Bloggers can spend a lot of time working diligently on their content, only to let themselves down with simple blog design mistakes they could (and should) be avoiding.
Your content could be first rate, but if your overall blog design makes it tedious or difficult to read then your readers may well flee (or ‘bounce’) before reading even a single sentence.
And get this: did you know that people’s attention spans today are now shorter than that of the average ill-focused goldfish?
It’s true! According to a 2015 study from Microsoft, people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds (down from twelve seconds in the year 2000; goldfish hang in there for nine seconds.)
The lesson is clear: readability, scalability, and general overall clarity are of paramount importance if you want to retain a decent number of visitors to your blog.
So what are the major blog design mistakes that bloggers should be avoiding?
9 Blog Design Mistakes to Avoid
1. The ‘Wall of Text’
People these days (particularly on mobile devices) tend to scan text rather than reading top to bottom as they would while reading a book.
Their eyes jump around the screen glancing at images, headings, and key phrases.
In view of this the usual advice from experienced bloggers is to keep your paragraphs to a maximum of two or three sentences to make your text look more inviting (and less intimidating.)
Single sentence paragraphs, in fact, are increasingly becoming much more common (this one for example!)
Shorter paragraphs are even more important on mobile, as people tend to find reading more stressful on a small screen.
So avoid making one of the common blog design mistakes of The Wall of Text!
Did you know that people's attention spans today are now shorter than that of the average ill-focused goldfish? - Here are 9 blog design mistakes to avoid...Click To Tweet
2. Not Optimized For Mobile
With an ever-increasing percentage of your readers using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, you want to ensure that your blog is optimized to look great as well as run fast on them.
As you can see from this Google Analytics snapshot just over half of my traffic is mobile or tablet, while other bloggers report numbers up to 70% of their traffic on those devices.
The percentage using mobile is only forecast to increase in the next few years, with the numbers using the internet likely increasing from around 3.5 billion to close to 7 billion.
On my own blog I use (and recommend) the StudioPress ‘Genesis Framework‘ which is very popular with bloggers and is well optimized for mobile.
With so many of your readers using mobile devices, you’ll want to continually be confirming that your speed and readability is excellent on them.
You can use Pingdom.com to test your website’s speed.
If you’re using Pinterest make sure that your pins are easily readable (a common error – many aren’t!)
Best to stick with large, easily readable fonts (use script sparingly) and bright colors for graphics.
On mobile, you only have a few seconds at most for your pin to make an impression so it needs to stand out.
3. Choosing an Inferior Hosting Service
If monetizing your blog either now or sometime in the future is your aim, you should definitely ensure that you’re self-hosted, as opposed to going with a free website.
The primary reasons for this are that you want your blog to be flexible enough to be able to evolve along with your changing blogging needs, and you also want your blog to be taken seriously – by both search engines and readers.
One obvious method of finding a good hosting service, of course, is to simply Google reviews on the topic, but you should be careful whose advice you take when you do so.
The reason for this is that some inferior hosting companies are offering substantial affiliate fees to encourage bloggers to write glowing reviews about them, so be warned!
One company, in particular, BlueHost, has become rather notorious in this regard, with even some prominent bloggers regularly praising them on their blogs (with prominent affiliate links to BlueHost of course.)
Regular complaints about poor service and site speeds “slow as molasses” tell a different story, however.
My own personal choice for my latest website (after much research and advice from more experienced bloggers) was SiteGround. Thus far I’ve only had excellent service and great loading speeds with them.
4. Not Including Images
Omitting images from your blog is one of the blog design mistakes that seems to be becoming less common, as bloggers continue to get feedback from their viewers that they want and expect some form of visual media in a blog post.
Images in your blog posts help to:
- Break up the text
- Get a reader’s attention before reading the text
- Give the reader’s eyes a break
- Generate more engagement with readers
And if you’re not convinced, according to blogger Jeff Bullas posts with images get 94% more views than posts without!
