A compelling blog layout attracts and engages visitors. The key to creating a successful blog layout is twofold: understanding the medium and how readers consume blog posts.
A Blog Isn’t a Book
Reading content on a screen, whether on a PC, laptop, or mobile device, is different from reading a printed page. We scroll, swipe, click, enlarge, and scan on devices. With books, we turn the page. Understanding this is key to building a layout that fits readers’ needs.
People Don’t Read Every Post They Open
They scan them for information, and if what they’re looking for isn’t easy to find—they leave. It’s more than that; readers must be encouraged and compelled to read further. Layout is one of the blogging tools to achieve this.
9 Steps to Creating a Compelling Blog Layout
Think of Your Readers First
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that your blog is about you. It isn’t. It’s about your readers. Without readers, what good is your blog? Good question, isn’t it? Here are a few ways to put your readers first.
2. Use a neutral background
Your best bet is to stick with white. Have you opened a post to find white print on a black background or a busy image behind the print? Did you jump out before reading it? Keep it clean and simple. Remember, easy to read trumps design here.
3. Use a highly readable font
Stay with simple, unadorned fonts such as Arial, Tahoma, Sans Serif, Verdana, or Lucinda Sans. Use italics sparingly. It’s the same for ALL CAPS. Bold copy can be compelling but should be balanced. Depending on the font, an 11 to 12 size works well.
4. Keep paragraphs short
I recommend limiting paragraphs to five or six sentences at most. If it’s longer than six sentences, break it up. “Good paragraphs discuss one single well-defined aspect of the topic at hand. They start with a core sentence and generally shouldn’t exceed 200 words.” — Yoast — Paragraph length check: Why and how to write shorter paragraphs
5. Use subheads
An appropriately used subhead can entice visitors to read further. A compelling subhead can keep a visitor on your blog by helping them find the information they’re looking for. A good rule is to go at most 200 words between subheads.
6. Control your sentences
Long run-on sentences can be tedious, confusing, and challenging to read. You will scare people away if more than 20% of your sentences are 20 words or longer.
7. Develop lists
Bullet points, numbered lists, or sentences with a bold introduction will make your content easier to digest.
8. Leave some white space
Overrunning the senses with too much copy and not enough space detracts from the content, making it harder to concentrate.
9. Use good images
My friend Carol Stephens, a master of using images in her posts, shares this advice, “If you’ve written something without any images, add an image or two. Or use a different featured image. Since we’re all visual creatures, sometimes the image is more important than the words, unfortunately. And a positive image can change the feel of a piece of content.” — How to Cure Writer’s Block: Ten Best Ways.
Here’s an excellent guide for adding images to your blog post. Neil Patel — 11 Best Practices for Including Images in Your Blog Posts
Don’t Make This Complicated Than It Is
By putting some thought into your blog’s initial layout, you simplify the publication of future posts. Once you’ve established the design, stay with it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every post, nor do you want to.
How Can I Help You?
Let me know if I can offer any help or advice. If this post struck a nerve, you should check out my book, How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever. The book contains action plans to create a blogging/writing system that works for you.
If you enjoyed this you might also like, What Makes a Blog Attractive to Readers?