12 Design Tips to Improve Your Website + Blog
It’s the hard truth that I’ve come to learn. It’s common to get caught up in thinking we need to just focus on generating good content and assume the rest will take care of itself, but nope! Design plays such a huge role in how people interact with your content. I cringe when I see a blog or website that has killer content, but the design and user-experience is just meh. We don’t want meh!
In fact, if your blog is not-so-beautiful or outdated, you might find that people don’t actually read what you’ve written, no matter how amazing it is. And I get it, not everyone’s a designer, but luckily, I have some design tips to help you improve your website + blog that are easy to do.
But first, why is design important?
I want you to understand why it’s important to improve the look of your blog. I’ll put it in perspective using my favorite thing in this whole wide world – food.
So you’re at this amazing restaurant. The menu is clear and sounds really enticing. You order the ‘Le coq au vin’ (whatever that means) with a glass of wine. You’re all excited, thinking, “Dang this sounds so good!”
Then, it happens. The waiter brings your gourmet dish on an old holiday-themed, flimsy paper plate with plastic utensils and some of those brown scratchy paper towels.
And as if that wasn’t mortifying enough, he begins pouring your “glass of wine” into an old sports souvenir cup.
Lol total buzz kill right?
I mean, it all sounded really amazing, and I’m sure it all tastes incredible too, but that is no Instagram-worthy foodie pic, am I right?
Presentation is everything and has a deep effect on your overall experience.
The same goes for your blog.
Your website’s design is the foundation that holds all of your share-worthy content, and the container through which people engage with your words.
You want your site to reflect the quality of your work and spark consistent engagement.
Try implementing the follow tips to improve your site’s design:
1. De-clutter your navigation
Keep your page titles short and simple.
You can fit all of those creative keywords and unique phrases within the content of the page, but as for the title? Stick to words that easily tell your reader what your page is about.
Meet the Girl Behind the Blog!
Keep it simple:
Meet [Your Name]
Keeping it concise clears any confusion and makes it easier for your readers to navigate around your site.
Nesha from NeshaWoolery.com is a great example of this:
2. Reorganize your homepage
Does your homepage capture what you do, your primary call to action, and overall brand identity?
Readers will take less than 8 seconds to make up their mind about whether they’re going to stay or not. When you welcome your users with a beautiful front page that immediately reflects who you are and what you do, they feel closer to the brand itself, which is empowering to your readers! It also encourages them to discover more about you and what you have to offer.
Here are some key elements to consider adding to your homepage:
a personalized header; maybe one with a photo of yourself or your brand colors.
quick email optin form with a freebie
brief text that says who you are and what you do
personalized icons or graphics for your individual services
You can use my homepage as inspiration.
3. Use high-resolution photos
High quality, branded images will instantly boost your aesthetic.
I really like using Stocksy for quality stock photos, but it can get costly.
Here is a great post by Olyvia from Olyvia.co on where to find high quality stock photos for FREE: 47+ Of The Best, Most Beautiful Websites For Free Stock Photos. She also shares some insightful legal tips!
4. Aim for more white space
No patterned backgrounds.
Using a pattern for your website’s background can make your site look busy. Besides, you want your focus to be in the center on the content itself. If you have patterns that you want to use, then add them to the background of different graphic elements like your social media icons or category tabs. This way you’ll be able to showcase your brand elements without making it look busy and overwhelming.
5. Spice up your links
Add color so your links stand out from big blocks of text.
This article here by Allyssa Barnes from AllyssaBarnes.com is a great resource to learn how to manually edit your links: 8 Ways to Style Links So They Stand Out
Pro Tip: If the link redirects readers to another site, then make sure your link opens in a new tab. Simply add target=”_blank” to the HTML code. That way your readers don’t lose their place on your site.
6. Divide your website into sections
Use design elements or different solid color backgrounds for each section of your site.
This will make it easy for your readers to read through long pages with lots of content. Different sections could include: call to actions, email optin forms, headers, page titles, service packages, etc. Check out Wild Side Design Co. as an example. I love the way she divides her sections with those arrows!
7. Make sure your site is mobile-responsive
It’s important that your site looks great on all devices.
You can use this Mobile-Friendly Test by Google to check if your website is responsive: Responsive Checker. Simply type in your URL, and it will show how your website appears across different devices.
8. Avoid too many advertisements
Refrain from busy Google Ads that clutter your site.
It makes you look “salesy” and can throw off your design. If you must use it, keep the areas where you showcase those ads to a minimum.
9. Use a template for your featured images
Keep your site consistent by using a template for your blog posts’ featured images that reflects your brand’s identity.
I really love how Allyssa from AllyssaBarnes.com beautifully and consistently displays her blog posts’ featured images:
Want to DIY your own images? Here is a great article by Fran from Freeborboleta: How To Create Pinterest Worthy Graphics
10. Add an Instagram feed
Showcase your Instagram feed if it follows a particular theme that’s in line with your branding.
It’ll add a beautiful stream of photos that are in tune with your brand’s color palette. Check out this awesome plugin called: Instagram Feed. It’s what I use for my site:
11. Display your categories or services in a creative way
Use graphics or icons instead of plain text.
I really love Melyssa’s (from MelyssaGriffin.com) use of icons to display her categories.
Here’s another creative way to display your services in your sidebar by Paula from Twelve Skip
And last, but certainly not least:
12. Style and format your text
Use headings and subheadings to break up your text and make it easier to read.
Use H1 tags for your titles and H3 or H4 for your subheadings. (SEO-Friendly) You can also embed Google Fonts to improve the typography on your site.
These are some of the many tips that I know will help you, and once you incorporate them you will see it doesn’t always take massive changes to get massive results.
Pro Tip: A visually appealing design is only effective (in terms of conversion rates) if you also incorporate savvy marketing and user-experience principles. So if you want more subscribers, sales and shares, try to maintain a healthy combination of content strategy and design.