If you’ve spent time around digital marketing professionals, you’ll know that one of our favourite phrases to use is “content is king”. High quality landing pages, blog posts and buying guides are a major part of any SEO strategy, although what is the use of publishing A-grade content if the page design doesn’t make visitors stick around?
In this article, I outline essential design elements you can implement on your business blog in preparation for a killer content strategy. Here are the top six essentials, illustrated with my favourite digital marketing blogs:
1. Website looks perfect on all devices
Considering that as much as half of all website traffic to blogs comes from mobile users, it’s now more important than ever that your website looks perfect on all devices. Google recommends using responsive web design because it makes it easier for users to link to your blog with a single URL, along with many other benefits. If all looks well on the responsive design front, then you’re one step closer to success!
2. Consistent branding
Being recognisable is key to developing a loyal online following. This way, people are able to instantly identify your brand. An effective online strategy is to decide on a colour scheme and specific typeface to use across all channels.
Hot tip: be consistent on social media with the colours you’ve decided on from your blog.
Unbounce consistently use their three primary brand colours: Dark Cerulean for the website header, Tangerine for calls-to-action, and Pacific Blue for other important elements. Throughout the content, Gotham SSm A with 34px sizing is used for headlines (Dark Cerulean) and Whitney SSm A with 17px sizing for the body text. The overall effect of this consistency provides for a positive user experience by reducing confusion and being easily recognisable.
3. Using snippets
The blog’s homepage is an important component in directing users to your article. This is the page you land on after clicking the ‘blog’ menu item, which is generally located in either the header or footer of the website. One thing to keep in mind when crafting the perfect blog homepage design is that people have short attention spans. One way to combat this is by displaying the article title and short description, meaning that visitors can quickly skim through to locate a topic of interest, and decide what they want to read.
4. Righthand sidebar
The purpose of this design element allows visitors to be directed to important website elements. In The Daily Egg example, a form is used to capture readers’ email addresses. The goal for this blog is to send article updates, along with other promotional collateral directly to the visitors mailbox. Here are some ideas you could incorporate into yours:
- Most popular blog articles
- List of blog categories
- Email subscription form
- Free e-book form
- Author image with short bio
- Social media icons
- Blog search functionality
Hot tip: your main content should take up at least 60% of your design.
5. Imagery at the beginning
Using an engaging image (such as a stock photo or illustration) as your feature photo will greatly improve the clicks through from your blog’s homepage. The image at the beginning of the article provides for a break in text, allowing for a better user experience for readers.
Not so hot tip: although one of my favourite sources of content, Search Engine Land has a terribly messy display. Take note of the image at the beginning, ignore all other aspects.
6. Make commenting easy
Allowing your community to join the conversation by adding their 2¢ can make blogging a whole lot more fun. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to comment in attempt to increase engagement and in turn traffic levels. Traffic levels will increase by creating both positive word of mouth and notifying search engines of the article’s popularity from social signals, time spent on the page, and potentially links directed to the conversation from other websites.
If you’re looking to improve your blogging strategy, this article can be used as kickstarter pack in getting everything set up correctly. Simply copy the URL of this blog and forward on to your developer as a checklist to follow. By incorporating the six essentials listed in this article, you’ll be one step ahead of your competition and on your way to becoming the go-to source for industry news and information.