Optimal Blog Design: 11 Elements and Examples of Blog Layouts and Designs

Optimal Blog Design: 11 Elements and Examples of Blog Layouts and Designs

A simple guide to blog design and inspiration Are you trying to create the perfect blog design? The more comments you receive, the more text you’ll have on each page. I did a test on 13 blogs, and I found that by increasing font size from 8 to 9, I was able to increase the time readers spend on site by 13 seconds. Element #5: A sidebar on the right Have you noticed that some blogs have their sidebars on the left? Here’s what I learned… When you place your sidebar on the left-hand side, you will get more email opt-ins, and more people will read your bio and do whatever else you promote through your sidebar. Because it increased the number of blog post reads by 9%. You’ll also notice that by offering a free e-book or a course, you’ll get a good number of email subscribers. Some colors make it easy for your readers to read your content, while others don’t. Element #11: Images Have you noticed that I place an image at the beginning of every blog post? Those two simple changes will increase your social media traffic and search traffic in the long run.

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A simple guide to blog design and inspiration

design

Are you trying to create the perfect blog design?

You know, one that encourages people to read your content and share it on the social web and, most importantly, gets high rankings in the search engines?

If you are trying to create a popular blog, here are the 11 essential elements (and examples of each) that you need within your blog design.

Element #1: Threaded comments

There are a lot of commenting systems out there. From Disqus to Facebook comments, the options are endless. But do you know what the best commenting system is?

Threaded comments like this.

Threaded Comments

“Why?” you may ask. Because threaded comments will typically increase the number of comments you receive per post by 16% to 33%. The more comments you receive, the more text you’ll have on each page. And the more text you have on each page, the more long tail keywords you will rank for.

Stick with threaded comments no matter what. Even if you have an active Facebook community, don’t use Facebook comments. Facebook owns that content, and it won’t help you get more search engine traffic.

Element #2: Snippets

Have you noticed that I don’t list the full post on the Quick Sprout’s blog homepage? I only show you a few paragraphs (a snippet), which prompts you to respond to the call to action “click to continue” to read the rest of the post.

You want to have snippets instead of full posts because of two main reasons:

  1. People have short attention spans – you have an attention span of 8 seconds, and so do your readers. By only showing them snippets, you allow your readers to choose from a number of posts. They will scroll until they find a post that piques their interest, and then they’ll read it.
  2. Duplicate content – if you place your full post on your homepage, you will create duplicate content, which will hurt your search rankings. This is another reason why you want to use snippets.

On your homepage, you can test the call-to-action text to find out which version maximizes the number of people clicking through and reading your post. I’ve tested the phrases:

  • Continue reading
  • Read more
  • Click to continue
  • Continue

The text “click to continue” outperformed the other variations by at least 10%. You should, of course, test this as what works on my blog may not work on yours.

For example, I noticed that GotchSEO uses “Continue Reading” on is blog and I would bet that he has tested many alternatives to find what performed best for him.

Snippets

Element #3: Scrolling social buttons

I’ve tested a lot of social buttons on Quick Sprout. I have had buttons at the beginning of the posts and at the end, and I have asked people to tweet about a post from within the blog post. The one design that continually outperforms the others is scrolling social buttons.

Plugins like Sharebar and Flare have increased my social traffic by 27%.

Backlinko uses a nice share bar that is clean and scrolls nicely for an example.

Social Buttons

When using a scrolling social plugin, make sure you limit the number of options to three. In other words, pick the three most popular social networks your readers are using. For me, it’s Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

If you add too many options, in my experience, it will decrease your social traffic.

Element #4: 11-point font size or larger

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post on how text size affects readability.

I did a test on 13 blogs, and I found that by increasing font size from 8 to 9, I was able to increase the time readers spend on site by 13 seconds. I saw another 8-second increase when I went to size 10. And I gained another 6 seconds by going to font size 11.

I have noticed that the Smart Passive Income Blog uses some nice large fonts in their headings and content. Check them out for another example I like.

Large Font Size

Granted, this only works if you are using a readable font type like Arial or Times. If your font type is hard to read, increasing the size won’t help much.

When in doubt, use a bigger font size.

Element #5: A sidebar on the right

Have you noticed that some blogs have their sidebars on the left? Or even worse, some have two sidebars? I’ve played around with different layout types, and I’ve found that the optimal layout is to have your content on the left side and one sidebar on the right side.

This way people can focus on reading your content, yet you’ll have the flexibility of promoting other things within your sidebar. Just make sure the main content area takes up at least 60% of your design. People come to blogs to read, so you don’t want to distract them with other elements.

If you want to place your sidebar on the left-hand side, you can. But what I’ve found is that it typically decreases the number of people who read your content by 15% to 25%.

I prefer the look of a blog where a sidebar is on the right side, but it tends to…

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