Boost Your Blog Posts Performance With 7 Content Design Rules That Work

Boom! You landed in a new page. Now, what comes first? Reading or Skimming (scanning / flipping through)?
No matter how professional your content is -> People Judge Your Blog Based on the Design!

Design is one of the most important parts of a complete content, and a key factor on
user’s decision on what is he going to consume, remember and later on – use.
In the blog post you are about to read you are going to

1. Find key rules and principals for designing your content
2. Some cool sources & ideas for design
3. Get to know of some nice tools can be used for your design purpose

“Posts containing an image were much more successful in terms of re-sharing and virality.”

Giving life to the latest post in your blog, change the appearance of your website, create a new template for a promotional email or prepare a social media infographic – it’s all about GRAPHIC DESIGN.

Yes, easy saying – hard to perform, most unexperienced designers or people who just doesn’t come from the field will go straight to the creative part and start immediately the design stage without recognizing that they are missing the CLEVER part.

Be wise – explore and plan

It doesn’t matter what is the platform or the specific page you wish to design, before you DESIGN there is one thing you should be doing – ask yourself:
How will I benefit from designing this page? What will I achieve? What-is-my-goal?

There are variousanswers to the questions above, everyone aim somewhere else and has a different set of goals to his contents, and therefore the design, but there is one specific objective that is mutual: The design purpose is to create an environment, a flow to the text – make the reading easier and especially – clear.

“Aticles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.”

The basic for every successful design:

It’s evident that this post will practically talk about WordPress -> Not this time!
You can easily find an endless amount of guides for this platform. This is not what we are here for….

If you want to really know what are the key factors of a good design keep on reading.

1. Always design for your readers

Most designs start out with a brief, even if it is a personal project, a designer will often brief themselves with the basic information they need in order to get things right.
Every design has its own target audience – the people that will be viewing the post and its design and should communicate with it – so it makes sense to keep them in mind.
As mentioned above, one of the most important elements for any design to be successful is to make sure to ask the question “who am I designing for?”

2. Keep your blog design simple

When designing a blog or any other page, it can be tempting to go crazy. After all, you want your blog to stand out and for people to remember you.
“Doe’s a 10 color palate spread all over your post can be harmful?”The answer is: Yes!Very Much!

Keep your blog design simple. Stick to no more than three colors, and three fonts (size, bolding, underlining and italic – are additional changes that you can use without adding another font or style).

– Use large fonts (at least 14px), short lines, new paragraph every 3-4 lines and a subheading after every 2-3 paragraphs.
– The best blog typography lends a meaningful purpose to the content while triggering emotions in your readers in the process. Besides picking a beautiful web font, make sure that different text elements have a different look and feel (main headings, subheadings, regular text, italic text, quotes, lists and so on).

TIP: Free WordPress themes such as “InterStellar” offer simple design

“Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.”

3. Use contrasting colors

Again – don’t go crazy, keep to a simple color palette.
Contrasting colors can work well in the right design. A good rule of thumb will be that your blog will feature a main primary color, a shade of grey, and a color for your CTA (call-to-action).
This makes a flow and one clean understanding of how the blog “talks” with the reader.

4. Embrace spacing

A few spaces every once in a while will give room and “ventilation” to your content. Remember, sometimes less is more, so when finding inspiration before you jump to design and adding photosto your blog, don’t be afraid of spaces – it can really enhance the design and keep it looking professional and clean.Don’t be afraid to leave some parts empty where it warrants it.

TIP: Highlight key parts of the blog by using white spaces as borders.

5. Use Headers and Sub-headers

Headers and sub-headers will break up long blog posts, help people scan read your blog and convince them to read the post.

“71% of online marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.”

6. Keep your design goal-driven

Well, already said – this is basically the most important part in the process.
When writing a post, and especially when designing you must have three things in mind:

– Topic: What is your post about?
– Value proposition: What makes it unique?
– Audience: Who is your target audience?

If the purpose of your post is to get conversions – whether that’s sales, signups, or enquiries – than everything else comes second.

For example, to get conversions, your blog design needs a strong CTA (call-to-action) as part of it’s design.

*This can also be – headlines, buttons, or even arrows.
A goal-driven design will help your blog convert, and keep visitors coming back time and time again.

“Posts containing an image are 3 times more likely to have a high number of re-sharers than text only posts.”

