Bloggers often get overexcited with the design of their blog and neglect the importance of having a website that works like a well-oiled machine. A successful blog is one that functions fluidly and provides easy access to information for its readers. Content and aesthetic beauty don’t matter if a website is slow and difficult to navigate. Readers won’t stick around; they’ll likely head to a site that understands their needs. So, how do you create a blog that works seamlessly and delivers excellent user experience?
1. Technical UX
The speed of your website is paramount. Even a slight delay in the loading time of your blog can significantly reduce traffic to your site. According to research, 47% of readers expect a website to load in less than three seconds, and a total of 40% of visitors will abandon your site if it takes longer than that.
When setting up your blog, take care in choosing a web hosting provider who will serve your website quickly. Reduce HTTP requests by merging multiple styles onto one sheet, compressing large files and placing scripts at the bottom of the page. Allowing browser caching will also improve the speed of your site by eliminating the need to download all information every time a reader visits the site.
Having an insecure website is also something which can affect your user experience–trust is an important element of design, especially if you’re selling online. Use Zoho BugTracker to track and fix bugs on your site and opt for a reliable hosting provider like Hostinger that will provide SSL protection for your website.
Learn more: Performance Matters: Optimizing Page Load on Tuts+
2. Human-Centered UX
To deliver good user experience you must understand your target audience and how they operate. Research the age and interests of your target audience before you sit down and start designing your blog. Establish your user flow with Google Analytics’ heat maps and funnels. It’s important to understand the way your users are navigating your website to create a personalized user experience for your visitors.
Don’t forget about accessibility. Your blog’s design should respond to your visitors’ goals by allowing them to move effortlessly from one part to the next, and that includes visitors with accessibility issues. Take a look at these tutorials and start thinking about accessibility today!
As we do most of our browsing and reading on mobile devices, ensure your design is browser and device agnostic. You can never be sure of the precise circumstances through which your website is being accessed, so make yours a responsive website.
Concentrate on the colors you use; you may find you increase engagement by dedicating a single color for CTAs.
And if you’re after inspiration, Land-Book is a great source for that.
3. Provide Value
Your blog must bring value to your visitors’ lives. Your readers will want you to solve a problem for them, therefore it’s important not to rush your content. Invest time in creating content that will be relevant and exciting long term.
Be open–avoid telling your readers solely about your successes, show them your failures too. Be honest with your stats, share personal stories in your posts and write case studies on your achievements and failures. Relatable content is the key to increasing your readership.
Being there for your community is also important to boost the value of your blog. Share your content on different channels and provide content that’s easy to digest. Social media is great for empowering your readers and providing support. Preaching values to your readers whilst being absent in your comment sections and social media is damaging. Use Buffer to manage all your social media activity in once place. Let your readers know that their questions and worries are known to you by replying to comments. Use analytical tools like Google Analytics to track your users and to identify problems with your blog.
4. Create an Experience Funnel
Invest time and effort in taking your reader on a journey of discovery. It’s unlikely that your visitors will go from discovering your blog to instantly falling in love with it. You must master the art of seduction to reel your readers in and convince them to stay and read your articles. The golden rule of baiting is to ensure you have a great headline for your story. Use Headline Analyzer to evaluate your potential headlines. In the age of content fatigue, your headline is the most important part of your article as it will be the deciding factor as to whether or not your readers will stick around to read the whole thing.
Reader bounce is the term used to describe visitors that land on your article but do not venture out to read anything else on your blog. Tools like Google Analytics are excellent for measuring your bounce rate, but they will not give you insights into why this is happening. The lines are fuzzy here; it could feasibly happen because of both poor and excellent user experience! Your visitor might have quickly located the information they needed and therefore “bounced”, or they they may equally have found it difficult to navigate your site.
To reduce user bounce, ensure that you are optimizing the right keywords for search engines and your headline tags accurately represent the content of your article. The reader will click away if your article does not answer their query, making them less likely to trust your site the next time they are searching for answers. Your readers are in a hurry, so make your articles are skimmable by writing short paragraphs and use subheadings to guide them to the answers they are after. Suggest related content by either linking it below or within your content by hyperlinking phrases to allow easy navigation to related content.
Ensure you are producing high-quality content to boost instant gratification for your readers. It’s useless to create content that will leave no impression on your reader, so carefully plan how you will deliver valuable information in a manner that will help your readers.
Use Canva to create informative infographics and Haiku Deck to create beautiful presentations. Don’t overcrowd your articles with multiple ideas; your readers are already struggling with the amount of information out there. Take one idea at a time, develop it and watch your readership grow. Create added value for your readers by listening to their concerns and providing them with free resources to take away with them. Take a step back and look at your blog from your reader’s perspective and create content that they would like to see. Knowing what your readers want will help you build loyalty and expand your business opportunities.
5. Make it Sticky and Unforgettable
Fruitful and informative content, glazed with emotional triggers will help you hook and retain readership. We are curious creatures, always looking for answers to satisfy our thirst, so creating content which tickles our natural need to know is a stepping stone for building a great blog. Implementing emotional triggers in your articles is easier and more efficient than you may think and a great way to create habit-forming hooks. Making slight changes to how you word your headlines, such as starting with a “How to”, is an excellent way to trigger curiosity.
Your headlines should challenge what your readers might already know, for them to be itching to find out more. Use Content Idea Generator for interesting ideas for your content strategy to go with your persuasive headlines.
We are emotional creatures, so connect with your audience by sharing mutual disappointments, joy, anger and surprise by creating content that will deliver those and entertain your readers. Opt for an efficient design of your blog where readers can easily find answers to their questions, and you will succeed in building a craving to come back for more.
Answer your readers’ questions by providing free, quality content like eBooks, cheat sheets and checklists they can take away with them. Use statistics to peak your reader’s interest and establish authority.
Allow subscription-free comments under your articles where readers can share their tips and advice without having to create a new account. Offer a voting system on your content, allowing readers to vote up the articles they found most useful. Ask for feedback through surveys using SurveyMonkey and grow your mailing list with FeedBurner. Use newsletters to address any issues you discover from the data collected with your survey. All these efforts will help you become a go-to source of information for your readers.
So, there is much more to building a blog than just selecting an attractive website template! The key to creating a platform your readers will love is to prioritize user experience. In an age where information is at our fingertips, it’s important to establish yourself as the go-to source for your readers. Blogs that are designed with user experience in mind succeed, and the ones that don’t, fail. So take the time to figure out your audience and their needs, avoid creating content that brings no value to your reader, and you will succeed in creating an unforgettable platform.