Blogging is an essential marketing tool. Companies that post at least 15 blogs entries a month generate five times more web traffic than those that don't, according to HubSpot. Companies that blog are also 13 times more likely to see a positive return on investment from their marketing efforts.
To enjoy these benefits of blogging, it's essential your blog has a visually compelling design that catches visitors' eyes. Here are four tips for designing an eye-catching blog.
Focus Your Layout on Graphics
Since 2014, the percentage of individuals accessing the Internet from mobile devices has surpassed the number using desktops. This means most of your readers will be viewing your content on a small screen, making large-scale visual elements critical for attracting visitors' attention. Given this, experts recommend relying more heavily on images than on text to grab people's attention.
Today's successful blog designers use image-oriented layouts with lots of white space and minimal text to appeal to the eyes of mobile users. Use simplified navigational elements, relying on icons or large text and avoiding sidebars, which Conversion XL shows few visitors use. Website visitors spend more than 80 percent of their time reading “above the fold,” according to the Nielsen Norman Group, so place your most important graphics near the top of the page.
An example of a site applying these principles is Amway's blog, which uses a clean layout with large images to highlight blog posts. Many mobile templates incorporate these principles, providing you with proven layouts you can build upon.
Use Images Strategically
Since images play such a decisive role, it's important to use them strategically. Advertising legend David Ogilvy tested image effectiveness and found that clumsy use of images can actually have a negative effect. The most effective images either tell a story or demonstrate a product, Ogilvy found, whereas irrelevant images can confuse or annoy readers. Stock photos that look generic can turn off readers, so use original photos when possible. Additionally, avoid low-quality images, crowd shots that lack a single focus or larger-than-life close-ups.
Where you place your images in relationship to text is also important. Ogilvy discovered that when images are placed above headlines, the headlines are read 10 percent more often. Image captions are read 300 percent more than body copy, so be sure to include captions with any images that appear in the body of your text. Don't place images on the left margin, which breaks readers' visual flow.
Keep Your Text Readable
How you lay out your text also has an impact on whether you keep your readers' attention. It's important to understand text can be hard to read on screen and that readers skim text rather than reading every word, says Successful Blogging owner Sue Anne Dunlevie. Dunlevie recommends using strategic formatting to hold readers' visual attention.
Keep your column width within 80 characters to allow ample white space around your margins. Use headers, subheaders, and lists to break up long text. Use large font, short paragraphs, and short sentences to keep your text easy to read. Bold certain elements to highlight key statements, but don't use italics because it's hard to read on screen. Use a dark font color that contrasts with your background color.
Highlight Essential Information
Eye-tracking studies indicate the weight of your design's composition places on visual elements has a significant impact on what parts of your page draw visitors' eyes and clicks, says Help Scout. This makes it important not to draw too much visual attention to items that don't steer your visitor toward your call to action. For instance, babies eyes and women's eyes draw visitor attention, but this can distract your visitor from your text.
The eyes of models in your photos should direct your visitors where you want them to look. For instance, depicting a baby looking at text you want visitors to read will be more effective than having the baby facing visitors. Make sure your layout draws the eyes of visitors where you want them to look.