A wise user experience designer said, “good design is invisible.” In other words, if you or your users are noticing your blog layout or user experience, it’s likely bad design.
Think about all the websites, apps, and platforms we use daily. Are we consciously thinking about the user interface and experience?
The best user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is the one that doesn’t get in the way of us accomplishing our goals, whether that’s commenting on an Instagram post, navigating a long-form blog post, or inputting data into a web app.
A well-designed blog is essential for ecommerce business owners in many ways. For example, they drive traffic to a site and help build trust with potential customers. They also help promote products and services, leading to growth opportunities later.
Unfortunately, if you’ve got an awkward design, you’ll quickly find that people will be less likely to stick around and read your content. That means that none of the good things mentioned above are likely to happen.
“The medium is the message.” That means how you deliver your content is just as important as the quality of the content itself.
Since your blog is a significant part of your marketing funnel, good UI/UX will certainly affect return visitors and revenue.
This blog post will run through some of the best layout practices for 2023 that will keep users engaged, coming back for more and recommending your blog to others.
10 blog layout best practices for UX in 2024
Technology — including web best practices — seem to change weekly. And with new technology comes new, exciting ways to consume content.
Users are now used to consuming content in short bursts, whether through social media or reading blogs on their phones.
Your blog layout must adapt to these changes and be easy to read, no matter where or how someone is consuming it.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your blog layout for optimal UX.
Tip #1: use a centralized “learning center” approach
Writing extensively on a particular topic is a great way to build topical authority on Google and trust with your audience.
However, how you organize this content on your blog is just as important as the content itself.
Let’s say you’ve written everything there is to know about fundraising for non-profits. That’s awesome. But what good is that to a non-profit prospect if the relevant content is untagged, uncategorized, and interspersed among a bunch of other topics?
This isn’t ideal for the user who wants to consume all of your content on a specific topic in one go. It’s much better to have a cumulative approach where everything on that topic is organized in one place—we call this the “learning center” approach.
This approach is an excellent way to increase engagement. It allows users to easily find and consume all the content you have on a particular topic without going on a scavenger hunt all over your website for it. It also allows you to cross-promote other pieces of content and increase the time spent on your site.
Additionally, the learning center approach will likely increase your pages per session.
What does this look like in practice? You can check out MatterApp’s blog for good examples. The company, which features an app that gives kudos and feedback to workplace teams, has clustered its pillar and cluster content under six categories on one page. The page contains everything that a user would need to research to know more about their product.
Tip #2: leverage “sticky” elements
Humans are lazy. Therefore, one of the primary tenets of design is to add the most value while making the user work as little as possible.
Using “sticky” on-page elements is one of the best ways to facilitate this and increase engagement on your blog.
Sticky elements remain visible on the screen as users scroll down. This means that they are always accessible without the user having to scroll back up to the top of the page.
For example, if you have a call-to-action for signing up for your email list, using a sticky element will ensure that it’s always visible and within easy reach.
You can see an example of this on HubSpot’s blog. The company uses a sticky call-to-action in the lower right-hand corner of the screen that encourages users to sign up for their email list.
You can use sticky elements for a variety of other purposes, such as:
- Social media buttons
- Navigation menus
- Search bars
- Live chat widgets
Moderation is the key here. Too many sticky elements can make the page overwhelming and cluttered, which will ultimately detract from the user experience.
Tip #3: cut to the chase
Having long-form content is essential to drive traffic to your blog and rank well on Google. However, most readers want quick answers and don’t want to hear you drone on endlessly about the virtues of your products or services.
For instance, if your users just want the answer to the question “what is blog writing,” most search results for his query involve reading lengthy and comprehensive guides. Though the guides answer the questions, your user will have to skim through long content to find the definition.
Another example is wading through a lengthy blog post on Pinterest to get to the ingredients and recipe steps. Thank goodness for the culinary experts that use links that take you straight to the recipe, right?
These examples are undeniably time-consuming and frustrating for most users, which is the epitome of a bad user experience. So instead, utilize article quick-summary boxes to cut to the chase.
