name every page.
7. Inconsistent interface design
As a blogger, you’re probably a creative person, but at a certain point creativity can become excessive. You absolutely do not need to create different designs for every web page or section of your blog. This will only confuse and annoy your readers, no matter how amazing the designs are. Instead, use a standard, consistent template for every page that links back to all of the important sections of your site, and don’t be afraid to keep things simple.
8. The wall of text
Many blogs revolve around written content, but that doesn’t mean that your layout should accost readers with a giant wall of text. Even if readers come to your blog specifically for your written content, that’s not all they want to see. Break up your text with images, videos, or animations – anything to engage your reader all the way to the end of your posts. Giant walls of text are both intimidating and unattractive to look at, so don’t force them on your readers.
If you feel out of your depths when it comes to incorporating strong UX design techniques into your blog, just remember that simplicity is the name of the game. As long as you keep these nine mistakes to avoid in mind and prioritize simplicity, your readers will find the design of your blog’s website, as well as its content, utterly delightful.
4 Blogging Lessons Learned in Bali
I have spent over a year collectively on the Island of the Gods.
Bali is a special place.
This popular island in Indonesia teaches you 4 clear blogging success lessons too.
Let’s dive in guys.
1: Expect the Unexpected
During a house sit at a huge villa in Jimbaran I:
- faced down and helped slay a spitting cobra
- dealt with a chicken killing dog
- lost 2 of the pets (1 to cancer and 1 to likely thievery)
This list could go on forever. From this sit alone.
Bali is a fun, fascinating and sometimes wild place. Like most developing places; you never know what waits around the corner.
I am writing this guest post because the security certificate expired on my blog. I had no idea this would happen right now. Completely unexpected. But being a blogger for 10 years I know to expect the unexpected.
When my developer wakes up he addresses it and we move forward. Until then I am at peace with my blog being down. No worries. Part of the blogging game.
Expect the unexpected with your blog guys. It will happen.
2: Learn to Celebrate Everything
Balinese are an appreciative people who celebrate everything.
Staff at the villa in Jimbaran regularly took off for ceremonies, celebrating everything from cell phones, to papayas, to motorbikes.
Even cremation ceremonies are lavish, eye-popping celebrations of life and death.
Appreciate it all with your blog. Wins, losses, and all in between. Celebrating it all makes you appreciative of the internet lifestyle.
I celebrated big wins and tough losses because all these experiences made me I am the blogger I am today.
3: Step Away from the Herd to Be Heard and Seen
Kuta is a tourist trap. Ubud town center can be a bit too much.
But the rice fields well outside of Ubud and the Bukit region of the island are authentic, colorful, peaceful gems.
My wife Kelli and I stand out from many other bloggers because we tend to stay in more remote areas of the island. Even in the popular fishing village of Jimbaran we did a house sit in off the grid farm country and rented a place up in the hills, away from the heavily touristed bay. Our experiences are authentic; not many tourists in Kuta facing down spitting cobras.
Blog in your voice. Tell your story. Be genuine. Blog from the heart.
Step away from the blogging herd. All success lies well away from the herd of bloggers in your niche who tend to follow each other like blogging sheeple, blogging in 3rd person voice and never sharing authentic experiences.
4: The Best Experiences Happen Outside of Your Comfort Zone
We rented a villa in the rice fields outside of Ubud once.
We had to ride a motorbike 5 minutes into the rice fields to reach the villa.
Save 1 other human living on the other side of the compound no people existed for miles around.
The experience was amazing. Once in a lifetime deal. But we had to get used to snakes slithering inside of the house, using an open air bathroom as huge fruit bats flew over your head at 2 AM and roaches, mosquitoes and other insects regularly shacking up inside of the crib.
I would never trade in this amazingly fun, freeing and brilliant experience but of course I felt terrified at times. Definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
A bit before 10 PM on a Wednesday night I’d be comfortable in bed. But since my site is down for a bit now I nudge myself outside of my comfort zone to write this blog post. All part and parcel with being a full time blogger who renders generous service for his readers.
All of my biggest blogging wins occurred because I went the extra mile; even if doing so felt highly uncomfortable.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Your greatest blogging success occurs well outside of your comfort zone.
What blogging lessons have you learned recently?
Top 5 Most Competitive Niches for Bloggers
Finding the perfect niche is like a unicorn for many bloggers. The right mix of passion and competitiveness can be found in the most surprising places and isn’t always clear until you’re already well on your way. But the good news is that the harder you look, the closer you get — which is a cliche, but surprisingly true in this case. So before you give up on your dream of creating content about knitting dog pajamas or anthropomorphized helicopters, start by having a look at what niches are the most competitive at the moment.
Most blogs earn their money through affiliation. The good thing about affiliation is that it doesn’t require you to focus on one particular brand, unlike sponsorships. You’re free to place links in your content or not. And to write whatever you like about the brand in question. Money is earned through reader engagement, not through passive exposure.
