• Michael Linsin

Does Your Blog Design Make You Look Like a Hack?

Try this exercise.

Type your blog into Google and click on the link as if you're a visitor. Now, what is your honest first impression? Does it look professional? Is it a clean, attractive design? Is it easy to navigate? Does it load fast?

These are critical questions because if your blog has even a whiff of amateurism, then first-time visitors are going to bounce within seconds and your Google ranking will never reach the first page.

You see, competition in this day and age is so strong, and readers have become so conditioned to top-notch production, that anything less will be ignored.

This is why Scott and I recommend content creators focus on one medium. Become an expert at blogging or YouTube first before branching out into podcasting. Even Instagram has become prohibitively professional. The bar has been set so high that you need near-expert level photography skills just to compete.

The good news is that it has never been easier to build a professional looking website. Here at Renegade Blogger we recommend Wordpress because of its flexibility and the hundreds of beautiful themes to choose from.

Regardless of what blogging platform you use, however, there are some universal design features that communicate to visitors that they're in good hands and should therefore stick around. What follows are five things you must have to look like a pro rather than a hack.

1. White Space

Clutter is the enemy. The focus of your blog needs to be about the written word and that's it. Anything that detracts from that must be eliminated. Nothing says hack more than disorder and jumbled design elements.

White space, on the other hand, highlights your work. It makes reading easier. It makes your design more attractive. It calms and soothes your reader and makes them trust in what you have to say.

2. Limited Colors

Too many colors is distracting. It's also ugly and sends the message that you're not serious about your writing. Choose a one- or two-color theme and stick with it. In time, it will become synonymous with your brand and style.

If you're struggling with what colors to use, try looking at your favorite sports teams. They spend millions of dollars on branding that resonates with fans. It's a great place to go for ideas and for colors that go well together.

3. Clean Menu

The menu bar is among the first places new visitors will look - and then hopefully explore. Thus, you want to make it as clean and simple as possible. Shoot for a maximum of two words per page title and keep them adequately spaced.

The menu can be along the very top of the page or under your blog title like we've chosen here at Renegade Blogger. Either way, keep it plain and uncomplicated.

4. One Sidebar

The sidebar is the strip of space that flanks the left or right (or both sides) of the main body of your website. It's typically used for advertisements and an email sign up form. Like so much of good design, less is more.

If you must have a sidebar, be sure it's only on one side, that it's narrow and unobtrusive, and that it leaves plenty of white space between graphics.

5. Cool Logo

If your logo is just the name of your website written in a common font, then it's going to look amateurish - unless pure minimalism is the look you're going for. Taking a bit of extra time to create a logo says a lot about how much you care for your reader and the quality of your work.

Luckily, it's really simple to design attractive logos. PicMonkey is our choice here at Team RB for all your design and image needs. However, you can also hire someone affordably at Fiverr or 99designs.

Small But Critical

Design is a small part of the overall professional message you must send to your readers in order to grow your blog. But it's an important part, because it's their first impression of who you are and what you're about.

Readers make make assumptions and form biases within the first few seconds of visiting your site, even if you have great content. If they don't like what they see and feel right off the bat, then they're gone.

They hit the back button and damage to your Google ranking.

The good news is that a clean and simple design is associated with quality and professionalism. It keeps potential subscribers and customers around long enough to explore your site, read what you have to say, and consider whether it's worth their time.

And this is all we can ask of our design - a chance for readers to stay long enough to read our content.

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