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

    I realise that this might be verging on a bit of an obsession with me, but I dislike standard generic blog templates with a passion. Just to clarify, these are the templates that are supplied as standard with the blogging software – one such example is the basic Kubrick template that comes with WordPress.

    It’s not that they are bad as such because they’re not. The trouble is that they aren’t going to help the aims of your business blog very much either and, in certain circumstances, they will actually hinder your goals.

    So what are the main reasons for avoiding the generic templates and making sure that you use a more bespoke one for your business blog?

    • Differentiate yourself – to run a successful business blog, you will need to spend time setting up and writing your blog. Let the look and feel of your blog support and promote your posts and help to differentiate them;

    • Avoid looking like a splog: “splogs” are “spam blogs” which are most often created automatically and, because of this, use the basic template that the software is supplied with. You only have a few seconds to attract a new visitor to your site so make sure you don’t give the wrong first impression;

    • Show that you care: don’t hamper the good work that you are putting into other aspects of your blog by displaying a lack of care and effort in how it looks. You want others to care about what you are writing about so show that you do as well;

    • Optimise your Information: generic templates will never optimise the information in your blog to make the most of what you are writing. To use your content properly, select the right software and then getting your template working for you;

    • Highlight your important elements: you need to use your blog layout to promote and highlight the elements which are most important to your business – get a template which displays your sign up box and your special promotions in the prime positions.

    Ideally, get a blog design which is going to fit with the aims and requirements of your company and what you want to achieve with your blog. If not, then at least choose a template which appeals to you and work with it to achieve your business objectives.


    Make sure that your blog template supports your business goals and so avoid the generic templates your software comes with!

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

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    2. Blog Design Series – a Business perspective
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    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 
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