One of the most underrated aspects of our blogs is design. Creating great content is one thing, but if it looks unappealing – who is going to want to read it? Let’s face it, when you come across a good looking blog, it instantly builds authority with you.
You get that feeling that this person has really invested in their blog and treats it professionally. But the dirty secret to design is that it’s not that difficult or expensive. Yes it takes a little bit of time and money, but not as much as you’d think, and the results can literally be night and day.
Although bloggers don’t tend to spend much time on good design, the few that do really stand out, and I believe the overall standards for design are becoming more rigorous, so getting on board early is highly recommended. Here are some quick and cost effective ways you can improve your design today.
Custom Featured Posts
If you judge a book by its cover, you judge a post by its featured image. Standard practice is to grab a pseudo-related image. However more and more bloggers are creating custom images, which literally can be done in 10 minutes or less.
Here’s an example from Anna Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Cafe:
Simple but effective, including:
- A custom font and color
- Putting the title in the image itself (works great for social media promotion)
- An image that draws attention to the title.
Anna has an in depth tutorial here, and replicating the above is probably about 10 extra minutes of work. After spending hours writing an article, don’t you think it’s worth the effort?
OptinMonster For Landing Pages and Lead Forms
If you want someone to hand over their email you’re going to have to do a lot more than set up a simple web form that you can make from an autoresponder like Aweber.
You need a top notch designed pop up plugin like OptinMonster:
OptinMonster is a premium plugin for wordpress that costs as low as $49. You could make this yourself, no doubt, but it will take a lot more time and effort, and you won’t have access to the templates, split testing, and user retention technology that OptinMonster brings to the table.
Thrive Content Builder
Thrive is new to the table, but without a doubt it is the single most impressive plugin I have seen for design. The results are literally night and day and the possibilities are quite endless.
Here’s a nice example of a landing page my buddy Doug at NicheSiteProject has made using Thrive (and this is just the tip of the iceberg).
Adam from BloggingWizard has a phenomenal tutorial discussing Thrive in depth. It’s definitely worth the investment if you want to drastically improve the visual content of your blog such as buttons, quotes, FAQs, and way way more.
Getting A Custom Logo and Theme
A lot of people are intimidated by a custom logo, but actually they are quite easy to come by. The simplest option is to head over to Fiverr and for $5 you can get several mock ups made. It will be ready in a few days, and you can review the artists’ work apriori.
Another option, albeit it more expensive, but arguably more professional, is to head over to 99Designs. And what’s a custom logo without a custom theme? Consider your niche and if there are certain themes which are built especially to serve it, such as this list on the best themes for hotels.
If you’re still not sure, Jean has a fantastic resource summarizing a lot of the top themes available here.
Investing in design should not be seen as an extravagant waste. It is an investment. It’s pay off is in higher conversions and better user metrics.
The key to design is really to keep things simple, which means that less is more, but also making sure that the less that is there looks sharp and effectively supports the copywriting.
For less than $150 you can easily turn your ho-hum blog into a professional looking website and without a doubt you will stand out as being in one of the top 1% of designed blogs!