|eBook Available August 15, 2014|
Here are answers to those questions, starting with easily-fixed visual design tips and ending with some crucial technical design tips.
1. Kill the written manuscript formatting.
Format your content for the Internet, not for the written page. Your content needs to be formatted to be read on a computer monitor or mobile device.
Many bloggers make the mistake of writing blog posts the same as they would a written paper. There is a specific way to write for the Internet. I've discussed this before, and I'll re-print that post in the future.
Briefly, you have:
- a keyword rich post or article title
- shorter paragraphs
- shorter sentences
- hot linked references for the reader's convenience in learning more about topics mentioned
- numbers like 1000 instead of writing out one thousand, as you would in a manuscript
- shorter posts, not long multiple thousand word posts. If something is over 1,000 words, then break it into a series.
2. Kill the overuse of fonts.
Use only 2, maybe 3, fonts. This is another complaint in surveys. Choose a headline font, a title font, and then a post font. For subheadings, use the post font in bold if you wish.
3. Kill the music!
I can't emphasize this strongly enough. It's one of the biggest complaints by internet users: websites that have music that starts when the site opens. This has been on the top 10 complain list for more than a decade I think, but some website publishers don't seem to know it.
4. Kill the black background and light-colored font.
Again, this is something always mentioned in surveys. Readers hate this! It's hard on the eyes, and anything that's annoying or uncomfortable to read gets rejected. The visitor just moves on, no matter how wonderful your content.
5. Kill outdated content.
If you take the time to write original content, make it something that will be perpetually valuable. Like ebooks, blog posts and other content is forever--or until you remove it. Be sure that the content always offers value to readers who may stumble upon it months or even years after you published it. One way is to really think about what you post and make sure it will give that value on down the road.
The other way is set up a system to go back and check old posts and see if the links still work and to update them if possible. If nothing else, perhaps post a disclaimer saying the content is out of date and to visit the current year's posts for more information.
6. Kill the text-only post.
Judiciously, use graphic images to illustrate your post. Make them appropriate to the content and optimize the size. (See below about website bloat.)
7. Kill the obnoxious, intrusive ads.
If you have ads, make sure they're not obnoxious. OMG but I hate popups, rollovers, and the like, and so does everyone else. Key any ads to your editorial content and the website style.
8. Kill the website bloat.
Speed is everything when it comes to websites. The faster; the better when it comes to the time it takes for a website to open. Make sure your website loads fast because most website visitors are not patient. Surveys show that if a page doesn't open in less than 5 seconds, the visitor moves on.
This is especially true if the website visitor is using a mobile device because those are lower-bandwidth devices than computers. Bloated websites with big honking banner images and tons of images in a single post can take forever to load on a mobile device.
Make sure images are optimized for all monitor resolutions. You may have a high resolution widescreen monitor that beautifully displays the huge graphic you have as your banner image, but others may not. Always think of the average computer or mobile device user who may be trying to access your website. Blogger automatically adjusts for mobile devices, but some websites may not.
When you use a graphic to illustrate a post, opt for a smaller image than a huge image. Images can always be "magnified" simply by the reader clicking the image.
There's also software to help you accomplish this. One such app is Adaptive Images. Read how it works to see if you want to add a tiny bit of Java Script to your HTML website file to have it automatically detect the user's device resolution and resize your images for it. (I suspect this is what Blogger does in their HTML code they offer.)
Remove any page elements or plugins that aren't necessary. All those things add to the time required for your website to load.
9. Kill clumsy navigation.
A visitor should be able to easily find his or her way around your website. You should always have:
- a contact page
- an archive of past posts
- an about me page and/or a page that explains your editorial policy
- a page that explains your ad policy if you accept advertising
- a search box so a visitor can search your website for keywords of their choice
- and links to the other pages that actually work.
A good blog is a well-designed blog. Take steps to make yours well-designed, and you'll reap the reward with increased readers.