Although I’ve always been a huge supporter of the phrase “content is king”, I still very much agree with everything the importance of creating (and maintaining!) a sleek and professional overall appearance for you blogs layout and design.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest nor best web designer in the world – in fact I’ve built up a small pool of knowledge around HTML and CSS coding from previous websites and used that to alter themes that have already been pre-built.
Refreshing your blog regularly can be a great way to ensure that your design is up to date, but there are also a number of hacks that you can use today to instantly give your blog a makeover.
Here are four steps that I always start with when refreshing my blog, and how it doesn’t have to be a huge task to give your website a spruce!
#1 | Declutter your sidebar
By far one of the most satisfying to sort through is the sidebar that aligns your blogs main content with snippets of information. Typically, a sidebar would contain the following items:
- About you
- Contact you
- Social media profiles/widgets
- Search box
- Offers for your courses/eBooks/services
Of course, if your blog doesn’t sell eBooks it wot have an option for this, but you any want to replaced it with a widget where your readers can find a bit more information about the type of blog that they’re following.
Yes – the sidebar of your blog should be a way to provide your audience with short, snappy snippet, but it’s very common to neglect the sidebar and find yourself stuck with a column that spans the entire length of your website with outdated and useless content. Congratulations to you if you won a blogging award in 2011, but does it really need to have a spot in your sidebar? Consider moving items like this to a Featured In page, where your readers can view and acknowledge your award, without it being thrown in their face.
Personally, I go by the rule of getting rid if I haven’t used it personally in over 2 months, or doesn’t make a difference to my blog/readers. I also really like to add a lot of spacing between gadgets to make it look as clean as possible & also use a similar colour scheme to tie in with the rest of my design.
#2 | Update your photo
A professional header image is hugely powerful in the way that it allows your audience to know the person behind the website. I love being able to click on a site and be able to see the person behind the blog straight away; it feels much more personal.
Research has shown that the best profile photo includes a head-and-shoulders stance, unobstructed eyes and a smile showing teeth. Although this can be altered depending on the nature of your blog. Does your website talk about the funny side of a certain topic? If so, you may be able to get away with a more cheerful image.
I’d also recommend using a clear photo that’s not too small to see properly, and ditching the iPhone selfie in favour of a more professional head-shot. This can help people believe that you actually have some credibility.
#3 | Change your fonts
Fonts make such a massive difference when it comes to the design and accessibility of a blog, and briefly changing the fonts that you use on your blog or website can give it an instant refresh.
Stick to easy-to-read fonts like Arial, Georgia or Calibri in the main body of your text, then leave the fancy fonts to titles and headings. Keeping to two/three different fonts will also help to make your design look uniform and less sporadic.
Although it may not be the simplest of tasks as fonts can play a huge part in the branding of your website, changing the font to a similar alternative can help to keep items like graphics consistent throughout your blog.
#4 | Revisit your pages
Another great way to refresh your blog is to revisit the pages you use, and the pages that visitors to your blog use when they visit your website. Your About page could be a great way to start.
About pages amongst one of the most-visited pages on any given website. It’s where a new reader will head to find out more information around the blog they’re reading, and where an existing visitor may visit to get a rough idea on who is writing the content that they love. Kory has shared some great tips on her blog that allow you to create a great About page, which is definitely worth reading!
You may also want to take a look at other pages on your site, such as a Contact page. It’s not uncommon for me to see bloggers changing their email address and forgetting to update this part of their website, which means that they’re likely to be missing out on emails from prospective customers and/or other enquiries.