As I look around the web and discover new sites, I make mental notes about things that should be standard on every blog. When I build blogs for clients, I send out a questionnaire which lists standard items included in the design. Here are the ten tips I use to make your blog more reader friendly, and easy to navigate:

  1. Navigation bar: Yes, this should be a given, but I was on a site recently that had no nav bar. The nav bar gives visitors easy access to visiting must have pages like the About Page, Contact page, or the Archives. And most importantly, it allows them to go back to the homepage once they are done reading a post.
  2. Search box: An easy to find search box near the top of your site is a huge plus. This is good for readers who may be looking for a particular post or subject on your site that they know you have written about, but they cannot locate. Instead of them having to scroll back through pages and pages or posts, a search box allows them to just for simple terms.
  3. Category dropdown: This also helps visitors navigate your site. Visitors who want to read everything you’ve written on a given topic can quickly pull up that category and get a listing of all articles.
  4. Contact page: Yes, I have visited some blogs that did not have them. Readers or companies who want to contact you need a way to find you. Create a simple contact page where they can fill out a form which emails you. You can also include your email address and phone number if you wish. If you are using WordPress this is done very easily via a plugin. My favorite is Contact Form 7.
  5. Share buttons: Adding share buttons is great for you and your readers. If someone is reading a post and they love it, they want to share it. This in turn brings more readers back to your blog. Again, this is a simple addition with plugins.
  6. Use Proper Grammar: Of course there is some leeway for those little catchy phrases and things that you use, jokes here and there, and nicknames. But generally you want your sentences to make sense to your readers. I am certainly no grammar expert, but watch for commas in the right places, spelling, and the rest. If you can admit that you are not too good at it, maybe designate a grammar savvy friend to proofread your posts for you. And there are those that type exactly like they talk in conversation which is sometimes interesting. If a blog is too difficult to read, visitors will not return.
  7. About Page: This should probably be at the top of the list. This is the FIRST thing you should setup when you start at blog. Who are you? Why should we read your blog? Where do you live? What do you do when you are not blogging? Sound like a lot of info? It’s not really. Readers love to feel connected to the writer. And if you want to expand your blog to business, brand visiting will want to know what you are about before agreeing to work with you.
  8. Make Sure Everything Fits: Huh? Well… sometimes I visit a blog which has badges in the sidebar as we all do. But, some of them are obviously too big to be there and hanging off the sides. Move them somewhere else, eliminate them, or just resize the image with a width attribute. Trust me, it will look much better. J
  9. Reply to Comments: People leave comments because they like your blog, they want your opinion, or they want to share a similar experience. Thank your commenters. They will keep coming back. If asked a question, try your best to answer it or at least point them in the right direction.
  10. Use Photos: Break up the monotony of all that black text with some photos here and there in your posts. Photos draw readers in. Check out our article on using images to enhance your blog posts.
Do you have any other must-haves in your blog design?