There are no blog designs that doesn’t have any effect on its blog, its message, and its goals. A blog design is either helping you move forward with your blog or it is not only hindering you from moving forward, but actually pushing you backwards. There exists no stand still between the two, because a blog’s design acts as the frame that a reader uses to decide on what the message you are trying to say actually means.
So what is the purpose of a blog design? The purpose of a blog design is to support your goals, communicate your message, and make your branding memorable.
How does a blog design have so much purpose? It has a lot to do with the ability of a blog design to evoke emotions, which in turn wakes up the thoughts and beliefs that are tied to it within our mind. These emotions, thoughts, and beliefs are all interconnected in our mind from previous experiences where we learned to connect them together. In psychology, they call this a schema. An example of an everyday schema is when people are driving and they see a police officer, the first thing everyone does is slow down, because the police officer brings up thoughts, emotions, and experiences that relate to getting a ticket. Schemas are very powerful and there is a way to prime a certain schema, by presenting a person with the correct stimulus.
Another reason blog designs have such a powerful effect is explained well by Barry Schwartz in his book ‘The Paradox of Choice’.
“Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues have shown that what we remember about the pleasurable quality of our past experience is almost entirely determined by two things: how the experiences felt when they were at their peak (best or worst), and how they felt when they ended. This “peak-end” rule of Kahneman’s is what we use to summarize the experience, and then we rely on that summary later to remind ourselves of how the experience felt.” (1)
The ‘peak-end’ rule has a few important implications to blog designs. The main one is that it can help to create a pleasurable experience that is memorable, which helps your branding a lot and makes your message last longer in your reader’s mind. The other one is that it can also have the same effect in the reverse direction, and make displeasing blog designs more memorable as well, which will hurt your message and reputation. It is a double-sword effect, but if you learn to wield it, it will be an important arsenal in your collection of weapons.
A big problem with blogs these days is that a lot of them look pretty much like each other so it is hard to tell them apart and worst, it makes them easy to forget. While the quality of your content will have a large effect on whether or not your material was worth remembering, the blog design will either make or break the user’s experience when they are reading your content.
In a previous article in the blog design 101 series, the importance of the peak-end rule was established. The peak-end rule being how a person codes their experience in a memory by taking the most intense feeling during that experience and combining it with the experience felt at the end. In this article, I will take it a step further and show you how to use the peak-end rule to your advantage.
In a study testing usability and the peak-end rule, they found out that a single experience of a particularly pleasant design feature will leave a stronger impression than several experiences of a feature that is less pleasant. (1) What this means for blog design is that if you only have time to do one thing very good or a bunch of things so-so, opt for that one thing. So that it sticks out in the mind of the user.
5 Ways to make your blog design unforgettable
1. Break the ‘norm’
Breaking the norm means taking something that is generally done in your area and doing something that breaks out of it. An example of this would be taking a color scheme that often gets used in your area and using something totally different. This makes people take notice.
2. Pay attention to overlooked areas
Common overlooked areas that have a large effect on a user’s experience are comment designs and posts footer designs. Pay special attention to these and give it more time than usual in order to really bring it out and make it worth talking about.
3. Increase the functionality of your blog design
Blog design is not just a piece of artwork to hang up and admire, but of course there are some you can certainly hang up. A blog design is more of an interface between the reader and the content you have on your blog. An easy way of making your blog design more functional is to add a script or plugin that makes your blog design better. And if you make one that really meets a need of your readers, then it will be noticeable and most of all memorable to the user as you took the extra step.
4. Take one design feature and run with it
First of all, you must bring your overall blog design to at least a basic level of standard. What is a basic level of standard? Make sure it is usable and easy to use. After that, start taking the most important blog design elements and take it as far as you can. Explore the edges of that blog design element. Make it as aesthetically appealing as you can, as easy to use as possible, or as simple as possible. Get creative with this, there are an endless amount of things you can do to make it better.
5. Unique blog design
A unique blog design tailored to your specific needs, message, and audience goes a long way in setting yourself apart from others in a great way. Not only does it speak professionalism, but it also shows your commitment to your blog when you spend that much time or money on it.
Remember, don’t do something different just for the sake of being different. Focus on differentiating your blog design in a positive way. This will make your blog design unforgettable.