The design of your site, especially the layout and navigation, are so important. This can effect not only your SEO and search engine traffic, but more important the quality of experience your readers have when they visit your website.
Can they find the various categories of information easily? Does your layout encourage them to click through to read more? To stay on your site for awhile? To follow you online in the social media networks?
I want to share three of my favorite blog layouts from three of my friends on the web, and why I think these women have nailed their blog designs. Hopefully you’ll keep these tips in mind when designing the layout of your blog.
1. Simple Mom by Tsh Oxenreider – Tsh Oxenreider is one of my dearest friends who just happens to have one of the most successful mom blog empires on the Internet. Simple Mom is her flagship site. Content aside (although that is fabulous too) I want to talk about the layout and why this site is so successful. Click over and take a look. See the two subscribe options right there at the very top of the sidebar? So easy for people to follow along and there are only two options presented upfront which makes it less overwhelming feeling.
The sidebars have very clear categories displayed, and in case you don’t realize what “Money Management” stands for, as soon as you hover your mouse over the words, an image appears to clarify. Cute! Recent tweets, recent posts and most popular posts are all easy to find on the front page, inviting readers to click deeper into the site.
Each post displays “similar posts”, again inviting readers to click more and more. And the colors of the site are not overwhelming: lots of white space, a few color accents and a clean, fresh look.
2. The Pioneer Woman by Ree Drummond - A fabulous blog, and yes it’s been professionally designed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from the layout elements that are important for all blogs. Yours included. Anyone can add these elements to their blog to help improve their blog’s design and layout.
A feature slider is a great way to visually display a few choice posts, whether the most current posts in a particular category, or favorite, hand-selected posts you want to display on the front page. The navigation bar shows the categories very clearly and makes it easy for readers to decide where to go.
Again, as with Tsh’s site, you’ll see subscription options presented at the very top of the site to increase the potential of a visitor signing up for more. Seeing the trend? There’s a reason for that! Excerpts from articles and eye-catching photography make a reader want to click through to see more of the posts.
And, seriously, if Ree’s blog doesn’t make you want to move to the country and take up photography and cookin’, I don’t know what will!
3. Living Locurto by Amy Locurto – I didn’t choose Amy’s blog because I love her to pieces (although I certainly do) but because I think it’s another fabulous example of a blog that new bloggers can learn from in enhancing the design of their own sites.
Notice the easy-to-read navigation right at the top of the blog – so clean and easy-on-the-eyes. I love it! Also notice that at the very top of the first sidebar you have several options for connecting and subscribing. Surprised? Nope, neither am I.
The sidebar seems a little full but feels like visiting a favorite vintage store – something worth looking at on every shelf. The categories are presented again with engaging photos, additional social media networks are presented, and more about where else Amy can be found online is included. We also see that Amy has related posts displayed with each of her craft or printable ideas encouraging readers to stay and visit more pages.
I hope you’ve noticed some recurring themes in looking at these three blogs. While each has a totally unique content, focus, style and overall appearance, the design elements that I’ve discussed with you today are things you can use on your own sites. Subscription options, social media contacts, clear navigation, white space, visible font and text, etc. These layout elements work regardless of what your personal style and focus are.
What parts of these blog layouts do you love? What changes do you think you should make to your blog based on what you’ve seen today?