Do you remember the last time you visited a blog and left quickly because you couldn’t find what you were looking for? No matter how great the content is, no one will read it if your blog is not functional and easy to use. Today, I want to talk to you about blog design mistakes I see very often and how you can fix them. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are making these mistakes, you’re not the only one. Designers are also guilty of doing them.
1. Unfriendly navigation menu
Your navigation menu helps your readers to, well, navigate your blog. You should use it to point them to the most important pages or categories, not list every category or post there is. A navigation menu filled with irrelevant links will only distract your readers and make it hard for them to find what they are looking for.
How to fix: Remove unnecessary links and group related links together. You can add the most important pages, like your about page, services, shop, or contact in the navigation and your categories in the sidebar. If you don’t offer any services and want to highlight your categories, then add only the most important ones to your navigation and group them by topic using sub-menus.
2. Cluttered sidebar
A cluttered sidebar not only makes your site look disorganized, it will also confuse your readers. Every item should be relevant to your blog. All the unnecessary widgets you add to your blog, like page counters or tag clouds, can also slow down your site.
How to fix: Look at your sidebar and delete old ads or banners. Make a list of what you want your readers to do and display your most important widgets at the top of the sidebar. If there are items you want to include, but your sidebar has too many widgets, use the footer. It’s a great place to display your latest Instagram images or pins.
3. Too many fonts
How to fix: Your posts and pages should have a cohesive look. Find 2 or 3 fonts that look well together and stick to them. You can use one for your paragraphs and another one for your headings. Creating a style guide for your blog and images will help you keep a consistent look.
4. Text is hard to read
Small text is popular. This is a trend that I’m hoping will go away because a 12px font size is not easy to read. Add to that a light gray color on a white background and maybe lack of headings or paragraphs. Squinting might not hurt your eyes, but it sure is annoying.
How to fix: Small fonts look good on minimalist websites that don’t have a lot of text, but they are not ideal for blogs. Use a font size of 16-20px and make sure the font color and background contrast well with each other. Also, don’t forget to split your text into paragraphs and use subtitles.
5. Share buttons on home page
We all want our readers to share our posts so we make sure we have share buttons everywhere. Well, you don’t need them everywhere. You should only add share buttons inside your posts. If your users share your home page, your visitors might not find what they need because you are often updating your blog. You should also remove them from pages. I wouldn’t want my about page shared on Facebook.
How to fix: Some themes come pre-built with share buttons and there’s nothing you can do without messing with the code, but if you are on WordPress and use plugins you can choose where you want to place share buttons from the settings panel.
6. Too many graphics
Patterns and textures will make your blog stand out. Hand-drawn icons and post dividers have the same effect. But if you use them all on your website it will only make you look like an amateur and it distracts your readers.
How to fix: Use patterns and textures for accents. Use simple, light colored backgrounds that make your content stand out. Limit the use of graphics and add them to your header or post images. Try to take advantage of white space. Leave space between design elements or even remove your background.
7. Large images
We are using large, vertical images because they look good on Pinterest. Full-width images in the blog’s header are also very popular. The problem with these images is that they can also have a very large file size and slow down your site. This will not only annoy your visitors, but it will also affect your search ranking.
How to fix: This is easy to fix by optimizing your images before you upload them to your blog.
8. Broken links
Links that lead nowhere will ruin your visitors’ experience and it will make you look unprofessional. Besides, it will also annoy Google.
How to fix: If you have a lot of posts, it might be impossible to go through all the pages manually and update links, so you could at least build a 404 error page. Most themes already have one, but make sure that you have a search bar in it. You can use Google Webmaster Tools to find external broken links or a plugin like Broken Link Checker for WordPress that will help you find and replace all broken links.
9. Comment forms on pages
Comment forms are by default on all posts and pages of blogging platforms. But do you really want people to leave comments on your about page? Or even worse, on your contact page? I’m going to guess that your answer is no, even though it’s such a frequent mistake.
How to fix: In WordPress, you can manually remove comments on pages by going to Pages, selecting all of them, going to Edit and changing the comment settings. If you are using a Genesis theme, you can disable comments and trackbacks from Theme Settings.
On Blogger, you can disable them from each page by going to Options on the right side of the page.
10. Too many pop-ups
Pop-ups can be great for getting people to subscribe to your newsletter, they are proven to work, but they can also be very annoying. They can be very distracting and they can drive people away from your site. Bad pop-ups can even interfere with your site’s functionality.
How to fix: Use them sparingly. If you really, really want to use them, find a plugin that doesn’t appear every time someone clicks a link on your site. Set it to appear only after a few minutes so readers won’t be tempted to leave your blog, and make sure it doesn’t appear on every session. Also, don’t use one that doesn’t go away after someone subscribes.
What blog design mistakes drive you crazy and make you close the browser tab?