Having small boxes containing the summary of the entire article is handy and a great way to save your users’ or readers’ time. While the summary boxes are adjustable to fit the content anywhere, placing them at the beginning of the article is an excellent way to elaborate the answer or content for the readers.
As a bonus, clearly and plainly answering the users’ questions will increase the likelihood of Google placing you in their coveted “featured snippet” result, which is the top result in a Google SERP that highlights the answer to a user’s question.
Tip #4: utilize a blog card design
To keep your blog fresh, you’re probably cranking out a lot of articles — well done! Keep it up.
However, this can quickly lead to visual clutter, especially when you’re trying to highlight all of your new posts at once on your main blog page.
So what’s the best balance of featuring posts on your main blog page without overwhelming the user? How big or small should blog thumbnails and article links be?
Well, there’s no cut-and-dry answer to that question, but we at least know the most effective approach is the “blog card” layout. As far as the specifics, we recommend studying and replicating the practices of reputable publishing sites.
Medium.com provides an excellent example of this format.
There are many boons to using a blog card design, including the following:
- They are easy to scan and digest.
- They allow us to easily recognize, recall and read important information.
- They allow you to include a lot of information without overwhelming the user.
- They can be easily rearranged and reordered, which is great for responsive design.
- They provide ample whitespace, making them visually appealing and easy to navigate.
However, the layouts should have different font sizes and images to clearly distinguish between the least important and most important elements. This tactic makes the design more legible for the readers.
In addition, you can include the following elements in the card design.
- Featured image
- Blog author (image)
- Blog title
- Social share links
- Post date
- Blog excerpt
- Read More button
Keeping this list in mind, let’s look at Medium’s Home Page:
Notice each “card” and all the associated information. Almost all blog posts have at least the following:
- Blog title
- Featured image
- Blog author
- Blog author image
- Publish date
- Reading time
- The ability to bookmark the post for later
You’ve probably never noticed all of those elements before, have you? Though, you probably appreciate their existence. That’s a perfect example of great design being invisible.
Also, one of the best practices that the inbound marketing experts at Impact recommend for arranging the articles in the blog card layout involves putting them in columns of two or three.
This depends on the information you’re presenting, but overall, it maximizes how many posts are seen simultaneously.
Tip # 5: include the read time
When creating content, you want people to stick around and read it. But if your readers feel like they don’t have the time, they’ll likely move on. That’s why one of the best things you can do is tell them exactly how long your article will take to read.
This tactic is especially important if your target audience consists of busy people who are always on the go. By giving them an estimated read time, you’ve implemented a strategy that gives the reader a heads up on time commitment that’s also more likely to bring them back for content that is easy to digest in short spurts.
So, if you want people to stick around and read your content, tell them exactly how long it will take. This simple act will increase engagement and keep people on your site longer.
Tip #6: use whitespace to your advantage
Whitespace, also known as negative space, is the space around elements on a page. It’s important to use whitespace in your layout to pique the reader’s visual interest and bring attention to specific content.
Finding the right balance of whitespace is essential to creating a well-designed layout. Too little whitespace can make a page feel cramped and busy, which can be overwhelming for users. On the other hand, too much whitespace can make a page feel unfinished or unprofessional.
For instance, TikTok utilizes a great deal of white space. The amount they use might look silly on a business website, but it’s perfect for directing all attention to the on-page video.
In general, it’s best to err on the side of using too much rather than too little whitespace. This will help create a clean and spacious look that’s easy on the eyes.
So, when it comes to blog layouts, whitespace is your friend. It can help draw attention to specific content and make your layout more visually appealing.
Tip # 7: don’t have cluttered sidebars
This one is a common mistake that many bloggers make. They stuff their sidebars full of social media icons, opt-ins, ads, and other random junk.
This practice not only makes everything look bad, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming for visitors.
It also gives the impression that you care more about selling something than adding value to your customers, defeating the whole purpose of informational, trust-building content.
Don’t treat your sidebar like a junk drawer. Instead, stick to the essentials, like social media icons and opt-ins. This will help create a more streamlined look that is easy to navigate and improves the user experience.
Tip # 8: use typography wisely
Typography is how the text looks on a physical or digital page for the curious. It also involves manipulating typeface to make written form legible and appealing when displayed.
