85% of shoppers place color as the primary reason for why they buy a particular product. Kissmetrics
Design is an important part of business. Your products, your logo, your website – everything involved with your business is impacted by design.
The design of your business blog is important as well.
Here are 10 design tips for your business blog.
Business Blog Design
1) Consistent Branding
Something your business blog should do is incorporate its own branding while maintaining a consistency with your business.
The best way to incorporate a blog into your business is to have it hosted on the same domain as your business website. An example of this is http://yourbusiness.com/blog. This setup will allow your blog to bring authority to your business website. As the blog gains authority for posts, the overall domain will gain authority as well.
Since your blog will be part of your business website you’ll want to make the blog part of your website. When users click on the blog you’ll want them to feel like they’re still on part of your website while also realizing they’re in a blog setting. The home page of a blog usually has excerpts from posts, a sidebar, and a footer with elements like popular posts, recent posts, etc.
2) Legible Width
An important part of blogging is understanding how the eye reads. Extremely wide columns make it difficult to read content. This is why newspapers often cut wide sections of the paper into skinny columns – it’s easier for people to read. When planning your blog make sure the actual column for copy is not too wide. Use space on the sidebars for things like sharing icons, popular posts, etc rather than extending the copy all the way across the page.
3) Sharing Options
A big part of blogging is the ability for readers to share posts. Natural traffic, direct traffic, and referral traffic are the three important sources of traffic for your blog. Referrals will come from readers sharing your posts with their networks. Offering readers the ability to share posts is key to reminding them that it’s easy to share. Through effective design it’s possible to position multiple sharing buttons on a blog post page. The top, bottom, and side of the post are obvious places for sharing buttons. Work with your designer to make sure the buttons stand out enough to be noticeable, but not obnoxiously. It’s a careful balance that professional designers will know how to effectively lay out.
4) Sidebar Simplicity
If you’ve spent some time reading blogs you’ve probably noticed that blog sidebars have a tendency to get overcrowded. Simplicity is key when it comes to sidebars. A general rule is to take something away each time you add something. For a business blog a good sidebar could include links to top posts, recent posts, social icons, etc. Keep these to a minimum and remember that less is more for sidebars. Let readers focus on the posts.
5) Effective Footer
The footer is a great place for some information that can be tailored to search engines. Footers are a great place for some content about your business. You can include your business’s contact information. It’s good to have some links to your top post. Having these links on a universal footer will allow search engines to know these posts are important.
6) Consistent Headings
Search engines use heading tags to understand what is most important on a page. Say for example your blog post is about Gray Birds. You’ll want to have an intro to the post followed by the main section on Gray Birds with the term Gray Birds in the most important heading tag <H1>. The design of your headings tags <H1>, <H2>, etc. should follow a hierarchy where <H1> is the most significant followed by the rest.
7) Noticeable Hyperlinks
Within your blog posts you should contain hyperlinks. These links are things likes sources to information you’re writing about as well as related information. You should link to content both on and off your site. You’ll want the hyperlinks to stand out enough to be noticeable for readers. Something that would not be good is to have the same color links as regular content. A different color is usually good enough while links also typically underline when hovered over with the cursor. Some blogs will underline links always. People are trained at this point to want to click text that is underlined.
8) Interactive Comments
This design tip goes for most blogs. Interactive comments mean having a blog structure that allows for a difference between comments by readers and author. A simple shade change can make a big difference for comments. Readers love when authors reply to comments. When passersby scan an article and see a different shaded comment they’ll often stop and read the conversation the readers are having with the author.
9) Appealing Image Use
I’m a big believer in using images within blog posts. Screenshots, infographics, logos, designs, art, or great imagery from sites like Flickr Creative Commons add zest to a blog and make it more interactive and enjoyable for readers. A great blog design will add a little extra border to an image while also adding padding where necessary so images don’t butt up against content.
10) Custom vs. Free Template
This is an important question for any business. It’s entirely possible to start a business blog with a free template. I’ve created blogs with free templates before. I’ve also taken free templates and reworked them to have a little customization. I’ve also purchased themes and re-worked them. I’ve also worked with blogs that were entirely designed by a professional. It’s up to each individual business to determine what route is best for you and your business. To entirely set your blog apart from anything on the web you’ll want to have a professional web designer create a completely custom design. This way you’ll also have the most control over elements like sidebar, sharing buttons, etc.