Nothing turns me off more than a disorganized blog. The amount of sites I come across that ultimately force me to close out of the browser within 30 seconds or less is astounding – sad reality but it’s a real issue to bring attention to. Don’t get me wrong it took me a solid year+ to get the kind of template I ultimately wanted to have, in terms of style aesthetic, but came very easily once I finally asked myself a very serious, yet common sense question, “What kind of blogs keep my attention?”
The answer: an organized one. From the design – including colors, font and template formatting – to the basic features to include within your site, creating the perfect platform for your content should be personalized to your style yet super simplistic to navigate. Essentially, it should be foolproof for anyone visiting your blog no matter how knowledgeable he or she is with the content you’re writing about – he/she should be able to find exactly what’s being searched for on your site without disruption or distraction.
In this week’s blogging tip, I want to focus on the basic features I personally find to be CRUCIAL for the ORGANIZATION & READERSHIP OF YOUR WEBSITE. No matter if you’re a fashion blogger, food blogger, e-shop owner etc, these must-have features will benefit your readership tremendously once applied.
The best part: most of what I’ll mention should be visible on the homepage. So right off the bat your visitors are engaged and interested in what your site has to offer rather than overwhelmed with disorganized information.
So here’s what you need to apply to give your blog’s homepage the boost it needs in the organization & readership department:
NAVIGATION BAR[E] ESSENTIALS
Fun play-on words right? But in all seriousness, your navigation bar is the best place to start with your organization. Every site should have a NAVIGATION BAR where the visitor can easily locate important pages that serve as the core of your website. This is where someone can locate information about you/your blog, where to find your recent posts, how to contact you, etc. If you’re just starting out, here are the must-have pages to list on your navigation bar:
The page where you talk about yourself, why you started your blog, your blog’s mission, etc. Sometimes linking a photo on your sidebar of yourself to your written ABOUT page helps to drive readership and longer user-time numbers according to Google Analytics.
I personally don’t have an ABOUT photo but I do have a mini blurb about my blog’s focus with a clickable link to my ABOUT page in the sidebar, positioned as the first widget in the column.
The most popular categories of your blog – essentially what it’s all about. This allows for you/your readers to locate the exact topic or category wished to be explored.
You can see I’ve made Personal Style and Lifestyle my main two categories on my navigation bar. This is because my blog covers a mix of both fashion and every day topics, like blogging tips, and the separation allows for someone to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for without digging through every category I post about.
Where you can be emailed by a potential brand looking to collaborate with you or someone inquiring your advice/help.
I’ve developed a “contact form” so anyone visiting – brand, reader or blogger – can reach out to me. I never want to discourage anyone from reaching out and I love receiving emails from my readers seeking advice – it makes me feel like my blog is approachable and friendly, which it is :] However, hoping these blogging tips will cover the inquiries I get daily – which I love! but sadly don’t always have time to answer in a timely manner.
Over time as your blog becomes more developed, you can add pages to your navigation bar that specify more in-detail information about your blog. For instance, I added several pages as “dropdowns” to maintain the simplicity of my site’s navigation yet locating them wouldn’t be too difficult of a process if someone was to “hover” over the important core pages listed above:
- MEET THE BLOGGER
Each of these pages should link to the areas of your website with the corresponding information you’ve developed while designing your site. It’s essential for every visitor to be treated like they have NO IDEA how to navigate a website other than using common sense. So if you make finding what they’re looking for simple, the level of readership will rise with the ease of use rather than fall with frustration of not being able to locate anything.
That’s a given – you should 100% create a specified social media account for every popular platform to share your content to. In my opinion, every blogger should create a Facebook page, Bloglovin’/Pinterest username, and Instagram/Twitter handle for their site (NO PERSONAL ACCOUNTS) that can be clicked and directed on the homepage of their blog. If you see on my navigation bar, I found a template that has my social media located at the very top of my site that can be clicked and directed to my exact account to be followed.
You can also strategize your social following techniques by incorporating your social media within your blog’s template (in-between posts or in the sidebar/footer sections) and/or at the end of each individual blog post you publish.
Definitely incorporate a physical “search” bar in your site’s layout. This feature allows someone to type in key words that are located in specific posts you publish, in case they can’t remember the title of the post or if the post itself was published a long time ago.
My site has the search bar located on the top of my site, above the navigation bar. However if your site’s template does not easily allow for that or rather than paying your site developer to create that feature, you can easily add a “search widget” to your sidebar that delivers the same effect. Just be sure to place it on the higher end of the sidebar totem pole, so it can easily be located.
I was late to the party incorporating this feature to my site, and was a fool to delay it until now seeing how beneficial it has been to my readership. Having an email signup feature allows for readers to stay up-to-date with your weekly posts and visit your site more frequently. Placing your newsletter is up to you but I find making it as visible as possible to be most effective. The trick is not making it a huge annoyance – which is slightly hard, but can be somewhat done.
Utilizing the ‘pop-up ad’ of my newsletter, I can have it appear on my site’s homepage with every visit – that is, until the reader signs up. Once they do, the computer will remember and not bother them each time they visit my site (from the same computer originally accessed) so that’s somewhat of a plus. I’ve also had it positioned to appear on the bottom-right side of my blog, that appears once 25% of my website is scrolled through – a great feature available through Mailchimp.
You can also add a plugin to your sidebar that connects your email subscription platform to your site. In my case since I use Mailchimp, I’ve uploaded & activated the plugin “Sidebar Mailchimp Form” that has an email signup form available on my sidebar, in case the pop-up doesn’t do the trick.
The final trick you can do to get people to sign up is by “embedding” your newsletter signup within your posts (as you can see below.)
HOPE THESE BASIC FEATURES HELP! BE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER SO YOU NEVER MISS ANOTHER BLOGGING TIP ;]