After a rough winter, it's that lovely time of year that welcomes us open-armed with promises of a fresh new start. That ubiquitous phrase “Spring Cleaning” gets thrown around again.
What is it about spring and cleaning anyway?
Throughout the long cold winter we concentrate on hunkering down and keeping warm. Dust and clutter start to accumulate over the months as we shut ourselves in. The same holds true with most things in our lives: we alter between seasons of accumulation and seasons of clearing out.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, your site may have amassed a smattering of clutter, like mine has. Maybe you have an over-stuffed sidebar, too many fonts or a confusing mishmash of other distractions that leave your visitors overwhelmed or confused. This extra clutter weighs us down and clouds our inspiration.
Let's sort through the clutter on our blogs, both for ourselves and for our readers.
When we simplify and spring clean it allows us to:
- Remain clear-headed and motivated to write fabulous content throughout the rest of the year. Because when we write fabulous content, we attract more readers.
- Help our readers to navigate our blog. They understand why they are there and why they should stay.
Let's de-clutter and simplify with:
7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Blog.
It won't be the most exciting thing on your to-do list this year, but just like real-life spring cleaning, you'll feel so great when you're through! Grab that q-tip, cause we're taking it to the baseboards of our blog!
1. DECLUTTER YOUR SIDEBAR
While sidebars can be a great tool for helping your readers to navigate your blog, they can also become the junk drawer of a site without us even realizing it!
Each item in your sidebar should be there to accomplish one of two things:
- Meet your blogging goals. This could be monetary goals in the form of ads or affiliates. It could be email list goals in the form of an email sign-up. It could be increased time on site goals by making it easy for readers to find your best content. Decide on your top goals, then go through each item to ensure it fits the bill.
- Help your readers. Having an organized sidebar that points your readers towards your best content, topics of interest, or allows them to search the site is helpful to your readers. Don't skimp on helping readers, but don't overwhelm them, either.
Do you have items that aren't accomplishing either thing? Time to get rid of it. Grab more help on deciding which items to keep or toss and in what order to place items here.
2. UPDATE YOUR HEADER
I see a lot of blog headers that unfortunately fit awkwardly into the rest of the blog’s design. Your header is usually the first thing people see so we want to make sure we’re making a good impression right off the bat.
Below are some tell-tale signs of an awkward header:
- A small lone logo and nothing else.
- A header with a different width than the content area of your blog.
- A hard-to-read header due to a busy background.
- A header that's too tall.
3. TIDY UP YOUR FONTS
Over time, our blogs may accrue too many fonts. If your blog is using more than 3 fonts, it’s time to clean it up.
Use one font for your titles, one for your body copy and one accent font (a display or script font) that you can sprinkle lightly throughout to accentuate important things or add interest.
Check out this free Beginner’s Guide to Fonts for Your Blog and learn how to choose font combinations, where to find cool fonts and how to use them to convey the right message.
A few quick tips on fonts:
- Mix up an All Caps font with one that has lowercase letters.
- Mix one script font with one regular type print font.
- Keep style in mind. Are you going for pretty, fun, vintage, or bold? Every font conveys a different style, and it should fit seamlessly into the look of your blog.
4. BEAUTIFY YOUR IMAGES
Many bloggers don’t know how to use or display images on their blog posts properly. Do you struggle with any of these common image problems?
- Poor quality, low resolution, or blurry images.
- Awkward image sizing.
- Using large image file sizes that slow down your site.
- Overused or cheesy stock photos.
Don’t fall victim to the 15 image mistakes that bloggers make. Learn how to fix them.
5. OPTIMIZE YOUR OPT-IN FORM
Does your blog encourage subscribers? Gaining new email subscribers is one of the best ways to build a loyal readership and keep new visitors coming back to your site. If new subscribers are trickling in slowly, you may need to optimize your blog’s opt-in forms.
- Make your opt-in offer enticing. Is it something that is a quick fix and of value to your readers? What can you offer that’s an example of your great service or content that will coax them into becoming a follower? Grab ideas on creating a killer offer here.
- Examine the look of your opt-in forms. Are they descriptive? Are they attractive? Do they stand out? Check out this showcase of beautiful opt-ins for ideas and inspiration.
6. FIX UP YOUR ABOUT PAGE
The About Page is one of the most viewed pages on your site. If you've neglected it all winter, now is the time to spruce things up for new house guests. Does your About page connect with your readers and give them reasons to stick around? Or is all about you?
A good About page has, at a minimum, 3 important elements:
- An attention-grabbing hook.
- Ways to relate to your readers. (As communications pro Maggie Patterson says – you want to relate to your readers' story and problem, not just talk about yourself.)
- A call to action.
7. CREATE A START HERE PAGE
A “Start Here” page tells new readers whether your site is the right fit for them. It also guides the reader through the best parts of your blog. You're likely to get new visitors to stick around longer, because things are laid out and organized for them. They know exactly where to go next. There's no decision fatigue or overwhelm.
Here are a few things your Start Here page should include:
- Begin the page with who the blog is for and why it’s worth reading.
- Share a selection of your very best content.
- End the page with a call to action. For example, an invitation to subscribe or check out your product or services page.
Your Spring-Cleaning Challenge:
Spring is already under way so let’s get going! What’s ONE thing you can do this week to spring clean your blog?
I’ll be working on a Start Here page. What about you? Commit to at least one item above by leaving a comment below. (Extra credit to those who commit to more than one 😉
While these 7 tips should give you a good head start to cleaning up your blog and its design, you can take things further with Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow. Marianne Manthey is a professional web designer and the founder of DesignYourOwnBlog.com where she teaches and inspires women solopreneurs to beautify their blogs DIY-style. Join her on her blog or private Facebook group to talk about ways to make your blog as beautiful as it can be!