True confession: I hate the word “trends”. I have always had strong aversions to being part of a group or following a fad. Growing up taller than the rest of my peers, I found comfort in being different, it became part of my identity. I’m particularly grateful for it as an adult and business owner. I find that I’m more inclined to do what is best for my brand and me than what’s new.
When I’m working with a customer who wants to add a feature that may hinder their overall brand, I ask them to elaborate on the why. When a client says, “x has y on their site, and I like it,” that reason does not justify incorporating it to their brand. Instead, a more logical and better justification is “x feature highlights my content well, so I would like to add it for the reader.”
Some developments in the blog design world might warrant your consideration for 2016, especially if you are planning a new brand or growing your brand!
Informational Products + Portfolio
An excellent way to generate revenue through your blog is to offer your informational products and services. Using tools such as Woocommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, and Jetpack Portfolio functionality, you can display your products, services, and past work easily. Setting up these plugins is relatively straightforward, but integrating them with your theme can be a huge headache! Each one of the Blog Shop Themes is compatible with the following plugins, and you can view a sample of Easy Digital Download and Portfolio on the demos!
Simplified Layouts, Emphasis on Images
Maximizing your blog graphics and images is an essential component to growing a social media presence. Complicated and busy blog designs take away from the graphic elements of the individual post. It is also easier (and more affordable) to invest in the blog graphics to build up an audience than a custom site. Also, blog readers using Feedly and Bloglovin are much more widespread. If your average reader uses one of those platforms, they likely are not visiting your site directly. Useful Posts: Designing Blog Post Templates + Establishing a Consistent Photography Style
Along with the emphasis on images, I expect to see the following occur:
- No sidebar on iPad versions to show more of the photograph
- The rise of micro interactions: these include sign-up messages, pop-ups, and other interactive features that seem more conversational in nature!
Emphasis on Ability to Search + Browse Past Posts
Visuals are one component of maximizing past posts, but the other is how you organize and display your previous posts. For my custom projects, building in search, archive, and category functionality is becoming more and more frequent, especially for my food blogging clients. In Omnivore’s Cookbook, Maggie focused on the search feature for her recipes, so that readers can easily search recipes by category, date, or a simple search.
Smoother Integration of Affiliate Links + Features
Affiliate links are a part of blogging. In the past, this has included links in posts, maybe a widget in post, a static shop page. Lately, more of clients have requested to integrate these features more seamlessly into the design of the overall site. The links, widgets, and products are just as much a part of the brand as the main graphics. I’ve received more requests for specially curated shop pages, such as the one I did for The Fashionista’s Diary. Or the different ways we integrated affiliate links into The Mix. My favorite personal integration is with Damsel in Dior. By clicking a product, a toggle pops up on the side listing where the item was featured elsewhere on her blog. With fashion products, this feature is an excellent marketing tool; I get actual information on how she utilized those jeans or those shoes. This feature is not a small thing and involves a lot on her part to stay organized and consistent.
Blogging Less Culture Becomes The Norm
Are your growth numbers static? Have you not seen the leaps in traffic and social media that you want? Well, it’s time to change up your approach. As I mentioned earlier this week, by blogging less, I focused on maximizing the potential of each post – high-quality content, gorgeous visuals, content upgrades for readers, engaging social media posts, etc. You will do no harm by blogging less as long as you follow a strict schedule of posting consistently and including high-quality content. What makes a good blog post for you? Set those terms, and make sure each post has those components.
The blogging less culture also means that you are dedicating time to an active social media presence and also email newsletter campaign. Email newsletters are more effective marketing tool than social media!
Mobile Responsive Websites + Site Speed
When faced with decisions for my brand, I always turn towards my habits and preferences. I’ve found that it is easy for me to stand behind a decision with this approach. Personally, two big trends have emerged for my personal Internet habits that I’ve taken note. First, I’ve stopped reading any slow or unresponsive website, especially on my phone. It is 2016 and not having a mobile-responsive website is unacceptable. Then, I also purchased a few things on my phone during the holidays. Mobile purchases were a first for me, and I did them through both Amazon and Kiehl’s.
I have been suggesting CloudFlare to multiple clients, especially ones that partner with ad companies. Ads tend to slow significantly down a website. CloudFlare is a CDN system that distributes your site over a network. You still need your hosting account, but CloudFlare helps distribute that content.
A responsive and fast website are two key components to building a strong reputation for your online brand. Brand integrity is my word of the month – the professionalism that I embody online, in social media, in my life, and with my client interactions. Even something so small as how your website runs contributes to that reputation.
Those are my 2016 blogging trends. What do you expect to see next year? What trends do you prefer? Which ones do you not like?
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