5 Design Elements Every Blog Needs

5-design-components-every-blog-needs

Or maybe this post should be titled 5 Blogging Mistakes You Are Making Right Now and How To Fix Them. But that was too long.

Do you know how many bloggers make it difficult to share their content? Or contact them if you have a great opp you want to share? Or to simply leave a comment? This should not be!

If your blog design doesn’t have one of the following components, or if it’s not visible or easily accessible, you are most likely missing out on opportunities, followers, comments or new friends.

I realize not everyone reading my blog is a blogger, but if you are, LISTEN UP!!!

5 Elements Every Blog Needs

1. Sharing Icons on Each Post

Make it easy for people to share your posts on their favorite social networks. I try to share the posts of people that participate in my linkys, and it makes it SO much easier if I can just click a button on their post and share it with Twitter or Pinterest or give it a quick +1.

Use a WordPress plugin such as Shareaholic to make it easy for people to share your posts. If you’re on Blogger, it should be built in, but they’re sometimes rather small. I have big bold sharing buttons at the top of my posts and smaller subtle ones at the bottom.

sharing-buttons

Also, pet peeve alert!! Make sure you use a plugin that allows you to fill in your Twitter handle. You often have to change this in the plugin settings, or it will link to the Twitter account of the plugin. When this happens, you’re missing out on opportunities to attract new followers as well as interact with people who share your post so definitely take a few seconds and get that set up.

For example:

share-no-no

If you have Shareaholic and aren’t sure how to get your tweets to show your Twitter handle, read {How To} Set Up Shareaholic To Get Mentions And Follows On Twitter.

THIS is how it should look.

how to configure your share buttons

2. Social Media Icons on Your Sidebar

This is actually what inspired me to write this post. I was trying to tweet some of the posts that linked up in my Gluten Free Recipe Roundup, and I want the bloggers to know that I’m tweeting their posts. Plus I want to give them the opportunity to gain twitter followers and increase engagement, so I want to add their twitter handle in my tweet. But some people do not have links to their twitter profile in a visible spot. It takes a while to scan the sidebar and header, in hopes of finding something and sometimes I just give up tweet it as is. But it’s a shame to miss out on the opportunity for engagement.

Also, from a brand perspective, I know from doing blogger outreach for brands that I often want to create a report that includes the bloggers’ different networks. It is SO much easier when they are grouped together in one place. I also love it when people place them at the top of their sidebar.

social-media-icons

Some people put them in the header, which is a great spot for them.

Don’t have any? Google “social media icon sets” and you will find TONS to choose from. Download them and code them in.

3. Search Bar on Your Sidebar

Sometimes people want to find something on your site that they read before, and they come looking for a Search Bar. Throw ‘em a bone, would you!? This is another blog design component that ideally will go in your header or at the top of your sidebar. I have this cute little Tabber widget that combines a search bar, my category and archive lists on one neat little box.

search-bar

Carrie at Making Lemonade does it right. Look at the way she has hers set up, with the social media icons in the header. And I love how she has her About section in the Tabber widget with the Search bar. Plus her Contact button is visible in the nav bar.

blog-design-done-right

4. Visible Contact Info

If I am a brand or a blog reader who want to ask you a question, I need a way to contact you. Contact forms are very annoying, impersonal, and cumbersome. Post an email address. You don’t want junk mail? Too bad. You can always open a gmail account JUST for your blog, if you don’t want your personal email out in public. But a highly visible email address, either displayed prominently on your sidebar or under a CONTACT link in your navigational menu is crucial. This is especially true if you want to receive opportunities and communication from brands.

Funny, when writing this post, I saw that mine was buried under my ABOUT tab. This just goes to show that even if you’re an experienced blogger who knows all the rules, things still slip by your notice.

So I just added my email to my little welcome blurb that surrounds my photo at the very top of my sidebar. YAY!

visible email

AND I made room for a CONTACT link in my nav bar as well.

contact

And last but CERTAINLY not least . . .

5. Easy Comment System

Please, OH PLEASE, get rid of the CAPTCHA!!!

just-say-no-to-captcha

I know spam sucks, trust me, I get bombarded with it. Even with 2 spam filters, I wake up to anywhere from 2-10 spam comments a day that I have to delete. But I still prefer to make my commenting system as user friendly as possible. It’s bad enough that I added that “check that you’re not a spammer” box, which I hated to do. But at least it’s a quick click.

