With high quality content playing an increasingly important part in search rankings, blogging has become a key part of almost any company’s marketing strategy.
But writing interesting content is not enough in itself. You might have the best article in the world, but if it isn’t presented in a user-friendly format then nobody is going to read (or share) it.
I may be inviting criticism of our own site (and this article), but I wanted to explore some of the key things to remember when it comes to creating a brilliant user experience on your blog page/post.
1. Use subheadings
Break up your posts into manageable sections. You’re not writing a novel or a newspaper article here, and the majority of people will not want to tackle an enormous block of text.
Some people might read the whole article, but many will just want to skim through and pick out the parts that are relevant or interesting to them.
Using subheadings brings structure to your post and makes it easier for the reader to navigate.
I’ve used a list post format for this article, partly to demonstrate this technique (as if anybody isn’t already aware of it) but also because I think the content works well as a checklist (and 12 is a nice number).
Whatever format you choose, the important thing is to make sure you have lots of relevant subheadings that tell the reader what to expect under each section.
2. Create white space
White space is your friend. Create lots of it.
Write in short paragraphs of only two or three sentences and use plenty of line breaks. This is particularly important in long posts or reports where there is a lot for the reader to take in.
Present each idea in its own paragraph rather than trying to cram multiple points into one block of text.
This helps readers digest individual thoughts and avoids confusion, and it naturally creates a lot of white space.
3. Use bullet points
Bullet points are effective for the following reasons:
- They help the reader easily digest points.
- They are a great way to present lists of points under the same idea (like I’m doing now).
- They are visually pleasing.
Use them at will. Your readers will thank you for it.
4. Use imagery
All blog posts should contain imagery, whether it’s photos, videos, gifs, screenshots or embedded social media posts.
Not only does this make the post more interesting, it also breaks things up nicely and makes the whole thing easier to digest for the reader.
Images and videos can also be a great way to put points you’ve made into context through visual examples (as I did under the previous subheading).
Plus it makes the whole post more visually pleasing, like this picture of an Indian sunrise.
5. Include internal links
It’s important to link to other pages on your site with descriptive anchor text.
This gives visitors relevant further reading options, encourages traffic to other areas of your site and can also help with search rankings.
From a user experience point of view, you can direct people to another piece of content that expands on an idea without having to too far off topic in the current post.
Remember: the link text should read naturally and actually relate to what you’re directing people to.
Good: Many marketers struggle to make a business case for blogging.
Bad: Did you know that blogging regularly could actually help with best SEO tips Aldershot?
Try not to include too many internal links. Two or three per article is fine (although for longer posts you might want to include more).
6. Highlight key points
Again, don’t overdo it, but if you make an important point you might want to make it bold.
One example of this might be a stat that backs up what you’re saying, such as 66% of people remember stuff better when it’s in bold.
Obviously I just made that up.
You might also want to block out quotes to make them stand out. As in:
72% of people remember quotes better when they’re blocked out like this, and I obviously made that one up, too.
7. Don’t use silly fonts
Funky fonts are great for logos or your 15-year-old self’s MySpace page, but they have no place on your blog.
Stick to simple fonts that are easy to read. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, that sort of thing.
Comic sans? Just no.
8. Include sharing buttons
Somebody enjoyed your post so much they want to share it. Great news. Make it easy for them to do that by including visible share buttons on your blog page.
Sharing buttons can also be a good form of social proof if they include a counter.
If people see a post has been shared multiple times they can only assume it contains mind-blowing content that must be consumed at once.
9. Allow comments
It may be tempting not to allow comments given that you’re opening yourself up to potential criticism. But comments encourage people to engage with your post and, even better, to keep coming back.
But there’s more to it than that. By including comments you’re turning it into a two-way dialogue rather than a dictatorship. Surely the former is the kind of relationship you’d rather have with your customers?
The example below shows how some really interesting conversations can begin in the comments section, often adding additional content that wasn’t covered in the original post.
The comments section below, incidentally, will probably be filled with people pointing out various hypocrisies in this post, such as its distinct lack of user-friendliness. And that’s absolutely fine.
In fact, I encourage it.
10. Go easy on the acronyms
This one is, TBH, more of a personal gripe than anything else, but if you’re going to use acronyms in your post then at least write them out in full the first time so people know what you’re talking about.
What may seem obvious to you could be baffling to your reader, and you will lose their interest very quickly if they have to start searching on Google for what things mean.
11. Keep your language simple
On a similar note to acronyms: don’t use a long or obscure word when a short and common one will convey the same meaning (think Orwell or Hemingway over Will Self).
Keep things simple, particularly if you work in a highly technical industry. Don’t fill your sentences with confusing jargon or business speak. You won’t impress anyone and your reader might just switch off and go elsewhere.
Reading this list of words that are banned on the Econsultancy blog might help, but please don’t tell my editor if you spot any of them in this post. Cheers.
12. Finally: be yourself
One day, in a future populated with self-eating dinners and apps that spend quality time with your spouse so you don’t have to, machines will power journalism. Articles will be pumped out at a thousand words per minute using complex data-fuelled algorithms.
That will be a sad day, so let’s make the most of the present. Nobody wants to read something that sounds like it was written by a computer.
Don’t be afraid to write in your own voice. Use humour. Tell stories. Put your personality on the page. Relax. You’re not a robot.
Even in the B2B world (that’s business to business if I don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy), it is people who make buying decisions. Make sure your style appeals to human beings.