I'm taking a mini-vacation this weekend so I'm going to keep this kind of short, but I wanted to do a follow-up post to Wednesday's Blog Redesign Exercise that's all about designing your site.
In that post, I shared 3 different blog designs iterations that a fellow blogger, Vik Tantry, had done for a design overhaul he's doing for his blog. The SPI community didn't hesitate to share their opinions (yay for comments!) and I'm sure Vik and everyone else following along has learned a lot about what works, and what doesn't.
Here are my top 10 takeaways from reading the comments. These are things to consider when designing or redesigning your own blog in the future:
- Many people discount just how important design is. They say, “if the content is there, people will come to read it”. Not always true. A lot of commenters said that if they stumbled onto 1 or 2 of the designs they would have left immediately. Design matters folks!
- Sometimes less is more. If something is too busy, it takes away from the overall effect of a design. I had this problem with Smart Passive Income in a previous blog redesign. It was a three column design and it just had too much going on.
- Fonts play a big role. To be more specific—cheesy fonts in the header can give off the worst first impression, and we all know how important first impressions are on the Internet.
- Colors give off different vibes. Here's a good article that examines the colors of business and what they mean to an audience.
- A picture of the blog author on the homepage, above the fold, is an easy way to help a design become personalized and unique. Also, readers like to know who is ‘speaking' to them, and a face is far more memorable than anything else.
- “Obvious designing”—or in other words, including imagery that is too literal, can sometimes have a negative effect. For example, Vik's site is about money, and many people didn't like the idea of actual dollar bills being spread across the header. This works sometimes, but not all of the time.
- It surprised me that not one commenter mentioned the general layout of the designs, as each of the designs featured a standard two-column design. Is this the standard layout that people have finally settled into being “the norm”? If that's the case, maybe it's time to try something different. Maybe not. Just a thought.
- Figure out what you want your readers to do, and make that a primary focal point on your page. For example, if you really want people to subscribe to your newsletter, create a nice looking graphic that stands out from the rest of the page. On my blog, I tried to do this by not only having a high-quality graphic next to my opt-in form, but I had the graphic also poke out of the edge a little.
- A logo can be a great way to immediately define your brand and stand out from the crowd. A brandable logo was missing in all three designs, and I really think (especially for design #2), it could give the design some punch.
- And most importantly, understand that you cannot please everybody. Everyone has their own opinions about what they like and no matter how much time you spend on your design or how many suggestions from others you incorporate, there will always be people who think something can be done better. Take the suggestions that you like and implement those. Then, just pull the trigger and go with it. The worst thing you can do is keep tweaking a design or just sitting on it wondering if it's “the one”.
Thanks again to Vik for letting us comment and learn from his redesign process.
Enjoy your weekend everyone. Cheers!