Frequently, I have clients come to me looking for a blog redesign that’s unique and strategic. They don’t want a generic website, they want something tailored to their brand and something that solves a problem. They want readers to be more engaged, more traffic and page views, and less confusion about what purpose their blog actually serves in the world.
Overwhelmingly, redesigns seem to come with the realization that your blog has become too broad or too disorganized to fit your current needs.
Maybe you’ve gotten busy and ended up using your blog as a cache for all happenings in your life, or maybe your intentions for the site have just changed.
Either way, your current blog just doesn’t “fit” your needs anymore…so now you’ve decided that you’re ready to round that corner and pursue a big milestone.
To help you do just that, I’ve put together 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Blog Redesign. My hope is that these questions will help you to get started with the hard part of planning your redesign.
So, let’s get started.
Q1: Who are you speaking to (with your blog)?
Think about who your ideal audience is. Just like with every business, your blog has an audience who you’re providing a service to. Think about it…who are you attempting to reach and what are you offering them that’s valuable? Are you saving them time? Informing them about something? Offering free stuff or deals? Giving them a taste of a lifestyle they’re after? Figure out who your audience is and what value you offer to them. Once you know that, you can focus your efforts and give them a reason to keep returning to the blog.
Q2: What are your long-term goals for the site?
If you haven’t thought about it before, now is the time to decide what you intend to accomplish with your blog. Maybe you want to work with brands or place ads on your blog to generate income. Maybe your blog is a place for you to launch a book or market your services. No matter what you intend, be sure you write up your intentions and create bullet points of every task or design feature you’ll need to have in order to accomplish these goals. Redesigns are a big investment…of your time and money, so it’s important to be sure that you acheive the results you’re looking for to make the effort worth it. Make sure that once you’ve figured out what those goals are, that you also communicate them clearly to your designer or team when they begin plans for your redesign.
Q3: Does the visual branding on your blog connect with your audience?
Too many times, I’ve seen a tech mogul with a pink floral background and script fonts, or a parenting blogger with a boring, black and navy color scheme with zero character. While these aspects of your brand and blog design may fit YOUR personal preferences, it’s also important to consider whether or not they speak to your audience. Do they set the right mood and inspire action in your audience? If a visitor lands on your blog and only has 10 seconds to decide whether or not your blog is valuable to them, do you think they’ll “get it”? Do you think they’ll stay or move along to another site? This is one of the MOST important aspects of web design I try to communicate to my clients, because if you can’t even get them to take an interest, you’ve already lost a potential reader or client. This is why the visuals on your blog need to be clear and visually appealing.
Q4: Is your blog’s content focused enough for your audience?
If you tell me on your about page that you’re a vegan food blogger and then I navigate to your blog’s feed and see 10 posts about pet supplies and only 2 posts about vegan food, I’m gonna wonder what’s up. I came here for Vegan food…what is the rest of this mess? Now, I’m not saying that you can’t write about multiple topics on your blog, but if you do…there needs to be a story involved. Tell me about how all these topics are linked? Why are these topics, issues or products important to YOU. I need to know, and this is important, because it affects how I (the reader) view your credibility. Especially when it comes to bloggers that work with brands, I need to know…without a shadow of doubt…that the recommendations you give are truly authentic.
Q5: Does the content organization on your blog make sense?
You might not think about it much, but a busy or sloppy layout can actually prevent people from finding what they’re looking for when they visit your blog. Consider fewer, more focused options on your navigation. Use your sidebar or footer to highlight additional categories or popular blog posts that you think will interest the majority of your readers. Use imagery, thumbnails, and graphics to help people navigate your blog without overwhelming them with a field of text links. Decide whether your readers would benefit more from a scrolling homepage layout or a magazine style layout. Do they want simplicity or access to more content? Find out what’s important to them and make that happen. If you’re not thrilled at the idea of adding a clutter of content to your homepage, consider adding an archive page with more options available to readers who want to dig in deeper.
Q6: Are you creating opportunities that make it easy for people to spend more time on your site?
Most bloggers have given some thought to their building page views and getting traffic, but have you thought about what you might do to keep current readers on the blog longer? Simple things like adding related post thumbnails beneath each post or using internal links within a post to link up to other posts or pages of interest can help readers to better navigate your content and find more detail on a topic that they’re already interested in. Don’t make them search for it. Provide those links so they can binge read six posts in a row if they want. Remember, readers want what you have, so give it to them. And speaking of giving them content without them having to work for it…have you considered adding a newsletter? This is a great way to make discovering content even easier for your readers, since you can send new posts, related content and resources to your audience regularly.
Q7: Is your blog optimized for mobile visitors with a responsive design?
If you haven’t considered a mobile responsive design yet, now is the time. With more than half of visitors accessing the web on their mobile devices, there is simply no excuse for having anything less than a mobile responsive design. Trust me when I say that having a seamlessly branded mobile site brings a load of credibility to your blog. And if that wasn’t enough motivation for you, Google has made mobile-friendly websites a new requirement for optimization in web searches, meaning you’ll be penalized if you don’t comply. If you’re not mobile-friendly, you’re likely losing valuable traffic and opportunities to showcase your content to readers.
Q8: How much time and money are you willing to invest in your blog redesign?
Only you can know what your specific needs are when it comes to your redesign. If you’re on a limited budget, tell your designer. Ask them how you can best organize your project to make weekly or monthly payments that work for you. Most designers can break projects up into phases (discovery, branding, design, development, marketing, etc.) to make the process more budget-friendly. Also, if you don’t have a lot of time to provide feedback or would prefer your designer or developer to make the majority of the decisions about your redesign, be up front about that. Some designers prefer to work mostly on their own, while others prefer frequent collaboration with their clients. It’s always best to find a designer who meets your needs and communication style so that things go smoothly.
Q9: How will you transition your audience to the new look and feel of your blog?
When I work on blog redesigns with established bloggers, one of their biggest worries is that readers might not like the new look of their blog, or that they might get confused by a new layout or content reorganization. Remember, you know your readers better than anyone, so if you see anything that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to communicate that to your designer. Also, keep in mind that sometimes designers really do know best and they will provide you with advice that are informed by their experience and your expressed needs for your blog. If you are integrating something new that you think might trip up your audience, it’s always helpful to add a quick introduction or explanation in your welcome post when you share your blog redesign with your audience on launch day.
Q10: Do you have a promotional strategy setup for your blog redesign launch week?
Every successful blog redesign needs to have a promotional strategy. I often sit down with clients to create a 1-2 week plan that includes various “sneak peeks” on social media prior to launch day. Some clients also request press releases, memes or even media kits to help them promote their new blog before the big day. On the day of the launch, they usually also share a post on the blog to welcome new visitors and help their regular readers to navigate the site and get the most out of the new design. I’ve seen bloggers throw Twitter parties, give away prizes or even create a special video to promote their blog redesign. There is virtually no limit to what you can do, so don’t be afraid to get creative…and above all, have fun!