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Are You Endangering Your Content With Your Blog’s Layout?

That’s right. While content is important, your blog’s layout also plays an important first impression and visitor retention. The reason behind it is simple:

  • If I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’m out.
  • If it takes too long to find what I’m looking for, I’m out.
  • If it causes my eyes to bleed, I’m out.

Does that sound like you as a visitor? Having that said, there are many blogs out there using themes for no specific reasons other than it ‘looking nice’. Sure, you want it to look nice but does it serve its purpose?

 

Here are 5 questions to consider when selecting your next blog layout

 

 

Q1: Does it help you achieve your blogging goals?

Your goals determine your blog layout. For example, if you’re intending to build a community of bloggers such as what you see in Blognostics, a regular layout may not be enough. Same goes to if your goal is to provide educational content, sell products, obtain leads / subscribers or simply to share ideas.
Pick a layout that helps you achieve your primary goal so it will be clear to the visitor what is it that you want him / her to do. The last thing you want is to leave them feeling confused.

Q2: Does it enhance your content?

If you want to showcase your photography or illustration skills, you should be looking out for a portfolio / album-driven theme. If you write poems, perhaps you want to consider something lighter like what Tumblr has to offer. Serious article writers can go for magazine-styled themes while light writers may want something less complex.

Always ensure that your layout beautifies and amplifies the message of your content. It would be a waste if you produced excellent content when your site simply drowns it.

Q3: Is your content readable?

I was guilty of this. My previous site layout (now redesigned) had white text over a dark colored background which isn’t exactly the appropriate choice for a business-themed blog. Occasionally I’ll have friends (it’s good to have friends like these!) come by saying that they enjoy the content, but they can’t stay long – because the color hurts their eyes.

Apart from color, make sure your fonts are readable too. Research shows that Sans-serif fonts such as Arial and Helvetica are more readable on digital screens as compared to Serif fonts such as Times New Roman which will be better in print. Make sure it is in a readable size, too!

Q4: Do you really need those plugins and widgets?

This is a tough one to crack as many of us are guilty of this. Widgets for advertisements, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, NetworkedBlogs, Google Reader, subscriptions, recent posts, recent comments, post calendars and everything else that comes together with your blogging platform. Do you really need them all?

Again, only pick those that truly matters to you. Try avoiding the need to bombard your visitors with information. Instead, make your information simple and reachable for them e.g. placing the links to your social accounts in single icons lined up. After all, the main content should be OFF the sidebar. Oh, don’t go overboard with Google Adsense too!

Tip: overloading your blog with plugins and widgets may also slow down your blog considerably (even if it is deactivated) so choose wisely!

Q5: Does it cost you a bomb?

Having said all that, will that new layout cost you? If so, how much? Is it worth the money? If you ask me, anything below 35 bucks is worth it – simply because it won’t be used too commonly and it usually comes with a whole lot of cool features right out the box download.
If you’re unwilling to spend, there are many great yet free layouts and themes out there waiting to be discovered (I happen to like the free ones on WooThemes.

 

So, is it time to reevaluate your current blog layout?

 

I do that from time to time to make sure I’m on the right track. You should, too! I won’t say I’m an expert but I’ll be more than happy to take a look at yours and provide some unbiased comments while at it (feel free to do so with mine, too!). Just leave your URLs below and I’ll be sure to swing by.

 

Author: Jan Wong

Jan Wong is an online strategist in Malaysia with a passion for all things of God, youth entrepreneurship and integrating technology with businesses. He blogs about online marketing at janwong.my and tweets with @jwongjk

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