Most people determine whether to stay on or leave a site in the first few seconds. If you want your blog’s visitors to stay for longer and read your content, you need your site to leave a great first impression. Your site needs to look elegant, be easy to navigate, and show off useful and informative content. By focusing on these three things, you can make your site much more marketable to potential readers. If your user experience strategy is effective enough, you may even get your visitors to sign up for email updates or to purchase your products.
In this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to improve the user experience of your blog so people stay to read and share your content.
Don’t make it hard
These tips will focus on some specific techniques, but they all revolve around two themes, which is reducing your reader’s effort and site performance. Visitors should be able to browse your site without any effort at all. Content should be organized intuitively. In order to do this, you will need to anticipate their needs. You should not expect them to make the effort to understand how your website is arranged. It is up to you to make it simple for them. Everything they see should already be optimized.
Don’t make them wait
This leads us to our second point. That means that you need to improve performance as much as you can. Your website must load quickly. Your audience does not enjoy waiting around for webpages to load, and studies show that delays of more than one to two seconds significantly affect user experience because they interrupt the user’s train of thought.
Keep these two things in mind as you work on user experience for your blog. In the meantime, here are 8 blog design tips you can do to improve it.
1. Reduce your blog’s page bloat
According to Web Performance Today, the average size of a webpage is around 1246 KB, and it continues to grow every day. Despite the upward trend, larger webpages are bad for both users and site owners as they cause slower performance and larger bandwidth costs. Kissmetrics states that 40% of users leave a website if it doesn’t load after three seconds. Performance issues are a problem particularly for mobile device users, for whom a larger website can take many seconds to load over a 3G connection. There are some easy things you can do to reduce your blog’s page bloat.
One of the most common causes of slow performance is images. When low-bandwidth devices access your website, the images on your website with resolutions for a desktop monitor will load slowly and unnecessarily increase your bandwidth costs. You can find several scripts online, such as Adaptive Images, which will detect the screen size of your visitors and deliver re-scaled versions of your website’s images. You can customize the script to set the browser-caching and image quality.
2. Make content evergreen
Some visitors will click on a site they’ve found on a search they made, notice that it was written years earlier, and leave your website if they notice that the information is outdated. When you make posts, try to write them in a way that will remain relevant in the future. By making your content evergreen, we don’t simply mean removing date-specific facts. Rather, if all possible, try to write in a way that will remain both factually correct and interesting in the future.
If there’s anything on your blog that’s out-of-date, take the time to see if there’s anything you can do to make it current again. Ask yourself if there is any new information on the old post’s topic such as a new statistic. Perhaps you can add some new insights to your post. Once in a while, go through your archives to see what can be updated.
3. Simplify navigation
If your user wants to see posts from a specific date, would they know where to go? What if they wanted to see all your posts under a specific tag? Will your readers be able to detect the difference between your more important static webpages and your posts? Your website navigation should feel intuitive to your visitor. If a new visitor lands on a specific page, will they be able to find pages of a similar nature? Does your page have the breadcrumbs to guide them?
At the very least, your website should have all these components:
- Search box
- Archives page
- About page
- Contact page
People have come to expect certain things from those components. For instance, your blog logo should be clickable and lead back to your home page. This is essential for new visitors who won’t have your home page in their history. It can also be helpful for those who have been browsing your website for some time. You don’t want them to have to continuously press the “Back” button to return to your site’s home page.
However, take the time to anticipate what things your visitors might be looking for. Think of new and useful ways to organize your website. Maybe your website could benefit from dropdown menus. Or perhaps it’s the other way around, and your menu tree is too complex. Imagine yourself as a new visitor and see how you would react to the user interface of your blog.
4. Show off your best content
If you have certain pages that are attracting a lot of traffic, that probably means that it has content that all your users will find useful. Make it easy for your visitors to locate that content and advertise that content well. If a new visitor has just stumbled onto your site, they’ll be more likely to stay on your site if they see links to other posts they might find interesting. Because your popular pages are the most likely to interest them, you should find any way you can to promote them on all your webpages. Maybe you should add your most important pages to your navigation menu. Maybe you can advertise them at the bottom of your webpage.