7. Constrain column width

Keep the blog post column width about 80 characters or less (including spaces) and your readers will thank you for it.

Wide columns of text are an instant turn off and very hard to read. Just think of it, reading a whole long sentences from one part of your screen to end of the other side of your screen – so much effort! Why?

Keep the text and design centered – the difference is incredible and it’s such a simple change.

“Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.”

Graphic ideas & tools:

First thing first – Some really cool blogs I personally love and can be a good inspiration for you:

*These 3 are whole different from one to the other but all of them includes almost all key rules for a successful designed pages.

TIP: Use images to enhance your post by improving its flow, adding humor, or just explaining complex topics.

FreeImages.com

Simple as that – create your account, search and download thousands of high quality images.

Unsplash – Great quality!

Unsplash is a collection of completely free photos. They release a new bundle of 10 photos every 10 days.

One “problem” – there are so many amazing photos that it is hard to find exactly what you are looking for.

TIP: Scroll quickly through the site (it has infinite scrolling) and open each new photo in a new tab.

Flickr Creative Commons

If you need something more specific, Flickr Creative Commons is the right place to go. When doing an advanced search you can specify what licenses you want to search within.

**In most cases you need to attribute the photographer, but that’s easy with a simple text link.

Additional ideas that can enhance the design:

– Icons: You can create simple, effective graphics just by adding a few simple icons to it.
– Sketch: Some of the best design styles are handwritten and organic – you know, nothing better than just going old-school and using a pen and paper!
– Note cards – easy and simple
– Quotes and Tweetables: Sometimes you say something so smart that you want to make sure everyone reads it. You can pull that out into a little graphic to show off just how intelligent your ideas really are.

Next & Previous Posts Feature –or- Popular Posts Feature Within Your Content

Once you read a blog, you are often wondering where to go next, if you enjoyed the post, you definitely want more – think of how to make the reader “convert” to other pages/posts of yours

Next & Previous Posts Feature is one idea!

Also, when listing your forever growing archive of blog posts, it’s nice to display something that “breaks” the list up. Having a popular posts bar is a perfect idea to break up content. And it can gain you more traffic too!

Get a bit of “fame” – About The Author

When someone finished reading a post, it’s nice to display a small Author bio. Nothing too long, but it’s better that just having “Posted by Rob”. A small avatar can make the bio look good too!

Use a Collage as a Background

Using a collage style background can really make your website stand out. Many websites do it, but only some do it well.

IMPORTANT: If you do go that way, make sure you don’t go too far and create an insane collage that distracts readers from the content.

Quote Quote Quote

Everyone quotes things when writing on a blog. Styling your quotes differently from the rest of the content is a key. This makes interviews look ten times better!

“Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content.”

Blog Design Tools

Sketch

It’s great for style guides, designing a logo, creating blog post images.
But – it can’t do photo manipulation so I still have to supplement it with Photoshop.
*Paid, Mac-only

Canva

Canva is a free online tool that works surprisingly well for social media images and can be a great tool to create templates with and share them with your freelancers or team members.
They also offer templates and photos you can buy within the app.
*Free / paid upgrades, online

PicMonkey

Don’t misunderstand by it’s name – this one is a quite serious design app.
It gives you a lot of freedom to create; from filters to brushes to fonts to stickers, it’s all there. It seems like this app is more geared towards more experienced designers.
*Free and paid plans, online

Buffer’s Pablo

If you don’t want to be too creative and just want something that would help you create clean graphics, look into Pablo. It gives you very few options, but at least you’ll be sure you won’t over-clutter the design. It’s perfect for quick Facebook and Instagram quotes.
*Free, online

More apps: https://www.incomediary.com/make-your-blog-stand-out-from-the-crowd

Even “the obvious” hasitsreplacements

As you probably know, WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool for arranging and designing your content and probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system today.
They don’t need it but, I give my respect to WordPress. But, if you prefer trying something else, maybe cheaper of even FREE, here you can find some WordPress alternatives:
https://createandcode.com/wordpress-alternatives/

Last but not least: something to consider

Once you understand them– BREAK THE RULES!
A great teacher once said: “freedom through technique.”
What that means is that you’re free to break the rules of the system, only once you intrinsically understand what they are & why they exist.

Like the great painters who practice their brush strokes, or the musicians who play nothing but note scales on their instrument, doing exercises in technique is ultimately there so you can break out and find your own style.

References

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