Your blog’s design is about a hell of a lot more than just what looks pretty.
When you’re setting up your blog in a strategic way to accomplish your business goals, it needs to be designed to CONVERT. To do that, you need to understand how a reader’s attention lands and FLOWS across the site – and then design your blog to work with that.
In this installment, let’s discuss about how all this works, and how to make your blog’s design work FOR you in terms of conversions and sales.
Welcome to Episode 55 of Coffee Break Blogging and we are continuing on, on our series here. We are talking about the platform and how to set up our blog in the right way. And this all fits within the bigger picture that we are doing here on Coffee Break Blogging of building up a real information business based around our blog that is generating revenue all based around your blogging. Yes, it is certainly possible so let us go ahead and get started with this.
Today we are going to be talking about… How To Flow Attention Via Your Blog’s Design.
Now, the very title of this episode; I want to explain what this means… What do I mean by “flowing” attention?
So, here is the thing… Attention is actually a very valuable commodity these days. It is actually a scarce resource. Perhaps you have experienced that for yourself where it is hard to pay attention to something for a long period of time. And there are a lot of things out there that are competing for your attention simultaneously. Now, all of your readers; when they arrive on your blog, are in the exact same predicament. Now because of that, you basically have just a few seconds to grab their attention and guide it to something where they’ll see, “Oh, okay. That must be valuable to me” and they will actually spend some more additional time on the site. You literally got just a few seconds to pull that off. If you don’t do it, they will probably hit the back button and take off.
So here is what I mean… Attention, really what it is; and this will help you really envision what we are talking about, is to view attention as a form of energy. And if that helps, you can actually almost look at it as like a flow of water, so to speak. So for example, if you see water and you want to see how water will flow, it will generally take the path of least resistance. It is going to generally flow downhill but it can be guided in certain ways. Energy is very much the same thing. If you see people… let’s for example say that they have an audio speaker; and that speaker is pointed at a particular way, that speaker can be designed in such a way to funnel the sound in a particular direction. So that would be an example of funneling energy in a certain way.
Now your readers attention; and attention in general is also a form of energy, and people when they pull up your blog on their screen and their eyeballs are pointed at it, they are flowing energy. They are spending energy from themselves and are looking at your blog. Now what is your blog going to do to funnel it to the right places? So that is what we are going to be looking at here because attention is going to arrive on the site. It is going to generally land in a certain place. There is always going to be that first thing that is generally going to grab the eye of the person who arrives. Now if you go to a homepage, usually there is going to be a visual element on that homepage; a big photo or something like that. And very often that would be the first thing that they will see. So that will be the landing point for this flow of energy known as attention. But from there it is going to flow across the page and it is a matter of what do you want it to flow into. Where are you going to guide them? So attention is going to flow and it is going to come to resting points as well.
The “F” Pattern
One particular pattern out there that gives you a general idea of how this can move around is what is called the “F Pattern”. Now the F pattern is exactly how it sounds. It is the letter F. Various eye tracking technologies have been used and they will literally track the person’s eyes as they go across various websites across the internet. And they have found that generally, people’s eyes will flow across the site in a pattern which resembles the letter F.
So if you envision the letter F and you just write the letter F right across your blog, the first point, the first resting point is generally going to be on the top left. The top left is pretty natural. We are used to reading at that direction. We tend to start at the top of the page and we scan across to the right side along the top. And that is exactly what most people are going to do when they arrive on your site. They are going to start on the top left and they are going to scan across the top of the site. Now, generally from there they are going to scan downward along the left side and they will make another scan typically across the middle portion of the site.
Now, generally, how far do they scan at that point or if they do scan at that point is going to be dependent on what you put there. If you don’t put anything there it makes them move across. They are obviously not going to scan. But the general idea here is they are going to be scanning down the left side of the page. This is why most blogs will have the content on the left side and they will have the sidebar on the right side because you want them to focus on the content primarily so you put that along the major scan path which is going to be on the left.
Now, if you are in the banner ad business, and you have got a right side sidebar, you might want to consider putting it on the left side because it will then put those ads that are in your sidebar in the primary area that people’s attention is going to land first, which is going to be on the left side. The downside of that is that of course you are putting your content on the right and therefore they are not going to see it quite as fast.
So you really have to make a decision for yourself whether that makes the most sense. But you put this F pattern on top of your blog and you can kind of see where people are going to focus on first. The top left is a pretty important piece of real estate on your blog. So what are they going to see at the top left of your site right now? Whether they are probably going to see a logo; maybe some type of a branding image, but when they are on one of your content pages the primary thing which is going to stand out is going to be the headline of the blog post that they are sitting on or the page that they are sitting on and that should be actually, exactly what pops out. And quite frankly, if your text; if your headline text is not big enough to make it the primary thing that the eye lands on when they go to the top left of your site, then you need to make it bigger because it should be.