This arrangement typically involves taking design elements like line and word length, spacing, etc., or point size and adding or manipulating them to make them pleasing to the eye and more digestible.
For better impact, it’s essential to use typography wisely in your layout. You create visual interest and bring attention to specific content when you do.
For instance, you’ll always want to utilize larger fonts for the headings and smaller ones for the body text. Or you might want to utilize a different font altogether for the headings.
Ideally, font sizes between 17px to 21px are considered right for digital readers. Some font sizes are naturally larger compared to others.
Additionally, it’s good form to limit the number of fonts you use on a page to three at most. For instance:
- Use the first font style for the title on the posts.
- Use the second font style for the titles of sidebars.
- Use the third font style for the body of the post.
And one last tip, make sure your fonts are web-safe. Otherwise, they may not load on some devices. Google Fonts is a free repository of web fonts, and it’s always a safe bet.
Tip #9: incorporate related articles
Another way to get people to stick around and read your content is by incorporating related articles into your layout.
Related articles are links to other blog posts (internal and external) similar in topic or subject matter. By including these links, you can keep people engaged and reading your content for longer periods of time.
To find related articles, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO. This plugin will analyze your blog post and suggest related articles for you to include.
Or you can do a manual search by going to Google and searching for “[topic keyword] site:[yoursite.com].” As long as Google indexes your site, this will reveal all the pages and posts on your site that contain that keyword.
For example, if we wanted to see all the pages we’ve written on the topic of blogging, I’d enter the following search in Google: “blogging site:skuvault.com.”
The resulting pages are likely great candidates for interlinking.
Tip # 10: use high-quality images
It’s crucial to use high-quality, non-cheesy images in your blog layout. That’s because people are visual creatures that tend to engage more with pictures than text.
In fact, studies have shown that people are more likely to remember information if it’s presented alongside an image.
So, when choosing images for your blog posts, make sure they are high quality and relevant to the topic at hand.
Do your best to avoid generic stock photos. Sometimes that’s as simple as performing some edits to an existing photo to make it look more customized.
A great place to find classy, free stock photos is Pexels.
Other ways to level up your blog UX
Besides the ten tips we’ve listed, here are some other ways to improve your blog’s UX/UI:
- Choose a scannable design: Blogging is very different from writing a book or academic paper. You can make the blog layout scannable by writing short and precise sections, avoiding lengthy paragraphs, breaking the text with headers and relevant images, and organizing sections using sub-headers and headers.
- Brand your layout: Branding is the key to marketing a successful business, and it works the same for your blog layout. The blog you create should reflect the feel and look of your brand. That means if your homepage has a simple theme or design, it’s a good idea to keep it the same for your blog layout.
- Use vertical alignment: Badly designed elements stick out like a sore thumb. For instance, when images and text look out of place from the rest of the column, it becomes a distraction and looks unprofessional. Also, paragraphs and photos should be the same width for visual continuity.
- Include a search bar: If you have a lot of content on your site, it might be difficult for people to find what they’re looking for. It’s important to include a search bar in your blog layout. That way, people can quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for.
- Highlight authors of your content: If you have multiple authors on your blog, it’s important to highlight their names and include a high-quality photo alongside their posts. This approach humanizes everything and helps build trust with your readers. It also makes it easy for them to find other content by the same author and helps Google determine your E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust).
- Make your site mobile-friendly: It’s 2023. It’s non-negotiable to make sure your blog layout is mobile-friendly. Thankfully, all modern blog layouts from reputable providers (WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify) include a mobile-friendly layout right out of the box. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly layout, you’ve got problems beyond the scope of this post.
There you have it! Utilize these tips to create a killer blog layout that keeps readers coming back for more.
Don’t forget inventory control
If you take our advice and implement these UX tips, prepare yourself for a spike in readership, traffic, and sales (you’re welcome!).
If you’re an ecommerce shop, you’ll need a good inventory system to manage this growth. Linnworks exists to help businesses of all shapes and sizes optimize and streamline the tedious work involved with inventory control.
Click here for more information on the specific ways we come along with business owners to help them grow their bottom line (and save their sanity).