31 Blog Design Mistakes (& How to Fix Them)

31 Blog Design Tips You Need Now!

Does your blog design make you look dumb? Or worse, does it cause readers to quickly click away before they’ve had the chance to experience your content? If this sounds like your blog, don’t worry. Many bloggers underestimate the need to establish effective blog design in their rush to start blogging.

Blog design encompasses more than the basic look and feel. Blog design is about how you choose, structure and present your content. Blog presentation builds trust and credibility that validates the content.

To improve your blog design, here are thirty-one common blog design mistakes and how to fix them.

Look and feel

  1. Does your blog look cluttered? Are visitors bombarded with lots of ads and/or widgets that obstruct your content? If so, they may feel it’s too hard to find and read your blog. Blog Design Fix: Streamline advertising and widgets on your blog.
  2. Does your blog carry pop up ads? Pop ups to encourage email registration fall into this category. Where possible minimize theie use. Also, if you use them, have tracking so that you don’t continually target readers who’ve been served these pop ups.
  3. Does your blog lack branding or look unprofessional? Think through your brand elements since this helps build memorability. Your blog’s branding should contain dominant, consistent elements of your organization’s brand. Blog Design Fix: Create a branded look and feel that draws from your brand. Invest in a professional designer or firm.
  4. Does your blog’s design elements use lots of valuable real estate? Do your blog’s core graphics overwhelm the other content and images? If first time visitors don’t see an element they find important, they’ll leave and may not return. Blog Design Fix: Either reduce the graphic’s size or select represent elements of them. 
  5. Does your blog design contain an unfortunate choice of colors? This includes vibrant colors that hurt readers’ eyes, pale colors readers that can’t be read, colors that are difficult to distinguish. Check whether your color selection is colorblind-friendly. Blog Design Fix: Select two or three colors in line with your brand that are appropriate to your audience.
  6. Does your blog use too many colors? While a combination of colors associated with your brand can enhance your blog, too many or inconsistent use of color can reduce usability and professional appearance. Blog Design Fix: Choose a color palette and stick to it.
  7. Does your blog use photographs and other media formats? Humans are visual beings. They react to photographs, videos, graphics and other media. Blog Design Fix: Use photographs and other media where appropriate.

Typeface and legibility

  1. Is your blog’s typeface illegible? If prospects can’t read your content, they’ll leave. Blog Design Fix: Choose a typeface that’s clear, easy-to-read and consistent with your brand.
  2. Does your blog’s typeface integrate with your look and feel? Is the typeface too small or too big? Does it lack contrast with background? Blog Design Fix: Select a typeface consistent with your brand and appropriately sized for your layout and audience.
  3. Does your blog have poor line spacing? Is the text either too squished together or too spaced out? Is it consistently aligned, preferably on the left side? Blog Design Fix: Adjust the line spacing to fit into your overall blog layout.
  4. Does your blog contain long blocks of text? Break up content with bolding and bullet points to aid reader comprehension. Blog Design Fix:  Make your content easy to scan.
  5. Does your blog have enough white space to aid comprehension? If the content is so crammed together it’ll be difficult to read. Alternatively, too much white space also hinders understanding. Blog Design Fix: Adjust white space to enhance readability.
  6. Does your blog have inconsistent page layout?  Does each page look like a different person developed it? This detracts from your blog’s presentation and authority. Blog Design Fix: Ensure all blog pages regardless of type have consistent colors, typeface, graphics, and layout.

Blog navigation

  1. Is your blog easy to navigate? Can visitors understand how to move from one section to another? Is horizontal navigation used? Are there other ways to get around the blog? Blog Design Fix: Ensure that there’s more than one way to navigate your blog. Best of articles and links count.
  2. Is your blog’s search box prominent? Help readers find additional content of interest on your blog without leaving it. Blog Design Fix: Put a search box near the top of your blog and make it visible to new comers!
  3. Is your blog’s important information above-the-fold? Put essential content and functionality into the blog’s prime real estate. Blog Design Fix: Check your blog on different machines and formats since the above the fold will change.
  4. Do blog links tell where they’re going?  While linking to information in other references helps readers, do you only link to words “here” or “this”? Blog Design Fix: Link content to search term.
  5. Do your permalinks just use a default? Don’t use permalinks with computer generated numbers such as example.com/?p=123 Blog Design Fix: Include descriptive keywords in permalinks such as example.com/blog-design.
  6. Does your blog have an About page? It supports your credibility by letting readers know who’s behind the blog. Blog Design Fix: Create an About page that has personality and a photograph.
  7. Does your blog contain contact information? What if prospects use your blog to find out more about you and your organization and want to complete a sale or hire you? Make sure that you offer multiple ways for readers to communicate with you. Blog Design Fix: Provide multiple ways for readers to contact you. Think phone, email and social media.
  8. Does your blog allow visitors to register to receive RSS feeds? While not as large a base as it was, RSS is still an important way for readers to be alerted to new content on your blog. Blog Design Fix: Offer readers an RSS option.
  9. Can readers subscribe to receive your content via email?  The goal here is to collect readers’ email addresses and to build a housefile. To this end, the registration must be above the fold and have an appropriate call-to-action. Blog Design Fix: Allow readers to subscribe to your posts by email at a minimum.
  10. Can readers access your blog via a mobile device? Give increased mobile penetration, ensure that readers can access your content via the device of their choice. Blog Design Fix: Create a mobile website focused on reading your posts.
  11. Is your blog configured to allow readers to print your posts? Does your printed format retain your branding and enable readers to find your website and/or call your firm? Does it include your copyright? Blog Design Fix: Configure the print setting to include your blog URL and contact information.