So now from the top left, what are they going to do? They are going to read it. As they scan they are going to scan across the top. But if they scan all the way over, what should be there; they are landing at the top of the sidebar at that point, right? Well, that should be your lead magnet. Go back to Episode 53 where we talked about what should go in the blog sidebar. Well, I said that the lead magnet and the opt-in should be at the very top of the sidebar. That’s why. It needs to be above the fold. But it is also because it falls right in line the typical pathway that people’s attention is going to flow across your blog. They are going to land on that point on your sidebar.
So if it goes through that, you have to think about where people’s attention is going to go. This is how we flow people’s attention to a blog design. Now, when you come to those natural resting points inside of your blog where people’s attention is going to come to a rest; where their eyes are going to land on something, those things should be calls to action. The content is generally going to make them flow. They are going to generally read it, they are going to be moving downward but they are going to come to a resting point.
The resting point could be in the middle of the content. And in fact, in some cases, it is. Because sometimes the person literally won’t read the whole darn post; they won’t make it to the bottom. Now if they make it to the bottom, then obviously the bottom of that post would be a resting point for attention. And you do want to have a call to action at that place. But… in the middle of your content is also a good place. You can put a call to action right in the middle of your blog post. It kind of falls right in line with that F pattern, actually. They also scan across the top. Well, what is at the top of your site that would be a good call to action? Your top navigation is very important because it falls right along that pathway where they are going to be scanning.
Go back to Episode 54 where we talked about what should go inside your blog categories. If you list blog categories in your top navigation, you need to make damn sure that those categories are very benefit driven because they are going to fall right visually into the person’s eye path and their attention is going to flow across it and they can act as a resting point; they might click on that. So let us back all these up… Are you thinking about your blog in this way or are you just littering things up there based on your capability of doing it? Are you throwing widgets around because, “Well, I’ve got one, might as well use it.” Or just using colors on your site simply because they look good to you? I hope that you are not doing that.
Action Colors Strategy
I want you to be more strategic about how you set this up. One thing regarding your calls to action; this can help flow people’s attention but also provide a resting point for that attention to get them to click on something, and that is… you should have an Action Color on your blog. So your blog is going to have certain colors, they are just part of the ground work at the site. If you go to Blog Marketing Academy the primary colors there are going to be lots of white space, a little bit of gray, some black and a shade of blue. Those are going to be the primary colors of the Blog Marketing Academy. Now, an action color should be a contrasting color that contrasts quite heavily with all that.
You will find in a lot of sites that they use a shade of orange or yellow or gold for call to action buttons and it is because in most people’s site that color stands out. They stand out very visually, it is easy to notice and it works in contrast with all the other colors that are on the site. So your action color; you need to determine what that is. It could be some type of gold or orange or something like that that works out really well. But the big thing about your action color is you only want to use it on things that you want your visitor have their attention rest on and ultimately click on. In other words, they are calls to action. Don’t use these things in other places. You don’t want your calls to action to blend in with the general scenery. You want them to stand out so use an action color for that.
I happen to think yellow or orange or something like that can work really well. Some shades of red can work out really well, but you know, red can be taken in different ways by different people. But you got to just look at how your blog is put together and look at what the action color should be for you. So all that being said, hopefully you can see there is a lot of strategy that goes in to how the blog is set up; from everything from colors to layout, to how we move people’s attention across that design.
Take It Further
If you want to again, take this to the next level and really tweak every single component of your site and be thinking about it in a strategic way, then I want you to check out my latest action plan over at the Blog Marketing Academy called The Perfect Blog Blueprint. Now it is a funny title. I’ll be the first to say that there really is no such thing as perfection. At the end of the day, perfection is unattainable. There is always a test that you could do to probably improve your results. But what I have found; and I have been doing this a long time, is that there are best practices when it comes to the design of the site in order to increase conversions.
And this blueprint is all about how to get your site set up around these best practices. If you want to look at it in an 80/20 perspective, this action plan will get you 80% of the way, no problem at all. And then you know, if you want to take it a little further and then try to tweak it then you have got to do some testing and things like that to find out what works best for your audience. But this action plan; if you were setting up your blog blindly or just based what you see other people doing; I want you to get your hands on this action plan so that you could be actually making your own decisions based on something that you know the system that actually does work. So it is called The Perfect Blog Blueprint. You can check it out over at blogmarketingacademy.com/blog-blueprint. Get all that information. Okay?
With that being said, I want to thank you for listening to another episode of Coffee Break Blogging. We are going to continue on our series about the Platform here, with Episode 56 we are going to be talking about your Bounce Rate and how to reduce that bad boy down. Alright?
So I’ll see you on the next episode of Coffee Break Blogging… until then, have a good one. 😉