Blog Design Mistakes You Are Probably Making (+ How to Fix Them)9 min read
Do you have a feeling that something’s not quite working on your blog? Perhaps your growth isn’t what you expected, or you aren’t finding any leads, despite writing regular high-quality content. This might be because there are blog design mistakes on your site. If your user experience isn’t enjoyable, then people won’t want to use your service.
Design blunders have the potential to make you appear unprofessional to your audience. If the first thing a blog visitor sees is a confusing and unappealing amalgamation of content, they won’t stay on your site, let alone click through and read. A consciously designed blog can do a lot more for your business than just look good – it keeps readers returning for more. And if you are an eCommerce website, then this could result in a direct increase in conversions.
Overhauling the whole visual presentation of a blog can be overwhelming and potentially expensive. However, it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we will highlight some key design tips and ways you can improve on the framework that you already have in place, helping you fix common blog design mistakes with minimum effort.
Is your blog cluttered?
Are visitors bombarded with ads, images, and widgets that obstruct your content on your landing pages when they visit your site? If so, they may feel it’s too hard to actually read your blog. This can easily cause people to lose patience and leave your website.
But wait – before you start getting rid of them, it’s important to figure out which ones are genuinely providing value. Can you prove that the ads are effective or that the widgets are popular with readers? If so, great. If not, then it might be time to consider parting ways.
A great blog sticks to the less is more rule. Keep your blog homepage simple and stripped back to let the content and headlines really stand out.
Does your blog have intrusive popups?
Popups are an effective way to build an email list but are most effective when used in moderation. Otherwise, visitors can find them distracting, annoying, and unnecessary.
Not sure what a bad pop-up looks like? In this post, Sumo.com pull apart what they say is the worst popup in existence.
Creating a great popup that achieves results without annoying readers is a skill, which is why we wrote this blog post on creating popups your readers won’t hate, because: “If your pop up looks like one of those ‘you have a virus’ ads from the early noughties, your readers probably won’t trust it.”
Ultimately, you want to keep it in line with your color scheme and typography while making sure it has a minimalist layout. Don’t scare your readers away with confusing and unappealing popups!
Is your sidebar overloaded?
As a blogger, your sidebar should be an extra way for you to engage with your readers. It could be a place for a short bio or contain a place where readers can subscribe to email newsletters. But, more often than not, it gets overloaded with random widgets.
Your website design is important in contributing to your overall brand identity and blog layout. Page counters, polls, tag clouds…the list goes on. As fun as they look, they aren’t unnecessary. Not only that, but they’ll slow your site down. If you’re site slows, your SEO ranking will also drop, decreasing your website traffic.
Go through your sidebar and clean it up, only keeping the essentials: the things that directly contribute to the success of your blog. This could include sharing buttons, making it easier for your content to reach a wider audience. If you desperately want to keep something, think about moving it to your About page or homepage.
Further reading: Blog sidebar tips
Do you really need comment forms on every page?
The answer: no! If you’re blogging on WordPress, this is definitely a design issue worth looking into because comment forms are automatically added to the bottom of every page.
Just leave the option for comment on your blog posts. This will mean that it’s easier for you to keep track of all your engagement. If someone is commenting on a page you don’t check often, you might miss it.
Don’t get us wrong; comment forms are a great way to build rapport with your readers and encourage engagement with your content. It’s also a good way to focus your call to actions. For your best blog posts, always have one available, but they aren’t necessary for every single page!
Further reading: How to remove the WordPress comments box from pages
Please, no background music!
Autoplaying music is one of the most annoying blog design examples. It’s bad for all users. It’s intrusive, and most of the time, people will mute the sound anyway.
But if you desperately want to autoplay a video, mute it, and follow these tips from PunkChip:
- Only autoplay if the clip lasts for five seconds or less
- If the clip lasts over five seconds, you must provide the user with the option to stop or pause it
- Autoplay is generally acceptable if the user was aware, when they clicked the link, that the proceeding page was going to play a clip
Is your blog difficult to navigate?
