Absolute Beginners: Designing Your Website Or Blog
A blog is not just about content. In order for your site to succeed in its aims, a suitable layout is just as important – more important than many newcomers believe. Just as in real life, the first impression is very important on the internet. A visitor may choose whether to stay or leave in the space of just a few seconds.
Text plays a subordinate role in creating this first impression. Often the site’s layout and the overall effect of a design has much more impact on the decision-making process. But even after this first contact, layout plays an important role.
The overall ‘usability’ of a site – which is dictated largely by its layout – is often almost as important a factor as the quality of your site’s content in deciding whether a reader stays on your site or comes back again. The presentation of your actual content is also very important.
If an article isn’t legible, no one will read on until the end. In contrast, a well-designed site inspires trust in your visitors, and you can use this to establish your brand and increase sales or commissions.
- Which design elements are important
- How to consider usability
- What to avoid
Before we offer some tips for choosing a suitable layout, there are some alternatives available to you for finding a design for your blog or your website. Option 1 is the use of a finished layout. WordPress offers free design templates called Themes. These free layouts are created by dedicated users and are simple to download and install.
Alternatively, you can even buy ready-made design templates created by professional developers, for a relatively low outlay. Option 2 is to create one yourself – if you’re familiar with web design, you could create your own layout or adapt an existing one to your own purposes. Finally, you can pay a professional to create a customised layout.
You’ll end up with a truly unique layout adapted to the specific requirements of your blog or business, but will likely need to pay for the service and continue to pay a developer to implement any future changes. Whichever option you choose, ot boils down to you deciding whether you want to invest time or money.
Tips For A Winning Design
1. Match Design Elements To Your Subject Matter
The layout of the Theme of your website or the blog should fit your subject. This applies to the general design, but also to your choice of colours, fonts, and other individual elements. So it probably doesn’t make sense use a stylish, sophisticated layout for a gardening blog.
On the other hand, rainbow colors and fancy fonts on a blog about legal issues will seem equally inappropriate. Don’t be blinded by graphical gimmicks; instead, think carefully about how your layout will suit the content.
2. Keep It Simple
Your selected layout template should have no technical defects in terms of its HTML and CSS code. Loading times also play an important role. This is increasingly importnat both for search engines and for users, who will leave a site quickly if these are too long.
A simple layout is likely to have fewer bugs to fix and is also likely to load quicker; and additional functions can be added later as the site evolves.
3. Sort Out The Usability
In addition to visual design elements, usability plays an important role in your site’s design. In general, you should keep it simple and clear. Web-design experiments may seem like innovations, but they scare away many users. Ask yourself:
- How easy is the navigation to use?
- Does a user know exactly where they are?
- How easily is it to find important content?
- Are there too many or too few choices?
- Are there any confusing elements?
In addition, the presentation of your content can play an important role in the usability.
4. Customise Your Template
The problem with WordPress Themes and other template sebsite designs is that many other websites also potentially have the same layout. This can be a hindrance when trying to build a brand or create a unique identity for your blog or business site.
However, many paid-for layout templates often include extensive customisation options, allowing you to implement a fresh-looking design. They’re also less commonly seen than free templates.
5. Design With Monetisation In Mind
If your website’s purpose is to earn you money, then make sure that none of the layout’s elements get in the way of this goal. So for example, ensure your sidebar is wide enough to integrate banners; leave enough space for a banner in the header. You should make sure that Widgets you add to your site are well supported and are reliable.
In addition, the content area should be clearly and readily visible, which is not only better for the user experience, but also allows for better presentation of Affiliate Links and other monetisable content.
Things To Avoid…
If you choose to use a free layout template, you should be mindful that it doesn’t contain any spam links. This not only leads to trouble with visitors, but usually attracts a punishment by Google, too. Likewise, the template should not be out of date or unsupported – if it is, it may not support new features of the CMS when WordPress is updated.
Remember, though, that the layout doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s preferable to get started with a simple layout and optimise your site’s design gradually. Don’t waste valuable time tinkering with minor layout details when your site could already be online, making money for you.