Social sharing

  1. Does your blog have appropriate social sharing buttons? Include social sharing related to your category and related call-to-action. Blog Design Fix: Encourage readers to share your content. Also share it yourself via different platforms.
  2. Do you include social media widgets where you’re not active? There’s no bigger sign that no one’s home than a social media widget with updates over ten days old. Blog Design Fix: Remove social media widgets that are no longer relevant.

Design-related content

  1. Is your blog poorly written, boring or unintelligible by humans? Your posts must be understood by people not just search bot fodder. Blog Design Fix: Write for your blog’s marketing persona.
  2. Does your blog content contain bad grammar and/or misspellings? Poor grammar and misspelled words take away from your authority because they show that either you don’t care or your command of the language is weak. Blog Design Fix: Get someone else to proof your blog content since spell checkers don’t catch everything.
  3. Is your content a snooze? Nothing turns potential readers off faster than dull writing. Blog Design Fix: Create compelling content that keeps readers coming back for more!
  4. Do your blog posts have non-descript headlines so that potential readers can’t tell what the article is about? Your headline needs to pull readers in and answer “What’s in it for me?” for your prospective readers. Blog Design Fix: Use strong, magnetic headlines to pull potential readers in.
  5. Do you only publish when the spirit moves you? If readers aren’t sure when you’ll have new content they stop showing up. Have a consistent publishing schedule rather than trying to publish too frequently and not be able to keep up. Blog Design Fix: Create an editorial calendar.

Remember you’ve got a limited amount of time to pull readers in and get them interested enough to consume your content. Your blog’s design helps guide them through the content while providing the basis for your authority.

Are there any other suggestions that you’d add to this list of blog design mistakes? If so, please include them in the comments.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


BTW – I’m sending this list to my webmaster to ensure that this blog doesn’t have any dumb mistakes.

Here are some related articles:

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbh/4885257723/
[Note:  photo modified to illustrate poor blog design.]

 

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  • http://cirquedumot.com Susan Silver

    This is a great topic. I talk about design sometimes on my personal blog as it relates to SEO. The way you present content can make a difference. Most people can employ simple tweaks like increasing white space or font size.

    The great thing about the internet is that their are so many resources for education. If you are on a budget check out the tutorials you can find. A little bit of CSS knowledge can help customize your blog without having to mess with the underlying structure.

    The CSS Zen Garden is a great resource.

  • http://www.phoenixdesertridge.com John Cunningham

    Nice blog here Heidi. Having a clean blog is not as easily achieved as we’d think. These are ideas that I will remember as I work on my own blog; thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.hughsutherland.ca Hugh Sutherland

    Great topic and so very timely for me. I am just in the process of developing my site and lo and behold I find your article, how fortunate is that. I will use the advice you provided in order to develop a website that will be free of hassles and appealing to my audience. Thanks for the great tips! I am also book marking your blog because I think it will be a very valuable source of information for me.

  • http://graphidesignneeds.com Natalie

    Great post! Blogging can be such a great tool if used effectively.

    Even if your blog is loaded with great writing and look amazing, it will all be for nothing if people can’t find it. Backlinking and using SEO rich keywords are sooo important.

    You might the recent post we made about top SEO blogging tips:
    http://junhax.com/2012/01/33-blogging-mistakes-you-can-avoid-right-now/#comment-3721

  • http://write-on-track.com/ Lorna

    this is a really useful and comprehensive list, just found your blog on a recommendation and liking you on Facebook too.

    Many thanks, Lorna

  • http://thesolopreneurmentor.com Attila The Solopreneur Mentor

    Hi Heidi,

    It is a great compilation, thank you for that, I will include it in my beginners resource page for sure. However I would add a section about SEO. Designers often forgot about it and I believe that SEO is still an important factor. Proper permalink usage part of it, but there is much more than that. Everyone should have a theme/skin/platform which flawlessly allow filling of meta tags , , as part of the publication process.

    Attila
    @TheSolopreneurM

  • http://www.lifeasitcouldbe.com/fundynamicpossibilities Fawn

    Thank you for your concise and easy to read tips. The suggested fixes are short and simple. As a new blogger I appreciate the basics.

  • http://venturamovingandstorage.com Janey Smith

    Thanks for the info, really good tips! time for us to follow them:)

  • Katie

    As a relatively new blogger, this information is really helpful. I am always looking to engage my audience. I post questions at the end of every post to (hopefully) initiate responses. I do not have enough of a following yet that people comment. What do you recommend to get people talking?

  • Nancy

    Blog mistakes that also make you look dumb – not doing the recommended spell check (#28) to catch the mistake in #2. Sorry.

  • Toniworld

    Thank you for terrific blog insights! will incorporate your marketing tools and writing enhancement ideas. please keep them coming!