Last weekend some of you may have noticed the change in my blog (See the pic below for a comparison). Let’s break down why I chose to do what I did and a few lessons you can take away to use on your blogs.
1. Personalize It
As you can see, my old blog was bland and boring. It was a slightly modified version of the Magazeen theme. Partly due to me not being sure how committed I was going to be on this blog. With good momentum, I felt like it was worth putting some more effort into the entire blog. Personalizing a blog layout is something any serious blogger needs to take on. Like me, I think it’s good to feel out the website and the traffic behind it initially. My personalization was simple to a specific effect because simple is how I like to do my sites these days. I brought in a pic of myself and my logo. I returned the rest of the site to reflect my simplicity. I ditched all the separation points and attempted to let the text talk and not so much the graphics.
2. Make elements easy to find
I wanted to make the site easier to navigate and understand. Sure the old theme had tons of fancy drop-down menus and pictures all over the place from each of the posts. The idea of this blog is simple now. So I ditched all the unnecessary pictures and brought it back to the basics, text. This is the easiest way to make use of the header HTML tags and build a little more SEO power. I also reorganized the sidebar by bringing the category listing and about me section up. There was plenty of unused real estate up top to take advantage of.
3. Encourage users
On the single post view, I took advantage of the space next to the retweet button and added a little thank you note from me. Along with the note, there are some additional links to help spread the word about the post you’ve just read. I went for the most noninvasive approach and still visible because who doesn’t want a little more traffic!
Ideally, these latest changes to the site will give users a more personal connection with the branding alone. Then I gave them a better opportunity to read what I have to say. Any site’s idea is to get users to come back and look at your content, giving yourself the highest possible exposure. Of course, none of these ideas are full proof and will continuously have to be watched and retweaked, but for now, it will be an excellent second version.