Blog design is more than looks. Your readers will judge your blog not only on its aesthetics but also how it functions. If they have a hard time using it, they probably won’t be coming back. That’s why it’s important for all bloggers to pay attention to the design of their blogs. This means going beyond pure looks. A pretty blog might look nice, but that doesn’t mean it will give your visitors a good experience. It’s time to take a good hard look at function. As the web design & development sphere has evolved and changed two new aspects of design have taken prominence: user interface (UI) design and user experience design (UX). Together these two aspects determine how easy (or not) it is for your visitors to use your blog as well as how it’s designed. This all might seem crazy and overwhelming, but it’s very important to keeping visitors around and coming back to your blog.
User Interface (UI)
Basically, UI is how your blog looks. It’s how your forms are laid out, the colors of your buttons, and the placement of your menus. UI impacts every part of your blog that your users, or in your case readers or visitors, will use or interact with. Ideally these parts of your blog will be intuitive and easy for your visitors to use while at the same time being stylish and good-looking.
User Experience (UX)
UX is the experience the readers or visitors you have on your blog receive. This includes things like, is it easy for them to find what they are looking for? Are there any elements that confuse them? Do they know how to navigate your site? Is your site easy to use on all devices? The easier it is for your readers to use your site the more likely they are to come back. Have you ever experienced a site where you got so frustrated you couldn’t find what you were looking for you just left? That’s what bad user experience is. UX doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how pretty a blog is. If your visitors can’t read the text, or are confused by the layout or can’t search for a certain article they may become frustrated and leave.
The key to having a blog that delivers a great experience for your readers is having a design that balances the look and feel of your brand with the interaction experience your readers have. You want a site that looks good, that encompasses your brand and looks professional, while at the same time makes it easy and intuitive for your readers to navigate your site. You shouldn’t need to explain to readers how to find your contact information or how to fill out that form, it should easily guide readers and visitors to accomplish these goals.
How do you tell if your blog’s user experience needs improvement?
High Bounce Rate
Is your bounce rate high? While many factors can impact your bounce rate, the user experience of your blog is one of them. If your blog is hard to read because the text is too small, or the font too hard to read, or the font color is too light your readers may be leaving and contributing to your high bounce rate.
You can get this through polling your readers, or using a user testing service like UserTesting.com. User Testing services will show your site to anonymous people on the internet who will then give you feedback on your site. They will tell you what they like about it, what’s confusing and what’s frustrating. It’s a great way to get honest feedback on how your site is doing.
If you don’t want to use a service like that you can always enlist the aid of your friends and family to test your blog for you. Ask them to visit your blog and tell you what they found frustrating or confusing or difficult. Your readers also may contact you directly if they encounter issues on your site, however you can’t always rely on this as many will simply leave never alerting to you to any issues they face.
This is why you should always check your site yourself, so you can be alert to any possible issues your readers might encounter. If possible you should check it on as many devices as you can get your hands on. While you are self evaluating your blog consider the following questions:
- Is your blog easy to read?
- Is the content text easy to read?
- Are the titles easy to read?
- Are menus and widget areas easy to read?
- Can you navigate easily?
- Can you find the information you are looking for? (Is there a search function? Does the search function work?)
- Are there any annoying distractions (like pop-up ads, auto-playing videos or music, etc)?
- Does everything function like it should? (ex: Can you click links? Is your menu responsive? Does the menu work in mobile?)
- Does it load quickly?
- On mobile & tablets: Does it require pinching, zooming or anything else on your part in order to see the entire site or access content?
- On mobile: Does it use Flash or any other unsupported technology that requires you to download a plugin?
- Are your ads hijacking your users?
- Can you leave comments, fill in forms on desktop, mobile and tablet?
- Does anything look or function “weird”? (Images look stretched or out of proportion, images not loading or being too large, etc)
If you encounter anything while using your blog that annoys you, chances are it will also annoy your readers! That’s the last thing you want to do, right? Self-checking will help you discover and address any issues your visitors might face. Once you have discovered problems you can start finding ways to fix them. Maybe that means editing a menu, or adding a search function. Or maybe it means you need to install a cache plugin to help speed your site up. By addressing the user experience of your readers you can encourage them to focus on your blog’s content, not issues related to using your site.