If you spend time creating a blog I’m guessing you want it to look perfect. Yes you want to look at it and shout hooray every day, but getting traffic and ads up on it doesn’t matter much if you don’t like how the blog looks.
But after long nights of tinkering, adding colors and making it look “perfect” a little problem emerges: you lose track of what actually looks good vs what you just personally like.
In this post I’d like to tell a story about this blog that helped me drastically improve the blog design and show my content in a better light.
It saved Dear Blogger from immediate failure and could save your blog before you launch too.
Why Blog Design Matters
In an old design study by Google, they (Google, whoever these people truly are) looks at which products to show people first and which product people would truly care about. It’s odd to think of Google as struggling with design, but hey, if they do, it’s okay for us to also, right?
What Google found was that people really only wanted their Search app. AND they really only want Search if it was really simple. That is to say people didn’t even want to find what they were looking for if it took too much effort to look in the first place.
There were a few powerful more conclusions too:
- The design of Google took thousands of people’s opinions to get right
- Some people couldn’t use Google
- Some people like Google more than others
Why am I telling you this? Because like I mentioned above if it can happen to Google it can definitely happen to your blog. Just like Google, your blog will will be subject to opinions and if it’s not really easy to use, you might not get where you want to be. You have to be willing to listen – and not just tinker away by yourself, if you want to build a blog that changes peoples lives.
So how do you start listening to people, fast too?
The Best Friend Test: What Looks Good on Your Blog (and what needs to go)
When I was first launching Dear Blogger I had a design that was, for lack of better words, struggling. I kept trying new logos and colors and the homepage was really short, like two posts underneath an image slider.
I thought my blog design was good enough to launch because it was the best design I could come up with after many long nights in Financial District eating Chinese food and passing out when I couldn’t tweak it any longer.
Maybe like your blog, I figured if it was the best I could do, then it was the best. It was good. It had to be.
So one Saturday my buddy Tim stopped over to catch up. He was becoming a famous musician and it was few and far between out hangouts, but he’s the kind of friend who always remembers what you’re working on.
“How’s Honest College coming? You selling it for a couple mil yet?” – T
“Nah, still running it stubbornly, but I am launching a new blog to help people with blogging.” – G
“Oh yeah? Lemme take a look” – T
What really matters here
When I pulled up my blog on the old MacBook what Tim said in the next few moments easily changed my work for the next 2-3 years. And given how this blog has launched me to new gigs left and right, it probably changed my life.
When I read the underwhelmed expression on Tim’s face I asked:
“What do you think. You like it?”
“It just doesn’t seem like a wealth of knowledge”
It just doesn’t seem like a wealth of knowledge, were my friend’s words. He was so right, I knew it instantly. I had so much to say on the blog but was only showing off two posts. The logo took up 30% of the above the fold space. It was the most frantic I had ever worked in two more nights (I had a ProBlogger guest post and DailyBlogTips guest post going live on Monday, and remember it was Saturday).
So launch was in 2 days. Period.
It’s incredibly simple actually: in order to prepare your blog for it’s launch day, just sit your best friend down and ask them what they think. So simple, many of us don’t do it. Then, of course, listen.
In these two nights I created the long scroll feature at Dear Blogger, the huge images, the comment boxes, and eBook page, even the footer logo. A little simple, honest criticism opened my mind up and reminded me what I needed to create, and why should there be any limit?
Why This Helped So Much
Here are a few specific reasons why I think asking any friend (or large audience if you have access to one) to judge your blog before you launch can have such drastically positive effects.
- They have never seen it and have fresh eyes
- You have seen your blog too much
- Your opinion is severely biased, as the creator of your blog
In reality when we make blogs we are alone. Our viewpoint is highly unique from the rest of the world because there’s only one of your and thousands of them. So you have to do everything in your power to gather opinions, find an idol, ask for helpful feedback and always try to stay up to date on delivering what your audience wants, or at least what they care about.
What is Your Design Missing?
So now it’s your turn. Think if it like a Dear Blogger challenge. Been a while, heh. If you asked your best friend to sit down and look at your blog, what do you think she/he would say? Let us know in the comments.