Issue #343

Sent to members on June 14, 2021

5 Blog Design Changes (And Why)

This week, we’re going to switch gears a bit from the kind of articles I’ve been featuring in THE EDGE.

We’re going to talk about blog design and some tips.

So, the impetus for this is actually the Blog Marketing Academy itself. Because I just recently made some minor design changes to the site.

Call it… version 742. 😉 Because, I change things a lot. 🤪 But anyhoo…

The Edge Logo

Get THE EDGE Sent To You Every Monday!

Be sure to subscribe (for free) to have The Edge sent to you automatically every Monday morning. There’s some extra goodies in the email version you won’t find here in the archives. Just sayin’. 🙂

You will not be redirected from this post when you subscribe, so you can keep reading.

The “old” layout had some things I didn’t care for, even though at one point I though it was OK. Isn’t that how it goes sometimes?

So, I’m going to run through some of the layout changes that I made to the site and…. why I did it.

#1: Simpler Header And Simpler Navigation

The previous version had a taller header with the logo above the menu. This version restores the shorter, simpler header.

And, in order to do that, I brought back a few dropdown menus in the navigation. I was trying to avoid that before, but it simply becomes a struggle to figure out where to put everything.

So, the new navigation has fewer options, but utilizes dropdowns to make getting around easier.

#2: Lighter, More White Space, More Spacing

My previous layout felt a little claustrophobic. And I see a lot of sites that do that.

Heavy images with dark backgrounds. Elements too close together. Overuse of dark colors. Things like that.

White space means… space. And people like space. They feel more comfortable and more free with lots of space. I think we need to keep that in mind when designing our blogs, too.

Spacing things away from each other more really helps the sense of space. I like to put 80-100 pixels of padding on background rows top and bottom, for instance.

Also, I got rid of lot of dark images in the design. More white. More space.

#3: Less Social Sharing Buttons

One might think more the better, but it doesn’t really work that way.

For now, Facebook only. I may put Twitter back, but the way I see it, Twitter has changed and there’s almost no real click-through rate on links there anymore. Twitter is more about news, celebs, and people trying to make smart-ass comments.

So, I’m just going to focus on Facebook. And, my recommendation would be to only have social sharing buttons on your site that work for YOUR audience. Merely having a button there doesn’t mean people will use it. In fact, many people don’t even use those buttons and just share manually anyway.

Oh, and I have de-activated Social Warfare plug-in and I’m just using the built-in social share buttons for Thrive Themes. No need for the duplicate functionality.

#4 – Table of Contents In Sidebar

As I’ve written before, sidebars the way they are usually used are rather useless. And I went for awhile not having one at all.

I’m still experimenting with these things, but for now I have a sidebar that is narrower than most. And it contains a table of contents that is built into my theme using Thrive Theme Builder.

This also means the old Table Of Contents Plus plug-in I was using is gone now.

I love how Thrive Themes slowly makes other plug-ins redundant.

#5 – Less Opt-ins

Might seem weird to REDUCE the number of opt-in forms, but I’m in the process of doing that. And just simplifying things.

See, I found that I had too many opt-ins forms triggering from ConvertBox. Some articles had embedded forms, a full-screen exit pop as well as a slide-in opt-in from the bottom right. That’s way too much.

First off… sorry about that. 😇 My bad.

But, it serves as a reminder to YOU, too, to open up a PRIVATE browser window and visit your own site without being cached and without being logged in. And, see what happens when you view it like somebody else.

In my case, I was just being overbearing on the opt-ins. So, I’m in the process now of optimizing that and removing some in order to tweak the ones that convert the best.

In my case, all roads lead to the free membership in the LAB. But, I don’t need to throw it in people’s faces 3-4 times when they visit a blog post. That’s just not cool.


To wrap this up, I will also just say…

Thrive Theme Builder just keeps getting better and better. In this process, I noticed several awesome enhancements I didn’t even know were there.

This is, by far, the best and easiest to use theme platform out there, in my opinion. Not even ONCE in all of these changes I made did I have to touch a line of code. It is all done right inside the editor within Wordpress. Just amazing.

Tech Talk

Speaking of Thrive Themes, they’ve begun issuing updates to implement Project Lightspeed.

This is their ongoing project to streamline and optimize all Thrive tools for maximum site speed… in light of Google’s core web vitals.

Oh, and here’s a cool tool I came across last week…

PhotoPea. This is basically… Photoshop. For free. Inside your web browser. Honestly, it is pretty amazing that this even exists.

The movement toward blocking all tracking codes got a little stronger… with Apple announcing that the next version of their OS is going to block email tracking in the Mail app. Combine that with the apps that already do that. And a lot of people (including me) which use web browsers that block all those things to begin with (I use Brave Browser). It comes down to this…

Email open rates are notoriously unreliable and only going to get worse.

There will also be unforseen issues with this. For instance, without the reliable ability to track opens, it is a lot harder to keep your email list clean and purge people who are not opening emails. You could easily end up purging people who actually ARE opening emails, but you just can’t see it. Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, had an interesting tweet thread about this.

From a pure end-user perspective, I have no problem with blocking tracking. Privacy, amiright? But, in the real world, tracking is also really important to ensure emails people actually want to read. So, this is a a very Apple-centric move and not one that’s friendly to publishers.

We’ll see how things develop.

Leave a Reply