Be sure to optimize your images as large images can slow down your loading speed. Smush is an excellent WordPress plugin for this, allowing you to automatically optimize your images without losing image quality.
You should be careful not to use copyrighted images as some bloggers have been sued for this in recent times, with lawsuits costing them many thousands of dollars. My current favorite site for public domain images is Pexels.com, with other popular sites being Flickr and Pixabay.
More on including images in your blog posts here.
5. Social Share Buttons Are Missing Or Invisible
If you want people to share your posts, the easier you make it for them the more likely they are to do so!
There are plenty of good social share plugins available – I personally use and recommend Social Warfare. Apart from looking nice and colorful, they also display a count of how many times a post has been shared to each site.
I’ve set Social Warfare to clearly display its buttons at the top and bottom of every post – you don’t want to have tiny ones or just hide them right down in the footer as I’ve seen on a few sites. The more obvious they are the more they’ll be used!
If you shell out $29 for Social Warfare Pro you can also get a Twitter count (not available with most free plugins) and features such as Twitter Cards, which allow you to make much better looking (and more clickable) tweets.
This is more than just a cosmetic feature – clicking anywhere on the picture, heading or text will take you to the post, whereas with a normal Tweet a reader has to hunt for an often difficult to find URL.
6. Lack of Whitespace
Whitespace sometimes referred to as negative space, is simply the absence of text or graphics within a blog or design.
The blank space doesn’t have to be white–it can be any color so long as it’s free of text or images.
The idea behind whitespace is to improve readability and the overall user experience by removing clutter and making your layout easier on the reader’s eyes.
Lots of whitespace on a page creates a cleaner, more sophisticated impression that helps to guide readers to the more important and interesting elements.
Sometimes, less is more.
7. Not Including Related Posts
There’s a good chance you’ll lose your reader once he or she reaches the end of your post and finds nothing of interest to click on.
This is where a good ‘related posts’ (or ‘recent posts’ as on InfoBunny) plugin can earn it’s keep, displaying a selection of relevant or interesting posts to tempt the reader into clicking on and reading a new post.
Such a plugin also helps with the ‘stickiness’ of your website, giving you longer average browsing times, more page views and a lower overall ‘bounce rate’.
So don’t make the blog design mistake of neglecting to put more new articles in front of your readers–install a related posts plugin and encourage them to stay a while longer instead.
8. Poor Spelling & Grammar
Not strictly a ‘blog design’ mistake but still a very important part of your actual blog, since nothing can turn a reader off faster than a post infested with spelling and grammar mistakes.
It’s also a simple matter of credibility – who’s going to trust or care about the opinion of someone who’s visibly demonstrating that they haven’t mastered the basics of the English language?
You’re also likely to cost yourself sponsored posts and other brand opportunities since PR and marketing people are very picky when it comes to writing. If your writing isn’t top-notch then they’ll probably just pass you over and you’ll never even know about it.
So once you’ve completed a post carefully review it one word at a time, and if you still find errors slipping through you can use programs like Grammarly to aid you, or consider hiring the services of an editor if your budget will stretch that far.
9. Insufficient Internal Linking
Internal links are simply hyperlinks that point to another page on a blog or website.
They’re great for SEO as well as improving the ranking power and page authority of your website, and help spread ‘link equity’ (ranking power) around the site.
Internal links also encourage readers to stay on your site longer browsing other posts that you’ve linked to. By directing readers to more important pages on your blog you also assist them in navigating your site.
You should visualize your website as a pyramid with the most important content at the top. Those articles are your cornerstone content. You want to have lots of links to that content from other related pages in the pyramid, which transfers link value to those more important pages.
You should also link from the top pages in the pyramid to lower pages with relevant content. This demonstrates to Google which pages contain content on similar topics.JOIN THE CONVERSATION - There is a great discussion going on over at Infobunny where we are talking Blog Design Mistakes - Come join us and connect with like-minded bloggers..Click To Tweet
What blog design mistakes did I leave out?
Let me know in the comments.