Of course, the most coveted and stereotypical blogging dream niche is travel. Who would turn down reviewing hotels in the Caribbean or exciting jungle safaris? Only a few bloggers get to do this, however, but there are still a lot of sub-niches that are easy to get into and earn well in. Local guides and localized content is a great way to find perfect fits for valuable affiliation links and you can even make direct content advertising if you ask. The future is definitely localized.
Making content about gambling is often as much about search engine optimization as affiliation links. This has made reviews and guides extremely competitive, but creating content only for SEO purposes can be a little monotonous. More localized information in a specific niche like mobile gambling makes mobile-casino.ca a perfect example of how to stay competitive without losing quality.
Health & Fitness
For ethically minded bloggers, this niche can be a minefield. Health and fitness bloggers can benefit from having a blog of their own in many ways — such as keeping themselves healthy and fit, while also inspiring others in the process. This niche market is also filled with misinformation, dangerous recommendations and straight up lies. Are you the one to finally inform readers about the one true way to stay healthy or get fit? Joking aside, whether you’re a zealot or a skeptic, there are affiliation networks for you. Just include a source or two, please.
Including this niche might be cheating. It can cover so much — but that doesn’t mean that your blog should. Specialised content that you’re both passionate and informed about can be very valuable for direct ads. Everyone has some kind of lifestyle niche they’re focused on, whether it be simple admin improvement or urban hiking. Find out if readers are interested in the topic, either directly or related, before you go all in, though.
With how competitive blogging is, blogs that explain how to succeed are more popular than ever. You’re reading one right now and you could write your own very easily. You don’t have to be the best or the most insightful to write an inspiring blog about blogging — it’s more useful than you think to write down what works and what doesn’t in your own humble experience. You can be an expert in learning.
Have you noticed any commonalities yet? If you look hard enough in any niche, you’ll learn enough to create content with a fresh and exciting take. And that’s the current trend for being competitive: Being both subjective and informed; localized and aware of international trends.
Do You Really Know Your Readers?
See the featured image up top guys?
I know readers dig my eBook. Said readers dig my paperback too.
Enter this featured image. I use similar images frequently on Blogging From Paradise. Smart way to appeal to my audience.
But during lean years I did not know my readers because I:
- did not listen to my readers
- did not ask my readers questions
- did not spot my reader’s pain points
- did not read my reader’s comments carefully
- did not spot patterns among my readers
Eventually I woke up. Easy to see this now. But back in the day I had a hellish time owning the fact that I did not know my readers.
Reader Red Flags
You do not know your readers if:
- traffic stalls or disappears
- blogging profits stall or disappear
- engagement dies on your blog
- nobody seems to reach out to you on social media
These are a few red flags guys. Own the flags. Honestly. Owning your mistakes is one quick way to turn things around, to free yourself of this common blogging error.
Do You Know Your Readers?
I mean; do you really know your blog readers? Be genuine before you answer the question.
I know my readers incredibly well now because every blog post, video or podcast I create meets their needs. No guess work, no writing and publishing because I want to write and publish a post and certainly no off topic posting here, on Blogging From Paradise or any place where I guest post.
The other day one of my blogging buddies endorsed my paperback with a YouTube review. In addition to feeling grateful I tuned into one other idea; his endorsement, emails from other book customers and smiling selfies from other book customers alerted me to the fact that my readers are beginning to buy my paperback too, in addition to my eBook. I published a post linking to my paperback and explaining how my book solves pressing blogging problems after spotting this pattern.
I know my readers better and better each passing day because I listen to my readers more closely each passing day. As everything expands with my blogging campaign I find it easier and easier to help folks, to come up with blog post ideas and to know my content hits the mark because blogging with my readers in mind has been the simplest way to connect with these folks.
Your blog is for you and your readers. Never forget this fact. Never forget that if you write just for yourself you are publishing a cyber diary. No need for anyone to read a blog if the blog does not solve their problems.
Knowing your readers genuinely requires you to be:
Listen to the latest podcast interview I did with Alonzo Pichardo on his Sound Cloud channel:
He has invited me to chat on his highly popular channel – with over 300,000 listens between only 8 episodes.
Alonzo is a master at spotting the most pressing issues of his audience. My readers also suffer from problems related to these topics. Naturally, as he shares and builds his impressive tribe and as I build my tribe, we have well over a quarter of a million listens between only 8 podcast episodes.
If you get to really know your readers and patiently hit the mark with your content, over years, 10 listens becomes 100 listens, then 100 becomes 1000, then 1000 becomes 10,000 listens, then 10,000 becomes 100,000 listens, and upward from there.
Develop an intimate bond with your readers guys. Poll them. Email them, asking how you can help them.
Much of your blogging success rests on knowing clearly what your reader wants so you can serve it up to them.
Listen. Ask. Observe.
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