Navigating your blog should be easy and intuitive. A simple menu is all you need to make your navigation options obvious. The more simple the better, and the easier that someone can move around your blog, the more content they’ll read. You don’t want to have to follow a tutorial just to find your way around a website.
As White Oak Creative put it: “Bloggers tend to include everything including the kitchen sink in the navigation. For the potential reader, this is overwhelming and distracting. Your menu should encourage readers to find more information – about you and the type of content you produce”
Further reading: Are You Making These Common Website Navigation Mistakes?
Where’s the search box?
On a content-heavy blog, a search box can be one of the most frequently used elements on a site. This means organizing your content properly so that it’s effective. This is an essential element to include in your web design.
All those people that cannot find what they’re looking for are going to turn to the search box. Place the search box somewhere visible or where users would usually expect to see them – it could be in the top sidebar or at the top of the page.
Further reading: Create A Google Custom Search Engine
Are dead links killing your vibe?
Are there broken or outdated links on your blog? Clicking on a broken link is a pain and manually checking for dead links is a nightmare. Who wants to go through every page and check? It’s a common issue, so luckily, there are loads of link-checking tools that automatically identify any dead links.
Dead links aren’t just frustrating your reader, but they will negatively impact your SEO score, according to Google. The more links you have in a blog post, the more Google will reward you. However, if your links take you to the dreaded 404 error page, the link signals won’t pass Google’s test.
It may seem like a small element of your blog content, however, if you want to nail digital marketing, it’s all in the detail.
Further reading: 5 Tools To Check For Broken Links On Your WordPress Site
Is your blog difficult to read?
This might sound a little obvious, but people need to be able to read your blog. Surprisingly, it’s not always the easiest of things to pull off.
We know you can be tempted by fancy fonts, unusual formats, and colorful templates when it comes to blog design. When in doubt, go back to the basics. The blogs with the best design usually use clear, simple fonts and a logical structure. This will beat over-the-top design ideas any day of the week. Just look at Medium’s success and take some design inspiration if you’re unconvinced!
If you’d like to ensure all your blog posts are readable, consistent, and reinforce your brand, check out our post on Why Your Blog Needs a Visual Style Guide. A beautiful blog takes planning!
Is your content scannable?
Having a massive block of text can be intimidating. Having scannable content is important because, according to this study, only about 20% of the text on the average page gets read! In the age of social media, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. For this reason, you want to ensure your articles are accessible for a quick browse rather than a sit-down and focus read.
Readers want to digest information quickly and easily. So, break up your post into short paragraphs focused on a single, simple point. This offers readers smaller pieces of information that they can easily digest.
It’s still a good idea to include in-depth information, but just ensure it is broken up throughout the article.
Further reading: The Art of Scannable Content: How to Write for Today’s Online Readers
Is there enough white space?
If your content is crammed together it’s going to be difficult to read. Don’t be afraid of white space – it provides a clear separation between the text and other elements. It will also make the text lines shorter and easier to read. Sometimes our eyes need a break from visuals.
A quick redesign of your blog pages can immediately make your content marketing look more attractive and appealing. It doesn’t take an expert in graphic design to recognize the differences between the two articles below, so get changing things around!
Having white space around your feature image will make it pop, drawing attention to your article and hopefully encouraging people to read it!
Further reading: What is white space and why does it matter?
Make sure your headline makes a statement
If your readers are only scanning your content, draw their eye by making sure your headlines, headers, and subheadings are large and clear. That way, they know exactly what they’re reading and can spot related posts on your site that they might find interesting.
WordPress themes and other blogging platforms make it easy to ensure your headings are well-structured and attention-grabbing. So there’s no excuse, even for beginners!
You’ve only got a limited amount of time to pull readers into your blog – don’t put them off by making easily-fixed design mistakes. For infographics and images, try using Canva. It’s a super simple and easy-to-use app that makes blog design a breeze.
By editing your blog to avoid these mistakes, you could attract more website traffic and, therefore, more conversions. It’s a no-brainer. Whether you manage a lifestyle blog or an entrepreneur blog, design matters. So get checking!
Are there any other suggestions that you’d add to this list of blog design mistakes? If so, please leave them in the comments.