10 Principles to Choose the Right Layout for Your Business Blog

10 principles to creating the right business blog layout - Julia Borgini @ spacebarpress.com

I’ve been working on a new Wordpress site for a new business I’ll be launching shortly, and it got me thinking about what I value in a professional business blog design too. Good use of images, colour blocks, and white space. Solid font choice and accent colours. Buttons that stand out, but aren’t in-your-face about things.

It’s obvious that these web designers chose well for their audience, and it’s paying off with lots of web traffic and post shares, likes, and comments.

So what about your business blog? How does it look? Think it needs to be refreshed?

Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind when choosing the right design for your business blog.

10 Principles for a Business Blog

1. Fast loading pages/posts

Online readers are impatient; business readers even more so. They want to read your content NOW, so a business blog that takes too long to load just won’t cut it. You could have the best business blog content in the world, but if it takes more than 10 seconds to load, readers will just bounce to another site.

Test your blog’s loading time and see where you’re at. Try Pingdom, GTmetrix, or WebPageTest for all the details.

2. Great mobile experience

In the U.S. alone, we now spend more of our time online on a mobile device than ever before. It’s surpassed 51% usage this year to date. So if your business blog (and website, for that matter) aren’t mobile responsive and don’t deliver a good user experience to your readers, your blog will never succeed.

Your business blog should be mobile responsive at the very least, and if possible, optimized based on device operating system too. That ensures a consistent look and feel for readers regardless of the device they’re using to read your content.

3. Multiple paths to social mediaMultiple paths to social media - Julia Borgini @ spacebarpress.com

Most business websites have their social media badges somewhere on their home pages, and probably in the footer of the site as well. That’s great, as you want your audience to connect with you on those networks. But what about social sharing buttons? They’re on individual blog posts, but is there anywhere else you can put it too to increase your SEO love? You bet!

Try putting sharing links on:

  • Your business blog’s main page
  • Your business blog’s category pages

This helps your audience share the blog as a whole with others, as well as the individual posts too. Plus if they’re interested in a specific category of posts you publish, they’ll be able to share that as well with other colleagues and hopefully decision makers.

4. Simple ways to share content

Having social media sharing buttons on your business blog is important, however cluttering up your blog with all the buttons can be bad. In fact, giving them too many choices can be overwhelming for them and they’ll subsequently take no action at all.

Limit the sharing buttons to the networks that send you website traffic and leads new prospects to you.

Bonus tip #1: You should be active only on those same social media networks since that’s where your audience is! For example, I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn because that’s where my audience is.

Bonus tip #2: Maintain a multi-network connection with your audience by including prominent “Follow us” social media badges in the sidebar of your business blog.

5. CTAs in every blog post

Including CTAs in every business blog post you publish is critical. Actually, it’s more of a requirement if you want to turn your blog into a well-designed lead generation machine. After all, you want your readers to do something after finishing your awesome content, right?

6. Clear subscription CTAs

For the readers that enjoy the longer courtship of a B2B sales cycle (or ones who are simply too lazy to come back to your business blog each time you publish a new post), invite visitors to subscribe to it via email or RSS. That means having an obvious CTA that encourages them to subscribe to the blog. Most email newsletter solutions will let you create a great little subscription box, like the one I’ve got here on my business blog.

Add backlinks to your content for better performing web pages - spacebarpress.com7. Obvious connection to your core business website

Your blog is a part of your larger business website, so don’t isolate it from the rest of your site. Your blog design must make it simple and obvious for blog readers to get to the key parts of your website. Pages like your product and services pages that give them more information about how you can help them. Landing pages that advertise the next webinar you’re hosting next month. All of these pages need to be connected to your business blog to help move your readers along to the next stage in the buying cycle, whatever that is.

Try using clear blog navigation links and buttons, as well as dedicating some of your sidebar to direct readers to key website pages.

8. Allow simple searching and sorting of content

If you’re restarting your business blog, you may have a back catalogue of posts that you’d still like new readers to see. If you’re just starting it, you don’t have that, however, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the search functionality. Make sure your blog design makes it easy for readers to search and sort for all content (new and old.) You can use search boxes, tags, recommendation widgets like Outbrain, YARPP, Engageya, and more.

Choose just the ones you think your readers will need and like, and just use those. No more, no less.

9. Prominent headline formatting

Not only do you have to craft compelling headlines that get readers to click on them to find out more, but your business blog design should make it obvious that it IS a headline. Use the right formatting to keep it front-and-centre for readers so they know where to click. (Not literally front and centre, of course.)

Your business blog headlines should be significantly larger than any subheads or other titles on the page, and possibly even a different colour, if that works with your site’s overall theme.

10. Clean and simple sidebars

Finally, the last principle to a great business blog is to have clean and simple sidebars. I know some web designers have been doing away with them completely, however, I think they’re still useful for business blogs — provided you keep them to a minimum. Like the social media sharing buttons, searching, and sorting options, it’s important to keep the information in the sidebar to a manageable level, otherwise it becomes too overwhelming for readers.

Look at each widget and how it fits into the overall look of the page. Does it serve a purpose? Does it encourage the right behaviour you want readers to take? Or is it driving them away from your blog? Keep it clutter-free and you’ll notice a big difference in how long readers stay on your blog.

What other business blog design elements or practices would you add to this list? Hit the comments and let me know. Feel free to share links to your well-designed business blog too; I’d love to see them.

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