The first thing that attracts any visitor to your blog and keeps him engaged in your website is its design. There is no doubt to the fact that “Content is the King”. But at the same time, in order for your readers to stay at your blog, your blog’s design has to be reader friendly.
What is the definition of “reader friendly”? How can you make it reader friendly? I am sure these are normal questions, if you are new to blogging. Read on as I talk about essential elements in any design. At the same time, I would also recommend that you keep noting down things that you found attractive and user-friendly while you were browsing other websites.
Essentials of a website design
Almost all successful websites have these elements in them. This is one of the main reasons why these websites have so many readers. They are successful in keeping their visitors glued to their sites, thus pushing them to become permanent readers to their blogs.
- Appropriate Navigation – The biggest flaw that I find in quite a lot of website is inappropriate navigation options. Website do not have a “Home” navigation button and if you want to return to the homepage, you will have to keep clicking on the back button or, if the option exists, click on the LOGO to go back to the home page. The lack of appropriate navigation buttons on a website breaks the flow of a visitor, normally called as visitor journey. So one of the most essential aspects of any website design is to have a proper page navigation in the form of buttons.
- Faster Page Loading – This needs no explanation. I have browsed through to numerous websites which has a loading problem. These sites have almost everything in place yet the reader experience is destroyed because the pages take too much of time to load. I do not have the patience to wait until the page loads and would normally choose browse away. There are numerous ways to resolve slow page load problems especially if you are on WordPress. One such way is to cache old pages by using a plugin like hypercache.
- Search Option – Your site should have a search option which is an integral part of any website design. I might not want to browse through the hundreds of pages on your website to find that one thing that I am looking for. I would instead prefer to search for it and move away in case I do not find it. If the search option is unavailable, I might just choose to browse away. It is here that a search option comes in handy. Place it somewhere it is clearly visible.
- A Contact Form – Your visitors might need to contact you. There could be numerous reasons for it. Feedback, suggestions, ad requests etc. are just a few such reasons. You would not want your visitors to be searching all over your website to find an email address to contact you. The easiest way to facilitate this is by using a contact form on you blog. There are a lot of plugins that can do the job for you in WordPress. Since there are loads of customization features available, you can create any kind of form. What ever you create, just ensure that you have a “contact” tab in your navigation menu which could lead your visitors to the contact form.
- Bookmarking buttons – Social media is the order of the day. There are thousands of social media and bookmarking websites which help you get more exposure to your blog or, website. When networking is what is in vogue, why shouldn’t your website have bookmarking buttons. Every visitor coming to your blog will be associated with some or, the other social media service and would want to share what he saw and read on you blog, with his friends. Bookmarking buttons help them do this. Hence it is essential that you have bookmarking buttons prominently showing up in each and every posts in your blog.
- Link Management – There are a lot of websites out there where you find a link on some useful aspect and when you click on it, you find that it is either broken or, leads to some irrelevant site. It is important to manage your links properly. I recommend installing something like a “Broken Link Checker” which can find broken links and help you fix it. It is also important that you link to correct webpages. While linking is extremely important, ensuring that these are relevant links are also essential.
In addition to the above, there are quite a few other aspects, like categorization of pages, ensuring that there are no obstructing ads, proper color combination for your website etc. that are to be kept in mind while designing your website.
What are your views? Do you think there is anything else that you might have noticed on some website or, blogs that leads to a poor visitor experience? Then, let us know of these by adding your comments below.