Today I want to talk about a problem I see all over the internet and it's probably happening to your site right now.
The problem is that because you're familiar with your blog or website, that changes how you see it. And that can have a real cost in lost readers, fans and sales.
If you've ever told someone your website's URL and then wanted to shout “But it needs to be updated!! 😭” then you know that blog or website design you feel confident about can be a game changer. Especially if you work online.
(What, you can't shout in Emojis? We're really overdue on working together! Call me?)
The problem of perspective isn't unique to blogging or online business. You see yourself differently when you feel confident. A great outfit, good hair day, or having a great start to the day can change how you experience your world, and that experience makes us see ourselves a little differently – hopefully in a positive way!
We're also often our worst critics because we're so familiar with seeing ourselves in the mirror. We fixate on details about our appearance that no one else sees, because their perspective is different.
Being familiar with your blog or website also changes how you see it. That means that when your readers and customers view it, what they see is completely different than what you see, and unless you're aware of this it can end up causing you big problems.
I know this firsthand from designing blogs, websites and shops for the past five years.
Where you see your familiar blogroll in the sidebar, your readers may see a wall of text that doesn't seem important, so they choose to ignore it – along with your sidebar content that is important!
Where you see cute wording in your nav bar (because you know exactly what the pages link to) new readers can see confusing phrases that make them unsure they're in the right place.
Turn Your Blog Design Into A Superhero For Your Business
If your blog or website is under performing, instead of looking for a blog designer to make your world prettier, go on clutter-and-clarity patrol. It’s not enough to have the right answers for your readers, customers and clients – you also have to remove the things that let doubt and confusion creep in.
1. Go simple
Give clear, self-explanatory titles to any links on your blog. Make sidebar buttons easy to understand at a glance, and re-think anywhere you have small cursive text that your readers have to work at understanding.
One of the best ways to give any aspect of your website or social-media presence a more professional look is to add space around each element. But you don’t have to edit your blog theme to make this happen – you can delete non-essential items from your sidebar and add space between them (even just adding blank text widgets). Look at your blog navigation and remove anything that’s not crucial. Having a few links that actually get clicked will do more for your blog than sharing all your pages at once. Finally, make sure you state exactly what your blog is about somewhere prominent on your site because what’s clear to you isn’t necessarily clear to your readers.
Confused readers don’t opt-in, share your work, or experience the results of your work. Removing clutter means the important parts of your blog will shine and receive more clicks than when they’re surrounded by distraction.
2. Know what game you're playing
It’s crucial that you give your readers some way to support you that will help you continue doing your work. If you’re blogging to make connections and build community, maybe that’s emphasizing comments in your blog design and building engagement there. If you make income from page views, designing post ideas that maximize them will keep your blog running.
It’s important to know what keeps you motivated and moving forward, and to guide your readers to take those actions when they’re on your site. What can you remove that doesn’t serve that purpose? What can you emphasize that does?
3. Ask for what will help you win
Have you heard the phrase “call to action?” Online, a call to action is a direct request to get readers clicking! If you ask your readers to comment on your posts, or if you ask your best friend to meet you for lunch, you’re already a pro. As women, we often avoid asking for things directly because we don't want to be a bother. (As a former shy lady I know the feeling!) We worry that making a requests might make us less likeable so we avoid asking for things – including clients to visit our sales pages, asking our social media followers to visit our shops, and lots of other requests that actually act as sign posts leading your audience to what helps you keep doing what you do.
Here’s the thing: I’m betting that you’re all kinds of likeable! Holding back is a subconscious habit that can make your online work harder than necessary. Once you know what helps you succeed, start asking for it.
If you knew that your site was confusing readers and costing you money, what would you simplify?
LAST UPDATED ON: June 16th, 2015
CATEGORY: Content Marketing Strategy