To help answer Michelle’s questions, I did a formal study on this (naturally by this I mean that I asked a few of my friends over google chat!). Here’s a little bit of what they had to say…
“A blog’s first impression for me is all about the layout. The menu bar tells the whole story – it is where I like to see a blog’s main topics. From there, I like to be able to use tags to quickly find my way around to what I’m looking for.”
“I’m a self-professed design, wedding and fashion blog junkie. The first thing I notice about a blog is the design and photography. A blog that makes a great first impression has a simple, pretty layout that is easy to read and pleasing to the eye and showcases great photography. If one or the other is off I’m not likely to return.”
What do these answers have in common? They both form their feelings about a site at the first moment they see it. If it’s cluttered, difficult to navigate, or not appealing to their eye, they aren’t likely to stick around. They may not have read a word and yet they are ready to leave.
Here are a few things that, as a reader, gives me a great first impression:
- A clean, easy to follow, cohesive design
- Fast loading of information
- Quick access to links such as the RSS feed, contact information, and about page
- An immediate clue about the blog’s main focus
And some that are not so great:
- Difficult to follow navigation, or a large amount of clicks to get the information I’m looking for
- High-resolution photos that take several seconds to load
- Distracting elements, such as pop-up windows or flashing ads
“These are the things that keep me reading when I visit a new blog: clean layout, unique design that says who they are, good grammar, content that is obviously written with a wider audience than one’s family in mind, and posts that aren’t consistently about the banal things in life. The one exception to the banality rule? Those who can write about the mundane and make me laugh. If you’re one of those few genuinely funny people out there you can write about putting the groceries away or retrieving the mail from the mailbox and I’ll still keep reading.”
Jenna is a reader that truly wants to engage with a blog author. If you are a follower of her blog, this won’t surprise you, as her own blog is personal and she has built a wonderful community with her readers.
Being personal isn’t just for “personal blogs”. If you are in the wedding industry, you no doubt know the name Jasmine Star. Jasmine’s blog promotes her business, but also gives potential clients and industry readers a window into who Jasmine is as an individual. She is branding herself as much as she is branding her talent, and people want to connect with her, as well as connect with her work.
A few things that keep me as a reader coming back to a blog:
- Consistent, informational posts
- Unique content, especially written with a distinctive point of view
- Posts that start me thinking – this could be a post about business philosophy or beautiful inspiration photos
What resonates with you when you read a blog for the first time? What makes you return for more?