How Important is Design to a Blog's Success?
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Those of us that read and visit tons of blogs everyday have grown to expect certain designs and styles. In many cases blog design tends to be less attractive and less innovative than website design in general. Part of this obviously is because of the emphasis on content rather than appearance. There are certainly plenty of blogs that stand out as being beautifully designed, but these are the exception to the rule. Just how much of an impact does a blog’s design have on its ultimate level of success?
First of all, it’s important to remember that most blogs change themes more frequently than traditional websites experience re-designs. So a poorly-designed blog can quickly improve its look.
Part of the reason blogs tend to change themes fairly frequently is because of the availability of thousands of different themes (especially for WordPress), and most of them are free. I think another contributing factor is that blogs have more to gain from a fresh look than traditional websites do. When compared to most other types of sites, blogs experience much more repeat traffic. Many readers come back day after day, and as a result a blog can grow stale much quicker.
Because of the frequent theme changes, a blog that has a great design didn’t necessarily become successful because of the design. Many bloggers have built their blog using free themes of lower quality and then upgraded the look after the blog had already become successful.
What Contributes to a Blog’s Success?
A high-quality design will no doubt help a blog, but there are obviously other factors that play a significant role in a blog’s success. While design can help or hurt a blog, it certainly has far less impact on the long-term success of the blog than the quality of content. Blog readers like to see a nice design, but content is what really keeps them coming back.
Marketing is another important factor for blog success. Some bloggers spend a lot of time, effort, and money of promotional efforts, and some others create the content and wait for others to market it for them. Regardless of what marketing strategy a blogger chooses, gaining exposure and receiving, links, referrals, and buzz are important.
When looking at long-term blogging success, consistency is also crucial. Most bloggers don’t make it very far and those that do have been willing to work through the ups and downs, the disappointments and setbacks that are involved with blogging.
So, if Design isn’t that Important, What Role Does it Have?
If you look at the top blogs in any niche you’ll primarily see blogs with custom theme designs. The question then becomes “Is the blog successful because of the design, or is the custom theme a result of being successful?”
With so many blogs out there and so many themes, a good blog design will help the blog to stand out and be easily recognizable to visitors. This, in my opinion, is the most important benefit of a custom theme. As readers keep coming to your blog several times a week, they’re increasingly less likely to pay attention to your design. They’ll know what to expect after a few visits, and the content will have to keep them coming back. On the other hand, the blog’s design can have a huge impact on the first impression of new visitors. Part of branding a blog includes the image that its appearance creates in the minds of readers. These factors should not be ignored, because they mean that the blog’s design and appearance can have an impact on its level of success.
The blog design can also seriously help or hurt the level of success of the blog by how it emphasizes or de-emphasizes the content. Readability is key. In order for visitors to appreciate the content, the design should emphasize it and not distract visitors away from it.
What Are Your Thoughts?
How do you see the impact of design on a blog’s success?
Published March 5th, 2008 by Steven Snell