Attracting blog traffic is a challenge for any business.
Until a few years ago, layouts were pretty standard, with a teaser for the most current blog post featured on the left, older blog posts under that, and a distinctly unhelpful chronological list on the side.
To explore blog topics, you had to click on “March,” instead of, say, “Content Marketing.” Yikes.
What's trendy on the web? Graphics. Visual impact. People are more likely to share content with images, and research proves that posts with graphics earn more shares. Social media channels based on images, like Pinterest and Instagram, skyrocketed to importance. It makes sense to give your readers the eye candy they obviously love.
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1. Impact, Magazine Style
Auto industry blog Gearheads.org uses a slick visual style reminiscent of a magazine layout. Above the fold, large, dynamic images overlaid with post titles dominate the page. Lower, the title overlay style remains consistent top to bottom, including a section featuring reader contributions.
The Gearheads blog layout is consistent on every section, making it easy to readers to find exactly what they're looking for.
2. Develop a Theme That's Uniquely You
Buzzsumo really owns their brand on a whole new level. The Buzzsumo blog not only contains some of the best marketing content on the web. They have graphic style that really stands out. To play on their company name, they use custom cartoon art featuring an adorable sumo wrestler to illustrate each post concept. One advantage to custom art is control of the color palette. Calm colors dominate the page, making the page soothing and easy on the eyes.
While Buzzsumo's character is certainly unique, other companies have developed iconic characters to represent their brands. Android is another example – their brand art is pretty cool, but the Android blog is not exactly visually enticing. Their audience is developers, so they keep it pretty minimalist.
3. Sensational Sliders
Leading retailer H&M is well-known for its social media and content marketing success. The H&M blog features a popular visual style with a slider that dominates the page above the fold. Big, high-quality images deliver real impact.
Sliders can be annoying if they speed by or have so many images loaded that finding something you missed becomes impossible. H&M's slider is set on slow speed, giving enough time to read the text, highlights just a few stories, with arrows to page back and forth.
4. Color Therapy
Color choices are important – your blog might not be sending the right psychological message. Many restaurants and food blogs choose a red and yellow color scheme to stimulate the appetite. Take a look at First We Feast. Hungry now?
If the red and yellow color combination seems familiar, it's because fast food restaurants do their homework before choosing a logo design. Think McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Red Robin, Hardees...you get the idea.
Color evokes feelings and spurs action. Your blog can be homey and warm, exciting and inspiring, or calm and safe. The wrong colors can be jarring. Saturated primary colors are fabulous on CrayolaExperience.com...and would be downright odd for Harley-Davidson. Let your audience inform your color selection.
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5. Clean It Up
There's something to be said for a minimalist design like the one used by Innocent, a U.K. based drink company. The clean design echoes the company's unique selling proposition: drinks made from all natural ingredients. Minimalist design works especially well when it supports your marketing concept.
Innocent punches up plain white space with unexpected font colors and minimal, pastel graphics. Clean, pure design reinforces exactly the message they want the reader to get.
6. Make It Move
Another trend taking the web by storm is running silent video as the primary focal point. Booya Fitness is a prime example. You're greeted by energetic sweaty people in spandex – instant communication of what the site is about. Text overlay confirms the purpose (every type of fitness class you can imagine), and a red CTA button in the center says, “Start your free month.” No ambiguity here.
If you can define your site's purpose with an eye-catching movement and minimal text, a video header might be just the ticket.
7. The Pinterest Look
Pinterest is a hugely successful site, and plenty of blogs have copied the highly visual format. The style, shown below by Tastespotting.com, is an easy way to showcase great visuals. If your blog is about food, jewelry, fashion, pets, or anything that photographs well.
You can never go wrong with food porn. If there's one thing that everyone loves, it's mouth-watering close-ups of food.
Many web and blog templates available today are based on adaptable design that automatically resize to fit cell phones and tablets. With more than half of all web search happening on mobile devices, mobile-friendly design is too important to ignore. Whatever blog design you choose, make sure it adapts to mobile. Designing for mobile from the ground up will save you money and time in the long run.
Optimizing Your Graphics
With a graphics-heavy design, you'll need to optimize your photos for the web to improve SEO and loading speed. It's not as hard as it sounds. You want to make the picture the same size it appears on the page and save it in an economical format, like JPEG. Even a basic Paint program has a resizing feature, and there are plenty of free graphics programs on the web.
After sizing, it's just a matter of naming you photos properly and filling in some other fields to aid search.
If you're considering an update, you have a lot of options. Your layout, navigation, and color choice should all be chosen to deliver the best possible experience to your readers.
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Like everything else in life, the web follows trends. Style evolves as designers discover new layouts users respond to, and continue to evolve as programming gains sophistication. Some sites, like Craigslist, ignore the trends, never change styles, and remain popular (it's a mystery). Most have updated their styles over the years, from the horrible amateurish efforts of the past to the slick, user-friendly sites that dominate the web today.