How To Spruce Up Your Website
Five (5) things that make your blog awesome was one of the first few posts I ever wrote on my blog. This post continues to be a source of traffic for my website, especially questions about how to set up a blog and what platform to use. I've always wanted to do a follow up post but never quite got around to it.
Ladies and gentlemen, in light of recent questions I've received about blogging and rebranding (read about how I rebranded my site here), the time has finally come to write the second installment of "five (5) things..."
Today, we will be talking about the six (6) things you can do to improve your website or blog, today.
Update your website copy
A website copy is the content that describes your brand and identity to your audience. This includes content on your homepage, about me, sales page, services & products, and even contact page. For most new bloggers, some of these pages receive the least attention (especially the 'about me' page). It is not unusual to see a few sites with default content that came with the theme/template (usually a few paragraphs of random words which may or may not be in English).
Neglecting your website copy makes you look unprofessional or gives the impression that your site is an abandoned or incomplete project. Take the time to craft your message and update your website so your audience can have a better sense of who you are and what you do.
Lose the clutter
I still remember the excitement that came with setting up my first site. I got carried away with possibilities and added a ton of features that I didn't need. This includes about 8-10 menu items on the navigation bar, way too many categories and tags, lots of widgets & plugins, and unnecessary graphics all over the site. Even though my site was presentable, It was cluttered with stuff that added no value and compromised on user experience. After the first six (6) months of blogging, I realized that I preferred a more minimal and functional look and slowly started getting rid of excess features. Today, I have about 3-5 menu items at any given time and try to make my site easy to navigate.
While there isn't a set standard on the idea number of menu items, tags and categories, it is helpful to think about the goal of your blog. What are you offering to your audience? What categories best capture your ideas and content? If you have a high number of categories, reduce the list by going for broader categories and then using the remaining as tags (I currently have 3 main categories and 5 tags). Get rid of widgets and plugins that take up space and serve no purpose. Think of your website as a home. Would you like to wade through a ton of furniture to find what you need? Most likely not. Get rid of the clutter!
Another form of clutter is Ads or too many pop-ups. Don't you just HATE sites that have a lot of Ads plastered on the header, body and sidebar of the website. I understand that this is a revenue generating mechanism, but there are ways to include Ads to your site without having them intrude in the user experience. Keep pop-ups to a minimum and make sure your site isn't overcrowded with Ads.
While platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, and Blogger offer a ton of features, keep your design simple and elegant. Features such as background colors and background images should be used sparingly. If your website has a dark background (i.e black), use a lighter color (preferably white) for your fonts for balance (i.e a black background with red fonts might be too much).
Choose your fonts wisely - they should legible and easy to read. Also, avoid having a background for your fonts that contrasts with the background for your site. This not only makes your texts hard to read, it is also not visually appealing. When it comes to designing a beautiful website, less is more!
Connect your links
I can't count the number of times I've clicked on a major link on a website and have it lead nowhere, or to an error page. Make sure that all your menu items on the navigation bar are correctly linked to a functioning page. If you add a new link to your site, test it to make sure it works. In addition to providing valuable content to your readers, you also want them to have a good user experience. Pay attention to the little details.
Structure your content
Have you ever tried to read a 500 word blog posts with no paragraph breaks or any kind of structure? It is torture! Use headers, paragraphs and images to structure the content on your page. Also, do not write in title case or all caps (e.g. The Dog Went To The Market With His Owner). Make your content easy and accessible by having an introduction, body (which may include several sub-points), and conclusion - #EssayWriting101.
Graphics and Images
Beautiful graphics and images do two things for your site.
- It makes your site look professional
- It is visually appealing and will encourage your audience to not only read your content, but also engage with it by sharing on social media or reposting on content curated sites.
When I first started blogging, I didn't pay too much attention to my blog graphics and images. I had random designs and blurry images that weren't pretty to look at. More importantly, my brand didn't stand out because there was nothing distinct about my graphics. While my branding is still a work in progress, I am more conscious about the images I add to my site and always look for the best quality. I use Canva to create my blog graphics & social media template, and get free images from Pexels and Unsplash. Check them out, they are free!
Okay guys, there you have it! The six (6) things you can do to improve your website today. Let me know if I missed anything.