What is it about August and redesigns? If you’ve been keeping up with the blogosphere, you know bloggers have been on redesign frenzies. Some did it for the right reasons and did it right. Some did it for the wrong reasons and created more problems for their readers. Even this blog went through a recent redesign. Here are several tips to guide your summer redesign.
Redesign Because You Need To
Do it to solve a problem. Don’t redesign simply because you want to. It’s short and simple, but this is the most important tip. My own blog needed a redesign because it was hard to use. For example, the search form was huge! However, no one used it because it was in the wrong location.
Clean Up the Sidebar(s)
Just like me, you’ve been lazy to clean up the cluttered sidebars right? And, you’ve installed too many sidebar widgets, haven’t you? That’s NOT okay. A redesign is also your chance to remove all the useless widgets that are taking attention away from the search form and category links. Not to mention, those widgets are also slowing down your blog.
I know it’s painful and your sidebar might look naked, but you have to do it.
Put Content First and Best Content Forward
I don’t care where you’re at in your blogging career. You need to put content first. After all, that’s what readers come to your blog for. If you annoy them with too many ads and other useless stuff then they’ll stick with getting your content through a feed reader. If you want to increase uniques and page views, put your content first and best content forward.
Don’t Overlook the 404 Page
You can test the new design/theme all you want before installing it for your blog, but you never know what problem you might come across until you’ve installed it. During the first few days of using the new design, it helps if you have a solid 404 or Not Found page to direct your readers to whatever they’re looking for.
Do You Need An Archives Page?
How old is your blog and how many archive and category links you’re listing in the sidebar? If it’s just too much to list all those links in the sidebar then create a new page for them. For an example, check out Wpdesigner’s archives page.
Where is the search form?
Upper right-hand corner is the best place to put it. The search form is even more important when your blog have lots of posts.
Make It Worth It
I can’t stress this enough. If you’re aiming for a complete makeover, you better make it worth it or you’ll end up unhappy and looking for another redesign. Think about having to re-paint a house. Would you step into that half-hearted? If you have to hire a professional, do it and hire a good one. Don’t settle and don’t get stingy!
Nowadays, readers go through a lot of blogs per day. The first impression is more important than ever!
Get Feedback Before You Redesign
Redesigning is not an inward process. Don’t depend on yourself to realize all the problems. Where can you ask for help? Well, who’s better to ask than your readers? They’re the ones using your blog.
You can also ask me. I’m no expert, but I can give you tips from the user’s perspective. I recently opened up a new board on my forum, “Ask Small Potato” Reviews. Register for an account and login to submit your blog for review. I’ll feature it on the front page if I end up writing a lot of helpful tips that other readers can benefit from.