I’d rather drive nails under my fingernails than try to decipher a CAPTCHA filters. Often I have to try 2 or 3 times before I get it right. Or, it will get hung, I’ll click away to do something in a different tab in my browser, and forget to go back and resend my comment and my comment gets lost. Bah humbug.

If you have a CAPTCHA on your comments, trust me, you are missing A LOT of conversation. Many people just won’t bother with them. And if they do bother, they are probably are cursing you while they’re doing it. Ha!

I hope this is helpful. What would you add to this list??

Comments

  1. says

    This was perfect timing for me as I am updating my blog this month. I love the subscribe in the same box as the social media icons and search just below it! Also I can not stand CAPTCHA!! I have not commented before because I had tried multiple times and gave up.

  2. says

    I love that you included the search function! I can’t stand when I can’t search for something on a site. I am also headed right over to resolve the shareaholic problem;) Thanks!!

  3. says

    Thanks for these great tips! I had made the same mistake you had–I had an email on my About Page but not the home page. I’m off to correct that right now. Oddly enough, your twitter button wouldn’t let me retweet until I connected my accounts? Clicked out of that and did it the old-fashioned way. Have a powerful week!

    • says

      Hm, that is odd! I wonder if it’s a Shareaholic thing??? I have tried several sharing plugins and none are ever quite perfect. Thanks for letting me know. I might test out a few others.

  4. says

    Jo-Lynne, I was about to comment that I need to fix #1 on my blog (it still says ‘via Sharaholic’) when I saw you mentioned me. You’re the best! I’ve admired YOUR blog design for so long that to tell you the truth I sent it to my blog designer and said ‘DO THIS.’ ;-) Your design is perfection. Sharing this everywhere!

  5. says

    Great tips! I think I’ve got them all covered, but I’m running back to my site to make sure. I didn’t know what that thing was called (CAPTCHA) where you had to retype a code that is sometimes impossible to read just to leave a comment. I do know that I don’t like it and usually skip right by without adding a comment.

    • says

      Good question. Are you on Blogger? On WordPress we have plugins that help. I think you can use a comment system like Disqus on Blogger – that one may help? As a reader, I would rather have my comments moderated than have to go thru the captcha. You’d still get spam but you could go thru and delete before they get to the blog. It’s a real pain, the spam. Even with TWO spam filters, I get several spams a day – sometimes 10-20. Makes me crazy.

  6. says

    Thanks for your prompt reply!
    No I am self hosted with WP. Which plug-in is the one that like your just lets you check the box?
    There are so many I never can find that one.
    Thanks for your support!

    • says

      Oh okay! Well, I have Akismet. It is pretty much the standard plugin every WP blogger uses. But I was still getting a lot of spam with that recently so I added the Growmap plugin – it does require users to check a little box, which is annoying, but at least it’s not hard to read. ;-)

  7. says

    Ugh – really? I struggle SO MUCH with the captcha thingy. I agree I don’t like it when leaving comments but I also don’t prefer “your comment is awaiting moderation” before I see if it actually went through. When I take the captcha off, I get no additional comments than ones that wouldn’t otherwise go through – I’m just a small blog, so I feel the spam is just not worth it. I actually prefer the comments on fb and google plus than on the blog – feel it starts a conversation more anyways. I do follow a blog, kelly rae roberts, where the fb comments and blog comments are merged! How the holy magic is that!?! THANKS FOR THIS!

    • says

      LOL. Everyone has a different opinion, but most people I know DETEST the CAPTCHA. I leave a lot of comments b/c I try to comment on everyone who participates in my linkys, and it really makes it tedious when there are a bunch of CAPTCHAs. As a reader, I’d rather see “Your comment is waiting” but I realize everyone has a different opinion! I’ve seen people rant about that too. :-)

  8. says

    This is awesome – thanks for sharing especially about the Tabber widget – one of the first things I noticed that I liked on your sidebar was how you had your search/categories/archives all together -very cool!

    And amen to getting rid of CAPTCHA!

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