As a blogger, web design probably doesn’t need to be your primary focus. At the same time there are far too many bloggers who completely ignore the design aspect of their page for a variety of different reasons. Perhaps they’re not comfortable editing their template, haven’t paid for an up-to-date framework or simply don’t see the value in spending time on the aesthetics of their site.
On one level that’s understandable.
A blogger is charged, primarily, with the task of providing information and expertise for a specific topic. You can do that with little more than a white background and black text.
Yet when that content is in a web page, we’re dealing with not just the exchange of information, but the presentation and display of a certain type of content.
The Presentation of Content
That presentation involves a frame, which is your blog’s template or page design. If that frame is outdated, distracting or just plain unpleasant to look at, then the presentation of your blog is going to suffer and people are going to have a harder time accepting or even noticing the content you’re providing.
So while content is still of utmost important to a blogger, the way we present that content on a web page should be handled correctly so that you get the most out of whatever content you happen to be showcasing.
If you’re not sure where your site stands, here are a few ways to tell if your design needs work.
1. Your Bounce Rate
Assuming you’ve setup Google Analytics for your page (if you haven’t yet, it’s strongly recommended), you’ll want to pay attention to something called the “bounce rate” of your site.
It’s simply used to denote the percentage of people who visit one page of your site and then leave. Anyone who visits a second (or more) page does not count against your rate. This means that the higher the percentage, the more people are “bouncing” or leaving your site after one look. Typically, anything around 70 percent or less is considered a decent bounce rate.
If those visiting your site are greeted with a poor design that looks outdated and unprofessional, that alone can be enough to discourage a sizeable percentage of them from sticking around. If your bounce rate is above 80 percent or just climbing steadily, this is something to consider.
2. Comparison with other Blog’s in your Niche
Even if the blog isn’t in your niche, just look at some of the more successful blogs out there. Most of them have superb designs.
A few possible example to consider:
If you don’t feel like your blog stacks up, don’t worry about overhauling everything, but just take one thing at a time and you can even use sites like these as loose templates for making changes.
For example, spend a day or two working on the header, then a day or two working on the content body and move through each segment of your page at that pace.
Don’t try to tackle it all at once.
3. Your own Standard
One of the best litmus tests for your blog’s design is you.
Do you think it looks good? Would you be impressed with the design if you were the reader and not the editor of your blog?
Keep in mind that since you look at it often, it’s going to seem more tired and droll to you.
However that still doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to tell what actually needs improvement. Go through it with an eye for aesthetics and make a list of what you think needs work.
4. Modern Web Trends
Web design trends have a lot to say about what constitutes an attractive or updated web page. There are also plenty of resources that detail the latest in web design trends. A quick overview for 2014 would include the following:
Large Readable Text
These are just a few of the highlights, so take the time to read up on the latest web trends and get familiar with them before making an assessment of your own site.
5. Distracting or Complementary?
A good way to measure the quality of a site’s design is whether or not a given design element (a header, footer, sidebar item or design quality like color, font, etc.) is distracting and taking attention away from the content or complimentary, making it easier and more pleasing to absorb the content on your page.
For example, flashy banners and bright colors distract from content. It makes it hard to absorb what a reader is actually there for.
On the other hand, soft colors and larger fonts make the consumption of the information you’re providing a more enjoyable experience.
Take the design qualities of your page and run them through this test. Anything that’s more distracting than complimentary should be subject to change and revision.
Making it your Own
Keep in mind that editing a blog template and making it your own takes a lot of time. It doesn’t happen overnight and to be honest, the job is never truly done.
Just look at how Facebook has changed over the years.
That means that in addition to being a blogger, you need to be at least somewhat of a web designer, even if it’s just enough to keep your page current with the basic updates.