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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    Making it easy for readers to get around your blog is essential – it’s also very sensible. You put a lot of time and effort into writing your posts, so you want to make sure that they can be found easily and any associated information also highlighted to your blog readers.

    As I mentioned in the original article, if you have special elements – these could be promotions, services, products, giveaways etc. – that you are looking to highlight, then these should be positioned accordingly at the top of your blog, above the fold. This will make these elements easy to locate and additional variations to the blog, as they will no doubt vary over time as your business priorities change.

    However, the rest of your content also needs to be shown off to best effect! The main methods will be via the individual categories and the archives and, from personal experience, the categories which will be most frequently used, so make sure that they are prominently positioned.

    There are some other ways and means that you can include to help encourage people to explore your blog further and therefore allow you to gain maximum benefit from the time that you invested in your posts. Some that you might like to consider are:

    Related posts
    Link to other posts on your blog which contain information related to the post that they are currently reading they are clearly interested in the topic, so help them find more details about it. In WordPress, you can do this with a plug-in called Related Posts.

    Links in your posts
    Within your posts, reference other posts on your blog so that you make it easy for people to find them. Just as you should reference other people’s blogs in your posts as sources of additional information, theres no harm in referencing your own as well.

    Key posts
    You probably have set of key posts (which I call Foundation posts) and which contain information that is key to your services and your business in general – so highlight them, perhaps by creating a list under the heading of “Key information”. If you can’t specifically identify ones, then check your stats package for the posts that attract the most hits or appear most prominently in the Search Engines and then highlight them.

    Most Popular posts
    Check which posts attract most comments or which have the most visitors (again a plug-in can help WordPress users here) and make sure that they are highlighted so that more people can read and share them. The sidebar is a good place to create this list although you could alternatively make a special page.

    Recent Posts
    List your last 5 posts in the sidebar thus encouraging people to read your most recent (and possibly most relevant) offerings. You might avoid these on the main blog homepage as they will be visible but is great for individual post pages – a quick modification to your template will allow you to achieve this.

    Recent Comments
    With blogs being all about communication, show the last few comments in your sidebar so that people can read not only your initial posts but also the comments that your readers have taken the time to leave.

    Show Categories in the Post headers
    Include the names of the categories that the post appears in alongside the title or at the bottom of the post. It will help people to find other posts which are related and that you have categorised in the same way.

    By using these methods, you are giving additional value to your readers by helping them find further information that is relevant to them – at the same time, you are of course promoting more of your own content and so helping the marketing of your blog. As an added bonus, you are also extending the internal linking within your blog which the Search Engines will be pleased to use and give you an extra “plus point” for.


    You spend a lot of time creating good content on your blog so make sure that your Blog Design helps and encourages your readers to find it!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Recomended Reading:

    1. Business Blog Design
    2. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
    3. Business Blog Design: Categories, Archives and Search
    4. Business Blog Design: Comments
    5. Business Blog Design: RSS Feeds & Subscriptions

    Business blog designWhen I consider Business Blog Design, Im not just thinking about the graphics side of blog design, but rather all of the elements that go together to make a successful business blog. For me, the key aspect to the design is that it should enable your business blog to support the business goals that you are looking to achieve with it.

    Use your blog’s “prime real estate”
    To make this happen, you need to ensure that you place the elements which are most important in achieving these goals in the most prominent places. These are areas which are going to be viewed most often by your readers and so, in property terminology, would be your blogs prime real estate. Generally, these will the areas in the header and at the top of the columns and, to a lesser degree, all of the area above the fold (ie. what you can see on screen without scrolling). Use these areas carefully when designing your blog.

    What should be the focus?
    There is no single answer as to what should be there, simply that it should support the business objectives of your blog. So if you are looking to increase subscriptions to a free download, course or newsletter, then make sure that the sign-up box sits prominently at the top of your page. Likewise if you have a special promotion or service to push or perhaps a book that you want to publicise, then make sure that there is a clear link there through to a page where you can talk more about it.

    In addition to this, there are certain other key factors that you really need to be focusing on when it comes to the design of a business blog. To help on this, I’ll be doing a series of posts here which will cover these points in more depth starting next week – check it out, I think it’ll be useful! ;)

    Some key elements to consider
    However, in the meantime, these are the areas of blog design that I believe should carefully be looked at, with a brief overview of why that’s the case:

    • Profile and contact details
      At the end of the day, the goal of 95% of Business Blogs is to encourage people to engage in dialogue with you so make it easy for them to do so. And while you are at it, take the opportunity to let them know a bit more about you oh, and dont forget the information you need to provide by law now!

    • Navigation and usability
      While you want to use the key areas for the elements that you particularly want to promote, you still need to make it easy to find all the information that it contains. As a basic, use categories and archives sensibly and let the blog software do the work for you there are some other tips on that which I’ll expand on in the Blog Coach post.

    • Blogging software generic templates
      The templates supplied with blogging software are the basic building blocks for a blog – in most cases, a common denominator which, by its very nature, needs to be all things to all people. It supplies a good basic format but can never give you the real benefits which will truly differentiate you from others and allow you to promote your key business elements properly. If you use a template, take the best from it but then make it your own.

    • RSS Subscriptions / Signups
      Just like an ezine subscription box on a normal website (in fact, make sure you have one on your blog – they work well together), RSS subscribers are important or even key to developing your business blog. So make it easy to subscribe and give them options such as specific chicklets or subscribing by email – incentives such as a free ebook to RSS subscribers are an added bonus.

    • Onpage advertising
      Its so offputting having to wade through adverts to get at the posts and its the posts that are going to do the real work for you – if you have to include ads then keep them clearly differentiated. Ideally, unless you really need to directly monetise your blog, dont include them. Youll get all the benefits you need from the extra business your blog generates.

    • Make it easy to leave comments

      You want to encourage dialogue, so dont make it difficult for your readers to leave comments – having to log-in or fill in a CAPTCHA (one way to protect against comment spam) just puts up additional barriers. However, make sure that you dont allow rubbish comments either which could damage your blog. Ah, so much to think about!!

    • Search Box

      It’s important to include a Search facility on your site by its very nature, a blog focuses on your most recent posts but is meticulous about storing everything that you write. Its the cumulative information that is the real value both to your business and to your readers. So its important that you give readers every opportunity to access it and the Search function is of course at the centre of that.

    • Categories and Archives
      Keep the names relatively short and where possible have them contain some of your keyword phrases. Like the Search function, these are key ways for readers to explore what you have written in more depth.

    At the end of the day, making sure that you have the basics in place is key after all, you are spending a lot of time on your blog and you want it to be successful for you and fulfil your business objectives. So get the design right and make sure that it helps and not hinders what you want you blog to achieve.

    A blog is wonderfully flexible, despite first appearances, so incorporate different side bars on different pages where necessary and ensure that they help re-inforce your business objectives. After all, a business blog is a tool (albeit a very powerful one) so make the best use of it you can and make sure that the blog design supports the business goals … and not vice versa.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    8 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
    2. Business Blog Design: Generic Blog Templates
    3. Business Blog Design: Categories, Archives and Search
    4. Business Blog Design: Comments
    5. Business Blog Design: Navigation and using your Content