5. Make your content look good
Over the years, people have become pickier about the webpages they choose to read. Now it’s not enough to just have high-quality content. The presentation of that content is just as important. You have to make your content look engaging and compelling. Make it stand out.
If you look at this website it has clearly defined headings and sub headings with screenshots to help you follow along. Remember that most readers are skimming and scanning on the social web so make it easy for them to pick out the major points.
On the most basic level, make your content easy to read. You want to avoid those instances in which your audience goes, “Too long, didn’t read.” Organize your content well. You need to avoid long blocks of text by breaking up your content into small but coherent units of information. Some say that it’s best practice to include only one idea for each paragraph.
Subdivide your content into sections and write simple but informative headings for each of them.
- Put in a photograph that’s relevant to your topic.
- Insert illuminating graphics, such as charts, diagrams, and graphs, to accompany and support your text.
- Add a bullet list.
These small things can help make your content much more readable. All this is not to say that your content is not important. Your content is the most important part of your website, but when it looks better your visitors will value it more highly.
Secondly, see if you can improve your website’s design. Is your website pleasant or harsh to look at? Is text easy to read? Make your website look as elegant and attractive as it can. Consider adding white space to your website. Cut unimportant texts and widgets out of your home page. You don’t want to bombard your visitors with information. Add white space around important parts of your website to highlight them.
Look at websites with good design. Obviously, don’t copy their design; you want your website to be unique anyway. Rather, think about the things that make those websites stand out to you. Emulate those effects on your own website, but do it in your own individual way.
6. Make your site mobile-friendly
More and more people are browsing their internet on their phones and tablets, and many companies and individuals have adapted their websites accordingly. Now people expect websites to be optimized for mobile viewing. If you don’t do so, don’t expect visitors to stick around for very long. It is very difficult for viewers to navigate through websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. They have to zoom in to see your text at all and then constantly scroll left and right to continue reading. Or, they may not be able to zoom in at all. They might accidentally click on the wrong link. All in all, it’s a headache that few are willing to endure.
If you’re not familiar with code, you can find a variety of services online that will make your website mobile-friendly for you. If your website isn’t very complex, the cost of adapting your desktop site for mobile use won’t cost you a lot. However, you should still pay attention to the quality of the service before you sign up. A cheap-looking mobile-friendly site with inadequate content and limited functionality will cost you many potential visitors.
7. Un-clutter your website
Jakob Nielsen, a respected researcher on usability, saw that most people scan websites instead of reading them. In other words, they read in chunks, not from top to bottom. For this reason, the total impression they get from your website will matter a lot. Every single thing that appears on your website will affect how they judge it.
Just think about how much you hate ads when you navigate websites. Many people hate them so much that they will go out of their way to install ad-blocking software or pay to have them removed. Website owners often forget this when designing their own websites.
Pay attention to the ratio of ads to content on your website. Excessive ads will lead to an unattractive and cluttered website. They might bury the information your guests are trying to access or lead them to exit your site. If your blog must have ads, make sure that they blend in subtly to your website. Be very particular about where you locate your banners, and design your website in a way that makes them look organic.
8. Know the bounce rate
This brings us to our last tip. If you have any ads on your blog, then of course you will want some users to leave your website to access your advertisers’ websites. Kissmetrics has an interesting infographic that shows you the standard bounce rates for different types of sites.
If your bounce rates are ridiculously high, it may be high time to consider whether your website’s usability has anything to do with it. You might want to consider an overhaul in your blog’s design.
What about you?
What other tips do you have for improving your website bounce rate and offering a better experience for your visitors?
Look forward to your insights and experiences in the comments below.
Guest author: Adam Clarke writes for Start Blogging Online a website where new bloggers can start their blogging journey.
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